One of the strangest yet most popular landmark attractions in San Luis Obispo is Bubblegum Alley. This anomaly is set in the heart of Downtown San Luis Obispo, known for its scenic babbling creek, tree-lined streets, boutiques, unique cafes and family-friendly attractions like Thursday night Farmers’ Market or Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa.
Yet there it stands, a hidden gem tucked away in a small alley right off Higuera Street, between Broad and Garden Streets. This narrow alleyway invites visitors to partake in an unusual rite of passage in San Luis Obispo: already-been-chewed bubblegum graffiti.
For the squeamish, the germophobic, and anyone haunted by the memory of finding gum under their desk at school, consider yourselves fairly warned. The extent of accrued bacteria sticking to the 15-foot-high walls along with the millions of pieces of chewed and spit out strands of multicolored gum, is unknown but don’t let this deter you.
Although the origin story of Bubblegum Alley is a little “sticky,” this landmark attraction became well established by the early 1970s. Since there is no stopping its organic growth, you may as well participate in this slightly gross movement. Grab a gum ball at local Powell’s Sweet Shoppe or Ambiance, a boutique conveniently located right next door, and make your mark on Bubblegum Alley. Appreciate the communal art form for what it is and stick your unique stamp on San Luis Obispo.
Take a selfie in front of the wall to document this socially accepted form of vandalism. Just don’t get too close, or you may find that the wall will leave its mark on you.
After surviving Bubblegum Alley, reward yourself with a pizza and pint of craft beer from Blast 825 or an ice-cream sandwich from Batch. No matter what you do, we know the memories you make in San Luis Obispo will be sure to stick.