Embark on San Luis Obispo’s Top 7 Active and Relaxing Wellness Escapes

If you’re looking for the ideal outdoor fitness and wellness escape, pack your workout gear and head to San Luis Obispo (often referred to as SLO), California. Nestled amongst lush mountains, this hidden gem offers easy access to forests, vineyards, trails, and nearby beaches. SLO sets the perfect backdrop for those who love hiking, biking, yoga, water sports, and everything outdoors.

San Luis Obispo is located midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco on California’s Central Coast. Known for its laid-back vibe, stunning landscapes, and friendly community, SLO has earned a reputation as one of the “happiest” places in the country. Whether you’re a wellness enthusiast or just seeking a rejuvenating getaway, SLO has something to offer.

For someone who always prioritizes self-care and wellness, whether at home or away, I jumped at the opportunity to visit this bucket list-worthy West Coast destination, courtesy of Visit San Luis Obispo. In this article, we’ll explore the seven best fitness and wellness adventures in San Luis Obispo, ensuring you make the most of your visit to this vibrant and scenic destination.


Hiking in SLO provides a rejuvenating yet invigorating workout for all fitness levels. With over 65 miles of trails, hikers and bikers can enjoy a variety of elevations, terrains, and challenges. These trails are ideal for enhancing leg muscle activation and balance, especially when practicing rucking, which involves carrying a weighted backpack.

Here are just a few trails to choose from:

Cerro San Luis

I hiked four miles round-trip up and back down Cerro San Luis (known locally as Madonna Mountain). Part of the “nine sisters” of mountains, Cerro San Luis’s elevation reaches an impressive 1,292 feet, so I felt pretty accomplished.

The entire hiking path is pretty rocky, and some parts can get muddy and slippery after rainfall, so be prepared to wear solid hiking boots or sneakers. In addition, bring a good-sized water bottle to stay hydrated—even on cooler, overcast days!

This trail provides an intense workout in all the best ways, and the sweeping, unparalleled views at the top make every bit of sweat worthwhile. (Not to mention, you can make friends with many adorable cows along the way!)

Terrace Hill

This gentler route is ideal for individuals who want to “hike” without overdoing it. A quick 0.8-mile stretch in the heart of San Luis Obispo, Terrace Hill is an excellent choice for beginners who want to get in light cardio, soak up some scenery, and snap some pics of the extraordinary panoramic views during sunrise, sunset, and every moment in between.

Johnson Ranch

Johnson Ranch is another beginner-friendly 3.2-mile loop that takes you through exquisite rolling hills. You’ll make your way over a creek and through lush greens while taking in the views of wildflowers in the springtime.

Irish Hills Open Space

If you seek a more advanced daytime hike or want to take your mountain bike on an uphill trek, Irish Hills Open Space offers more than seven miles of varied interconnected trails to explore. You can also bring your leashed pup if they’re down to join the fun.


riding bike on railroad safety trail in SLO on sunny day

SLO is a Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Community, inviting both beginners and pros to embrace a bikeable lifestyle. The city’s designated green bike paths and trails make biking safe and enjoyable.

Biking is not something I’m comfortable doing in the hustle and bustle of Manhattan; however, I biked everywhere safely on SLO’s designated green bike paths and trails. Hotel San Cerro provides bikes (complete with helmets, locks, and baskets) for guests to enjoy—and I did. There’s also a variety of bike rental shops throughout the city to pick up your cruiser of choice, like Cambria Bike Rentals and Foothill Cyclery.

Railroad Bike Path

SLO’s Railroad Bike Path is incredibly serene, as it takes bikers along the city’s railroad track on one side and sago palm trees (which resemble ginormous pineapples) and lovely foliage on the other. It’s a pretty easy cruise for most biking levels; I pedaled over five miles round-trip.

At the end of the Railroad Bike Path, you can take a yoga or Pilates class, get a caffeine boost, grab a fresh beer, or enjoy a dry cider where Duncan Alley awaits.

Bob Jones Bike Trail

The Bob Jones Bike Trail, which is approximately three miles long, will take you through the forests and sea areas of Avila Beach. Also known as “The City to the Sea Bike Trail,” this route is another popular choice you can tailor to your own comfort level and speed.

San Luis Obispo Bicycle Club

Experienced bikers can be locals during their visit by joining the San Luis Obispo Bicycle Club for a ride. Club members meet up at various spots in the city on different dates throughout the month. The schedule and details can be found on the club’s website.

Downtown SLO Farmers’ Market

SLO farmers market split image

Did you know that the less time it takes fruits and veggies to get from the farm to the stand, the greater the amount of minerals and vitamins the produce will have? That’s why buying and consuming healthy, wholesome items is important—even when traveling—so I checked out the famous Downtown SLO Farmers’ Market. I love shopping at local farmers’ markets for incredibly fresh produce. After all, you are what you eat.

SLO’s farmers’ market is hands-down the most impressive one I’ve been to, as it features over 100 vendors spanning five blocks. It’s actually the second biggest farmers’ market in the western U.S., according to Visit San Luis Obispo. This beloved tradition has adorned Higuera Street every Thursday night for the last 40 years.

The beautiful year-round weather in SLO enables visitors and locals alike to get a genuine taste of the city, where fresh fruits and veggies, flowers, baked goods, jams, honey, crafts, live entertainment, famous BBQ, and so much more await. It’s the prime place to have dinner one evening (like I did), shop, or pick up treats to bring back to your hotel or Airbnb.

I highly recommend grabbing a “Banzo Bowl” from Bliss Café and mini sprinkled donuts from Sugar Lips.

Spa, Wellness, and Relaxation

serene spa treatment room with two beds, a couch, and foot baths at Spa Cerro in SLO

If you’ve ever indulged in a spa treatment like a massage or facial, you know it’s so relaxing. Massages are also therapeutic for so many issues, including anxiety, headaches, insomnia, nerve pain, fibromyalgia, injuries, and more.

Here are some great spa experiences to check out in SLO:

Spa Cerro

Spa Cerro offers great pampering for your mind and body. The venue offers steam baths to prep for your treatment of choice and a gorgeous Spa Relaxation Terrace where you can sip a glass of champagne in the California sunshine.

After completing mountain hiking and bike riding adventures, a spa treatment was in order. I started my spa session by the fire with a cup of tea in the Relaxation Quiet Room before heading to my Swedish massage. It was absolutely divine!

Other decadent treatments at the spa include a honey lavender sea salt body scrub, organic almond-orange fruit and nut body polish, and blue poppy organic enzyme facial.

Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort & Spa

How does a private mineral hot spring soak in a hillside tub sound? If the answer is, “Yes, please,” head over to Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort & Spa. Before or after you finish soaking, enjoy a yoga or Pilates class.


SLO outdoor yoga class under a big tree surrounded by mountains at sunrise or sunset

If yoga is your go-to form of relaxation, you likely know that this rejuvenating practice is beneficial for treating various health issues, including chronic pain, balance problems, arthritis, osteopenia, depression, anxiety, and more. So, rest assured you’re doing something amazing for your body when getting your namaste on.

Here are some of the many centers to check out in SLO:

Terrace with Tara

Relax your mind and body as you soak up the scenic views on Terrace Hill. Terrace with Tara is a stunning experience for yogis of all levels. Just bring a yoga mat, towel, or beach blanket, and consider packing a scrumptious picnic to enjoy after class. (I highly recommend grabbing Anholm Sweet Home sandwiches from Lincoln Market & Deli!)

Spark Yoga

What’s better than yoga in the sun with a side of views? Check out Spark Yoga, where you can enjoy vinyasa flow, power sequence, restorative classes, and rooftop yoga sessions.

Madonna Inn’s Goat Yoga

Now, let’s combine all the amazing mind and body benefits of yoga with the cuteness and feel-good moments of hanging out with sweet little goats. Madonna Inn offers goat yoga classes, where you can stretch it out in the great outdoors with miniature goats. You may even meet one or more cows or horses at the farm!

After achieving your namaste, I strongly recommend treating yourself to a slice of Madonna Inn’s decadent, famously known pink champagne cake.


two kayaks kayaking through coves on a sunny day in SLO

Kayaking is an incredibly fun, low-impact workout available in San Luis Obispo County. Grab some paddles and head to the shore for an unforgettable coastal adventure if you’re game to work your chest, shoulders, arms, and back while increasing your flexibility, aerobic fitness, and strength.

Explore hidden coves and enjoy an invigorating workout as you kayak along Morro Bay (known for its ginormous volcanic Morro Rock), Pismo Beach, or Avila Beach, the county’s most coveted kayaking spots.

A Kayak Shack, Central Coast Kayaks, or Avila Beach Paddlesports are some of the many rental places to check out.


pickleball paddle and ball on court

Pack your paddle because there are plenty of pickleball courts in SLO where you can burn calories and soak up vitamin D. Meadow Park is an ideal choice for beginners, but if you’re a bit more seasoned and look to play at a more competitive level, check out French Park’s upper and lower courts. Some courts are available on a first-come-first-serve basis, while others need to be reserved in advance.

After playing pickleball at French Park, consider heading to SLO’s Edna Valley for much-needed R&R, spectacular views, and wine at one of the many vineyards. Chamisal, Edna Valley Vineyard, and Biddle Ranch Vineyard House & Tasting Room are just a few to consider.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More