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Photo by Brady Teufel

The happiest town in America!

San Luis Obispo

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an Luis Obispo Spanish for St. Louis, the Bishop is a city in the U.S. state of California, located roughly midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco on the Central Coast. Founded in 1772 by Spanish Franciscan Junipero Serra, San Luis Obispo is one of California’s oldest communities. The city, locally referred to as San Luis, SLO, or SLO Town (as its county is also referred to as SLO) is the county seat of San Luis Obispo County and is adjacent to California Polytechnic State University. The population was 45,119 at the 2010 census.The population of San Luis Obispo County was 269,637 in 2010. San Luis Obispo is on the West Coast of the United States and in the Central Coast of California. The Pacific Ocean is only about 11 miles (18 km) west of San Luis Obispo.

Photo by Brady Teufel

San Luis Obispo is a seismically active area; there are a number of nearby faults. The Nine Sisters are a string of hills that run through San Luis Obispo. They are geologically noteworthy for being volcanic plugs. Six of the nine peaks are open to the public for recreation. San Luis Obispo has a cool Mediterranean climate. On average it has 50 days with measurable rain per year. Summers are generally warm and sunny, often with morning fog from the Pacific coast.

ABOVE: The beautiful Pacific Ocean sunset from the San Luis Obispo coast. BELOW: Rock formation in Avila Beach, about ten miles from downtown SLO.

Winters are generally mild, though below freezing lows may be expected 4 nights per year. The Madonna Inn is a famous local landmark. Est. by Alex Madonna in 1958, the inn is famously eccentric. The Fremont Theater, a historic Art Deco theater from the 1940s, still plays first-run movies on the huge screen. Photo by Brady Teufel

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ately, the city has been home of several other events, including a stop on the way of the Olympic Flame Relay, the Tour of California bicycle race, Cinco de Mayo celebrations, an annual Mozart festival, held every July, and a long-standing Christmas Parade. Another attraction is the development of Edna Valley into a well-known wine region. Just south of the city, people can spend an afternoon wine tasting several wineries in the area with a very short drive. The wine region extends north beyond Paso Robles (30 miles north) and south to Santa Ynez (70 miles south). During Summer months, local residents and visitors congregate in the Mission Plaza for a free outdoor concert every Friday evening. The event is called Concerts in the Plaza. Other noteworthy events include the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival, Festival Mosaic, and the Plein Air Festival. San Luis Obispo hosts a farmers market every Thursday night from 6–9 p.m. on Higuera Street, between Osos and Nipomo Streets. During this weekly event, the street is closed to vehicle traffic while vendors sell food and goods and various visual and music artists perform for the crowds.

Since June 2000, the first Thursday of every month is The Bike Happening (also known as Bike Nite) in San Luis Obispo. People gather after the farmers’ market at the Mission Plaza with their bikes. The bikers then go around on multiple circuits on the main streets of downtown adhering to the traffic laws (for the most part). The ride is a fun/social ride meant to help people.

Photo by Brady Teufel

The largest venue, Harmon Hall, seats 1,300. Many high school and college programs are scheduled. Local artists perform plays, music and dance. The addition of the Performing Arts Center attracts many touring performances which are usually not found in communities of comparable size to San Luis Obispo. ABOVE: View of Highway 101 running through SLO county from the top of the Cuesta grade. LEFT: The coastline of Pismo Beach, just 15 minutes away from downtown SLO. BELOW: Sunset from the town center of Pismo Beach.

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ne of the cultural focal centers of San Luis Obispo is the Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center built on the Cal Poly campus, which was constructed utilizing the donations of local businesses and individuals. The PAC consists of multiple venues, including the original Spanos Theatre.

The Summer of 2007 was the opening concert of the Forbes Pipe Organ, which was built elevated into a side wall of Harmon Hall and required the donation of a further $3 million for purchase and installation. Photo by Brady Teufel

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everal trails on the mountain that are good for hiking, mountain biking, and jogging. The primary trail head is at the end of Marsh Street which provides access to the Open Space and Lemon Grove Loop. A dirt road accessible from Lemon Grove Loop leads to the summit. There is a second road cut to the summit which has been abandoned and eroded to a narrow rocky path giving it the name “Rock Garden” and making it a popular descent for mountain bikers. There is also a trail that encircles the mountain about one third the way up. Cerro San Luis Obispo is a 1,292 feet (394 m) mountain in San Luis Obispo, California. It is part of the chain of peaks called the Nine Sisters, and is often referred to as San Luis Mountain, Mount San Luis, or Madonna Mountain. It is a popular spot for mountain biking and hiking, offering spectacular views and steep terrain. There is a wide dirt road traversing the mountain that leads to the peak, right below the trail. Photo by Brady Teufel

Photo by Brady Teufel

ABOVE: The seals of Pismo Beach relax on the rocks on a warm day. LEFT: The hiking trail of Cerro San Luis mountain, a popular tourist spot.

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The county’s distance from the large metro areas of San Francisco and Los Angeles has helped it to retain its rural character and reminders of old California abound. Commonly referred to as “the Central Coast,” the area is more rural and agricultural than many other coastal regions in California. Father Junipero Serra founded the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa in 1772 and the Mission is today an active part of downtown San Luis Obispo. The small size of the county’s communities, the beaches and coastal hills create tourist activities.

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ike Bishop Peak’s thin, rocky soil supports many plants that are not common in the surrounding area. Woodland areas are composed of species like coast live oak and California bay trees, as well as poison oak and California blackberry. Scrub areas support many aromatic varieties of sagebrush, coyote bush, and monkeyflower. Like the other Morros, Bishop Peak is primarily composed of dacite. Over 20 million years ago, magma

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welled up underneath a layer of softer rock and solidified. pened for business in 1958, it quickly became a landmark on the Central Coast. The Inn was created by Alex Madonna, a successful construction magnate and entrepreneur, and his wife Phyllis. The well-known motor inn is prominently located on the west side of US Route 101 and situated on the lower eastern portion of Cerro San Luis Obispo. The property is adorned with a lavish common rooms accented by pink roses, Western murals, and hammered copper. In 1966, the Inn’s original units were burned to the ground in a dramatic fire. It reopened a year later, and by the end of the decade, all of the rooms had been rebuilt in the unique and ornate style they are known for today. There are 110 rooms.The Madonna Inn opened as a motel inn on December 1958 upon the completion of its first twelve rooms. -Text courtesy of Wikipedia

“The Happiest Town in the Whole USA is surrounded by lush hills that at this time of year are so intensely green, they practically sparkle.” -USA Today

Photo by Brady Teufel

RIGHT: The sunset at Avila Beach during spring.

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