Van Life In San Luis Obispo, California
As we were driving up highway 101, we passed this area on our GPS called botanical area. It sounded really interesting, but we had no idea what to expect. So we turned down the road which was a little difficult to find and started driving up a steep hill.
The paved road quickly turned into a bumpy dirt road and we looked at each other hoping that our van didn’t get stuck again. (we’ve gotten stuck three times already in different terrains.) The hill got steeper and steeper and eventually we were so high up you could see over all the mountains. Jackpot.
We eventually found a nice turn out spot where we decided to park the van. We got out and checked out the view and we were in awe. After having an interesting last few days in our van stealth camping in Santa Barbara, this was like a 5 star hotel, but better.
There were tons of people mountain biking, and eventually an older gentleman stopped and chatted with us and told us we could probably camp out here. Although there were no fires allowed. So we thought lets just stay here for the next few days!
This place was beautiful and once again we were reminded why van life is worth all of the challenges that come with it.
A little later in the evening we were sitting out on our camping chairs watching the sun make its way down into the horizon. Two men showed up on their cross country motorcycles, parked next to our van, and started taking photos. We started chatting with them and became instant friends.
Turns out they just reached their last stop on a trip from Zion national park to the coast. We did a mini photoshoot of their bikes and congratulated them for accomplishing their trip. One of them had mentioned that he lived in San Luis Obispo and he told us the town was the happiest place on earth and an awesome farmers market was happening the next evening.
Thanks to them, we learned about a new place to explore and the best thing about it is that we would have never known about this place if we never met them. We would have just drove right past it without even thinking about stopping.
The next morning we awoke above the clouds in our pristine van camping location, made an amazing breakfast and got ready for the day. We planned on vlogging the whole day, which comes with a lot of work. We spent the next hour of the morning recording shots of the place we camped at and then started our way down the hill to SLO. This was only a 10 minute drive, so it is definitely close enough to make it worth staying there and heading to the town for the day.
We parked about 6 blocks away from downtown to avoid the parking meters because we wanted to spend the whole day there. So, thats where our bikes came in handy. We packed our work supplies and rode our bikes to a local coffee shop called Kreuzberg Coffee.
This coffee shop was one of the best we’ve been to in a long time. We strive to find the best one because our love for coffee is as strong as a quadruple shot of espresso. Honestly, this place was definitely top 5. I ordered a cold brew and Cody got his go to Cappuccino. The best part? The cappuccino came with a tiny cookie.. Can’t beat that.
The coffee shop was a good mix of old and modern. With antique lamps hanging upside down from the ceiling, to the subway tile, light wood, and concrete floors. On the left and right side of the entrance there was a room that had antique chairs, old books, and classic paintings. The room was made of entirely glass windows and had a view out the front patio and street. It was almost like sitting outside minus the noise, temperature, wind, and bugs. The wifi was fast, the music was great. So definitely a great spot to hang for the day and work.
We worked here for a few hours until we started to get hungry. We walked down the street and found a place called NOVU. It had a huge outdoor patio and advertised creekside dining. The host walked us down to a spot that had a creek view. It was a great place for lunch, and we could only imagine how romantic it would be in the evening. The place was surrounded by trees, vines and flowers. They hung up string lights throughout. We shared a burger. It was angus beef, 10 year aged cheddar served on a brioche bun. We also had a salad on the site with orange vinaigrette. Definitely a delicious meal! We would recommend checking this place out if you visit.
After that we decided to drop our work stuff back off at the van and peruse the shops. There were tons of small boutiques and local businesses, with a good mix of your favorite stores as well. One thing we recommend when coming in the spring is to make sure to bring allergy meds. We had to find a rite aid to grab some because we were sneezing so much. It only makes sense because of all the plant life surrounding the city.
Once we were done browsing around the shops we stopped at a Starbucks because the allergy medicine made us a little drowsy. Although we love finding little coffee shops, Starbucks tends to be a go-to for us because when you live in a van traveling through places all over the US..Starbucks is always there. We hung out there for a while to wait for the SLO farmers market to start up.
Around 6PM everyone was setting up the market. We took our bikes to the free bike valet (which is awesome!) and then walked around to check out all of the fresh produce. There were tons of farms and the variety of fruits and vegetables were amazing. We sampled a bunch of stuff and ended up grabbing some Cara Cara oranges, Yellow Nectarines and some bright beautiful tomatoes. After grabbing a few things we walked down to the food area where tons of food carts and restaurants were serving food.
Roasted corn on the cob was the first thing we grabbed to munch on, we then noticed a loud commotion. There was a restaurant with a HUGE fire pit/grill cooking up BBQ. All of the cooks were shouting and chanting things together. Everyone was laughing and having a grand ol' time. We saw the line for the food and it was all the way down the block. Thats some great marketing if you ask me.
This place was called Mc' Clintocks and they had roasted corn, roasted artichoke, lemonade, camp beans, garlic bread, ribs, pork munchies, tri-tip, chicken..you name it. We loved how great they were at marketing themselves, so we decided to grab some food.
Once we were done, we were pretty tired from walking around the whole day. So we called it a night and headed up to our spot for the evening.
Overall, we were surprised at how much we loved this place. We never had heard of it and we would have never known what it was unless we didn’t meet those people the night before. We enjoyed the happiness of SLO. Everyone supports local businesses and farmers. The community thrives off the energy of the people. I even heard a local chatting with a friend during the farmers market say “I love where we live.” And now I know why, it’s a happy place full of happy people.
If you happen to be driving through the area on HWY 101, we can’t recommend it enough.
Watch our vlog below to see it in action.