Why Living in SLO is the Best

Making my decision to come to Cal Poly definitely was probably the biggest life choice I’ve made to date. I had never really spent time in San Luis Obispo nor anywhere along the central coast and initially I was unsure about the slower paced lifestyle here. The place I grew up and the one I call home is Laguna Beach, California located in south Orange County. A year ago, I thought SLO was just too far away and too different from home; I could not picture myself being a 4 hour drive away from the place I loved most.

However, once I actually visited SLO my perceptions changed. Laguna Beach and SLO were not so different after all, both with beautiful scenery and artisan character. Plus, everyone I met at Cal Poly was so genuinely excited to be there, I could tell not only by what they said about it but in their expressions of pride when they spoke of the place that their university called home. This is what truly sold me— I wanted every piece of the excitement these students embodied.

When living off-campus you’ll begin to live like a true member of the San Luis Obispo community, even if it is only for three of four years of your time here. Along with deciding where to live off-campus, and with whom, there are some things you should know about why living in SLO is the best. I mean after all, it was even named “The Happiest City in America” by Oprah.
The following are just some reasons to prove Oprah’s statement about San Luis Obispo:

  • The weather— It’s usually a very mild temperature ranging from anywhere between 60 to 80 degrees. While it can be cloudy in the morning, the fog usually burns off by afternoon for clear, sunny skies. Plus, you can wear shorts in the winter, no problem. “I’m from Seattle where it is obviously cooler and rainy for most of the year. The weather in San Luis Obispo is just right and

    Avila Beach. Photo from Tourism Info.

    was one of the reasons I chose to come to school here” says first year, Rae Siese

  • The beach— The beach is something I absolutely cannot live without; it has been the place I’ve called home my entire life. Luckily, Avila Beach is 15 minutes away from Cal Poly and Pismo is about 20 minutes away. Both are great spots to enjoy the sun, take a walk, or surf.
  • The hiking— Basically everywhere you look in SLO there are hills; after it rains they are a beautiful bright green. Three notable hiking trails are Madonna, Bishop’s Peak, and Avila Ridge Trail. All are not too challenging, but definitely a good workout and something every SLO resident must accomplish.

At the top of Bishop’s Peak. Photo by Juliana McCuaig.

  • The food— While campus food is simply awful (that’s a post for another day), food around SLO is just the opposite. Downtown you’ll find a mixture of
    independently owned restaurants that aren’t anywhere else, coupled with everyone’s favorites from
    home, like Chipotle. Firestone, Woodstock’s, Novo, Luna Red, Eureka, and Big Sky are all places you must try.
  • The farmer’s market— Every Thursday night, Higuera Street in Downtown SLO hosts a farmer’s market. This truly brings the community together over produce, live music performances, and the local restaurants.


    SLO Farmer’s Market. Photo from Tourism Info.

  • The college-town feel— This cannot be found at universities located among the hustle and bustle of a big city. In fact, Cal Poly students make up roughly half of the total population of San Luis Obispo: 46,377 people. Students have a great influence on the community. “I love the college town atmosphere,” says Maddy Carlentine. “I’m originally from Santa Barbara so it almost has the same kind of feel, but SLO has an even smaller and closer knit atmosphere.”
  • The bar scene downtown— Once you turn 21, the bars downtown are the ideal place to purchase your first legal drinks with all of your friends.
  • The people— SLO wouldn’t be the happiest city in America without happy people but the easygoing lifestyle generally permits happiness among the attitudes of SLO residents. Almost everywhere you go, be it on a hike, downtown, around campus, or on a walk in your neighborhood, people will almost always smile at you with a friendly greeting.

Two friends and I in Bubblegum Alley downtown. September 2014.

Avila Beach- Tourism Info

Farmer’s Market- SLO County Farmers’ 

Bishop’s Peak- hikespeak.com


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