Sprinkles festoon a treat at Batch in San Luis Obispo.
Dubbed SLO (say “slow”), this city of 45,500 makes an easy meeting point between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Its walkable downtown offers a mix of history and quirkiness. Pass Bubblegum Alley, with its colorful blobs, en route to the 1772 Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. Area code is 805.
1 Exposed brick, velvet curtains, and vintage-style furniture blend with modern amenities at the Granada Hotel & Bistro. Stay in one of 17 cozy rooms, some with push-button fireplaces, or dine on the patio next to a burning tree sculpture repurposed from the building’s original tin roof. 544-9100, granadahotelandbistro.com.
2 The area's vineyards lie outside town, so take a shortcut at Central Coast Wines, a shop and tasting room. Try a Saucelito Canyon zinfandel here if you can’t make it to the winery’s red farmhouse. 784-9463, ccwines.com.
3 A few blocks outside the heart of downtown, Ruby Rose fills a warehouse with desirable doodads from the 1940s through today: manual typewriters, old-fashioned globes, picture frames. Neither jumbled junk shop nor stale antique emporium, it’s a curated assemblage of surprising delights. 545-7964, rubyrose805.blogspot.com.
4 Stomach growling? After a meal at the popular Big Sky Cafe (545-5401, bigskycafe.com), cross the street for a custom ice cream sandwich at Batch. Match warm cookies, cool filling, and toppings, then grab some napkins and eat quickly. icecreamslo.com.
5 Firestone Grill's vast courtyard and cavernous interior are filled nonstop with satisfied diners, and no wonder: Enjoy succulent tri-trip on a French roll dipped in garlic butter and you may need to head back to the Granada Hotel for a nap. firestonegrill.com.
Photography by Steph Dewey
This article was first published in January 2014. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.