Winter holds the title of the holiday season: one filled with good cheer, cold air, warm feelings, and a distinctive place in the hearts of many. While there are classic themes and imagery of a snowy Christmas morning, some would prefer the weather stay a little milder. If you are one of those people, San Luis Obispo County is the perfect destination for fulfilling all your holiday traditions while incorporating the spirit of the Central Coast—good weather, great people, and a whole lot of treating yourself! There are many different ways to relax and celebrate Christmas traditions, so we’ll highlight some holiday packages that are sure to please the masses or make for a great gift to a love one.
Places to Stay
Whether it’s a vacation or a stay-cation, there is abundant charm to be found in these three adorable locales!
We were sold at the milk and cookies waiting for you in the room, but there is definitely more to be had at one of the premier hotels near San Luis Obispo. The Cliffs is known for their ocean views, patio dining, and wonderful staff who take care of luxurious spa amenities, so adding a little Christmas spice to an already exquisite time makes your stay all the more nice. With a secret Santa gift in the room, your own personalized tree, and a full assortment of on-site holiday activities, it would be hard to go wrong with a weekend in the Christmas suite.
The iconic hotel in SLO is already known for its unique décor, and they go all-out for the holiday season with oversized lights, trees, and holiday cheer. Stop in to their bakery and restaurant for a little indulgence in the form of pies and their famous cakes, or take a stroll down their walking path to get a view of the rolling hills and majestic mountains surrounding the town.
Holiday cheer and family atmosphere abound at The Apple Farm, where their quaint rooms and cheery staff make you feel right at home. From their fresh-baked pastry counter to the courtyard where you can enjoy a hot meal, the Apple Farm has gone a long way to create comfort for those who visit. Located at the top of SLO’s downtown region, you can use the great location to stroll through and see all the holiday cheer of shops and restaurants during the season!
Ways to Relax
If you’re looking for some holiday packages for yourself or someone dear to your heart, you might want to take a look at some of these stress-reducing options:
We have a repeat venue on our list, but this was just a little too good not to list by itself! In the month of December alone, the Madonna Inn Spa has over 7 different packages focusing on facials, exfoliation, massage, hot rocks, and other methods of delightful decompression—we highly recommend all of them!
A simple but elegant way to calm yourself from the bustle of the season—a mineral tub up on a secluded hillside with an optional glass of wine (or three)! A favorite of tourists and locals alike, the mineral springs is sure to ease any creaks and groans your body and mind might have.
The Snow Queen
Distraction in the form of entertainment is always welcome, especially for those who have guests to entertain. The Snow Queen is performed by the Civic Ballet of San Luis Obispo, and the classic Christmas tale is sure to bring a smile to your face as performed by their talented cast members!
Restaurants to Visit
A key component of any terrific holiday season is the food—we can all agree on that! If you aren’t enjoying a delicious home-cooked meal, you can go out for an experience to remember at any of these three restaurants:
Rustic Italian cuisine has found its way to the heart of downtown San Luis Obispo in the form of this small yet robust cucina. Located next to the Fremont Theater, the family-run kitchen is producing classic Italian dishes that have been pleasing people in San Luis Obispo for years. Starting with their delicious bread and tapenade while working through their expansive wine menu is a great way to start off the dining experience, and there really is no going wrong with any of their dishes!
The center of an ever-expanding downtown restaurant scene, Novo has carved out its place as a culinary pioneer for San Luis Obispo. Their menu is worldly and eclectic, and they’re sure to have some wonderful winter season dishes to make your palate hum. They have a wonderful and knowledgeable staff who are sure to steer your choices in the right direction for wine, beer, cocktails, and (of course) food. We recommend the calamari, salmon bisque, and chow novo!
As part of its namesake hotel, the SeaVenture restaurant is located on the third floor of this elegant lodging. Even if you find yourself staying at Dolphin Bay, the Cliffs, or any of the other beach lodgings available in Pismo or Avila, we recommend making your way to Seaventure for a night of fine dining and ocean views. Their seasonal menus use local sourced vegetables, seafoods, and meats, and their Edna Valley wine pairings will surely delight your sense in every way!
43rd Annual Holiday Parade in SLO
Each year, downtown SLO shuts down and becomes a magical land represented by floats, bands, and holiday cheer. People line the streets to see the best and brightest put on a show surrounded by the lights of the season. This year’s holiday parade is December 7th at 7:00 pm until 9:00 pm, so make sure to head down and see what all the excitement is about!
Christmas at the Castle
As though Hearst Castle isn’t typically fantastical enough, each year the Hearst estate decorates the castle as it was for Williams Randolph Hearst’s guests during the 1920’s and 1930’s! Seeing the enormous manor covered in holiday cheer is sure to get you into the full swing of the season, so take a trip up to experience this wondrous time!
Cambria Christmas Market The main event for the Central Coast in terms of Christmas Splendor—each year, tens of thousands of people visit this standalone masterpiece of light shows, craft vendors, and purveyors of good cheer. With warm drinks, hot food, and happy faces all illuminated by amazing art, you’re sure to have a wonderful time every time. There is even a full shuttle put on by the venue and SLO Safe Ride to make sure you don’t have to worry about navigating Cambria after parking your vehicle!
As you can see, the Central Coast has plenty to offer during the holiday season. We recommend planning a trip that involves at least one of each of these components in order to get the full experience—we promise you won’t be disappointed!