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SLO Feature Story

San Luis Obispo Nightlife

by Cathy Enns


If you’re looking for a town that’s got all the ingredients for a phenomenal evening out, you need look no further than quaint, yet lively, San Luis Obispo. Nightlife here may surprise you in its variety of options for culture, cuisine, and carousing.

A beach and college town with a strong appreciation for its roots in agriculture and “Old California” history, San Luis Obispo, California—SLO, as locals call it—attracts people from all walks of life. Diverse groups of people make their homes here, from laid-back Cal Poly students to older folks fleeing the congestion of other parts of the state.

But when it comes to San Luis Obispo nightlife, what does the town have to offer its eclectic mix of inhabitants? Don’t let its modest size and relaxed nature fool you; San Luis Obispo’s nightlife leaves nothing to be desired.

A popular area for beer enthusiasts, San Luis Obispo has no shortage of brewpubs and microbreweries. Downtown Brewing Company, one of the most famous, offers some of the best beer and entertainment in town. Located in the heart of SLO, this brewpub not only serves unique local beer, it also features both local and headlining musical guests. And with the option of adding a draught beer to any menu entree for only $2, “Downtown Brew” appeals to those on a budget seeking an evening out.

When nighttime falls, you can find thirsty Cal Poly students down at Mother’s Tavern, a well-known dance club that also serves up one of the best burgers in town. Mother’s Tavern has been a popular college hangout for years. With its more trendy current moniker, “Mo-Tav,” it continues to please all appetites, whether it’s for drinks, food, or great music.

Native Lounge, located right on Mission Plaza, has recently become very popular with the young crowd. The dining room offers creatively prepared steaks, seafood and appetizers. After hours, Native Lounge transforms itself into a nightclub where dancing to local DJs continues into the wee hours of the morning. A beautiful patio and private lounge rooms add to the appeal of this downtown destination.

The Cal Poly Performing Arts Center has a huge array of options for those in search of a balanced mixture of culture and entertainment. “The PAC” features experimental dance shows, comedy performers, and diverse musical guests. Built at the foot of beautiful Central Coast hills and architecturally impressive, the Cal Poly Performing Arts Center does not disappoint those seeking a truly enlightening experience.

A cornerstone of nightlife in San Luis Obispo is the famous Farmers’ Market. Supporting local agriculture and enjoying healthy fresh food are priorities for many SLO residents; the Farmers’ Market allows growers and produce enthusiasts to come together and enjoy celebrating this ideal. So it’s no surprise that the farmers market often resembles a street party, not just a market. SLO’s Farmers’ Market website boasts, “At Farmers' Markets you always see people talking to one another. They are having a good time.”

For a family outing, almost nothing beats the free outdoor concerts in Mission Plaza. Every Friday evening during the summertime, people of all kinds gather to hear popular rock, jazz, and salsa groups while picnicking, sipping a glass of wine, or watching big ones and little ones boogie and strut their stuff.

Residents and visitors praise SLO for its relaxed nature, but San Luis Obispo nightlife has as many options for exciting entertainment as it does for kicking back. Where else in the world can you bring toddlers out to dance, go watch a world-class dance troupe performance and mingle with beer-loving, dance-obsessed college kids all in one night?

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