Family-Friendly Things To Do

Upcoming San Luis Obispo Events

(Note; Due to coronavirus Covid-19 precautions, events may cancel at the last minute. Please check with each event beforehand.)

October 24, 2020 (Sat) - Zoo Boo at the Charles Paddock Zoo from 5PM - 8:30PM. Get your best costume ready and bring the entire family out to a not-too-scary evening at Zoo Boo! You can expect Halloween decorations throughout the Zoo along with Carnival games, a costume contest, Halloween activities, a Haunted House and tricks & treats to enjoy! Over 300 animals call the Charles Paddock Zoo home, including red pandas, monkeys, meerkats, parrots, a Malayan Tiger, a variety of reptiles and more! Come celebrate an entertaining and memorable Halloween evening at Zoo Boo!Tickets are $13/ person Regular Admission; $12/ person Zoo Member; Ages 2 & Under are FREE! Tickets available at the Zoo. Address: 9100 Morro Rd., Atascadero, CA 93422

October 30, 2020 (Fri) - Halloween at the Garden at Birchwood Nipomo from 5PM - 9PM. Join us for a night of festival fun for the kids. Birchwood will be decorated and offering a variety of activities for the kids. First come first serve as we will be limiting people based on social distancing. Food Trucks and Gina's Piece of cake to be announced! Address: 323 W Tefft St, Nipomo, CA 93444

October 31, 2020 (Sat) - Halloween Day! Find Halloween Costumes for Kids or Halloween Costumes for Adults.

October 31, 2020 (Sat) - Trick or Treat on Entrada Avenue in Atascadero from 4PM - 6PM. People and pets of all ages are welcome to come and enjoy family, children, and pet costume contests, cakewalks, and of course, Trick or Treating! Event is free to attend and is sponsored by Downtown Atascadero's Business Improvement District and the City of Atascadero.

Nov 7, 2020 (Sat) - Punkin Chunkin at Dana Adobe in Nipomo from 11AM - 2PM. BYO (Bring Your Own) Pumpkin and watch them fly off the DANA Catapult! Prizes awarded to farthest pumpkin and more! $8 per pumpkin launch launch and 3 for $20. Address: 671 S Oakglen Ave., Nipomo, CA 93444

Nov 14, 2020 (Sat) - Taco Day on Traffic Way in Atascadero from 1PM - 4PM. With the street safely closed and packed with vendors, you, your friends, family, and community will have plenty of opportunity to enjoy the great autumn weather with music, fun and food!

Dec 11, 2020 (Friday) - Winter Wonderland in downtown Atascadero from 5PM - 9PM. Free event. Atascadero’s Sunken Gardens and the entire downtown will be transformed into a magical snowy paradise! 65 Tons of snow make up will offer larger snow pile play areas and will help make way for a massive snow slide built by Kiwanis Club of Atascadero!  This year’s snow themed events also include Joe’s Little Train operated by the Elks Club of Atascadero, two Euro bungee jumps, obstacle course, gladiator joust, bounce houses, face painting, caricature artist, and of course, Santa and Mrs. Claus! Address: 6505 El Camino Real, Atascadero, CA, 93422


Free Things To Do in SLO

Monarch Butterfly Grove

Open seasonally from late October - February (sometimes longer) but always free with occasional special events! The grove is located between Grover Beach and Pismo Beach and you park off the road. There are no designated parking areas. Once you walk around the grove, if you are up for it, you can actually head to the beach continuing on the trail towards the back! The trail heading towards the south side is beautiful. See pictures and blog of the Monarch Butterfly Grove and the Meadow Trail that connects to it. Address: 400 S Dolliver St, Pismo Beach, CA 93449


Bubblegum Alley

Always free to explore in downtown SLO! Address: 733 Higuera St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401


Avila-Pismo Beach Trolley

This FREE trolley service connects you from the Pismo Beach Premium Outlets all the way to Port San Luis via Avila Beach, Avila Valley (Avila Barn, Bob Jones Bike Trail, Avila Hot Springs Resort, and KOA campground) and various resort hotels in Shell Beach and Pismo Beach. Connections from the trolley are available at the Pismo Beach Premium Outlets for SCT (Route 21 and Route 24) and RTA (Route 10). The trolley runs in 3 seasons with varying schedules. Regular schedule runs Friday, Saturday, Sunday. to see more info, go to the Avila-Pismo Beach Trolley website.

Elephant Seals in San Simeon

Come see the elephant seals in their natural habitat in San Simeon! Also part of SLO County and located close to Hearst Castle, any visitor can park near designated parking areas near the beach to see the elephant seals. Of course there's no admission because you're viewing them in their natural home. Amazingly, you can get close to them without them being bothered by it (but not too close!) and they seem to be so used to human visitors. There's a boardwalk and viewing area. Address: 250 San Simeon Ave, San Simeon, CA 93452. See more pictures and a full review of San Simeon from a mom who brought their 2 little ones to see the elephant seals. 

Playgrounds for Kids in SLO County

Mitchell Park

Located in downtown San Luis Obispo is Mitchell Park with a large playground, picnic tables and public restrooms. Address: 1400 Osos St, San Luis Obispo, CA 9340

Meadow Park
Not too far from the famous Madonna Inn hotel is a park with a playground and a trail called Meadow Park. With a lot of green grass area, families can come here and enjoy a picnic on a nice day out. Address: 2333 Meadow St., San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Dinosaurs Caves Park
Located in Pismo Beach is the beautiful Dinosaurs Cave Park with a playground. Right on the edge of the park are the cliffs with amazing views of the ocean! You can't miss a visit here. Like with any public parks, it is free to come here and the views are world class. To see more pictures of Dinosaurs Caves Park and the cliff view there, go to: Dinosaur Caves Park Cliff pictures from a local mom. Address: 2701 Price St, Pismo Beach, CA 93449

Spyglass Park
Spyglass Park is right by the bluffs too but small than Dinosaur Cave Park. Surrounded by homes, this park is a bit more private with a smaller parking lot and playground but still open to the public with a restroom. You'll find owners walking their pets here and people sitting on one of the benches and taking in the beautiful ocean view. See pictures of the ocean taken at Spyglass Park. Address: Spyglass Dr, Pismo Beach, CA 93449

Avila Beach Park
With a pirate theme, right by the beach and close to shopping, tourists with kids and local families come here for swings, slides and sand fun! See pictures of the Avila Beach pier and beach. Address: 50 San Juan St, Avila Beach, CA 93424

Chumash Park 
Located in Pismo Beach is Chumash Park that has a large playground with a soft ground. There's also a basketball court, trail and clean private bathrooms. Address: 156 Ventana Dr., Pismo Beach, CA 93401

Del Mar Park
Del Mar Park is a lush nine-acre park featuring an outdoor basketball court, amphitheater, roller hockey rink, children’s play area, horseshoe pits, and two great barbecue and picnic areas.  Address: Island Street & Panorama Drive, Morro Bay, CA, 93442


Hero Park

Hero Park is located in Grover Beach/Arroyo Grande area and has a playground for the smaller kids. It's located in a quiet residential area. Address: 1600 Farroll Rd, Grover Beach, CA 93433


Atascadero Lake Park

Located in Atascadero and next to the Charles Paddock Zoo is a large green park with a playground and a nice lake. The playground makes it very convenient for the kids after the zoo. They don't sell food at the zoo so you can bring a picnic here at this park (right outside the zoo) and enjoy a little a break. Address for GPS: 9100 Morro Rd, Atascadero, CA 93422


City of Arroyo Grande Parks & Recreation Park

Also known as Elm Street Dog Park, it has both a playground and dog park. There is also a Park & Recreation building there that has preschools and special programs for kids. Address:1221 Ash St, Arroyo Grande, CA 93420

Rancho Grande Playground and Park in Arroyo Grande

Rancho Grande Park is one of the bigger parks in San Luis Obispo county that is very kid-friendly. Address: 500 James Way, Arroyo Grande, CA 93420

Oceano Playground Park
This large playground is only 2 blocks from Oceano Beach with a lot of green grass area! Address: 1330 Dewey Dr, Oceano, CA 93445

Popular Beaches to Explore in San Luis Obispo County

San Luis Obispo is lucky to have beautiful and many kid-friendly beaches including: Avila Beach, Morro Bay, Grover Beach and Pismo Beach. Here are a few suggested activities to do by beach.

Avila Beach

One of the best well-kept beaches, this beach town covers the bases for wine enthusiasts and families. They have swings right on the sand of the beach, a small pier, a full playground nearby and many restaurants along the beach. During the spring (mid-April) through summer months, they have a seasonal Avila beach farmer's market on Fridays from 4pm - 8pm. You can also take advantage of their free beach trolley during these busy months from Pismo Beach Outlets to many stops at Avila Beach, including First Street, near the farmers market. See pictures of the Avila Beach farmer's market and Avila Beach pier.

Avila Valley Barn
Free to park and free to visit the barn animals here!
Read more details about Avila Valley Barn! Address of Avila Valley Barn: 560 Avila Beach Dr, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405

San Luis (SLO) Lighthouse
Go visit the Point San Luis (SLO) Lighthouse located on Avila Beach. This lighthouse is owned by Diablo Canyon Power Plant and runs tours on Wednesday and Saturdays year round for 3 different times: 12PM, 1PM and 2PM. There are more tour times during busy seasons. Costs are $22 per adult and $17 per child. Proceeds go towards their restoration efforts. Address: 1 Lighthouse Rd, Avila Beach, CA 93424
(Note: Central Coast Aquarium is closed as a precaution against Coronavirus Covid-19)
This aquarium is very, very small so if you're on a budget, I would consider skipping this one. However, it's right by the playground in Avila Beach so it is tempting to visit. Price for admission is $8 for the public, $5 for seniors, $6 for military with ID, and free for children 2 and under. To see more pictures of Central Coast Aquarium taken by SanLuisObispoMom.com, click here. Address: 50 San Juan St., Avila Beach, CA93424

Avila Beach Whalewatching
You can find whales coming through here which makes Avila Beach so special. The Whale Trail sign is located at the entrance to Avila Beach Pier just off Front Street, adjacent to unique shops, tasting rooms, charming boutique hotels, vacation rentals and restaurants. The sign is still accessible for all to enjoy although the majority of the pier is currently closed for repairs.
Address: Pier 3 Port San Luis, Avila Beach, CA 93424

Pismo Beach

The most famous SLO beach is Pismo Beach and attracts the majority of the tourists who come to this area. Come to the Pismo Beach Pier to take in some beautiful ocean views. 


With clean beaches, a lot of shops and restaurants, many tourists, local families and surfers come to Pismo Beach for a nice day out. The boardwalk is also a nice stroll along the beach in Pismo Beach.

Oceano Dunes is only 3 miles south of Pismo Beach


HotShots Billiards & Family Entertainment at Pismo Beach

Don't let the word Billiards throw you off from coming here with your kids! They have a lot of arcade games in the back with some centered on little ones! You can buy food or draft beer while the kids have some fun. 

It's very close to the Pismo Beach Pier. You can park in the beach parking lot there and walk here. We came here with the little ones around 8pm and it is still family-friendly. There is never an admission fee. Bring your quarters if you have a lot lying around somewhere. Otherwise, bring cash to dispense some quarters here. Address:250 Pomeroy Ave, Pismo Beach, CA 93449

Find a Hotel in Pismo Beach.

Grover Beach

The smallest San Luis Obispo beach among the four, Grover Beach is a local quaint beach area. This place is more like a local beach than a tourist beach but of course, visitors are always welcome. The town is inviting with a lot of restaurant options. 

Grover Beach and Sand Dunes Beach Entry
There is entry to the beach from Grover Beach via Grand Ave. Limited vehicles are allowed to park pass the check point or toll road because this is where you can enter your 4x4, ATVs and trucks on the beach!

Yes, that's allowed in this area of town! If you are planning on spending a long time at the beach here, walk to this entry point by parking down the intersection where there is public parking available, behind Fin's Restaurant. See more beach pictures of Grover Beach by SanLuisObispoMom.com

Grover Beach Playground on 16th Street
About 16 blocks from the ocean is a residential playground that is open to the public in Grover Beach! With soft grounds, swings, slides and picnic tables, kids can roam freely in a quiet area. Address: S 16th Street & Mentone Avenue, Grover Beach, CA 93433

Morro Bay

As one of the more popular beaches for families, Morro Bay also has a lot of activities family can enjoy. With trails, surreys and kayaks for rent, many tourists come here to enjoy some outdoor activity as well as some water fun.

Check out the weekly farmer's market here as well. Link to Morro Bay's SLO farmer's market info and other markets in SLO.

Morro Rock
An idyllic backdrop for Morro Bay, Morro Rock is the last of the (Nine Sisters)  extinct volcanic peaks along Highway 1 from San Luis Obispo. This 576' tall landmark stands at the mouth of our harbor and is home to nesting Peregrine Falcons. The Morro Rock is huge.

You can't miss it and this volcanic plug attracts many tourists. There is a beachside right by the rock too and a trail that you can walk around alongside.

Always free. See more photos of Morro Rock. Address: 1300 Embarcadero, Morro Bay, CA, 93442

Sea Otters
See the Sea Otters for free right at the T-Pier on the bay! It's of course free to see them because this is their natural habitat! You'll see baby sea otters on the mommies. It's a cute sight to see and worth the drive coming here.

Morro Bay Trolley
Only operating seasonally and links the North Main Street and Downtown Business Districts, Embarcadero, and State Parks. Cost is only $1 per ride. Children under 5 ride free. Link to Morro Bay Trolley website.


Paso Robles

Paso Robles, California is famous for their wineries and lucky for SLO, it is located within San Luis Obispo county. From award wining wines from dozens of wineries all over Paso Robles, it is a haven for wine enthusiasts. There are also a lot of kid-friendly things to do in this special town. Read more about our visit to Justin's tasting room and Bianchi Winery, both renowned wineries in Paso Robles.

Paso Robles Children's Museum

(Note: Paso Robles Children's Museum is closed as a precaution against Coronavirus Covid-19The Paso Robles Children's museum is a two story museum located in the downtown area of Paso Robles. It may be a bit intimidating for the smaller toddlers but it's still a great place for the kids if you're nearby. It is much smaller than the San Luis Obispo Children's Museum so if you can pick and don't mind driving, between the 2, I'd recommend going to the San Luis Obispo one. Address: 623 13th St,Paso Robles, California 93446


The Ravine Waterpark (Summer only but canceled for 2020 season due to Covid-19)

Open only during the hot summer months, The Ravine Waterpark is a great size for the family. Parking is free so you only pay for admission. On really busy days, the parking lot can get full so come early. You can also rent cabanas here.

They offer active-duty military discount with valid military ID. Address: 2301 Airport Rd., Paso Robles, California 93446

California Mid-State Fair

Only 12 days during July, the California Mid-State Fair takes place at Paso Robles Event Center. Many famous singers come and perform! With carnival rides, hundreds of vendors and great eats, it's fun for the whole family. Address: 2198 Riverside Ave., Paso Robles, CA 93446


Check out the blog section to read about our most recent visit or activity in SLO County. 

List of Pumpkin Patches and Farms in San Luis Obispo County

  1. The Pumpkin Patch Address: 2315 Biddle Ranch Road San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
  2. Avila Valley Barn Address: 560 Avila Beach Dr, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405
  3. Nipomo Pumpkin Patch Address: 662 Eucalyptus Rd, Nipomo, CA 93444
  4. Jack Creek Farm Address: Jack Creek Farms, 5000 CA-46, Templeton, CA 93465 
  5. Windmill Farms Address: 1275 N Thompson Ave, Arroyo Grande, CA 93420
  6. Brookshire Farms (admission cost) Address: 4747 Los Osos Valley Rd, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405
  7. River "K" Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze Address: 5670 N River Rd, Paso Robles, CA 93446
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Free Story Time 


Story times are great for little ones to get a chance to listen to stories with other little ones as well. They are always free at libraries and book stores like Barnes & Noble

SLO County Library Story Times

(Note: Storytimes are canceled due to precautions against Coronavirus.) Story times at the public libraries are always free and great for the kids. They are usually located in the kid's section that has toys and computers for the kids to use. To see all 21 story times at libraries all over the San Luis Obispo county area, go to the library story time page. They are always free.

Barnes & Noble Bookstore Story Times

(Note: This Barnes & Noble store may be operating on reduced hours.) On Saturdays at 11AM, Barnes & Noble does a free story time for children in the Children's area. They usually are themed story telling according to the season. The kids' area is located on the second floor so take the steps or elevator up! Address: 894 Marsh St Bldg G, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 
 Pismo Beach view from the pier (Photo taken by SanLuisObispoMom.com)

Click the following to jump to see all SLO Beaches.

SLO Farmers Markets (ongoing weekly as weather permits)

San Luis Obispo Farmers Market in Downtown (currently canceled during Covid-19 pandemic)
San Luis Obispo Farmers Market in downtown takes place every Thursday from 6PM - 9PM (weather permitting and excluding major holidays) on Higuera Street, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 between Nipomo and Osos. Seasonally, Chorro Street and Broad Street may also be in use. Address: 

San Luis Obispo Market at Address: 325 Madonna Road, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405 (World Market/Embassy Suites parking lot) take place on Saturday mornings from 8AM - 10:45AM.

Morro Bay Market at Spencer’s Fresh Markets parking lot Address: 2650 Main St., Morro Bay, CA 93442 takes place on Thursday afternoons takes place from 2PM - 4:30PM

Arroyo Grande Market in old downtown Arroyo Grande at Address:  193 Olohan Alley, Arroyo Grande, CA 93420 takes place on Saturday Afternoons from noon - 2:30PM

Arroyo Grande Market at Smart & Final parking lot at address:  1464 East Grand Avenue, Arroyo Grande, CA 93420 takes place on Wednesday mornings from 8:30AM - 11AM

Nipomo Swap Meet & Flea Market takes place every Saturday and Sunday, weather permitting. They also have train rides called Choo Choo Safari inside the vicinity! It's great for kids! You pay a car entry fee of $3 to enter the Swap Meet & Flea Market to park. They have fresh produce, awesome Mexican food options all around the area and good yard sale type finds. Address: 263 N Frontage Rd, Nipomo, CA 93444

Attractions

San Luis Obispo Children's Museum

(Note: Closed as a precaution against the Coronavirus) Prices: $8 for adults & children, $5 for seniors 60+, $7 for military members and children 2 and under are free. Every once in awhile, they would have "Moonlight Hours" where anyone can come for free between 5pm - 8pm. Look out for that. See more pictures from our visit to San Luis Obispo Children's Museum. Address: 1010 Nipomo St., San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Paso Robles Children's Museum

(Note: Closed as a precaution against the Coronavirus) Located in the northern part of San Luis Obispo County is the Paso Robles Children's Museum. It's significantly smaller than the San Luis Obispo Children's Museum but the little ones will still enjoy it. It's inside a 2 story building in downtown Paso Robles, California and there are many restaurants within walking distance. The museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays but open on the other 5 days. Adult tickets are $7, children tickets for ages 1 - 13 are $6 and grandparent tickets are $5. They close at 4pm so make sure you plan your day accordingly. Address: 623 13th St,Paso Robles, California 93446

Charles Paddock Zoo

Admission Prices are: $10 for ages 13 and older, $8 for ages 5 - 12, $5 for ages 3 - 4 and Free for children 2 and under. See more pictures of Charles Paddock Zoo taken by SanLuisObispoMom.com. Charles Paddock Zoo Address: 9305 Pismo Ave., 
Atascadero, CA 93422

Hearst Castle

(Note: Hearst Castle is suspending tours and closing the park, even the visitor's center, as precaution against Coronavirus Covid-19) SLO County is home to the famous Hearst Castle! Now as a museum, the castle is open every day for the public. Ticket prices are $25 per adult, $12 for children 5 - 12 and and free for children under 5. Hearst Castle Address: 750 Hearst Castle Rd, San Simeon, CA 93452. See more pictures and a full review of Hearst Castle from SanLuisObispoMom.com. 

San Luis Obispo Railroad Museum

(Note: This Railroad Museum is temporarily closed to help containment measures of Coronavirus Covid-19) This is a 2 story museum that's great for kids and any train enthusiasts! Children 3 and under are always free here. Regular adult admission is only $5 and $3 for children ages 4 - 15 years old. They have model railroad trains on the second story and a kids' area with train sets and books to entertain the kids. They have special events throughout the year. Address: 1940 Santa Barbara Ave, San Luis Obispo, California 93401

The Ravine Waterpark

Located in Paso Robles, this Waterpark is only opened during the summer time from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. Prices are Regular $30.99, Junior $23.99, Senior $17.99 and Children under 2 are free. They also sell season passes. Address: 2301 Airport Rd., Paso Robles, California 93446. Find hotels closest to Ravine Water Park.

Birthday Party Ideas

Pacific Flips Gymnastics Birthday Party

Pacific Flips has two locations: Grover Beach and Santa Maria. We've planned a birthday party for our child at the Grover beach location and had an excellent experience. Their birthday packages are either for 90 minutes or 2 hours. Parents are welcome to come watch.
They set up 2 tables ahead of time per your reservation and you just bring your decoratons. For more pictures and details, read about our detailed experience in this Pacific Flips Birthday blog entry.

Central Coast Aquarium Birthday 

For a  2 hour slot, you can have a birthday party for your child at the Central Coast Aquarium in Avila Beach. They host birthday parties on Saturdays and Sundays.  Their minimum birthday packages start at $250 and include 12 children for that price (additional cost for more kids).
To see more pictures of the aquarium by reading our review of Central Coast Aquarium

Doc Burnstein's Ice Cream Lab in Arroyo Grande

Located in the Southern part of SLO County in Arroyo Grande is a neat ice cream shop with a private party room in the back. If you host a party here, they have an organized timed slot with a dedicated host included. Doc Burnstein's Ice Cream Lab Address: 114 W Branch St, Arroyo Grande, CA 93420 

Go to the SLO family-friendly restaurants section to see restaurants with a play area. These places are great options for birthday parties.