San Louis Obispo claims the “SLO LIfe” which we spend the next several days defining.
Rolling in, our schedule is already skewed seeing as how the drive through LA took over 2 hours longer than we expected – shocking. 15 miles inland from the grand pacific, SLO’s moderate climate hosts an elaborate assortment of vegetation gracing the streets and rolling hills throughout the city. We meet with some of the founders behind Jamba Juice originating here in San Louis Obispo. Enjoying fresh smoothies, flatbread pizzas, and wraps, (PS if you haven’t seen the new and improved menu at Jamba, GO!) the marketing founders join us at a sidewalk table as we discuss Jamba’s history and their love for the town itself.
We take a brief rest at our hotel – a cabana style Quality Inn walking distance from downtown – and then begin our scavenger hunt of activities with a guided map and clues leading us to Concerts in the Plaza. Occurring every Friday during the summer, this free event is a must, if your in town you really can’t miss it! Taking over the Mission Plaza, Zongo Rockstars own the stage. The reverberating reggae rhythm pulsates through the air inviting everyone to dance, and everyone does! Combined with the rejuvenating aromas of the canopying eucalyptus trees above and the warm sun setting on the horizon, the sensory experience takes us in. Dancers of all ages and styles unite to jam and celebrate the beautiful place bringing them all together. Rogue Riders join the stage during a live interview with Dave, the local weather man from channel 6 and say “hi” to the crowd. Check out some of the local news clips!
Next, we enjoy a scallop salad and salmon entree at Creaky Tiki, overlooking the stream and plaza making up the pedestrian friendly hub of downtown. This phenomenally fresh food is mostly farm to table, which is a commonality amongst almost all restaurants in SLO. Art in the Dark leads us to a jewelry shop home to beautiful and artistically unique work. Whew great first 4 hours!
Walking out of the hotel the next morning at 8AM, we are stunned by the 60 degree air and fog that masks the city and mountainside easily viewed the day before. The town feels completely different! Jumping on a street bike, we ride leisurely downtown. As signs change from closed to open, the dense fog gives the shop fronts a story book feel. We stop at Kruzberg, a locally owned cafe where we sink into comfy couches taking in art gallery-like murals and decor where mini living rooms in the loft space make for a great socializing spot.
The Saturday Farmers’ Market is our next stop where locals, chefs, and business owners shop for the freshest and most local ingredients ranging from just squeezed blood orange juice, exotic peppers, blooming lavender, succulent plant arrangements and so much more. (And, apparently this is the “small” farmers market, the big farmers’ markets take place on Thursday, still bummed we missed that!) With the fog lifting, the green and tan mountainsides reveal themselves reminding us of the paradise encompassing SLO. Temperatures warm to low 80’s paralleling the invigorating citrus spritz filling the air. Meeting Pete, one of the many brains behind the collaborative event, we are introduced us to local farmers and patrons alike.
The scavenger hunt continues! Next stop, NOVO, an exquisite restaurant on the plaza overlooking the creek flooded with families, pets, and visitors taking in the rolling stream. Bedded about 15 feet below, easily walkable paths lead down to the creek side encroached with vines, blooming brush and aloe cacti. Several restaurant patios overlook this scenic stream, at least stop in for a refreshment if not a full meal!
Touring the city with downtown association representative Deborah Cash, we visit historical buildings while learning of the Mission; In 1772 Spanish settlers established the mission in SLO which still stands today.
For more information on the beautiful and historically fascinating Mission, click here
“So will you both be throwing the first pitch with the bear?” asks the local Blues Baseball manager. To which Bob replies “well, isn’t there only one first pitch? Wait, we are throwing with a BEAR?” Soon it all makes sense, as we join Downtown Brown, the Bear mascot for the Blues SLO baseball team. And yes, in fact three first pitches are simultaneously thrown from the pitchers mound to three catchers. Why start off the first inning with one first pitch when you can have three? Yet again I think to myself, I like your stye SLO. Watching the game from the VIP lounge, team manager Adam meets us as we cheer on 9 runs in one inning! Nice work Blues.
The evening winds down with dinner at Cafe Roma. We meet the charming, talented, and knowledgeable owner of this family restaurant, Marco, and we learn of the areas history; a train stop marking the halfway point from Los Angeles to San Francisco which evolved into the pavilion of shops and restaurants it is today. While we enjoy local wine from the SLO vineyards association, Marco brings out sauteed fresh peppers from the same market we visited that morning. We order a beet salad, mussels, filet mignon, and carbonara. This mouth watering assortment is again mostly comprised of locally farmed goodies reflected in each flavorful bite.
Driving back to the hotel we open our next “clue” on the scavenger hunt, we will begin the day at 7:30AM. Time for some rest!