10 Free Things To Do Around Cal Poly SLO


Being a student in college usually means that you don’t have tons of money to explore and try new things. Luckily, if you go to Cal Poly SLO, there are so many fun things to do that are completely free! Here are the top 10 free things to do around Cal Poly SLO!

1. Architecture Graveyard

Down Poly Canyon Road, there is a short hike to the Architecture Graveyard, where the ghosts of architecture projects past haunt. There’s a jungle gym themed amphitheater, a very oddly designed house, a ship-like structure hanging over a hill, and many, many more architecture projects to check out.

10 free things to do around Cal Poly SLO!

2. The Tri-Tip Challenge

Though there are plenty of places to hike in SLO, there are three (tri) local main peaks (tips): Bishop’s Peak, Madonna, and the Poly Canyon “P” just behind the parking lot between Cerro Vista and the Red Bricks. Each poses a challenge, but the real challenge lies in climbing all three in a single day. As a warning, this is certainly an activity for the more active thrill-seeker. I might be violating the rules with this part, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that it’s tradition to head on over to Firestone Grill to reward yourself with a tri-tip sandwich after you’re done. Pro-tip: there’s a pretty sweet natural tunnel at the base of Bishop’s if you can find it!

10 free things to do around Cal Poly SLO!

3. Serenity Swing

I don’t know if you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to swing atop an amazing view (one of the best in SLO, I daresay), but wonder no longer! Continue on the trail past Architecture Graveyard to find the Serenity Swing. The hike can be pretty steep at times (especially at the end), but the payoff is totally worth it. Plus, the swing hangs from a pretty great climbing tree.
10 free things to do around Cal Poly SLO!

4. Avila Beach

San Luis Obispo is home to a number of awesome beaches, including Pismo and Morro. But, I have to say my personal favorite (and, as far as I know, the closest to campus) is Avila Beach, specifically Pirate’s Cove. There’s plenty to explore, including a few natural caves.

10 free things to do around Cal Poly SLO!

5. Moonstone Beach

This one’s a bit of a drive, but it’s definitely worth it in my opinion. A lot of the beach is paved in shiny moonstone pebbles instead of sand, and collecting them makes for a pretty sweet hobby (and a great date!).

10 free things to do around Cal Poly SLO!

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6. Montaña de Oro

This one is by far my favorite location in San Luis Obispo and I’d even call it one of my favorite spots in the world. I’ve never seen as many biomes so close together as I have in Montaña de Oro State Park. From exploring the tide pools and serene beaches with azure waters to jumping off the sand dunes, there’s just so much to see and do.

10 free things to do around Cal Poly SLO!

7. Pool at the Recreation Center

One of my favorite things about the Cal Poly campus is our amazing recreation center. Seriously, it’s huge. Getting to the beach can be a little difficult, so the pool at the Rec Center is the next best thing!

10 free things to do around Cal Poly SLO!

8. Farmers’ Market

SLO has a pretty sweet town with lots to do, but the best time to visit is on Thursdays from 6pm-9pm. You can take the bus down there for free with your Poly card, and even if you don’t buy anything, it’s still definitely worth checking out. There are live bands, booths for local restaurants and organizations, and a lot of very lively people. Plus, the food is pretty damn good.

10 free things to do around Cal Poly SLO!

9. Botanical Gardens

At Cal Poly, you’ll meet plenty of Agriculture and Environmental Earth and Soil Science majors and if there’s one thing these people love, it’s plants and the Botanical Gardens. Between SLO and Morro Bay just off Highway 1 lies the San Luis Obispo Botanical Gardens in El Chorro Regional Park. They’ve got plants of all colors and varieties. So if pretty flowers and cool looking plants are your thing, this is a stop you won’t want to miss.

10 free things to do around Cal Poly SLO!

10. Art After Dark

Most of this list has been comprised of outdoor activities, so here’s one for my fellow Liberal Arts majors. Downtown SLO is home to the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art as well as a number of art galleries. Any of these can make for a fun visit. However, on the first Friday of every month, Downtown SLO hosts Art After Dark between 6pm-9pm. This is an event that showcases new art exhibits through several galleries and other venues.

10 free things to do around Cal Poly SLO!

What are your favorite free things to do around Cal Poly SLO!? Share in the comments below!

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