Things to do in San Luis Obispo for couples without breaking the bank

January 19, 2023

Love Month is coming up, and San Luis Obispo is the perfect place to celebrate. With plenty of restaurants, hiking trails, beaches, and even museums, there’s never a dull day. 

You don’t have to spend a fortune either! There are plenty of budget-friendly things to do in San Luis Obispo for couples that are still romantic. 

There are plenty of awesome date ideas in San Luis Obispo, with various activities outdoors that go beyond the usual dinner-and-a-movie formula. Also, the town is just so charming that even a stroll downtown with ice cream on hand is already so special. 

We’ve rounded up some of the most fun and affordable things to do in San Luis Obispo for couples, so you can spend more time together with your partner instead of worrying about what to do.

Day 1

In the morning:

Hike Bishop Peak

One of the free things to do in SLO is a scenic hike at the majestic Bishop Peak, offering breathtaking views of the city.  This hike is a perfect opportunity to bond with your partner while immersing yourself in the natural splendor of San Luis Obispo.  As you traverse the picturesque trails, take in the surrounding views of the surrounding hills and valleys, and capture a few romantic moments to commemorate the experience. Pack a light lunch for a picnic on top, and voila, romance is dead no more. 


In the afternoon:

Appreciate art at San Luis Obispo Museum

Also known as SLOMA, the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art is one of the best insights into the local art scene of the city. It contains galleries of many local artists. During the first Friday of the month, SLOMA and other galleries showcase an event called Art After Dark, a self-guided walk led by the local County Arts Council which showcases the many forms of art in the city. 

Day 2

Farmer’s Market

To kick off the day, start with a delicious breakfast at the Farmer’s Market.  This popular market offers a wide selection of fresh fruits, vegetables, and baked goods that are sure to set the tone for a romantic day ahead.


Spend the day at Atascadero

Nestled between Santa Margarita and Paso Robles is the tiny town of Atascadero, and though small in size, it makes up for it in friendliness and fun. There’s a zoo in town with some amazing animals, and you can have a picnic lunch at the Sunken Gardens.

You can also choose to go to Montaña de Oro State Park. Just 20 minutes from downtown, hike along scenic trails, go biking, horseback riding and more. 


Marvel at the beauty of Monarch Butterfly Grove

February is the last month when you can find thousands of gold and black Monarch Butterflies gathered at the Eucalyptus grove in Pismo State Beach. What’s more romantic than setting nature at its most beautiful with the love of your life? 


Watch a movie in the comfort of your car at Sunset Drive-In Theatre

Another one of the many romantic things to do in San Luis Obispo for couples is to enjoy a movie at Sunset Drive-In Theatre. Take advantage of their affordably priced snack bar, and you and your love are sure to have a great time. Most guests arrive early, especially for the first evening showing, as couples can enjoy a romantic sunset view before the first credits roll.

Day 3

Before checking out:

Explore Downtown SLO

Take a leisurely stroll through the charming downtown area with an ice cream in hand, and your partner’s in the other. Peruse the local shops and just take in the vibe. San Luis Obispo boasts a wide variety of unique shops and boutiques that offer everything from clothing and jewelry to gifts and home decor.  As you stroll, take in the sights and sounds of the city, and savor the moments of togetherness.

Will I Need a Car when I Visit San Luis Obispo?

While a car would be nice to have for your trip to SLO if you’re going on a beach trip (like in his itinerary!), you don’t have to. The city, especially the downtown area, is extremely walkable. If walking isn’t your thing, using bikes to get around is also an option, and the bus and train services are easy to use.


Also known as the Happiest City in America, San Luis Obispo is a great destination for both couples and families alike. The city is well-known not just because of Cal Poly, one of the nations top-rated universities, but it also boasts a large selection of serene locations and fun activities for everyone to enjoy.

Sands Inn & Suites is the perfect place to stay whether you are visiting for a night or longer. We are located close to California Polytechnic University and downtown —perfect if you love adventure!

We are a smoke-free and pet-friendly hotel that offers plenty of amenities to our guests while providing excellent customer service.

There is a tranquil pool and fountain area, as well as gym access and a heated outdoor pool and spa. For those on business, we have areas that can accommodate up to 50 guests for corporate functions.

For more information, call us at (800) 441-4657, or you can also explore our website. Book your room today!

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