Towns of SLO County

By: DogTrekker Staff
Dog in a cart
Ready for a trip to town. (CC) E. Haug

San Luis Obispo, home to California Polytechnic State University, is a quintessential college town nestled in a sea of hills just 10 miles from the Pacific coast. It has just about everything going for it so far as DogTrekkers are concerned, from dog-friendly hotels and restaurants to dog parks and historic sites including a Spanish mission dating to 1772 and an 1850s adobe home whose alluring gardens are open to canine visitors with people on the other end of the leash. Even SLOMA, the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, is happy to host leashed dogs and their owners during regular business hours. For stretching Cooper’s legs and yours, nothing beats Laguna Lake Park, with its off-leash dog-play area and web of trails leading into the hills. The Best Western Royal Oak Hotel across the street makes an ideal base for DogTrekkers. El Chorro Regional Park, a 700-acre preserve between SLO town and Morro Bay, features a fenced dog park and the dog-friendly San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden, a work in progress that provides plenty of inspiration for green-thumb visitors.

Jaunting over to the coast, you’ll find a string of towns, from Morro Bay in the north to Arroyo Grande in the south, worthy of exploration with your tail-wagger.

Pismo Beach, a classic California beach town, is a DogTrekker favorite. Wander through the eclectic downtown, checking out shops selling everything from surfer gear to souvenirs, then paw your way to Dinosaur Caves Park, an 11-acre, bluff-top oasis popular with dog-walkers, photographers and strollers for its expansive ocean views and Art in the Park events held the first Sunday of each warm-weather month. If your plans include an overnight stay, consider Pismo Lighthouse Suites, featuring nine dog-friendly units with management-supplied pet beds, food and water bowls. Two-legged and four-legged visitors alike enjoy access to the oceanfront lawn, and this generous business donates a portion of its $25 pet fee to Woods Humane Society.

Just north of Pismo, Avila is a walkable seaside community whose waterfront pathways include the Bob Jones “City to the Sea” Trail, which follows railroad right-of-way for about 2.5 miles from downtown Avila to a parking lot at Avila Hot Springs. Still farther up the coast is the Morro Bay estuary, famous for its temperate climate, scenic beauty and wide variety of seaside activities available for your two- and four-footed family members. Majestic Morro Rock looms over the north end of the bay, while the southern end of the estuary splashes up against the quiet little town of Los Osos, where opportunities for bayside adventures await.

For on-the-water excursions, look to Central Coast Outdoors for dog-friendly kayaking and Lost Isle Adventures for relaxed boating with Bella aboard. Rays gently swim below the water’s surface, while harbor seals and otters splash near the embarcadero. A rookery near the Museum of Natural History is the year-round home to egrets and herons.  Kayaking allows for an up-close visit to the Morro Bay Oyster Company’s sustainable oyster beds. 

When it comes to lodging, DogTrekkers visiting the coast turn to the Martin Resorts group, which operates some of our favorite dog-passionate establishments in what we call “the SLO Lane.”

Martin Resorts’ collection of premier hotels and restaurants on the Central Coast includes four that welcome canine companions: the oceanfront Pismo Lighthouse Suites (mentioned above), Best Western Plus Shore Cliff Lodge and The Inn at the Cove in Pismo Beach; and Paso Robles Inn in the heart of Paso Robles wine country.


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