Named the “happiest city in America,” San Luis Obispo is your hub for bustling farmers’ markets, craft breweries, local wineries, and award-winning eateries.
San Luis Obispo is home to the world-famous Thursday Night Farmers’ Market, Cal Poly University, Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, and Bubblegum Alley. SLO, as the locals call it, is anchored by a charming downtown filled with boutiques, cafes, restaurants and entertainment.
San Luis Obispo County, on California’s Central Coast, has one of the longest winegrowing histories in North America, with vineyards planted by Spanish missionaries over 200 years ago. It has four distinct AVAs (Arroyo Grande, Edna Valley, Paso Robles and York Mountain) each with its own terroir. A maritime influence affects the southern AVAs, as their east-west valleys allow cool Pacific breezes and coastal fog to enter unencumbered. Towards the north, York Mountain has just one winery, the longest continuously operated winery in the county. The largest and warmest AVA is Paso Robles, which is protected from much of the coastal influence by the Santa Lucia Mountains. After a long dormancy, modern commercial viticulture began in the early 1970s, with plantings of vineyards in the Edna Valley by the Chamisal and Paragon vineyards, both trying to produce Burgundy-like Chardonnay. Acreage of vine has increased almost four fold since 1990, with close to 25,000 acres currently under vine. Of all these AVAs, Paso Robles is gaining the most attention, with structured Cabernet Sauvignon and Rhone varietals, produced by a dynamic group of young winemakers.
Education in San Luis Obispo
All public K-12 institutions in San Luis Obispo are operated by San Luis Coastal Unified School District, which contains seven elementary schools, one middle school (Laguna Middle School), and one high school, San Luis Obispo High School. There are also two private elementary schools and one private high school, Mission College Prep.
San Luis Obispo is also home to California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), a public university enrolling nearly 20,000 students. The school is located just outside city limits and provides on-campus housing for nearly 6,000 freshmen and sophomores. The community is also served by Cuesta College, a community college a short driving distance away.
Economy in San Luis Obispo
Six of San Luis Obispo County’s top ten employers, as shown below, fall in the classification of Services, four fall in Public Administration. Downtown San Luis Obispo is centered around the carefully restored Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. The downtown area also has many eclectic shops and boutiques. New downtown shopping centers have been added in recent years. The Court Street Center and Downtown Center house stores that belong to nationwide chains. One of the primary draws of this area for students, visitors, and residents alike is the plethora of outdoor sports such as hiking, kayaking, surfing, windsurfing, skimboarding, diving, sailing, and kite boarding. Southwest of the town center, several large shopping centers have developed since 2003. Takken’s Shoes is headquartered in San Luis Obispo. Ernie Ball’s Music Man factory is located in San Luis Obispo.
Scenes from the 1990 film My Blue Heaven were filmed in commercial areas of San Luis Obispo. Scenes from the 2002 film Murder by Numbers were filmed in and around San Luis Obispo.