Friday, January 31, 2020

Enjoying the SLO Life

SLO, short for San Luis Obispo sure lives up to its homophonic name.  Growing up and still living near big cities like New York or San Francisco, I found myself craving the slower pace these days, for the three R’s, reset, recharge, and relax.  That would explain why Mau`i has become my Happiest Place on Earth despite being a huge Mickey Mouse fan all my life.  Living on Mau`i at this moment is still a distant dream and speaking of distance, an almost 5-hour plane ride and how expensive the islands are from accommodations to food, it is not a feasible weekend getaway either.  So, having SLO nestled halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles just a 4-hour drive vs. flight away, it has become the perfect overnight retreat for me.      

Just like Mau`i, the beauty of nature is bountiful and free with beautiful beaches like Pismo and Avila just a short drive away and mountains for hiking or biking.  But unlike Mau`i, because it is a college town to Cal Poly, you can enjoy good food at a reasonable price.  Add in my recent discovery and love now for January travel where you can score a great deal on accommodations and without the crowds, we had ourselves an overnight getaway for not much more than if we stayed in town and went out for a nice dinner.

Apple Farm Inn

Apple Farm Inn is my favorite and only place I have stayed in San Luis Obispo, wishing they have a loyalty program, because it feels like home that keeps calling me back.  With so many stays that I even have favorite rooms that I often request, it really is like coming home.  

From the moment you walk into the lobby from the décor to the decorations throughout the hallway that changes with the season, it just screams cozy.  

The now $14 daily amenities fee includes beverages in the lobby, 

an afternoon wine reception with light hor d’oeuvres, fresh chocolate chip cookies and a souvenir wooden apple to remind you of your stay, I have 8 now. 

Many rooms boast four poster beds 

and often with canopies

a fireplace

two bottles of water in your mini-fridge, two bottles of Martinelli apple cider, robes to use during your stay and turndown service by request if you choose to refresh your room in the evenings. 

For that January Sunday night rate of $119, it came out to only $150.62.        

Firestone Grill

I cannot remember a single time that I was in the area whether staying in SLO, Pismo Beach, or Morro Bay, where I did not come to Firestone Grill at least once.  Introduced to this place by my now husband when he was a student at Cal Poly over 20 years ago, the burgers are still amazing and perfect to enjoy on their outdoor patio as our first stop for lunch upon entering town.  

Two burgers and a side of rings for $17, it can cost that much for one burger with tax and tip at some places in the Bay Area.  

Discovering the tri-tip sandwich a few years ago means coming by at least one more time.  Two tri-tip sandwiches to go to enjoy in front of our fireplace back in our room at the Apple Farm with their two complimentary Martinelli apple ciders was less than $25 for dinner.  

Lunch and Dinner for 2:  $42

Afternoon Wine Reception at the Apple Farm Restaurant Gazebo

A light dinner was all we needed after enjoying the afternoon wine reception from 3:30-5 in the current reception location at the Restaurant Gazebo  

I have been here so many times, I have enjoyed the reception at the patio by the Millhouse, the restaurant patio, the Garden Room most of the times, and even once at the bottom floor of the Millhouse, post gift shop but pre-Millhouse Suite.  One thing that never changed and I hope never will are those addictive cheesy onion breads as I look forward to them, every visit.

Apple Farm Bakery

With the room is a $5 food voucher that can be applied towards the bakery or restaurant during our stay.  We chose to apply it toward a mini loaf of their banana bread for breakfast, charging the remaining $3.75 to the room and enjoyed a slice with the hot chocolate, coffee, or hot tea available during the mornings in the lobby.   

My cost after voucher with enough for breakfast the next day:  $3.75

Mon Ami Creperie                   

I am all about food when I travel and discovering Mon Ami Creperie while in Pismo a few years back, good enough for 3 more return visits at that location, I could not pass up the opportunity this time now that they have moved to Downtown SLO.  

Close enough to order a Crepes Benedict 

and Crepe Royale 

to go and again enjoying in front of our fireplace in the room for a splurge brunch.  Two bonus crepes with Nutella 

because lady luck was on my side as I happened to walk in the same moment someone cancelled their phone order but the crepes itself was already made. 

Brunch for 2:  $27 as I had to leave a tip for those two bonus crepes.

Morro Bay

Morro Bay that I just discovered two years ago as more than just Morro Rock 

is now a must-stop to check out the sea otters and pups and I was not disappointed as they entertained me for half an hour with their antics, frolicking in the water. 

Giovanni’s Fish Market

Not too hungry since we had crepes, half a dozen BBQ oysters 

and a cup of clam chowder (free with Yelp check in) 

and a grilled snapper sandwich was perfect for a light lunch.    

Light Lunch for 2:  $26

Happy Hours are great choices for an early dinner before leaving the area or to supplement that afternoon wine reception.  Unfortunately, our original plan to try Novo this time fell through since we were not hungry by the time we needed to start our drive home but we have taken advantage of several happy hours on past visits. 

Luna Red in SLO

for sangria, 
bacon wrapped dates so good, we ordered another, 

spring vegetable huarache, 

papa bravas potatoes,

and oven baked clams with slathered bread,


Spoon Trade at Grover Beach 

for deviled eggs, 

mini bologna sando (house made so not your kid’s bologna sandwich), 

making our own chicken and waffles 

with half a sourdough waffle and chicken tenders and mini grilled cheese

Oyster Loft in Pismo Beach 

for Grassy Bay oysters, 

ahi tuna chips,

and a lot of halibut tacos.  

The people are friendlier, the pace unrushed, and for this price, it is no wonder that SLO was named happiest city in America.

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