Life in San Luis Obispo

Location: Experience the Best of the Central Coast

Cal Poly is located in the beautiful town of San Luis Obispo on California's Central Coast.

Central Coast Beaches

Along the central cost reside some of California's most pristine, unblemished beaches. Small and welcoming, the surrounding beach towns make for a tranquil atmosphere. Driving north on Highway 1 from Cal Poly, you can visit Morro Bay, Cayucos, and the incredible Hearst Castle. Driving south takes you to Avila Beach, Pismo Beach, and the famous Oceano Dunes.

Wine Country

Grape growing and wine making collectively constitute the second largest agribusiness in California, accounting for well over 2 billion dollars in annual sales. There are more than 30 wineries in San Luis Obispo County, most of which offer tours and wine tasting on site. Cal Poly operates a 100-acre state-of-the-art commercial vineyard that produces award winning wines as well, so if you are interested in wine, San Luis Obispo is the place to be!

Natural Beauty

The Central Coast is the perfect destination for those who want to explore its natural beauty. Whether you enjoy hiking, kayaking, surfing, or sailing, you'll find many outdoor adventures to inspire and challenge your adventurous spirit.

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Off-Campus Entertainment

Downtown San Luis Obispo

Downtown San Luis Obispo is a popular destination for many Cal Poly students since it is within easy walking or biking range from campus. With movie theaters, restaurants, shopping centers, and specialty shops, there is never a dull moment. Head downtown on Thursday evenings for Farmers' Market where music, food, and entertainment are on every corner. Browse the SLO Downtown Association's web page for a full list of events and activities.

Surf Lessons

Take the bus for free down to Pismo Beach and learn to surf! Shell Beach Surf School is just one of many surfing schools located on the beaches of the central coast. Check out their website for more information. Poly Escapes at the Rec Center offers surfing lessons and provides boards and wet suits. You will need a wet suit in this area of the Pacific Ocean.

Whale Watching

Morro Bay is located eight miles north of campus up Highway 1 and is known for its superb whale watching. Charter a boat or try to see from the coast the whales, seals, and dolphins which are common in this area. For more information, visit


For the outdoors type, there are plenty of hiking opportunities in San Luis Obispo County. Some of the most popular that are close to campus include the Architecture senior project site, Bishops Peak, Madonna Peak, and the hike to the “P” on the hill overlooking campus. Montana De Oro State Park located in the nearby town of Los Osos is another popular destination for hikers. Your International Peer Contact can show you many fine hiking spots.

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