Taking it slow in San Luis Obispo

About halfway between the Los Angeles area and the San Francisco Bay area lies San Luis Obispo. Apart from being a great town, it’s also very close to Pismo Beach, Avila Beach, and Morro Bay. We found a great county park to camp in just a few miles from town. El Chorro Park is a bit older and mostly designed for much smaller RVs, but we found a site that suited us perfectly for our stay. It was nice being in a natural setting again after our last two cramped commercial RV parks. We built two campfires during our stay, which were quite a bit easier to get burning after learning some new campfire tricks from Canadians we met in Quartzsite back in January.

Marshmallow time at the campfire!

Marshmallow time at the campfire!

We decided to keep things relatively low key during our stay, enjoying the peace and quiet rather than packing the days with sight-seeing. The campground and the adjoining county park were large enough that we could take Opie for very long walks, and the gigantic fenced dog park (an easy walk from the campground) was great for Max to relax in.

The campground also has a single hiking trail which is about a three-mile loop and a pretty steep climb. We took Opie on the trail twice in an attempt to tire him out, but even adding some ball playing at the dog park before and after the hike, he still wanted more. That dog has some endurance!

The view from Eagle Rock during our hike in El Chorro Regional Park.

The view from Eagle Rock during our hike in El Chorro Regional Park.

On our way back from our hike the trail took us right past a herd of cows. Being “city folk” and not quite sure what to expect (especially since Opie was with us), we tried to give them as wide a berth as possible. The largest of the bunch kept its eyes on us the entire time, looking pretty intimidating. Maybe it knew what we had for dinner the night before (hint: it wasn’t chicken).

Our hike took us past this herd, one of whom gave us the stink eye the entire time.

Our hike took us past this herd, one of whom gave us the stink eye the entire time.

We had heard that San Luis Obispo features a weekly farmer’s market and street festival on Thursday evenings at 6pm, so we of course went to check it out. The city closes off a few blocks for the event, and there were dozens of restaurants with tents set up selling everything from BBQ to cinnamon rolls. There were almost as many market stands selling fresh fruit and vegetables, but the offerings were dominated by strawberries:

Strawberries, strawberries, everywhere!

Strawberries, strawberries, everywhere!

Kathie did the shopping and says the strawberries were among the best she’s ever had. Since we were in town for a week-and-a-half, I knew we’d be going back the next week for more! There wasn’t a wide selection of other fruits and vegetables, but everything we did buy was excellent.

Our take from the farmer's market.

Our take from the farmer’s market.

We managed to get out of SLO (as the locals like to call San Luis Obispo) a couple times. Once we visited Avila Beach, which had some nice shops and restaurants (see photo at the top of this page). We had lunch at Custom House, a nice restaurant that allowed Opie out on the patio with us—they even brought him a dog bowl with fresh water.

The cute waterfront shops along Avila Beach.

The cute waterfront shops along Avila Beach.

There was also a dog beach nearby where Opie could get his feet wet while we walked along the shore watching the fog roll in, eventually obscuring the entire town. We were surprised to see quite a few large motorhomes parked along the side of the road, many with people relaxing in their lounge chairs under their awnings. Apparently RV parking is allowed, and there are even some overnight RV spots you can pay to park in right along the beach road.

Strolling along the dog section of Avila Beach.

Strolling along the dog section of Avila Beach.

We also took a day to visit nearby Morro Bay. A defining feature of the area is Morro Rock, a volcanic plug. Wikipedia will tell you that it is “composed of dacite, a felsic extrusive rock, intermediate in composition between andesite and rhyolite, and is a member of the igneous family.” We’ll tell you that it’s BIG, and looks out of place all alone on the beach. The beach is supposed to be a great place for surfing, and we saw quite a few surfers catching some waves during our visit. We had an excellent lunch at a nearby seafood restaurant, satisfying Kathie’s urge (we don’t eat seafood often).

Morro Rock, at the entrance to Morro Bay Harbor.

Morro Rock, at the entrance to Morro Bay Harbor.

We really enjoyed our stay at SLO, and it’s someplace we’ll probably visit again to do more exploration of the nearby areas.

Michael Fischer

After a high-tech career spanning software development and systems administration to leading hundreds of engineers across cities and continents, I’m now slowing things down a bit. Traveling full-time in an RV with my awesome wife Kathie and our two big dogs Max and Opie, I’m now pursuing smaller personal software projects while seeing North America up close.

9 Comments

  1. Wheelingit   •  

    Excellent roundup of the area, especially the doggie tips (which I do so love). Good to know about El Chorro Park as an option.

    Nina

    • Mike   •     Author

      Nina, that reminds me, I walked around the campground (both loops) and noted which sites we could fit in during our next trip. I marked “good” for sites that are long enough for our 37′ coach and our car, relatively level, and have a nice sized camping area. I marked “ok” for sites that are long enough, but are quite unlevel (e.g. I saw people’s front wheels in the air) or have awkward camping sites (many have camping behind the the site instead of next to it).

      C6 good
      C14 ok
      C16 ok
      C19 ok
      C22 ok
      C24 ok

      R1 good
      R3 ok
      R4 ok
      R6 ok
      R5 ok
      R9 good
      R7 ok
      R10 ok
      R11 ok
      R12 good
      R13 ok
      R16 ok
      R17 ok
      R18 good
      R20 ok

    • Mike   •     Author

      PS: There’s another loop that has enormous pull-through sites but no hook-ups. Might be good for those with solar or who don’t mind using their generator. There’s no dump station though.

  2. Timojhen   •  

    Send a California farmers market back east please!! I’d settle for one with a stunted selection, no problem.

  3. John   •  

    I can testify that a summer or fall return visit to the SLO farmers market will offer many more fruit and veggie options!

  4. Great recap of your stay there. Those strawberries look amazing! I love shopping at farmers markets – everything tastes better. Cheers – Ellen

  5. Susanna   •  

    The RVs you saw parked along Avila are “camping”. It’s $50 a night and can be just you or 10 crammed in a beautiful pull out.The nuclear power plant is also there and for about 4 hours a day hundreds of people drive by.
    There are a few full hook up spots too that are not on the water, I believe they are $80 a night,
    Gorgeous in Avila but there are some bad aspects to staying overnight.

  6. Esther   •  

    Great recap of the area!! Look forward to checking out the rest of your blog!

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