The Best Things to Do in San Luis Obispo With Kids

A Great Time for the Whole Family

Charles Paddock Zoo

9305 Pismo, Atascadero
(805) 461-5080

Charles Paddock Zoo in Atascadero, 14 miles north of Apple Farm on US 101, features over one hundred animals in a naturalistic setting in five park-like acres. Afterwards, relax in the picnic area. Don't forget to order freshly prepared boxed lunches from our restaurant, made especially for your outing! Charles Paddock Zoo is truly one of the top things to do in San Luis Obispo with kids. From the Apple Farm, go north on US 101 to Santa Rosa Road in Atascadero. Go left (west) on Santa Rosa, past the lake, and turn right on Hwy 41. The zoo will be on your right.

Elfin Forest

One of the many jewels of Morro Bay, the Elfin Forest Natural Area is a 1.5-mile boardwalk meandering through coastal sage and pygmy oak woods. The children will be intrigued by the wind-swept, gnarly pygmy oaks that offer cool places to hide and dream of tiny forest denizens. Grownups will enjoy the two overlooks over Morro Bay Estuary.

Go left on Monterey out of the hotel parking lot, and follow Monterey to Santa Rosa, Hwy. 1. Turn right toward Morro Bay and exit on South Bay Boulevard, go left at the end of the ramp, and drive through Morro Bay State Park approximately two miles to Santa Ysabel, where you take a right. Go left on 16th St. and park at the end of the street. Please do not block driveways.

San Luis Obispo Farmers Market

San Luis Obispo Downtown Association
(805) 541-0286

On Thursdays from 6-9 p.m., San Luis Obispo's main street, Higuera, is closed to traffic for five blocks to make room for the Farmers Market. This is the social event of the week in SLO town, when people of all ages congregate for a relaxed stroll down Higuera Street. The children will love to take in a marionette show or watch a mime performance, and later sit on the sidewalk for a dinner of barbecue ribs and corn on the cob, one of the quintessential San Luis Obispo activities.

San Luis Obispo Children's Museum

1010 Nipomo Street
San Luis Obispo
(805) 544-5437

The Children's Museum is located next to San Luis Obispo Creek, in the heart of downtown, just one block from the Higuera Street shopping district and two blocks from the San Luis Obispo Mission. The Museum offers 21 indoor and outdoor interactive exhibits that give children the opportunity to live the Museum's mission of inspired learning through by play. Recently renovated, the Museum opened its new state-of-the-art facility on June 19th, 2008. The Museum usually closes on Mondays for maintenance, but be sure to call or visit the website around holidays for any special events or extended hours.

  • From the Apple Farm, follow Monterey Street into town, turn left on Chorro, right on Higuera, right on Nipomo, one block ahead on the right is the Children's Museum.
  • On foot, you can walk straight down Monterey through the Mission plaza all the way to Nipomo St. where the Museum is on the corner of Nipomo and Monterey.

Other Activities

Local beaches are well worth a visit: Avila with its renovated downtown, children's playground and historic pier; Shell Beach for a picnic lunch on the bluff; and Morro Bay with its endless expanse of dunes, environmental preserve, and boat rentals. On Pismo Beach, 11 miles south on US 101, beach activities include boogie board and surfboard rentals, banana bike rides, horseback and mini ATV rides on the Dunes. The tidepools at Montana de Oro State Park are well worth a visit. The kids will enjoy bicycling along the shady Bob Jones Trail from Ontario Road to Avila Beach and the pier. Inquire at your hotel desk for details. Visit the San Luis Obispo Vacations website for more San Luis Obispo family vacation ideas.