San Luis Obispo-Atascadero, CA
The Middle Kingdom
Tucked away in this haven are plenty of back roads: some pass through forests; others lead to the shores of the Pacific Coast, just 15 miles away; and a few go directly to the nearby Sierra Madre range. San Luis Obispo is consistently rated as having the best climate in the nation. The Pacific Ocean breezes keep the city surprisingly cool and fresh in the summer. When inland cities are baking in 90-degree heat, San Luis thermometer hits just 77.
Winter days are equally miraculous, and residents often enjoy 60-degree days.
Meander through historic downtown San Luis Obispo, past the gleaming white adobe of the Mission San Luis, a plethora of blooming wildflower bed, and tree-lined street. Home to Cal Poly University, this mid-sized city has no shortage of exuberant citizens who make the most of life in this beautiful clime. The university is an excellent cultural resource that fosters a much more cosmopolitan city than one might guess. It hosts an annual film festival and a full schedule of performing arts in a multi-million dollar facility. In addition, people over the age of 50 enjoy bargain classes through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.
Cultural and educational opportunities abound downtown as well. The dramatic post-modern architecture of the Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center makes an acoustic heaven for theater and San Luis Obispo Symphony performances. Despite the significantly higher than average cost of living, equally high education and income levels make this spot ideal for people looking for an unpretentious yet elegant new home.
San Luis Obispo-Atascadero, CA At-A-Glance
Avg. July high: 75
Avg. January low: 40
Avg. Annual Precipitation: 16
Closest Big City: 200 miles to Los Angeles
Health Care: 3 hospitals with 276 beds
Cost of Living: 40% above the national average
Housing Costs: 484,000
Thanks to ocean breezes, the hottest days of the summer in San Luis Obispo rarely rise above 80 degrees. The air seems crisp and fresh even in August. The morning hours are refreshing and perfect for that eight oclock tee-time or just sipping a steaming cup of coffee while watching the sun come up.
Winter temperatures almost never hit freezing in San Luis Obispo. Even winter lows rarely dip below the 40-degree range.
Most of the precipitation the area receives will fall during the winter months.
However, aside from making the environs a little greener, the rain has little effect on San Luis Obispo's daily routine.
Springtime is pleasant and mild in San Luis Obispo and brings sunny days back to stay. San Luis Obispo residents hang up their raincoats until next winter, and return to the beaches, golf courses, and city streets they love so much.
Art & Culture
Pacific Ocean breezes keep the city surprisingly cool in the summer, and winters are also mild. World-class vineyards cover the hillsides, giving even new enterprises a certain old-world charm.
Cal Poly students get into the act as well, and university music programs are regularly on the facility event schedule.
For more than three decades music lovers have enjoyed the San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival, which makes it's permanent home at the Cohan Center. More than just Mozart, the festival includes baroque music, lectures, auctions, and films in addition to performances of works by the great composers.
The cultural events continue all year long. The 10-day San Luis Obispo International Film Festival brings more than 60 films and special events to town annually and showcases celebrity guests, special screenings, and awards ceremonies.
The seemingly endless film screenings are complemented by the lectures and panel discussions that take place among the scholars and experts in attendance.
Film buffs will also want to visit nearby Hearst Castle, the palatial home of eccentric publishing mogul William Randolph Hearst. Hearst built the estate nearby and decorated it with rare and costly artifacts from around the globe.
The days are always warm enough to venture out in, yet cool enough to exercise without overheating. Therefore, hiking, jogging, and bike riding are all popular sports. The agricultural area surrounding the city is full of gentle hills and flat fields- perfect for almost anything from blades to bikes to bridle paths. An added bonus for locals is the Pacific Coast less than 15 miles from town.
Take a short drive from San Luis Obispo to Pismo Beach and its 23 miles of unspoiled shoreline. Spend the day playing volleyball, surfing, or just catching some rays. Pismo Beach is also famous for what is underneath it: specifically, the clams. Known as the " Clam Capital of the World," Pismo Beach attracts clammers from far and wide.
San Luis Obispo County has been rated one of the top golf destinations in California and in the nation by Golf Digest magazine. One of the more famed resorts, Cypress Ridge, was ranked as one of the best places to play in the country because of its excellent hotels, restaurants, and spas, and because of the stunning vineyards and ocean views that surround it. There are more than 20 world-class wineries located in the Edna and Arroyo Grande valleys. At nearby Avila Beach there are mineral springs where locals can spend their weekend getaway lounging by the pool or taking a hot mineral bath.
Sycamore Mineral Springs is also home to The Gardens of Avila Restaurant, where innovative cuisine is a perfect complement to the area's soothing springs, massage therapy, and quaint hotel rooms.
The adventurous will love the nearby coast for its special brand of sea kayaking.
Just rent a kayak and spend an exciting, healthy afternoon paddling among the seals, sea lions, dolphins, and otters that frolic offshore. Or take a more challenging guided tour and explore caves, rock formations, kelp forests, and isolated beaches.
The nearby Sierra Madre range and Los Padres National Forest provide more options. San Luis Obispo residents can fish and camp all year in these beautiful reserves. If a short getaway is in order, locals can take advantage of the many state parks that dot the area. The winding roads and vine-covered hills around San Luis Obispo present a unique landscape to explore and enjoy.
The weather in San Luis Obispo is almost always perfect for playing golf or exploring the local beaches.
Cal Poly enrolls around 16,000 students and emphasizes a " learn by doing" educational experience. The school is well known for its agriculture and technology programs, and it produces some of the most sought-after recruits in the communications, engineering, and high-tech fields.
Cal Poly also hosts the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, a program funded by the Bernard Osher Foundation that offers a plethora of inexpensive classes to semiretired or retired people 50 or older.
Cuesta College, also located in San Luis Obispo, offers associate-level degrees and continuing education programs for local citizens. Whether residents want to obtain a two-year degree in electronics or enroll in a photography workshop, their options are open in San Luis Obispo.
There are a variety of public school options available in and around San Luis Obispo. Public elementary, junior high, and high schools are well funded. Perpupil expenditures are in the top 20% of the state, and subsequently student-teacher ratios are also low. The Bellevue-Santa Fe Charter School is a fine example of what local schools can do. It is home to a 1,900- square-foot hands-on science museum and a small farm center. Each classroom is linked to the Internet. Plus, there is a large computer " MathTechno" Internet lab.
Housing & Cost of Living
San Luis job growth rate is three times the national average.
Other high priced services, such as health care and transportation, add to the overall high cost of living. On the other hand, child care costs are just slightly above the national average.
Parents will pay an annual average of about $8,000 for an infant at an accredited center and $6,000 for older kids. A half dozen government- subsidized Head Start programs and more than a dozen low-cost YMCAs make child care even more affordable.
Crime & Safety
Earning a Living
The Franciscan mission that started this California town in 1772 still holds regular services...
Visitors come from across the nation to visit the exquisite countryside and taste the fine wines. Subsequently, the tourism industry is booming.
Start-up computer companies are also making inroads in software development and Web page consultation, and the service industry is booming because of both students and 50+ semi-retirees and retirees. Entrepreneurs are increasingly finding San Luis Obispo to be the perfect place to begin a small business. The Downtown Association promotes the health and welfare of the downtown; the Economic Vitality Corporation, an alliance of local businesses, focuses on stimulating the economy through offering loans; and the Institute for Professional Development and the Private Industry Council both offer training and support services for small businesses.