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Things to do in San Luis Obispo with a toddler New 2020

Avila Beach, baby!

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Kimberly Lisagor and I are best friends once removed. That is to say, our moms are best friends. (We ourselves haven’t seen each other for about twenty years, but, you know, god bless Facebook.) Our moms have known each other since grade school and had us, their rookie babies, when they were 23.

A travel writer based in San Luis Obispo, California, Kim is mom to Wesley and author of Disappearing Destinations

. She is also the author of two tweets featured in the book Twitter Wit: Brilliance in 140 Characters or Less. I allowed her more than 140 characters per day of the week in the seven-day itinerary she produced for moms in San Luis Obispo. Enjoy!

A Week in San Luis Obispo for Toddlers and their Companions

Monday: close encounters with nature
From the massive elephant seals that lounge on the beach at the Piedras Blancas rookery to the monarch butterflies that carpet the Pismo Beach grove each year, there are plenty of opportunities for kids to get wowed by SLO County’s resident critters. For a hands-on experience, explore the tidepools at Montana de Oro State Park .

Kim & Wes

Kim & Wes

Tuesday: bike to the beach
Got bikes? Take them to the Bob Jones City to the Sea Trail just south of SLO and ride the flat, paved path 1.5 miles to the seaside town of Avila Beach. There you’ll find one of the best playgrounds in the county next to a long stretch of sandy beach with gentle bodysurfing waves. You can rent boogie boards on the boardwalk and eat lunch at one of several cute cafes, though the hot dog and shaved ice vendors will likely get the kid vote. On the way home, stop at Avila Valley Barn for fresh produce, ice cream, amazing fruit pies, u-pick berries and a petting zoo.

Wednesday: culture club
Your kids may never appreciate the scratchy sound of vinyl on a turntable, but they can still learn to love record shops. Wednesday mornings from 10:15 to 10:45, Booboo Records hosts a toddler music program with singing, dancing and instruments. Grab a healthy lunch at nearby Natural Café , then visit the recently renovated San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum. Activities for kids of all ages are spread across three floors, including a toddler area with a climb-inside train that has working bells and whistles. Older kids love the art workshops and volcanic caves exhibit.

Thursday: the ultimate Farmer’s Market
San Luis Obispo’s downtown Farmer’s Market is not your typical, small town fruits-and-veggies affair. It is a full-blown street fair that takes over five blocks of Higuera Street every Thursday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.. There are local bands and street performers on every corner; outdoor grills where local restaurants barbecue tri-tip and other local fare; a bounce house; and, of course, just-picked produce from nearby farms. Ride your bike there and take advantage of the free bicycle valet parking service. You can also avoid parking hassles by taking the trolley from downtown hotels.

Friday: take a hike
SLO has hiking trails for every ambition. Challenging: Climb the steep, narrow path to the top of Bishop Peak, 4.4 miles out and back. Moderate: Walk the fire road to the top of Cerro San Luis, 2.2 miles round-trip. Easy: Stroll along the unpaved Stenner Creek Road. In the summertime, finish the day at the Mission with the free Concerts in the Plaza series.

Saturday: free-range baseball
What’s more fun for kids than a professional baseball game? A San Luis Obispo Blues not-quite-professional baseball game. Watch aspiring major leaguers play at an affordable, family-friendly venue where you can spread your picnic blanket on the grass and enjoy local barbecue and microbrews while the kids roam free instead of being confined to assigned seats. They even get to play on the field during the seventh-inning stretch.

Avila Beach, baby!

Avila Beach, baby!

Sunday: play castaway
Rent kayaks or canoes at the Morro Bay State Park marina and paddle your crew across the estuary during high tide to the broad, uninhabited sandbar. Pull your boats ashore and walk across the lonely dunes to watch waves crash against the other side. Commune with the birds, pretend to be castaways on a deserted isle, re-enact the desert scenes from Star Wars, and enjoy having this little piece of rugged California coastline all to yourself.

Whether you are a local Central Coast mom or planning a vacation to San Luis Obispo with kids, we hope you found something inspiring on this list. Thank you, Kim!

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