Ever since Oprah aired her “Are You Happy?” segment featuring San Luis Obispo, “SLO” has been rejoicing in its reputation as “The Happiest Town In the Whole USA.” While it’s certainly flattering to be the only U.S. city included on the “happy list” compiled Dan Buettner, author of “Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way,” the truth is that SLO was just as happy before all the attention.
This quintessential college town, nestled in a sea of green hills just 10 miles from the coast, has just about everything going for it so far as DogTrekkers are concerned. Laguna Lake Park, with its off-leash dog-play area and trails leading into the hills, is a “don’t miss” attraction, and the Best Western Royal Oak Hotel across the street makes an ideal base for DogTrekkers. Downtown SLO is home to a Spanish mission and plenty of dog-friendly restaurants to explore, but stay away on Thursday evenings in summer, when the streets are blocked off for a wonderful farmer’s market at which, unfortunately, canines are not allowed.
A short drive from SLO is Pismo Beach, a classic California beach town centered on a long, sandy strand where the action on sunny days resembles a later-day version of “Gidget.” Leashed dogs are allowed here and on neighboring Oceano Dunes and Pismo State Beaches. For a legal off-leash run, drive north to Morro Bay and inquire locally about Dog Beach, a word-of-mouth kind of place on property leased to Chevron.
SLO County is home to a wine region boasting many dog-friendly tasting rooms, but if you want to visit Hearst Castle or other attractions where four-legged guests aren't allowed, youíll need doggie day care. Well socialized pets can romp under skilled supervision at Thousand Hills Pet Resort, where grooming and boarding also are available. Reserve early, as this is one tail-waggingly popular place.
"Sidewalk Art Festival in San Luis Obispo" – Janet Fullwood
"Janet and Bodie at Morro Bay" – Janet Fullwood