Friday, April 10, 2015

Weekend in San Luis Obispo

Sourabh and I spent last weekend in San Luis Obispo, a college town located about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. We drove up Saturday morning and drove back Sunday afternoon, which gave us just enough time to have a couple tasty meals and explore two awesome trails.

Mason was ready to go.
The drive up to SLO is gorgeous after you get out of LA, especially if you take the Chumash Highway (Route 154) from Santa Barbara, which runs through the Los Padres National Forest, passing Danish imitation town, Solvang, before meeting back up with Highway 101.

We stopped for lunch in Solvang, since I'm a quarter Danish and wanted to check out what imitation Copenhagen looked like. I grew up outside of Lynden, WA, which has an imitation Dutch downtown, so I wanted to see what the SoCal Danish version looked like. It was cute enough to drive through, but pretty packed on a Saturday afternoon, and I think the main attraction there is wine tasting, which we weren't interested in since we were going to be driving another hour and then hiking.

We bought some baked goods from Olsen's Danish Village Bakery  & Coffeeshop, but I'm sad to say the almond tart and florentine simply did not live up to the deliciousness of the Lynden Dutch Bakery in my hometown. If you're looking for wine tasting, though, it seemed like there were plenty of tasting rooms along the main drag.

Once we got to SLO, we headed straight for the trailhead.

We wanted to hike up one of the nine volcanic peaks that dot the SLO/Morro Bay landscape (this Wikipedia article has a cool picture that shows them all in a line).

We hiked up Cerro San Luis, which gives you a gorgeous view of the city and surrounding hills. The main trail is 2.75 miles one-way and has roughly 1,100 ft. elevation gain, but it's almost all uphill so it's not as intense a climb as the hike we did on Sunday.

Quick PSA/reminder for dog owners: always bring plenty of water if you're hiking with your dog. Dogs can't sweat so they can overheat more easily than humans. And be prepared to carry them if they need a break (slash are lazy and just give up after half a mile...)

The peak gives you an awesome 360 view of the SLO area. It was actually pretty windy and chilly at the top, so we didn't spend much time enjoying the view, but it was a great reward for the hike up.

Once we got back down, we checked into our hotel (the local Best Western, which wasn't terribly cheap but was the most affordable and decent dog-friendly option), and drove into town for dinner. Sourabh had read great reviews of Petra, a casual, college town-type Mediterranean restaurant. We shared their lamb shawarma and chicken shawarma platters, along with sides of dolmas and baba ghanoush. They had hard cider on tap, which I love to see, so I had a pint of that, and we shared their enormous and delicious baklava for dessert.

I was unable to stop from digging into the hummus before taking a picture.
We drove over to Morro Bay to watch the sunset, although we ended up huddled in our car for about 30 minutes since it was cold with the strong wind coming off the water.

Sunday morning we woke up early and drove to Coastal Peaks Coffee for breakfast. I always give almond milk espresso drinks a try when they're available, and I'm usually disappointed, but the almond milk latte I had here was great.

After finishing our breakfast, and providing plenty of scraps for the extremely vocal local birds, we drove a bit north of SLO along Highway 101 to hike the Reservoir Canyon trail up Murray's Hill.

It's about 2.5 miles up to the top and gains about 1,200 ft. of elevation, with a lot of that gain in the last mile.

The first mile follows along a creek, which was actually running. Given the years-long drought in California, it's pretty rare to find running water, so that was cool.

The trail is completely worth slogging through, though, because the views of the Central Coast from the top are absolutely stunning.

I wish my pictures fully captured how gorgeous it was up there, but you'll just have to believe me.

We headed back down, my calves complaining about two days of descents in a row, and then stopped in town one last time to grab smoothies for the drive back to Orange County.

Mason promptly passed out on my lap and barely woke up for the 3.5 hour drive back.

One of my favorite things about living in California is how many cool places are a weekend trip away. This trip showed us that we could pack a lot in to just two days without spending very much money (total cost was about $300, including gas, which isn't much compared to how much weekends away used to be in NYC).

So... any recommendations for where our next weekend trip should be?


  1. Wow. So. Cool. Also, woohoo for being almond milk latte twinsies! :)

  2. Great pictures! Looks like you had a great time. Now that I've done SLO my next long weekend trip I think is Santa Barbara. :)

    1. Love Santa Barbara! I know there is a wine tasting room right near the downtown area that has several local vineyards in one place. Also, the hiking/trail running there is great!

  3. My jealousy for your move grows stronger with each new lovely post ;)

  4. You grew up outside Lynden, WA????? I grew up in Ferndale.... small world!

    1. Oh wow! Yes, I was sort of in between Lynden and Ferndale!