Top Things to Do in San Luis Obispo in the Summer

April 14, 2022

Long days, cool nights, a festive atmosphere—what’s not to love about summer in San Luis Obispo? Though you’ll likely never run out of things to keep you busy in this charming town, we’ve put together a list of our favorite things to do in San Luis Obispo in the enchanting summer months. Get immersed in nature or indulge in creature comforts such as dining, drinking, or simply relaxing by a sparkling swimming pool. When you stay at Sands Inn & Suites, you’ll have easy access to it all.    


Catch a Show at Sunset Drive-In

How to get here

A fun option for a date or a family outing, Sunset Drive-In is one of our favorite San Luis Obispo activities in the warm summer months. As one of the last theaters of this kind in the nation, it gives patrons access to a cherished relic of the past, when watching a movie from the comfort of your car was the norm. Pull up by 7:30 to snag the perfect spot and hang out until the movie starts at 8:30 pm. Love the experience? Opt for the double feature and stop by the snack bar to load up on goodies to get you through two films. Movies are priced at $10 per person for 12 and up, $4 for kids from ages 5 to 11, and free for kids under 4. Bring cash; the theater doesn’t accept credit cards. 


Have a Picnic at South Hills Open Space

How to get here

Picnicking is definitely one of those underrated things to do in San Luis Obispo, but it’s the best way to sample local culinary treats while enjoying the area’s spectacular scenery. Stop by a local market or deli to pick out a nice spread to enjoy under the warmth of the sun. Set down a picnic blanket at South Hills Open Space, a verdant park with trails overlooking the town’s hilly terrain. If you’re looking for a little shade, head to Sinsheimer Park instead and get settled under a leafy tree in the Lions Memorial Redwood Grove. 


Take a walk at Santa Margarita Lake

How to get here

Surrounded by a series of walking and biking trails, this scenic, man-made body of water is a favorite of nature lovers. Boaters and fishers descend on the lake for quiet moments out on the water. As pretty as it is to look at, swimming is prohibited, so leave your suit at the hotel. After a day of recreation, find a barbecue grill and a picnic shelter and cook up a feast to enjoy in the open air.   


Go for a Refreshing Dip

When you need a break from the midday sun, head down to the relaxing courtyard area at Sands Inn & Suites. You’ll find a spacious heated pool and a hot tub, along with a fountain that adds a touch of serenity. Pack some goodies and grab a seat under an umbrella to enjoy an alfresco lunch and a dip before heading back out to explore the town. 


Enjoy Creekside Dining

How to get here

San Luis Obispo’s charming downtown area is packed with cute shops, lively restaurants, and unhurried cafes. It’s the perfect place for a stroll and a bit of window shopping. But what makes this area extra special is that San Luis Obispo Creek runs right behind Higuera Street. Grab a seat at a Novo and enjoy some creek-side dining on the restaurant’s lush outdoor patio, shaded by mature trees. A walkway runs alongside the creek for those who want to follow its meandering path through town.  


Visit a Winery

Whether you’re a huge fan of wineries or never stepped foot in one before, you must leave room in your itinerary for wine tasting in San Luis Obispo. Summers are the perfect time to head to the bucolic areas along the town’s southeast edge and hop from tasting room to tasting room (just make sure to plan transportation ahead of time!). Sample a variety of wines on open-air patios overlooking green pastures and mountain slopes in the distance. 


Hit the beaches

How to get here

Sun, sand, and good vibes await you in San Luis Obispo! With a diverse selection of beaches, you can find the perfect coastal retreat for your summer adventures. Pismo Beach beckons with its vibrant pier and surf culture, while Avila Beach offers a peaceful oasis with its secluded coves. Explore the natural beauty of Morro Bay State Park or discover the hidden treasures of Shell Beach’s tide pools. And for a relaxed beach day, Cayucos State Beach is a local favorite.


Come for the festivals

Summer in San Luis Obispo is a time of celebration and cultural revelry, as the city hosts an array of enchanting festivals that showcase the best of the season. Without a doubt, this happy city knows how to throw a party, and during the summer months, it’s a non-stop celebration of all things fun and fabulous. From music fests that make you dance like nobody’s watching to cultural events that bring the community together, here are the most anticipated festivals in SLO:


  • ​​2023 Concerts in the Plaza  |  June 23 to September 8  |  Mission Plaza

How to get here

Every Friday from June 23 to September 8, 2023, from 5 PM to 8 PM, head over to Mission Plaza in downtown San Luis Obispo for the 2023 Concerts in the Plaza. This family-friendly event features live music and dancing, making it the perfect way to kick off your weekend. Best of all, it’s free! Singer-songwriters take the stage at 5 PM, followed by the main act or band from 6 PM to 8 PM. 


Mark your calendars for July 22-29, 2023, and prepare to indulge in a week-long celebration of music at the Festival Mosaic Summer Music Festival in San Luis Obispo County. This festival showcases a diverse range of musical genres and performances, bringing together talented artists and musicians from various backgrounds. 


How to get here

For a taste of Greece right in San Luis Obispo, don’t miss the SLO Greek Festival on June 3-4. Feast on authentic Greek dishes and pastries that will transport your taste buds to the Mediterranean. Enjoy traditional Greek dancing, vibrant music, and live entertainment throughout the festival. 


How to get here

Held at El Chorro Regional Park from June 23 to 25, Live Oak is the ultimate gathering place for music lovers to witness some of the finest entertainers in action. From toe-tapping traditional folk, soul-stirring bluegrass, and uplifting gospel to electrifying blues, smooth jazz, and captivating world music, the main stage offers an immersive experience that celebrates diverse genres and provides a perfect blend of cultural entertainment and education. 


How to get here

Travel back in time to the enchanting era of knights, maidens, and castles at the 36th Annual Central Coast Renaissance Festival. Taking place on June 15-16, this festival in San Luis Obispo promises a weekend filled with medieval-inspired entertainment, including jousting tournaments, live performances, arts and crafts, and delectable food options. 


How to get here

A highlight of the summer season, the California Mid-State Fair promises an unforgettable experience from July 19 to 30, 2023. This iconic event showcases the best of California’s agriculture, entertainment, and culinary delights. Enjoy thrilling carnival rides, explore captivating exhibits, indulge in mouthwatering fair food, top-notch entertainment, and more.


Summer truly is a special time to cross a few San Luis Obispo activities off your bucket list. Stay with us at Sands Inn & Suites to have access to comfortable accommodations, friendly staff, and amenities such as a heated pool, a fitness center, and free parking. As a pet-friendly hotel, we invite you to bring your furry friend along! To learn more about our welcoming hotel, get in touch at (800) 441-4657. 

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