Picnic-worthy parks and scenic wineries surround this easy-going city in Mid-Coast California.

May 29, 2012

Like most college towns (this one is home to California Polytechnic State University), San Luis Obispo has lots of affordable attractions ranging from wineries and cafes to kitschy hotels.

Edna Valley Vineyard

Here, rugged mountains make up a beautiful backdrop against the 1,100 acres of lush green grapevines.

Claiborne & Churchill Vintners

This family-run vineyard founded in 1983 specializes in Riesling and Pinot Grigio.

Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Complex

The 18-mile Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Complex hosts hikes where guides point out the various habitats (dunes, sands, and wetlands) as well as plants and animals such as the California red-legged frog and giant coreopsis, a tall plant with beautiful yellow flowers.

Big Sky Café

Try a breakfast Portobello Mushroom Benedict off of the seasonally inspired menu.

Buona Tavola

The kitchen serves excellent pastas (pumpkin-filled tortelloni, gnocchi Gorgonzola) to a crowd of professors and local families.

Madonna Inn

The Madonna Inn California has 110 themed rooms, ranging from the Caveman Room (think animal prints) to the Yahoo Room (cowboy, not Internet). It’s all tongue-in-cheek fun, including the garish hot-pink steakhouse.

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