Exploring San Luis Obispo, Part 1

Have you ever driven up the coast of California for the weekend and explored a brand new area?


That’s just what my friend, Caitie, and I did last weekend when she came out to California from Boston for a visit.

We’ve traveled a couple other times together—through LA and Napa Valley—so we were pumped to familiarize ourselves with a brand new area… San Luis Obispo.

“SLO” is known for it’s comfortable temperatures, rolling vineyards, and gorgeous beach areas. It really does offer a little bit of the best of everything.

To get there, you can travel up the 101 through Santa Barbara… about an hour-and-a-half further north. However, since major parts of the 101 were closed because of the deadly mudslides in those areas, we went a longer, more in-land way to SLO. Not ideal but we got to see some cool sights along the way.

We hit the road on Friday morning to enjoy a long weekend up there.

Read on to see Part 1 of our trip!


After we took a yoga class together at my Eagle Rock yoga studio, we headed to Eggslut for breakfast and Philz for coffee. It was the perfect kick-off for the long drive!

It’s always nice to move your body a little before sitting in the car for hours.


The Madonna Inn

We checked into the Madonna Inn around 4pm. If you’ve never been, you have to check it out. It’s most pink, ornate, tacky, and amazing resort hotel I’ve ever been to—with over 100 themed rooms, a pool and hot tub, restaurants, bars, and a ballroom dancing floor.

The architect, Alex Madonna, designed this hotel as a labor of love for his wife. Everything—I mean everything—is pink. And as crazy as it looked, I really loved it.

Check it out!


Our room was called – “A bit of Solvang” – Room 128


The beds were super comfy.


The pool area was perched high up over the resort and it looked out over the rolling hills.


SLO Brew

After we settled in, we headed to downtown SLO for a some shopping and a drink/bite.

It felt so good to chill for a bit after our long 3.5 hour drive up north. I first tried their Cali-Squeeze. It had a nice blood orange flavor.


We split these brussel sprouts with goat cheese and bacon.


I tried their Blueberry Ale next and it was tasty! …. but not like Wachusett’s Blueberry Ale. 😉


Cheers to the freakin’ long weekend.


We did a little shopping through the area in between our Happy Hour and dinner. The shops were cute, but many of them were closing. We chatted it up with one girl who gave us some great next-day recommendations that we jotted down.

Novo Restaurant

Novo was a spot we looked up and heard was great, particularly because it’s located right on a creek which adds to the ambiance. The outside dining area was huge and the lighting was so pretty.


We sat right by the creek. 🙂

I was in the mood for a yummy cocktail and since it was a little chilly out (for California, haha), I decided to go with a hot one—the Winter Coat.


I liked it a lot!


My meal was awesome, too. I got a yellow curry chicken dish, with white rice and pita bread. I loved the richness of the curry. Spice is nice.


Madonna Inn’s Ballroom/Bar

Back at the Madonna Inn, we checked out their bar/ballroom scene and it was pretty happenin’. We overheard there were a few weddings over the weekend so there was a huge crowd dancing. They were surprisingly great! I was like, “Damn, I gotta take some lessons!”


Those classic pink booths! We had to sneak a few selfies.



Madonna Inn Bakery

After some good sleep, we got up and grabbed a quick breakfast at the Madonna Inn Bakery—some tasty croissants and hot coffees.



It was the perfect amount of fuel before our hike.

Little did we know what we were in for… (cue the laughter)

Avila/Ontario Ridge/Sycamore Ridge Hike

Holy shit! This hike was noooooo joke, and we had no clue that it was going to pan out the way that it did. It started out very low-key on a paved road by beautiful homes, but then up ahead was a huge hill that we had to hike up to continue on our way. We did it, but it took some time and some heavy breathing. Hah!



The views made it all worth it.

The hike took about 2 hours to complete and it took us down a very rocky and sketchy path that was over a ledge over the freeway. We were both like, “WHAT!!!” But we were so close so we kept inching our way down to the end.


As great as it was to accomplish this hike, it felt so good to be done and on with the day, lol.


Sycamore Mineral Hot Springs

We were advised to check out this spot and we were so glad we did. It was only a few minutes away from our parking spot.

Talk about the perfect way to relax after a hike.

We got the “enchantment tub” and it was tucked high up under the trees. For $20/person/hour, we got to enjoy your own mineral hot springs and the peacefulness of the woods.


We loved it!

Lincoln Market & Deli

This is supposedly Oprah’s favorite deli in SLO, so of course we had to go get a couple sandwiches here.

We brought our lunches to our first vineyard of the trip to soak in the scenery.


Talley Vineyards


We didn’t love the wine here (other than their smokey cab sav), but the views were amazing and lunch was scrumptious over the vineyard!

Tolosa Vineyards

This vineyard was gorgeous, exclusive, and well… expensive. But rightfully so. They hand-pick all their grapes and take really great care of their land/vines.


The man pouring our wine tasting was really knowledgable and let us try a variety of great wines—even some that were close to $100/bottle.

Libertine Brewing Co.

We checked out the Pats game here and had a great time sitting around a huge barrel and trying their speciality sour beer. I’m not the biggest fans of of sour beer, but I’m always open to trying new things.

I ended up getting a sampler to try four different ones. I liked half of ’em. Haha!


Luna Red Restaurant

This restaurant was divine. I loved the outdoor seating area, tapas menu, and overall look and feel of this Spanish restaurant.

This chicken and chorizo paella was so delicious and flavorful.


We also split bacon-wrapped dates and baked chevre.


BarrelHouse Brewing Speakeasy

We checked out this cool spot before calling it a night and heading back to our hotel room. Would love to check it out again next time I’m in SLO.

What I liked was how it was hidden behind a barber shop.

Bubble Gum Alley

As gross as it was, we had to check out an alleyway SLO is known for—bubble gum alley in downtown SLO.

Check this out.


Gross  – or – cool?


Chew on that and I’ll be back with Part 2 in a couple days. 😀

Have a great day today,


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