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Halfway between LA and San Francisco, this under-the-radar destination is a laid-back sunny delight. Locally and appropriately known as SLO, the city basks in its location.
Which is perfectly understandable. And did we mention the wineries? This bustling outdoor event is free, but take some cash for spiced elote Mexican-style corn on the cob and sizzling BBQ tri-tip beef sandwiches. The town is surrounded by invitingly striped hillsides, which means one, brilliant thing: wine. There are several pretty, off-beat beach towns a short drive from SLO, and Morro Bay is one of the best for wildlife spotting. And you can get even closer on a stand-up paddleboard.
Either side of this 70ft-long alleyway is decorated with masticated, multi-coloured balls of gum. Find it between Garden and Broad just off Higuera Street. But this hotel, just on the edge of downtown SLO, is too kitsch to ignore. All have record players, cocktail kits, and fridges crammed with the craft beers and surprisingly delicious tinned wine produced just downstairs.
Colourful rooms — plastered with posters and art — communal areas with games and sofas, and a sociable outdoor pool complement the college vibe. Each of the six rooms has custom-made furniture, local artwork and cosy touches like waffle robes and pillow-top beds.
SLO was doing slow food before it became a thing. Dinner crawls are a popular way to experience several restaurants in one night with so many great places, it makes perfect sense. You might want to linger a little longer at the Vegetable Butcher , though. Veggies are the star of the menu, showcased in sharing dishes like Mexican mole street corn, shot through with notes of smoke and chocolate, steak with kale chimichurri sauce, and the ridiculously pretty spring vegetable shishito, with gossamer-thin tempura batter and edible petals.