San Luis Obispo enthusiasts recommend where to find happiness in town

So you’ve heard it a million times – SLO is the happiest place in America. Even Oprah says so (and if it’s on Oprah, it has to be true, right?) But let’s face it, Oprah’s super-human, so I talked to some real people – Cal Poly students – about SLO and its happiness level.

The Question: If you met someone who came to SLO for the first time, where would you tell them to go to experience the happiness  of San Luis Obispo? 

The Answers: 

  • Smile and Nod
  • The Graduate
  • Downtown San Luis Obispo
  • Firestone Grill
  • Bishop Peak

Smile and Nod: Liberal studies junior Amy Herman chose Smile and Nod as her go-to destination because it challenges its participants to leave their comfort zones.

“when I tried improv, I was so scared!” she said. “But the true happiness and magic of SLO came out when everyone encouraged me to do my best.”

Amy admired the inclusivity of the Smile and Nod gang and said it embodied the inclusive, open-hearted nature of the general SLO community.

The Graduate: Amy also recommended line dancing at The Grad for our make-believe SLO newcomers. Once again, line dancing embodies the carefree, fun personality that the town has.

“There are some people who go (line dancing) all the time, and they’re totally willing to help you learn the dances so you can have fun too,” she said.

Amy admires Cal Poly students’ abilities to look out for one another, and serve as catalysts for each other’s fun.

“I guess people here are a little less selfish and a little more altruistic than other people.”

Downtown SLO: Modern languages and literatures sophomore Emma Horowitz said downtown showcases perfectly what makes San Luis Obispo so special.

Shops on Garden street are run by local business owners and add to the fun downtown experience.

“It’s local, and it’s cute, but it’s still modern and fun,” she said. “It’s where the college community and the rest of the community comes together, which is really great.”

Emma said she loves that everything comes together downtown – the old and the new, the college kids and the families.

“It offers a real taste of the town, in just a few blocks,” she said.

Firestone Grill: “Good food is kind of a big deal here,” graphic communication sophomore Tess Hannel said.

Firestone Grill offers indoor and outdoor seating, delicious food and a fun atmosphere for its customers.

The atmosphere of Firestone grill is always fun, social and light. The iconic tri-tip sandwich is a must-have for anyone visiting SLO.

“Food makes me really happy,” Tess said. “And having fun when you’re eating is even better. And Firestone is definitely a fun place.”

Bishop Peak: Tess stressed the natural beauty of San Luis Obispo.

The western view of Bishop's peak stretches all the way to the ocean.

“We have such beautiful scenery here,” she said. “And you can see it all from the top of Bishop’s.”

The mountain is one of the “seven sisters” in San Luis Obispo county, and from the top, one can see from the ocean to and beyond the hills of Cal Poly’s campus.

“We’re a really active community, which is definitely something that sets us apart,” Tess said. “So to get a real taste of SLO, you gotta hik Bishop’s.”

So with that, I advise anyone planning a vacation to my happy little town to place these spots on their itinerary. Fun, food, scenery and laughter – all crucial parts of SLO that make it  – you guessed it – the happiest place in America.


About hannahcat7

I'm overwhelmed by love, and I think everyone else should be, too.

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