If you consider what California is in terms of media mentions, it is easy to think of it in terms of Hollywood, Silicon Valley, and of course the big cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco, with their supporting cast of sprawling semi-urban and suburban cities. What doesn’t get much press are the farther flung locales, which is perhaps for the best. San Luis Obispo, a small city about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, is one of those places, and is a must-see on any honest exploration of California.
Sometimes words add so littleViews like this need not much in the way of explanation, for the beauty speaks volumes. The town below is San Luis Obispo, and the peak from which this picture was taken is known as Bishop Peak. The hike to get up here takes perhaps an hour, but a lovely, if just a bit strenuous, hour it will be. You’ll traverse a meadow (and who doesn’t like traversing meadows?), head through the lowland canopy, then go hither and fro as you zigzag up the hillside along the trail’s switchbacks. The trail is not far from the town’s university, so on a nice weather day you are bound to be sharing the trail with students who have chosen the outdoors over their studies. Not to worry. There’s lots of open space for everyone.
Up top, it’s a 360 degree viewOnce you are at the top of the mountain, you’ll have not only views of the town, but also over the undeveloped portions of the area, of which there are many. Residents are keen to keep the town and environs low key and for the most part untouched, and thankfully they are doing a very good job of it. On a clear day, with right vantage point, you may be able to drink in the rolling hills all the way until they melt away into the azure Pacific Ocean, which is not much more than a fifteen minute drive from the center of town.
When the weather’s right, as it is so often is, the temperatures are mild and the breezes equally so. The sun illuminates without being oppressive, while the clouds languidly pass above, almost hesitant to drift away from this little slice of heaven. Pack a lunch if it pleases you, and enjoy your meal from one of the many vantage points along the way or at the top.
The town’s something to see up close tooSince you’re in the area, it behooves you to visit the town of San Luis Obispo. The mission, of which parts still remain from its late 18th century original construction, is a focal point of the town. During the day, you are free to walk in and explore, and even pray if you so desire. Nearby is a lovely creek lined with places to take respite from the admittedly un-heady pace of the town. There is also a plethora of good food, drink, and shopping to be had in the immediate vicinity.
A nice hike, and a nice town too
Wide open spaces, inviting hikes, and an imminently stroll-able town, all make San Luis Obispo an appealing destination. Should you ever find yourself thinking about the fastest way to drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco, put the kibosh on expediency, and instead choose to spend a bit of time along the way in lovely San Luis Obispo. Who knows what will find you.
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