We just returned from our whirlwind road trip up to San Luis Obispo, or better known as SLO (pronounced slow) to the locals. I hadn't been to SLO since my childhood and I wasn't sure what kind of city vibes to expect. I was very pleasantly surprised to find a lively scene full of chic and modern brands sitting alongside the original fun and quirky spots I remembered.
I was particularly impressed with the food scene in SLO. Local restaurants are featuring a variety of fresh and inventive gourmet eats along with great atmosphere with contemporary style. During our 3-day stay we ate handcrafted artesian food, we shopped adorable boutiques and we slept in vintage luxury at the Granada Hotel.
While doing my research for boutique hotels in SLO, the Granada Hotel instantly jumped to the top of my list. This hotel is located in the heart of downtown, walking distance to all your favorite restaurants and shops. The Granada has 17 rooms, each one is individually designed and features decor details such as exposed brick walls, Persian rugs, luxurious linens and locally made toiletries. Even our spa shower had an exposed brick wall! Along with great customer service, they offer hassle-free complimentary parking for their guests. We had a very romantic stay and would certainly return again.
Best Restaurants for Artesian Food in SLO
Mint + Craft - A modern take on fast-casual food made from fresh and locally sourced produce. You can choose to either enjoy your meal inside the cafe or take it on-the-go. Perfect option for a quick bite or picnic lunch. I had The SLOCAL open-faced sandwich and it was delicious! See images below.
Taste! - While located off the main strip, this joint's trendy take on comfort food is worth the 5 minute drive. I ordered the Eve Slider Burger which comes topped with fig jam and chèvre cheese. Yum! On the side we ordered mac and cheese with fresh melted cheddar.
Luna Red - Located right next to the beautiful mission, this bright and colorful spot serves intensely flavorful tapas, handcrafted cutting-edge cocktails, and an award-winning wine list. To begin we ordered the chili con queso with manchego and gouda cheeses and for entrees we ate the tacos with chicken and beef. To accompany our meal we sipped a sparkling rosé from a local Los Olivos winery and a stone fruit-basil soda. See images below.
Woodstock's Pizza - Looking for a relaxing night to Netflix and chill inside your hotel? Pick up a fresh tossed pizza and enjoy it while cozy in your pajamas. I don't particularly recommend eating at the restaurant because it was a bit noisy and chaotic for my taste. But I very much enjoyed my SLO Classic pizza with pepperoni, onions, mushrooms, and black olives. I opted out of the sausage and added jalapeños.
More Handcrafted Food Favorites:
Novo - This dog-friendly establishment offers global cuisine with beautiful creekside atmosphere.
Foremost Wine Co. - With a farm-to-table philosophy and eclectic atmosphere, Foremost is a must-visit for the foodie aficionado.
Nourish - Healthy fresh food on-the-go!
Eureka! - American classics with a modern twist including gourmet burgers, signature plates, innovative salads, and desserts made from local scratch ingredients.
Thomas Hill Organic Kitchen - This farm-to-table inspired restaurant is dedicated to serving creative, fresh food and highlighting unique wines from the Central Coast.
Granada Bistro - As you can see from my photos, this spot has a beautiful outdoor patio with exposed brick and festive lighting. The menu takes its culinary cues from the timeless dishes and preparations of the classic French bistro and enlivens them utilizing modern techniques and bold flavors.
Best Attractions to See in SLO
Bubblegum Alley - My parents took me to see this when I was a kid and sure enough it's still there. When you're walking down Higuera Street, you'll see this narrow brick alleyway that is completely full of chewed gum. It is a strange sight (and a little gross in my opinion), but it was full of people taking photos when we walked by.
Madonna Inn - You can't talk about SLO without mentioning the fabulously tacky Madonna Inn. Every room in this hotel has a different outlandish theme from bold colors, rock caves, horse carriages and even glitter walls. Check out my full Madonna Inn travel guide here.
Hearst Castle - Located an hour outside SLO, this grand historical mansion is worth the drive. Entering the home of the wealthy Hearst family is like stepping into a real-life scene from the Great Gatsby. No decadence was spared in the construction of this abode.
Best Contemporary Boutiques in SLO
Blackwater - This women's fashion boutique mixes a touch of edgy gypsy darkness with boho style.
Ruby Rose - A treasure trove of curated vintage finds.
Heavenly Couture - Stylish duds for the modern boho babe.
Karson Butler Events at the Ah Louis Store - Planning a super fab girls event? The ladies at this shop have everything you need to throw a party that will have your girlfriends raving.
Avanti - Known for it's LA cool vibe, your inner fashionista will love this shop.
Len Collective - This oh-so-cute shop is full of dainty jewelry, apothecary goodness and adorable baby gifts.
Ambiance - A Central Coast favorite, perfect for the casual cool California gal.
The Ritual - Keeping old traditions alive is their motto. Along with being a men's fashion boutique, this store/barber shop is the perfect spot for a gentlemen to get a clean shave and fly haircut.
Best Sweet Tooth Spots in SLO
Cowboy Cookie - Custom build your own ice cream sandwich with fresh baked cookies.
SloDoCo Donuts - I had heard about SloDoCo's popular "Galaxy Donuts" so we made the quick drive over to check them out. The shop is very spacious with plenty of seating. They have games available for patrons to enjoy, we played a lively game of TV show Friends trivia while enjoying our donuts.
SLO Sweets - Step into a real-life version of the chocolate store featured in the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I personally love the gelato and chocolate truffles.
Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab - This spot was the winner of Best Ice Cream in SLO County and is most definitely a local favorite. Try the famous Motor Oil Ice Cream, it's a dark chocolate lovers delight!
Rocket Fizz Soda Pop - Have you ever tried carrot cake soda? Well now is your chance! This shop has endless choices of bottled soda, including many flavors you never knew existed. From the fancy gourmet to the just plain weird, they've got it all. There's also a huge assortment of fun and rare candies. I picked up a bag of salt water taffy. 🍬🍬🍬
Best Juice and Coffee Spots in SLO
Scout Coffee - This shop is sooo Instagram worthy and is just filled to the brink with hipster coolness.
The Neighborhood Acai and Juice Bar - Drink all that healthy goodness and re-fuel for more SLO exploring.
Ascendo Coffee - This very spacious café is the perfect spot to bring your laptop and chill while sipping your caffeine.
Seeds - Another adorable little shop that serves up a variety of healthy faves including my favorite Pressed Juicery.
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