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10 Hidden Gems in SLO

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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Cal Poly chapter.

Every Cal Poly student knows downtown like the back of their hand after their first quarter. Classic spots like Guissepies, Finneys, Moondoggies, and Scout are frequent visits for good reason, but if you want to mix it up a bit, I come with great tidings! Whether you are a tried and true Cal Poly student (go mustangs!) or visiting slotown for the first time, here are some hidden gems in San Luis Obispo from beaches and shops to new breakfast places and hiking trails.


The Honeymoon Cafe

The Honeymoon Cafe located on Price St. in Pismo Beach is adorable. The gorgeous exterior and chimes of live music will pull you in, but the coffee and breakfast/lunch menu will make you stay. Next time you come back from your morning surf, head to The Honeymoon Cafe for some replenishment particularly in the form of the cowboy burrito or jackfruit bahn mi bowl. You definitely will not regret it!

Linnaea’s Cafe

You definitely know Scout Coffee Co. but if you want to try something new head to Linnaea’s Cafe located downtown on Garden St. With a large back porch covered in swooping vines and homey chairs, Linnaea’s is the best new study spot. The vibes are immaculate and their menu is set to match with classic coffees and teas or something special like their banana bread latte (yum)! They also have a full pastry lineup and hearty breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. Linnaea’s is a perfect spot if you want to rest your feet downtown or need the perfect garden setting to grind out your latest essay. 

Cake At Madonna Inn

Madonna Inn is one of the shining gems of San Luis Obispo, but a delicious more hidden gem lies between its walls. I am not being dramatic when I say that I would quite literally die for the cake at Madonna Inn. If you have not tried it yet, RUN to the Copper Cafe at Madonna Inn. Their iconic cake comes in various flavors but my favorite is the Black Forest Chocolate. A slice can easily be split between two to three people or indulge solo (you deserve it). Make a day out of it and get dressed up with your gals to snap some cute photos along the way!

Central Coast Wine Passport

The Central Coast Wine Passport is the best deal around for all wine lovers! Priced at $75 and valid until December 31, 2024, the wine passport allows you access to complimentary tastings at 50+ wineries, breweries, cideries, and distilleries from Paso down to SLO. You get one tasting per location and complimentary corkage at participating hotels and restaurants. You can also go to olive oil tastings! Not only is this the deal of a century but is also a great way to explore dozens of new wineries and the greater Paso Robles and Atascadero area. Get your girlfriends together because you do not want to miss this!


Central Coast Surfboards

It’s hard to walk anywhere in SLO and not see some Moondoggies merch, but if you want to pick up some new surf gear then head to Central Coast Surfboards located on Marsh St. Surf where skateboards line the walls as wetsuits, swimsuits, and cute beachwear drip from every rack. Central Coast Surfboards is a great place to get lost in between classes and take some aesthetic photos along the way!

SLO Public Market

The Farmer’s Market is the hot spot every Thursday night if you want good food, good music, and good company. The SLO Public Market has all the charm and variety of the Farmer’s Market but it’s open every day! Located on S. Higuera St near the airport, the Public Market is a great spot to meet up with friends, catch some good food, and do a little shopping. There are different restaurants and food stalls to enjoy some grub outdoors as well as Orange Theory Fitness and Nexus Ballroom D.C. if you want to get your exercise on. Bursting with everything from boa buns and breweries to bouquets and boutiques, head to the Public Market for your next girl’s night!


Avila Valley Barn

We all know and love Avila Beach. The cute coastal houses and picturesque restaurants dotting the shoreline make for the perfect backdrop on a sunny Saturday as you lounge on the beach with your friends. About 10 minutes before you arrive at the beach to get your tan or volleyball on, there is a barn straight out of a Hallmark movie that deserves your attention. Avila Valley Barn, located on Avila Beach Dr, is bursting with fun things to do from shopping for local produce, enjoying a hayride, feeding farm animals (you have to see the goats) to delectable eats like famous pie or fried chicken sandwiches. Beach pics are so last year; it’s time to snap some Instagram-worthy photos while strolling through sunflower fields or picking strawberries. Definitely put Avila Valley Barn on your Spring Quarter bucket list!

Pirate’s Cove

Avila and Pismo take the cake as some of the most well known beaches, but if you want a place that’s a little more tucked away, look no further than Pirate’s Cove. Located about 15 minutes from Cal Poly, you can relax on the sand or hike up to an overlooking cliff and watch the sunset. When the sun shines through the cave on the cliff, it feels like the middle of a music video. I give it 5 gold stars so now you must go!

Lemon Grove & Rock Garden Hiking Loop

Looking for a new hiking trail? We’ve got you covered. The Lemon Grove and Rock Garden Hiking Loop is about 4 miles round trip and starts at Fernandez Ln at the Lemon Grove Trailhead, across the freeway from Megan’s Organic Market. The whole family is able to take this trail and explore the beautiful sights on a different side of the Madonna Mt. Bishop’s is so last year; 2024 is the year of Lemon Grove hiking!

The Pacific Surfliner Train Ride

If you’re traveling to Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, or San Diego, you have no other choice than to take The Pacific Surfliner Train from SLO. Anyone can drive along boring 101, but with the Pacific Surfliner Train, you enjoy views of the ocean and pit stops in coastal towns along the way. A fun way to travel and experience the southern coast of California. Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory approves!

Sam is a first-year Economics Major at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She is currently involved in Her Campus as an editorial writer and a part of other Cal Poly clubs such as Investing and Waterski. Sam loves traveling, The Princess Diaries, strawberries, reading, and winning at card games. If she's not making a new Spotify playlist, you'll catch her working out or hanging out with friends!