6 Reasons Why San Luis Obispo is the Best Place to be an Entrepreneur

Photo by Tyler Sams

By: Lauren Arendt

We think San Luis Obispo is paradise for entrepreneurs. When it’s time to get to work, the vibrant downtown scene offers countless opportunities for inspiration. All the while, scenic outdoors adventures and world-class relaxation destinations await for when you’re ready to take a break from the daily grind.

If you still aren’t convinced, continue reading to see for yourself why San Luis Obispo is the best place to be an entrepreneur.

1. Beaches

Did you know the City of San Luis Obispo is one of the only places in California that has beaches in not one, not two, but three directions? We have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world to the North, West and South of the city, each within only 15 minutes. Drive to the North and find yourself along the Morro Strand, an expansive scenic beach most well-known for the view of Morro Rock, a 581 foot-tall mountain located right along the water’s edge. To the West of the City of San Luis Obispo, Montana de Oro State Park, or as some call it, “Little Big Sur,” rests along the coast. This dramatic coastline offers opportunities to hike, bike and camp, along with all of the traditional beach activities you love, such as surfing and sunbathing. Avila and Pismo Beach, located to the South of the city, make for the perfect relaxation destinations. Equipped with quaint beach towns, soft sands, and perfect waves, these Southern beaches have something to offer everyone. Lucky beachgoers might even spot whales, dolphins, sea otters, seals and sea lions.

The ocean has been said to have innate health benefits. According to Live Science, moving closer to the coast “significantly improves people’s well-being,” including reducing stress and encouraging physical activity. If just one beach has such great benefits, what do three beaches mean for the lucky entrepreneurs that call San Luis Obispo home?

2. Mountains

In many communities throughout California, living on the coast makes it hard to escape city or suburban landscapes to get fresher air. For those living in San Luis Obispo, however, opportunities to explore the mountains and breathe in fresh air are around every corner. The City of San Luis Obispo is surrounded by a “green belt,” meaning that no development is allowed within a certain perimeter of land. What this means for the residents of the county is that there are endless open spaces and hiking trails to explore. Take a quick jaunt up Cerro San Luis for panoramic views of the entire City of San Luis Obispo, or take a more challenging hike up Valencia Peak for spectacular coastal views from the top.

Within only four hours of San Luis Obispo, some of the most spectacular mountains in the country can be accessed. Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia are only a few of the weekend getaways possible for those living in San Luis Obispo. Read THIS blog for more weekend getaway ideas perfect for those living in San Luis Obispo.

3. Restaurants and Local Farmers

Living a healthy lifestyle is crucial for maintaining success and living up to your greatest potential. If “you are what you eat,” those living in San Luis Obispo are headed in the right direction. In Downtown San Luis Obispo, fresh, eclectic, local restaurants and cafes are around every corner. Better yet? Every Thursday evening, Downtown San Luis Obispo hosts one of the largest, most lively farmers markets in the state from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. This is an opportunity to connect with the community, purchase local produce, and grab dinner from a local vendor.

4. Location

Choosing between Los Angeles and the Bay Area can be difficult when deciding where to launch your startup, as both are bustling hubs for business. In San Luis Obispo, you don’t have to make the choice. Located only three hours away from both San Francisco and Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo makes for the perfect hub to get the best of both worlds. There is also an airport located in town, making it effortless to get anywhere, fast. 

5. It’s Up-and-Coming

Every year, more and more startups and larger scale companies plant their roots in San Luis Obispo, including MindBody, iFixit, and even Amazon. Driving through town, new construction projects seem to sprout up every day, bringing new hotels, retail fronts, restaurants and more to San Luis Obispo. It seems that word is starting to get out about the SLO-lifestyle we all know and love.

6. CIE  Resources

The Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) SLO HotHouse is an entrepreneurial hub in San Luis Obispo that offers countless resources designed to empower startups in the community and from the local university. These resources include a two-year long incubator program, a Small Business Development Center, mentors, workshops, forums, coworking space and more. Anyone thinking of launching a startup in San Luis Obispo should know they don’t have to do so alone. The SLO HotHouse exists to contribute to startup success, as well as make San Luis Obispo the best place it can be for entrepreneurs.

In addition to its off-campus programs, the CIE also offers programs on campus to all Cal Poly students regardless of their major. These programs include the Innovation Sandbox, which is equipped with the latest prototyping and ideation technology. The Hatchery, an on-campus incubator program that provides guidance and resources for students that want to take their business ideas to the next level, and the Cal Poly Entrepreneurs. A student-run club that hosts dozens of entrepreneurial events, activities and special guests.

San Luis Obispo offers a balanced lifestyle for entrepreneurs. In few other cities can you enjoy the perks of a metropolitan lifestyle, but escape to gorgeous coastlines or breathe the fresh air of the mountains on the turn of a dime. In San Luis Obispo, with the help of the CIE entrepreneurs can live in paradise and build the startup of their dreams all at the same time.

To learn more about all of the CIE available resources, go to