Discover Why San Luis Obispo is a Top Family Vacation Destination
San Luis Obispo’s authentic California attractions provide a limitless pool of affordable itinerary ideas and make it a top family vacation destination.
Watch the video to see San Luis Obispo’s charming downtown area, where visitors can choose from a variety of restaurants and shops. Conveniently located just halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles on the Central Coast, San Luis Obispo (SLO) is an ideal home-away-from-home for summer, spring break and other seasonal and holiday vacations. Affordable San Luis Obispo hotels, activities and restaurants make the city the perfect location for your California family vacation.
San Luis Obispo family vacation idea #1 – Cruise downtown
As one of the top spots for family vacations, SLO offers a variety of free and inexpensive attractions that are fun for all ages. Explore all the exciting things to do in San Luis Obispo’s family-friendly downtown area, including the famous Thursday Evening Farmers’ Market, the creek-side Mission Plaza, hiking trails with great views, candy and novelty shops, unique attractions like the San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum ($8 for children and toddlers age 2 and up, free for babies), and, of course, Bubblegum Alley. On your San Luis Obispo family vacation, you can keep your crew engaged and happy without spending a fortune.
San Luis Obispo family vacation idea #2 – Day trip to Avila Beach
Bring or rent bikes on your California family vacation, and take a day trip to Avila Beach. Travel along the the flat, paved Bob Jones Trail from Ontario Road through the woods along San Luis Creek into Avila. There, the serene, family-friendly beach awaits, as well as the pier and the interactive Avila Sea Life Center. Stop at the Woodstone Marketplace for a pizza or deli snack, or visit the lively Avila Farmers’ Market. If you’re driving, drop by the Avila Valley Barn, where you’ll find delicious pies and fresh fruits, as well as an ice cream mill and a petting zoo.
San Luis Obispo family vacation idea #3 – Head north to Hearst Castle
Drive north for approximately 45 minutes on Highway 1 (Santa Rosa Street) to San Simeon, and see some of the area’s top family vacation attractions along the way. Take a pit stop at the embarcadero in Morro Bay, where kids can taste saltwater taffy, see the famous Morro Rock and stretch their legs in the Morro Bay Natural History Museum or Morro Bay Aquarium. (You can also make a separate day trip to Morro Bay, and rent kayaks or go whale watching with Sub-Sea Tours.) Continue north to San Simeon to see giant elephant seals and their babies lounge on the white, sandy beaches.
A San Luis Obispo family vacation would not be complete without a tour of Hearst Castle ($12 for children 6 – 17 and free for babies and toddlers). Circle through quaint Cambria on the way home, where you’ll enjoy unique dining and shopping, or stop in Cayucos for tasty seafood and a treat from the Brown Butter Cookie Company.
Enjoy great meals at these family-friendly restaurants
- Firestone Grill – great BBQ in San Luis Obispo
- McClintock’s – delicious steaks in San Luis Obispo
- Woodstock’s Pizza – original pizza in San Luis Obispo
- Louisa’s Place – home-style breakfast in San Luis Obispo
- Custom House – beautiful outdoor views in Avila Beach
- Taco Temple – locals hot spot for Mexican food in Morro Bay
- Main Street Grill – all-American food in Cambria