Daughter is a graduating Senior this year. My husband and I love SLO - we went to see live music at Barrelhouse Brewing when we were there with our daughter touring the campus in 2019 and I don’t know if it was the beer, or the band, or both, but we decided SLO is just magical and are super glad she chose to go to Cal Poly.
We have stayed at the Avenue Inn Downtown SLO (clean, no frills, a couple blocks from downtown - haven’t been in a rush to stay there again, but it was fine and the price was right for a quick trip); The Garden Street Inn (Feels more like a B&B, close to/pretty much in downtown, super cozy and great breakfast - would absolutely stay there again); La Quinta Inn and Suites SLO Downtown - super close to campus; very clean, nice rooms - would absolutely stay again); Apple Farm Inn - we stay here most often because it is clean, affordable, very close to campus and the folks that work there are always very nice - maybe a little dated, but that doesn’t bother us at all)
Food - SLO isn’t really known for its fabulous food (especially coming from the many and varied choices of the Bay Area), but there are some solid choices. If you want the student vibe, go to Woodstock’s - alway reliable, decent pizza and beer choices and open late - which is key for us, since we are usually coming from a Cal Poly choir performance); Sally Loos is great for breakfast, the “Sally’s Waffle” is amazing - for breakfast/lunch we also have enjoyed Big Sky Cafe. Libertine Brewing is great. And last, but definitely not least, one of our absolute favorite places is High Street Deli - some of the best sandwiches we’ve ever had. “Its just a sandwich”, you say - but no, it is not. You will just have to try it yourself to understand.
Campus vibe is great - feels very laid back and lively. My daughter lived in Yakitutu her freshman year and it was pretty fantastic, and then Poly Canyon Village her Sophomore year - it was a great place to live as a second year - more independence than the dorms, and just enough supervision, but not quite off-campus living. Allowed her to cook and take care of an apartment before moving off campus as a third year. My high school senior son attended an engineering camp on campus last summer and stayed in a dorm in South Mountain (aka the red bricks) - he loved it.
Rec center is fantastic (as are all of the CSU campus rec centers); the Performing Arts Center is beautiful and I will miss going to choir performances there
On campus, go visit the Arboretum - its super cool and unexpected!
SLO is awesome - enjoy your visits, everyone!