San Luis Obispo, California


2013 Best Small Towns in America

Contest ends:  September 3, 2013

270 Votes - "Friendliest"
37 Votes - "Most Beautiful"
5 Votes - "Most Fun"
3 Votes - "Most Patriotic"
2 Votes - "Best For Food"


Dubbed the happiest city in America in Dan Buettner’s book, Thrive, San Luis Obispo’s combination of beaches, mountains and wineries convinced Oprah the town was worthy of the title. Locals credit wide sidewalks and a town square, a ban on drive-thru’s and public smoking, and bike valets as contributors to the town’s unique happiness. An emphasis on small businesses and openness to bartering are part of the neighborly relationships between locals.

This small town offers something for every visitor from hiking, biking or golfing to spas, fine dining and wine tastings. In the Central Coast wine region, over two-dozen family-owned wineries throughout three valleys host tastings, tours and events. There’s no shortage of local events including Art After Dark, Concerts in the Park, Festival Mozaic, Open Studios Tour, and an International Film Festival. You can also browse the farmer’s market every day of the week here.

The historic Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa is a must-see and within the two-block plaza you’ll find the History Center of San Luis Obispo, San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, and the Children’s Museum. Additionally and Hearst Castle is just north of the town.

A trip to the Central Coast wouldn’t be complete without beach time where surfing, water sports, nature trails and state parks present a variety of options for recreation or relaxation. View photos of the breath-taking coast and read reviews here.

We moved here 20 years ago from SO CA where, sadly, there are too many people. Too many people make for cranky people (on the roads, in stores, etc.). SLO is the best place to raise children. The weather is almost perfect and the setting is gorgeous with mountains, valleys and ocean and cuture within minutes of one's home. How could you not be happy here?
Reviewed by dahlia gal
on June 22, 2012
I live here, housing is too expensive and the City Council is constantly making poor decisions both for the people in the town and the environment. Don't believe me? Take a look at some of these local news articles.
Yeah, we're really friendly here as long as you maintain employment that gives you enough money to afford a house around here. Want an idea of how much housing costs? Take a look at a local craigslist search for housing in SLO.
I think that all of these things should be considered for this little contest.
Reviewed by th30ma55
on June 12, 2012
As a local from San Luis Obispo, it is a very friendly town...unless your making noise ( riding your bike near a homeless shelter.
But hey if this contest is for "Friendliest town to pass through" then we are a shoe in.
Reviewed by DennisH
on June 12, 2012
If "friendly" is code for rich and white, then this is absolutely the friendliest town I've ever seen.
Reviewed by SirWiggles
on June 12, 2012
I've been there a couple of times in the past few months and have been impressed by the authentic friendliness of the people in the area. The college town of SLO was really fun, and the Paso Robles wine country town was really charming. The beach towns were laid back and I felt very welcome by the service in the restaurants. They're also very friendly to pets. Many of the hotels were pet friendly, which means I didn't have to board my dog. The prices were reasonable too, even for oceanfront hotels, which was friendly to my wallet. Good times!
Reviewed by pachamama67
on June 4, 2012
Showing 16 through 20 of 205 reviews



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