Welcome to my first Getaway From L.A. post! If you have been following along with my Instagram and blog, you know that my favorite thing to do is explore new places, document my journey with pictures and helpful tips, and then share with you about my experiences. I’ve been wanting to expand my blog to incorporate travels outside of L.A. and figured this was the perfect time to start since I have just returned from a weekend getaway to a beautiful city on the Central Coast of California. So, from now on, I’ll be sharing information and pictures from each trip I take from Los Angeles, whether it’s a mini weekend getaway like in this case, or a more extended vacation.
One of the things I love most about Los Angeles is the endless road trips you can take to discover nearby places, whether it’s a week-long trip or a 24-hour escape. The California & West Coast adventures we can have are endless! My boyfriend and I decided to take an LA detour and explore San Luis Obispo (SLO as the locals call it), a city about 190 miles north of Los Angeles. We were only in SLO for two days, so we packed in as many fun adventures as we could, and after exploring this unique and eclectic city, I’m not surprised at all that National Geographic named it the “Happiest Place in America.” Below you will find pictures and ideas for you on fun and unique things to do in this special Central Coast city!
What to do:
BRUNCH AT THE MADONNA INN
Can you say pretty in pink?! When my boyfriend said we were stopping at The Madonna Inn for brunch, I figured it was a hotel inspired by THE Madonna. But nope, haha, it was built in 1958 and is named after the man who built it, Alex Madonna. This unique and extravagant hotel has the prettiest decor, which is a reason enough to stop by and be amazed by the grandiose interior. I love that some of the hotel room names are Love Nest, Cloud Nine, and Just Heaven – pretty fitting since we were visiting on Valentine’s Day! The brunch menu was reasonably priced, as were the mimosas. Click here to see the restaurant’s menu. Brunch reservations are not needed; you can walk right in and get seated fairly quickly – the restaurant is large and has ample seating room. Make sure to check out the selection of gourmet cakes when you are finished brunching, and pay the restrooms downstairs a visit to see even more lavish décor. The Madonna Inn is located at 100 Madonna Rd, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405
WINE TASTING IN THE EDNA VALLEY
One of the highlights of this weekend getaway for me was wine tasting in the beautiful Edna Valley, only a few minute drive from downtown SLO. Los Angeles isn’t exactly what I would refer to as “green” or “lush,” so I loved driving through the rolling green hills and beautiful vineyards that stretched for miles and miles throughout the valley. We enjoyed tastings at both Wolff Vineyards and Kynsi Winery, although only Wolff Vineyards is pictured above. It was definitely our favorite from the 7 wines we were able to taste, the panoramic views, the décor of the tasting room, and beautiful and relaxing outside patio. This was such a romantic outing for my boyfriend and I, but would also be fun for a girls trip for a special occasion. Reservations are also not needed here, and the winery is open daily for tastings from 11:00am-5:00pm. Tastings are $10, but are waved if you buy a bottle of wine. Great deal! Wolff Vineyards is located at 6238 Orcutt Rd; San Luis Obispo, CA 93401.
DOWNTOWN SLO & BUBBLE GUM ALLEY
Downtown SLO was buzzing with fun energy on a Sunday afternoon, and it’s no surprise considering that Cal Poly University is just around the corner. From restaurants, bars, boutiques, sweet and coffee shops, and so much more – there’s something for everyone here. We ate lunch at SLO Pasty Company and then got the most deeelicious ice cream from Doc Burstein’s Ice Cream Lab. We also made a stop at the infamous Bubblegum Alley (located at the 700 block of Higuera Street) and it was… interesting. Honestly, it really grosses me out that there is an entire alleyway dedicated to people’s chewed gum. But I guess it’s fascinating nonetheless. Whoever started this truly had an idea that stuck (pun intended) because there are layers upon layers of chewed gum lining the concrete walls. We walked throughout the alley way, making sure to not get too close to any of the ABC gum, blew some bubbles, and left our mark.
WATCH THE SUNSET AT MONTANA DE ORO
Most definitely the highlight of our romantic getaway was watching the sunset at Montana De Oro State Park. The name means "Mountain of Gold" and comes from the golden wildflowers found throughout the park grounds. As we made our way into the park, we stopped and parked at a small pullover section that fit about 7-10 cars. It’s shortly past the main recreation area where the majority of people park, but it leads you much closer to the cliffs. From about a five-10 minute walk into the forest area, we discovered one of the most beautiful coastline views I’ve ever experienced. We trekked around the Bluff Trail until we came upon a somewhat steep cliff side that led directly to the beach. Because it was so steep, we had to sit down and SLIDE down the entire side of the mountain. Although I was completely covered in sand and was constantly alternating between panicking and laughing, it was SO much fun and made for the perfect random adventure to end our day. Tip: go barefoot but bring solid hiking shoes - my high top converse were not the ideal shoes for this situation.
Once we made our way down to the coast, I fell completely in love with SO MANY THINGS. The jagged edges of the huge rock formations all over the beach. The black sand. The sound of the waves crashing on the shore. The fact that there was almost no one else there. Ahhh. It was so perfect. From the jagged edges of the cliffs and tide pools, the amazing views from the top of the cliffs, and sun setting perfectly over the Pacific Ocean, Mantana De Oro truly lives up to its name – it’s pure gold. Definitely a must see in SLO.
WALK ALONG THE CLIFF PATH AT SHELL BEACH
On our way from SLO to meet some friends for brunch in Pismo, we stopped for a post-coffee and donut walk along the cliffs along Shell Beach. We parked right outside of The Cliff’s Resort (2757 Shell Beach Rd, Pismo Beach, CA 93449), which we have also heard has a great brunch, as an FYI. We strolled along the paved walking path right next to the cliffs and the panoramic views were gorgeous. It was not as beautiful as Montana De Oro, but much less sandy and easier to access :) I would love to eat (or stay at!) the Cliff’s Resort during the next trip up here.
Grub at Woodstock’s Pizza, grab donuts from Slo Donut Company, and get your caffeine fix from Black Horse Espresso (was way too busy eating to take pictures of any of these spots - opps!)
Overall, I truly loved this “Getaway from L.A.” and can’t want to go back and explore more of this incredibly eclectic Central Coast city. Readers Digest said it best about SLO - “Business signs are unobtrusive by law, fewer than 11% of residents smoke—the lowest rate in the U.S.—there are lots of bike lanes, and the city’s plaza draws throngs of people for free concerts on summer Fridays. What’s not to love?” Yup, I’m lovin’ it.
Still on my SLO bucket list is hiking Bishop Peak, visiting Avila Beach, and eating BBQ at Firestone Grill. Have any other recommendations for my next trip or for others wanting to plan a SLO getaway? Feel free to leave any questions, thoughts, or ideas in the comments section!
Until my next getaway from LA adventure, thanks for tuning in!
WANDER BEYOND THE CITY LINES...
As much as I love to explore L.A., it's good for the soul to getaway every now & then. Join me as I escape from the city to explore new locations, both locally and globally!
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