A vintage hotel, charming antiques, and delicious eats along California's Central Coast.
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.