Big Little Town
A lot of the locals affectionately call San Luis Obispo or SLO “a big little happy town,” and rightfully so. Featuring a perfect mix of urban and rural, SLO is big enough to offer countless offerings in all the departments you care about as a retiree, but small enough that you can enjoy a slow, relaxed pace—which is exactly what you need in retirement. It’s also small enough to get from one side to the other in just 30 minutes on a bicycle and big enough to have a bustling downtown with tons of cute boutiques and shops.
If there’s one thing both locals and visitors can agree on about SLO, it’s that everyone here is super friendly. It’s probably because people here are generally healthy and happy—it’s been named America’s happiest town after all. The quality of life here tends to be better than in other beach retirement destinations. And since everyone is so friendly, it’s really easy to socialize. There’s a well-setup community for retirees, and there’s a community for all sorts of stuff as well—from music, theater, food and wine, surfing and hiking to agriculture and exercise communities.
Vineyards and Wineries
SLO is surrounded by picturesque sights from blue skies and vibrant green trees to rolling hills and of course, scenic vineyards. Acres of these beautiful vineyards are located just minutes from downtown SLO. There are also over 280 wineries in the area. You can pretty much check out a different one each day without your plans being foiled by bad weather, as the city gets an average of 287 sunny days and just 20 inches of rain per year.
People who live in SLO live a pretty active lifestyle. It’s easy to do in a place like SLO where outdoor activities are plenty and varied and the weather is beautiful all year long. The average high temperature in the summer is 73°F while average high and low temperatures in the winter are 62°F and 42°F, respectively. You get 30 miles of trails in the city alone, plus opportunities to go biking, camping, sailing, kayaking and more. If you want an active beach retirement, you should consider retiring in SLO.
San Francisco and Los Angeles
One of the best reasons to retire in SLO is the fact that it’s between two of the most diverse and culturally-renowned cities in the United States. It’s 231 miles from San Francisco where you can marvel at eclectic pieces of architecture and sample some of the best Chinese food the nation has to offer. And Los Angeles, known for its Hollywood entertainment industry, is even closer at 189 miles away. If you ever need a change of scenery you could easily take a weekend trip to either of these major cities.
When finding a place for retirement, it’s important to consider the amount of entertainment offered as well as the number of opportunities to make new friends. But it’s also important—possibly even more—to find a place that offers excellent medical care. Luckily, SLO offers just that. Nationally-recognized for being a hub of health care excellence, it is home to superior medical facilities including two major private hospitals, urgent care centers and healthcare centers.
Another thing that locals in SLO can’t stop gushing about is its Farmer’s Market, which they claim to be “easily the best in America.” The high-quality produce, unforgettable flavors, street performances and artisan goods draw in visitors all the way from San Francisco and LA every Thursday of the year except Thanksgiving. If the market doesn’t have the flavors you’re looking for, you could always find it elsewhere in SLO’s fantastic restaurant scene. If you’re in the mood for barbecue, head over to the Firestone Grill for a wide selection of barbecue plates. If you want healthier options, the Big Sky Cafe has noodle bowls, grilled meat and seafood.
Culture and Entertainment
The cultural and entertainment hub of California’s Central Coast, SLO has enough things to keep your schedule tight for the whole year. From concerts in a wide variety of venues—vineyards, concert halls and parks—to amazing theatrical performances to a plethora of art galleries, SLO has all kinds of entertainment for people of all ages. The SLO Museum of Art even offers classes and lectures. The nightlife in SLO is also vibrant and energetic, thanks to the presence of a university in the city. Downtown SLO has plenty of venues to grab a drink, hit the dance floor or watch a movie on a reclining seat.
Access to Many Beaches
Surrounded by other towns in the county of the same name, the city of SLO doesn’t have a huge body of water right next to it. But the county does have 80 miles of coastline and some of the most beautiful beaches in the state. Drive 14 minutes south and you’ll reach either the relaxing and charming Avila beach, or Pismo Beach which offers a wide variety of water sports like fishing, surfing and kayaking. There’s also the family-friendly Morro Bay about 17 minutes away, as well as Cayucos, a beach with incredible views and a fishing pier, about 22 minutes away.
Events and Festivals
The Thursday Farmer’s Market isn’t the only major event in SLO. As you’d expect from a city of culture, SLO has numerous events and festivals celebrating different art forms. There’s the International Film Festival in March which draws in independent filmmakers, film enthusiasts and even celebrities; the Festival Mozaic celebrated in honor of Mozart in the summer and the Open Studios Tour in October, which is the biggest visual arts event in the area. Concerts in the Plaza is also held every Friday during the summer, and on the first Friday of each month is Art After Dark, which is when galleries, studios and other venues open their doors to guests for a night of socializing.