Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you have to retreat from learning and exploring. Downtown San Luis Obispo has several museums, offering free and low-cost enrichment and entertainment for visitors of all ages.
Put on some comfortable walking shoes and visit one of these museums in Downtown San Luis Obispo.
DALLIDET ADOBE & GARDENS
Built in the 1830s by pioneer French settler and the county’s first commercial vintner, Pierre Hypolite Dallidet, the Dallidet Adobe and Gardens offer an eloquent living museum for visitors to tour for free or rent for wedding receptions and other special events.
The museum houses three rotating exhibits featuring information on local history and a gift shop. Visitors are invited to come explore the museum themselves, however docents are available to provide guided tours for adult and student groups upon prior reservation.
Established by Father Junipero Serra in 1772, Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa is the fifth California mission and still stands in the heart of Downtown San Luis Obispo. Learn the history of its existence at the museum and tour the grounds to see the architectural design for free. Docent led tours for organizations or schools are available upon request.
The Monday Club, designed by Julia Morgan, the famous architect known for her work on Hearst Castle, is now listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings. Established as a meeting place for a dedicated women’s group in the community, the Monday Club of San Luis Obispo offers free guided tours to the public every Monday in addition to being available to rent for events. Member docents share Monday Club’s history while touring the visitors through the historic clubhouse.
Mondays from 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
SAN LUIS OBISPO CHILDREN'S MUSEUM
Learn about butterflies, watch magic shows and see other mysteries unfold in the fun, interactive San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum. Museum staff host a new themed-program each week, complete with a craft to go along with the season. The museum also is available for birthday parties, offering fun for all ages.
Free for Children 2 and under
$8 for Adults and Children
$5 for Seniors 60+
$7 for Military Family Members
FREE Moonlight Hours: Every Third Thursday from 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Emphasizing artwork by contemporary, living California artists, the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art offers a variety of original, ever-changing exhibitions of painting, sculpture, fine craft, printmaking and photography. Films, events, art workshops and educational opportunities are also offered in addition to docent-led tours for groups of all ages.
Wednesday – Monday: 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
July 5 through Labor Day: 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. daily
Check out the San Luis Obispo Railroad Museum's displays and railroad artifacts or browse the progress of the Central Coast Model Railroad, which will include an operating 1200 square foot model railroad.
Explore William Randolph Hearst’s extravagant home, now a National Historic Landmark, on one of the six Hearst Castle tours available. Experience this bucket list attraction and be left in awe as you view Hearst’s legendary estate, acres of gardens, terraces and pools, and more than 25,000 artifacts.
Tours starting at $25 for Adults and $12 for Children
Standing as the only Museum of Natural History in the California State Park System, this museum offers several interactive exhibits to educate and delight both the young and old. The Morro Bay Museum of Natural History overlooks the bay and is surrounded by both the Morro Bay State Park and Morro Strand State Beach, so you can count on spectacular views of the Central Coast.
Children under 16: Free
Open Daily from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day
Established in 1890, Point San Luis Lighthouse is another National Historic Landmark along the Central Coast and can be accessed by hiking the Pecho Trail, hopping on the Old Trolley or by boat. Take one of the docent led tours and travel back in time to when lighthouses ruled sea navigation.
Docent Led Hike: Wednesdays and Saturdays at 9:00 a.m.
Trolley Rides: Wednesdays at 12:00 p.m. & 1:00 p.m. and Saturdays at 12:00 p.m., 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.
Call the 24/7 line 1-800-838-3006 to book tour reservations.