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7 Hidden Gems in SLO perfect for the Weary College Student

College is hard. We’ve all found ourselves needing a break from the studying and the late nights. Whether you’re a fifth year or a first year, there are a lot of places we know to hit up. SloDoCo, anyone? How about a trip to Avila? There are so many iconic spots in SLO. But what about all the places that maybe we haven’t been yet, somewhere that might be a little less crowded? Well, today is your lucky day because we’ve made a list of seven places to go check out if you’re looking for somewhere new to take a trip to today.

1. Kayaking in Morro Bay

Morro Bay may not be a secret to any of Cal Poly SLO’s college students, but kayaking there might be. If you were in one of the lucky WOW groups that snagged this opportunity, then you know how fun it was to Kayak through the bay waters filled with sea otters and sea lions. With the sunny weather here in San Luis Obispo, a little warm air and cool water can go a long way for a college student just trying to get out of their head for a while.

Also, if you’re up for it, you could even hit the Black Hill Trail while you’re at it (details here!). Trust me it’s worth a walk.

2. Los Osos Elfin Forest

Nature? Check. Cool trees? Hell yeah. Take a walk today through the Los Osos Elfin Forest, which is just above the estuary with amazing views. This place is a must-do getaway for a cooped up college student, especially if you’re into pygmy trees (not to be confused with pygmy hippos). Think about getting out there today, and see what else SLO has to offer along the way!

3. Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa

A lot of students have been downtown—there’s Fremont Theater, Thursday night markets, any coffee shop (you can find the top 6 here), or line dancing—but chances are that most students haven’t actually been into the building we tend to pass by without thinking about it. That’s Mission San Luis Obispo. Accompanied by a beautiful church, a lovely outdoor patio in the back, and of course all the Instagram-worthy fountains you’ve probably seen passing by. So if you’re ever looking for a break, take a quick walk through the Mission, right here in SLO.

4. Sand Dunes in Oceano

If you’re one of those people who just really enjoys the outdoors and putting your toes in the sand, then this is the place for you! The options are endless; sand duning, ATV riding, trying to run without burning the bottoms of your feet… This place can be pretty fun. If you’re down for a quick drive, then check out these sand dunes!

5. Granada Hotel and Bistro

If you’re looking to dress up a little bit and have a nice brunch, this is just the place to do it. With close access from campus (thank you bus system) and an easy walk from a morning of shopping or a movie downtown, the Granada Hotel and Bistro is a good place to go for brunch if you’re ever looking for something low-key. Also, have you heard about their cupcakes? Don’t ask, just go.

6. Los Padres National Forest

Now this one is a little out of the way in Santa Maria, but it’s definitely worth a day to go check out. With so many different animals and plants to see, not to mention the views you’ll get of the coast, this is one of those must see areas to take a walk through!

7. Barnes and Noble

So this one isn’t quite hidden, but there’s nothing like the smell of a bookstore to add a little peace to your day. Whether you’re waiting to go see a movie in a few hours or simply love books, Barnes and Noble is the place to be. AND you don’t have to just like books— they’ve got a cafe and record players too.

There’s nothing quite like getting up and getting out to take a look at the world around you for a little while. With all the studying and the hard work you put in here, don’t forget how beautiful San Luis Obispo can be. With these seven spots, you’re bound to fall in love with this place all over again, and maybe you’ll find a new favorite spot along the way.

And if you’ve checked out all these places or your parents are in town for a visit, you can find even more places to go out for some fresh air here. The more adventuring, the better!

Cal Poly SLO Senior, author of Live, Laugh, Love Like a Teenager, and blogger at KWilliamsbooks, Karina is one of countless women with a voice to be heard and a dream to be chased. Perhaps a little bit of both at the same time; follow her on the journey and you can find out.
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