Click on the photo above to see a slideshow of SLO pictures! (Once there, click on the thumbnail photos, and they will lead you to a slideshow of larger photos)
SLO is surrounded by hills that go from brown in the fall to bright green in the spring and summer, lending a tranquility the region...(Photo: K. Anderberg, Sept 2008)
San Luis Obispo is located 200 miles north of Los Angeles, and 100 miles north of Santa Barbara. It is considered "Central California" as it is about halfway between LA and
San Francisco. The ocean is a short drive from SLO, and many beach towns such as Morro Bay, Avila Beach and Cayucos are to the west of SLO. The two most popular tourist
attractions in the general area are the Madonna Inn (www.madonnainn.com) and The Hearst Castle
(www.hearstcastle.org). The most popular local attractions in the town of SLO are
probably the old mission and the university.
SLO sunset over the Nine Sisters...(Photo: Kirsten Anderberg, Sept 2008)
SLO is a small town surrounded by intense green hills on the slopes of dormant volcanic plugs, called The Nine Sisters. You can read more about these hills at the
Sierra Club site. The slopes of these hills are so lush and green in the spring, that they dominate the town.
SLO has a rich agriculture presence, and the local university, California Polytechnic State University, has a
strong background in agriculture. As someone who has lived in SLO, let me tell you, it rains a lot there. It is sunny a lot too, but during the winter, it rained really hard and
a lot. Many of the students I knew attending Cal Poly were studying solar technology and glass blowing, back in the 1970's, before that was prevalent all over. SLO has a
vibrant artist community and also has had successful health food stores since the 1970's. But it is still a small town and I remember seeing lots of foreign films while in SLO,
because in the 1970's when I was there, as it seemed like the only movie theater in town played Saturday Night Fever for a year solid!!!
Cal Poly University looking east from SLO...(Photo: Kirsten Anderberg, Sept 2008)
San Luis Obispo is the home of 4 year university, California Polytechnic State (http://www.calpoly.edu), and also houses the 2 year
college, Cuesta College (http://www.cuesta.edu). Both are exceptional schools in safe environments, in a beautiful city. Cal Poly (Cal State University) has a large sprawling campus. It is pretty and has a lot of green space. It has a more modern feel, not like the stately older buildings on
campuses like the University of Washington. Surrounding the west side of campus is a lot of dorm housing and as you move more towards the downtown area, apartment houses are
more common, along with really beautiful houses on residential side streets. The downtown pretty much consists of one street, a street lined with fig, lemon and orange trees.
The downtown area has an old mission, part of the California mission series, and its adobe walls are worthy of a look. The
central downtown plaza attracts several outside festivals a year, and a babbling stream runs through the main downtown area, allowing for some little bridges, etc. across town.
The hills of the Nine Sisters volcanic plug slopes, surrounding SLO, are full of orchards of lemons, oranges, figs, avocados, almonds and more. When I lived in SLO, avocados were all over on the ground, as avocado
trees were thriving en masse in the front of many of the town's apartment houses. You could also find figs and almonds and many other abandoned trees around in the hills...it
is a great place to ramble around on hills, maybe having a picnic under an oak tree on the way. The hills and canyons around SLO are truly gorgeous. The largest hill in SLO
is Cerro San Luis, but the Nine Sisters hills run all the way to the ocean, ending with Morro Rock, in Morro Bay. These volcanoes have not been active for 20,000,000 years,
but their plugs still dominate the landscape. The top of these mountains seem to be hard granite, but they are hardened lava, and it is said some of these plugs came out of the
tops of volcanoes like toothpaste, very thick. The rest of the volcanic cones washed and eroded away but these plugs remain. They also have odd soil contents due to their geologic history
and thus host an unusual variety of plant life and animals. When I would hike around Cerro San Luis, there were little streams with oak trees growing through the cracks in the hill, which provided a nice
shade on a hot day. I remember sitting up under those oak trees a lot when I lived there, and from up there, you get a nice overview of the city. These Nine Sisters hills are unusual in that
the first half of the hill is full of very mild slopes with greenery, then the upper half is shiny hard rock. Cerro San Luis is popular with hikers but since it is not public land,
there are fences and private property issues on it, yet I have hiked around it with friends a lot without incident. Only once did I run into some people who lived there telling me to leave,
it was when the almonds were just about ripe, and I was in an almond tree grove, and they stumbled on me and told me to leave. They were nice about it, but that is the only time I remember
being told to go around some property on that hill...The Lemon Grove Trail is one of the public paths on the hill.
The crime rate in SLO is really low compared to somewhere like Los Angeles. It is small, and it really just does not have a large criminal element working there. Yet there
is a prison outside of SLO, you pass it on the way up to the community college in town, Cuesta College. But SLO is still relatively safe as cities go, and it really is not a city
so much as a small town.
SLO has had a good bus system for the last 3 decades. It has reliable social services, and has a community with support and involvement. It supports the arts, and regularly
brings national acts to campus. I remember Marvin Gaye performed at Cal Poly when I was there in the 1970's.