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20 Things to Do in SLO for $20 or under

By Dylan Grant

A rough idea is the foundation of even the most successful businesses. Transforming innovative concepts into a reality often forces startups to run with minimal resources. SLO entrepreneurs know how to make things work on a budget. We’ve provided a list of 20 things you can do in SLO for $20 or under this summer. Pull from the activities below and make high-priced memories on a bootstrap income.

SLO County Farmers Market

Support our local farmers and enjoy fresh fruits, veggies and artisan goods at the market of your choice this summer. Munch on corn-on-the-cob while taking in the sound of vendor chatter and eclectic instrumentals. To pinpoint your favorite merchants and place your orders at farmers markets around SLO County, download the Arkitu app courtesy of our CIE incubator company.

Concerts in the Plaza

Calling all music lovers! Concerts in the Plaza are officially in session every Friday outside the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolsa from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Genres range from Vintage Blues to Gypsy Folk Rock. All ages are welcome, but those 21 and over can fill up a commemorative Concerts in the Plaza pint for $10.

Tour Mission San Luis Obispo De Tolosa

Come explore one of SLO’s most renowned landmarks! The Mission San Luis Obispo De Tolosa offers free, docent-led tours Monday through Saturday at 1:15 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Founded in 1772, this Spanish mission is located right in the heart of downtown SLO.

Morro Bay Skateboard Museum

Take a trip from the early 1930s to the present day. The Morro Bay Skateboard Museum’s collection of over 200 skateboards showcases every era in the sport’s history. Stop in and explore the evolution of skateboarding.

Sunset Drive-In

Warm summer nights in San Luis Obispo might be best spent tuned into a double feature at the iconic Sunset Drive-In. New films play seven nights a week at this charming outdoor theatre for a ticket price of $9. If you’re an early riser, swing by on Sunday mornings for a swap meet of goods and vintage knick-knacks.

Art After Dark

Wander through downtown SLO on the first Friday of every month to ponder the work of local artists. Beginning at 6:00 p.m. and wrapping up at 9:00 p.m., Art After Dark is a wonderful way to experience SLO culture and community.

Central Coast Kayak Rental

Hit the glassy waters of Shell Beach with the help of Central Coast Kayaks. Spend $20 for an hour of beautiful rock formation and aquatic exploration. Rentals open at 9:00 a.m. so bundle up for a tranquil paddling experience.

Full Day Surfboard Rentals

Spend the day catching waves on the shores of Pismo Beach for $20. Full-day surf and boogie board rentals are available at Pismo Beach Surf Shop. Enjoy chasing waves and swimming out to sea on a budget. Slip into a wetsuit to combat the Central Coast chill for an extra $10.

Morro Bay Stand Up Paddle Boarding

Test your balance with an hour of paddle boarding around Morro Bay’s four miles of smooth waters. If kayaking or surfing isn’t for you, stand up for $20 an hour paddleboarding.

The Central Coast Aquarium in Avila

Home to dozens of species, the Central Coast Aquarium in Avila Beach offers visitors a hands-on approach to marine appreciation. Take a few hours to meet a giant Pacific octopus along with sea stars, rock crabs, smooth hound sharks and a gumboot chiton. General admission is $8.

Charles Paddock Zoo in Atascadero

Walk up to a flamboyance of flamingos this summer at the Charles Paddock Zoo in Atascadero. Hundreds of species call this zoo home. Come give a warm hello to animals ranging from a Malayan tiger to the colorful Gila monster for the price of $7.

Moonstone Hunting

Get in touch with your inner treasure seeker on the shores of Moonstone Beach in Cambria. Hunt for rocks and enjoy the sight of harbor seals sunbathing on the coast. Venture downtown for an array of antique stores finds and grab a lunch to remember in The Cafe’s succulent garden.

Morro Bay Harbor Cruise

Bring your sea legs for a cruise around Morro Bay Harbor. Otters, sea lions and schools of jellyfish welcome you to climb aboard a Sub Sea Tour this summer for $20. Narrated tours last 45 minutes and offer below deck views of the harbor.

Piedras Blancas Light Station

Drive north for a self-led tour of the Piedras Blancas Light Station, a historic park and wildlife sanctuary. The light station is open to all hikers from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on July 25 and August 29. Click the link for more information on hiking guidelines and directions.

Avila Ridge Hike

Grab a sandwich from your favorite local deli and fill up your hydroflasks. Once you climb to the top of Avila Ridge, this steep hikes ocean views will keep you enjoying the sights for hours. Indulge in a picnic this summer at the top of one of SLO’s natural wonders.

The Pad Climbing Gym

Join SLO’s climbing community with a $ 15-day pass to the Pad Climbing Gym. Enjoy a work out at your own pace at this indoor rock climbing center. Plan your visit during staff hours from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort and Spa

Hop on the phone and book yourself a private mineral hot tub under the stars in Avila. Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort and Spa provides a therapeutic outdoor experience for $15 a person Monday through Thursday. Rates rise to $20 a person over the weekend.

Avila Valley Barn

Fresh produce and delicious baked goods are waiting for you at Avila Valley Barn. Slurp up some homemade ice cream before catching a hayride this summer. This homestead offers fun for all ages with charming goodies and a petting zoo.

Chase a Waterfall

Take a trip to Big Falls Trailhead in Arroyo Grande for a serene waterfall vista. Close to four miles in and out, this brief hike yields a serious reward. Enjoy the natural sights but watch out for poison oak on your stroll towards roaring waters.

Oceano Beach Bonfires

No late night snack can beat an oozing marshmallow stuffed between graham crackers. Break out some kindling for a summer bonfire on the shores of the Oceano Dunes. Driving your car onto the sand costs $5, but entry is free for those willing to carry their wood onto the beach from the street. Beach hours are limited to 11 p.m. in Pismo and Grover.

Enjoy the entrepreneurial lifestyle on the Central Coast this summer without breaking the bank! Lack of funds can’t hold our innovators back from embracing the SLO entrepreneur lifestyle.

 

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10 Local Lunch Spots to Visit if You’re an Entrepreneur in SLO

By: Lauren Arendt

Downtown San Luis Obispo is bustling with local eateries of all sorts. As an entrepreneur, it only makes sense to pay patronage to small businesses in the area with their own entrepreneurial goals. Whether you’re craving a healthy bite or a hearty meal, there is a small business in San Luis Obispo serving up the perfect lunch for you.

1. Kreuzberg

Modeled after an actual segment of Berlin, Germany, Kreuzberg offers an eclectic, vibrant atmosphere and similar food choices. Although most well-known for their espresso drinks, the cafe offers an array of fresh, delicious lunch options. Choose a crisp salad, warm sandwich, hearty breakfast burrito (available all day!), or sweet acai bowl–all jam-packed with unique flavor combinations and elements. The quirky atmosphere (can you say lamps hanging upside down from the ceiling?) will draw you in, but the delicious, unique food and drink options will keep you coming back for more.

We recommend: Breakfast Burrito

2. Firestone Grill 

Touted as having the best tri tip in California, Firestone Grill makes for the perfect hearty lunch option. They offer large portions at fair prices and truly have something for everyone. For all of the meat lovers, the tri tip sandwich, jammed-packed with meat and smothered in barbecue sauce,  will hit the spot. For anyone looking for a lighter, greener lunch, Firestone also offers veggie burgers and salads at the same high quality as their meat-lover offerings. Better yet? Firestone Grill is only a block away from the SLO HotHouse.

We recommend: Tri Tip Sandwich

3. Thai Palace 

Located in the heart of Downtown San Luis Obispo and only a few steps away from the SLO HotHouse, Thai Palace is a great lunch option for any Thai-loving entrepreneurs. Order takeout or enjoy the classic decor and friendly atmosphere at the restaurant. The service is cheerful and the food delicious. They offer all the authentic Thai options you love, plus some specials with a modern twist.

We recommend: Yellow Curry

4. Mint + Craft 

Healthy, fresh, and fun, Mint + Craft offers eclectic, unique food options suited perfectly for the adventurous entrepreneurial spirit. From a host of loaded toasts, craft sandwiches, and plates and bowls tailored for any dietary preference, Mint + Craft truly has something for everyone. Better yet? They offer an impressive espresso bar and adorable in-house gift shop full of local and sustainable goods.

We recommend: Toasties

5. Seeds 

Acai bowls are the perfect lunch for a warm Central Coast day. Seeds, located on Garden Street, serves up some of the most aesthetic, delicious and unique acai bowls around. Not in the mood for the sweet treat? Seeds has you covered with avocado toasts, kombucha, and a host of other offerings. In addition to a delicious, energizing meal, Seeds offers a quaint, relaxing back patio space perfect for unwinding from that midday funk.

We recommend: Bowl 7

6. Bliss Cafe 

Vegan food might be the sole offering at Bliss Cafe, but the bold flavors, large variety of options, and location right next door to the mission and creek make it perfect for anyone, no matter their dietary preferences. Whether you’re in the mood for a spicy curry, rich dessert, hearty buddha bowl, or green smoothie, Bliss Cafe serves up their many edible offerings with lots of love in the heart of Downtown San Luis Obispo.

We recommend: Avocado Lemon Love Bowl

7. Aisuru Sushi Bar

Although they offer a diverse collection of mouth-watering rolls, two things differentiate this local sushi restaurant from its competitors: (1) They offer much more than just sushi: diners can choose from poke bowls, rice bowls, noodle bowls and more. (2) They have the best deals around! You can check out this link for a complete list of the thrifty specials, but a few highlights include ninja rolls for $2.50 on Mondays, California rolls for $1.99 on Tuesdays, and $5.99 poke bowls on Sundays.

We recommend: $1.99 California Roll Tuesdays

8. Big Sky Cafe 

This local San Luis Obispo cafe places a huge focus on local, seasonal food items, which makes every visit a new, fun experience. Offering traditional dishes from many cultures with modern twists, Big Sky offers healthy, fun meals perfect for a longer lunch or lunch meeting in Downtown San Luis Obispo.

We recommend: Traditional New Mexican Pozole Soup

9. Linnea’s

Road trippin’ w Mom

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Most famous for their motto that Linnea’s is more than a coffee shop, but a community, Linneas offers a friendly environment, fully equipped with an open-air patio in the back. As far as the food, Linnea’s claim to fame tends to be fresh-made pastries and their all-day breakfast burritos, but the lunch specials change daily, making every visit something unique and special.

We recommend: All Day Breakfast Burrito or Daily Soup Special

10. Giuseppe’s Cucina Rustica

Perhaps one of the most beloved restaurants in all of San Luis Obispo, this Cal Poly alumni-founded restaurant offers endless authentic Italian food options, along with an eclectic, vibrant environment. The best part? The bread and dip they serve before every meal (warning: it’s highly addictive). Choose from an array of light pasta dishes, fresh salads, and thin crust pizzas for a classic Italian sort of lunch break.

We recommend: Giuseppe Salad

Luckily for entrepreneurs living in San Luis Obispo, the local eateries offer a diverse, delicious array of meals. Whether an entrepreneur working downtown prefers a lighter lunch, or needs to find the perfect place for a lunch meeting, there is a locally owned establishment in San Luis Obispo awaiting that meets the criteria.

Trying a new place for lunch can be a fun way to break a monotonous routine, so get out of the building and visit a SLO-local establishment during your next lunch break.

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What’s in the SLO HotHouse: Incubator Program

By: Lauren Arendt

On any given day, the SLO HotHouse crawls with activity and energy. After walking passed the coworking space in the forefront, visitors come to a vibrant plethora of desks, whiteboards, banners, students and community members, or as the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) calls it, the incubator program.

The CIE  SLO HotHouse Incubator is a two-year, full-time program that includes everything needed for early-stage companies to develop into financially stable, high-growth enterprises by providing the tools needed to facilitate smarter, faster growth. Startups from Cal Poly and the community alike are encouraged to apply for the incubator program.

SLO HotHouse Incubator Program Perks

 

Every company in the incubator program receives a mentor and advisory board to help out with the difficult decisions and planning that go into the early stages of development. Whether incubators are confronted with legal struggles, financial challenges or other uncertainties, someone in the SLO HotHouse will be able to guide them through.

Furthermore, startups in the incubator program receive exclusive invitations to various entrepreneurial events in the community. These include pitch nights, forums and networking opportunities only accessible through the network provided by the CIE.

SLO HotHouse Resources

Members of the incubator program also have the vast resources of the SLO HotHouse at their disposal. This includes 24/7 office space located in the heart of downtown San Luis Obispo equipped with multiple conference rooms, a full kitchen, and all of the coffee you can drink.

The SLO HotHouse offers more than office space. It serves as a hub for all entrepreneurial activities at Cal Poly and in the San Luis Obispo community. This creates one-of-a-kind networking opportunities for startups in the incubator program. From monthly peer-to-peer roundtable discussions to an invaluable network of fellow entrepreneurs, Cal Poly professors, esteemed alumni, and more.

Entrepreneurs interested in applying for the CIE SLO HotHouse Incubator program can get more information and find the application at https://cie.calpoly.edu/launch/hothouse-incubator/.

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The 10 Best Weekend Getaways for Entrepreneurs Around San Luis Obispo

By: Lauren Arendt

Everyone loves traveling, adventuring, relaxing and sightseeing, but taking the time off can be daunting. Between school, work and day-to-day responsibilities, finding the time to break routines simply isn’t a possibility for many.

Luckily for entrepreneurs living and working in San Luis Obispo, the central location of the city not only makes it possible to make the most of the weekend without compromising responsibilities but easy too. Whether you can only afford a day trip to relax and unwind, or would rather take a long weekend to go on an adventure, there is a perfect weekend getaway around San Luis Obispo for you. The endless opportunities to break everyday routines without breaking the budget or taking too much time away from the office or studying is one of the many perks of choosing San Luis Obispo to launch a startup.

1.Big Sur

Photo by Tyler Sams

Big Sur is one of the most awe-inspiring coastlines along the Highway 1. The road wraps and winds around sheer cliffs on one side, and lush mountains on the other. The southernmost entrance to Big Sur is only a scenic hour of driving away from Downtown San Luis Obispo. The farther you drive in, the more campsites, day hikes and backpacking trails appear.

The recent landslides made it a little tricker to enjoy Big Sur, but many adventures remain possible. For example, there are sites open to the public at the South entrance of Big Sur directly before the road closure that make for excellent day trips. Salmon Creek, only an hour away from Downtown San Luis Obispo, offers six miles of hiking trails, as well as an impressive 120-foot waterfall only about five minutes from the side of the road. For a long weekend camping trip, it is possible to drive up Highway 101 and access campgrounds via Nacimiento -Ferguson Road.

2. Yosemite National Park

Photo by Lauren Arendt

Everyone knows about Yosemite National Park, but a lot of people don’t realize how close it is to San Luis Obispo. In less than four hours, travelers coming from Downtown San Luis Obispo can make it all the way to the world-renowned National Park to enjoy the awe-inspiring cliffs, waterfalls, lakes, and wildlife.

With lots of low-cost camping opportunities, endless hiking trails, and climbing walls, and only a $30 entrance fee, Yosemite makes the perfect weekend getaway for anyone with an adventurous spirit.

3. Big Basin State Park

In only three hours, weekend warriors looking to explore the outdoors can make it to the lush Big Basin National Park. Visitors to the park can surround themselves with Red Woods, hunt for banana slugs, and explore more than 80 miles of hiking trails. Big Basin is California’s oldest National Park, offering historic landmarks including redwoods that date back to the Roman Empire.

At only $10 to enter, Big Basin National Park offers an affordable destination to enjoy sightseeing, hiking, backpacking, bicycling and camping, all within the span of a long weekend.

4. Montana de Oro State Park

Photo by Tyler Sams

Lucky for those living in San Luis Obispo, their beautiful home offers many “staycations.” Montana de Oro, renowned by many as the mini-Big Sur, is a coastal State Park located just minutes from Cal Poly campus. Offering a rugged coastline, serene beaches, and miles of hiking trails with views of Morro Bay, MDO makes for the perfect day-trip or camping location for those in San Luis Obispo that want a low-stress weekend getaway.

Entrance to the park, hiking trails, and beaches is free, but make sure to make a reservation in advance to go camping.

5. Oceano Dunes

Photo by Tyler Sams

The Oceano Dunes bring desert action sports to the San Luis Obispo coastline. From motocross to dune buggies, the State Park offers an ecologically and geologically unique playground for off-highway enthusiasts. People from all across the United States visit the Oceano Dunes every year, but luckily for those in San Luis Obispo County, the opportunities for off-roading, surfing, swimming, hiking and more are less than 40 minutes away.

6. Henry Coe State Park

Photo by Lauren Arendt

Dusted with wildflowers in the Spring and home to the largest array of open spaces in a State Park from Northern California, Henry Coe State Park makes for a serene weekend adventure only three hours from San Luis Obispo. The park is known for its varied, rugged and beautiful terrain of lofty ridges and steep canyons.

The rolling, green hills are open year-round to backpackers, hikers, car campers, mountain bikers and equestrians.

7. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Photo by Tyler Sams

With lush forests to explore in the warm months, and rugged, snow-covered winterscapes to snowshoe through in the winter, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks offer dramatic landscapes within three and a half hours of San Luis Obispo.

Whether travelers wish to car camp and day hike or backpack amongst the redwoods, these National Parks are sure to leave any visitor dazzled by the grandeur of the wildlife in the area.  

8. Hearst Castle

Yet another magical staycation is San Luis Obispo County, Hearst Castle offers travelers an opportunity to explore history in one of the most decadent, luxurious homes in the United States. Visitors to Hearst Castle have the opportunity to take tours all throughout the mansion, among the infamous gardens, and learn about the history of the Hearst family and their many heirlooms at every step of the way. In addition to the castle’s beauty, the views of the rolling hills and expansive ocean only add more sensation to the space. Only 45 minutes from the Cal Poly campus, Hearst Castle makes for an excellent day trip weekend getaway.  

9. Wine Tasting

From Paso Robles to Sea Canyon, San Luis Obispo County is home to many state-of-the-art wineries. For those who would rather spend their weekend enjoying the finer things in life than roughing it in the wilderness, wine tasting in SLO-local wineries may be the perfect weekend getaway option. Visit THIS article to create a game plan for visiting all of San Luis Obispo’s greatest wineries in only two days.

10. Avila Hot Springs

Another weekend getaway in San Luis Obispo County to help relax after a stressful work and school week is the Avila Hot Springs. This natural gem-turned-spa allows visitors to soak in the warm, mineral-laden water. Mineral water has been used therapeutically for hundreds of years and is said to be useful for a number of injuries and ailments. Better yet? The Avila Hot Springs are only minutes from the beach. Take a load off and rejuvenate, followed by a relaxing day sunbathing on the soft sands of Avila Beach.

In San Luis Obispo, entrepreneurs find it easy to work hard during the week and play hard during the weekend. With some of the most beautiful natural wonders in the world within only a few hours of the town and campus and many opportunities to relax and unwind in the county itself, there is no excuse not to get outside this weekend and every weekend. Let the weekend getaways commence!

If you are interested in starting a business in San Luis Obispo County, learning more about becoming an entrepreneur or just need help with an existing business, find out how the CIE can help you be successful by visiting www.cie.calpoly.edu.

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