3. Pismo Beach
Stroll or cast a line from the Pismo Pier, watch the surfers, and—if the season is right—marvel at the thousands of monarch butterflies that overwinter at Pismo State Beach. From late November through February, thousands of migrating monarchs alight on Pismo Beach's Butterfly Trees, a grove of Monterey pines and eucalyptus right next to Highway 1.
If you have some extra time, consider a visit to nearby Avila Beach to tour the historic Point San Luis Lighthouse and visit the farmers market in the spring and summer. A free trolley service runs between Pismo and Avila on Fridays and weekends from May to early September.
4. San Luis Obispo
Fall under the charm of downtown San Luis Obispo, centered on the Mission San Luis Obispo De Tolosa. The nearby Mission Plaza, a developed wooded creek and urban oasis, offers events throughout the year, including a free concert series every Friday at 5 p.m., mid-June to early September. Just steps away, if you can stomach it, is Bubblegum Alley, an urban canyon of dried gum that dates to at least the 1950s.
Farther north, visitors can take a guided tour of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo or hike the scenic peaks that overlook it.