Over the last several months San Luis Obispo has topped many “Best of” lists ranging from most romantic and healthiest to the best college town and main streets in America. SLO was recently named the friendliest small town in the nation and made Livability.com’s best places to live in the country.
CBS jumped on the band wagon as News Editor Peter Greenberg listed SLO among the three best places to visit in 2014. Greenberg was enthused by the convenient location of SLO, almost equidistant from Los Angeles and San Francisco, and a few short minutes from Paso Robles’ wine country. “Great vineyards, great wineries,” Greenberg said. “Once again the owners are there, and you are not stuck behind 85 tour buses!” Travel+Leisure took a particular liking to the Central Coast town, placing San Luis Obispo in the top five on two separate lists put out by the New York based travel magazine.
Following two east coast university towns, SLO came in at number three on the list of America’s Best College Towns. That same Travel+Leisure, named San Luis Obispo one of the Most Romantic Towns in America. The east-coast-heavy travel magazine listed San Luis Obispo at number five, making SLO the only city in the top five, and one of three in the top ten, located west of the Mississippi. With great weather, small crowds and reasonable prices, SLO “embodies California mellow, making for easy romance.”
The magazine loved the accessible distance to neighboring towns. From the laid-back beaches of Pismo and Avila to the stunning and historical landmark that is Heart Castle, the opportunities for unique dates are endless. Additionally, readers put the local coffee scene at the top of their list, with numerous café’s offering organic, fair-trade brews. Higuera Street and the rest of downtown made Fodor’s Travel’s list of America’s Best Main Streets. Farmers’ Market and Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa were featured among the attractions of SLO’s quaint thoroughfare. According to a Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, San Luis Obispo ranked 5 in the nation on the list of Healthiest Towns.
After analyzing factors like a town’s frequency of exercise, access to fresh produce, obesity rates, health care coverage and overall optimism, each location was given a number representing its average “well-being” amongst residents. Combined with Paso Robles, SLO was given a “well-being” rate of 71.2, an entire 3.9 points higher than the national average. Real estate blog, Movoto.com, named San Luis Obispo the Friendliest Small City in America. Using a scientific method and real-world data such as: violent crime rate, percent of income given to charity, flower and gift store per capita, religious organizations per capita and farmers’ markets per capita amongst others. There are 19,355 cities in the United States. Of those, San Luis Obispo made the list of the top 100 best places to live.
Livability.com created the list using eight criteria including: amenities, demographics, economics, education, health care, housing, social and civic capital, and transportation and infrastructure. SLO first made a national media splash three years ago when Oprah Winfrey named it the Happiest City in America. Intrigued by the natural beauty of the town, Jenny McCarthy, an Oprah correspondent, admired SLO’s scenic location between “wide beaches and green mountains, surrounded by vineyards.” With large sidewalks and a bicycle friendly downtown, San Luis Obispo is set up perfectly for pedestrians, both in town and on the surrounding trails.
It is not a coincidence that the small town charm of San Luis Obispo is captivating national attention for so many diverse reasons. Whether you are looking for a lazy beach day, romantic wine tasting get away, or fresh, local meals, San Luis Obispo is a destination fit for everyone.