San Luis Obispo County and the surrounding area is a photographer’s dream! Since we recently moved to central California, I quickly started seeking out all of the most beautiful and interesting backdrops in the San Luis Obispo county area. Here are a few of the best places in SLO to take pictures that I’ve discovered so far. I haven’t visited all of them yet, but it’s on the list! Let me know if you’d like to join me.
Most Instagrammable Places in SLO
The best places to take pictures and most instagrammable spots in San Luis Obispo county are in no particular order.
1. Monarch Beach
If you park at the Monarch Butterfly Grove and follow the path quarter-mile path toward the ocean, past the campground, the area opens up to a beautiful expanse of beach that is quiet and peaceful. You’ll find rolling dunes covered with colorful ice plants, a dry forested area with twisted driftwood, and a small pond with sea life and coastal birds. It’s difficult to find such a beautiful area with so many backdrop variations. The address is 400 S Dolliver St, Pismo Beach, California 93449.
2. Dinosaur Caves
This gorgeous, well-maintained park by the ocean begs to be photographed. The landscaping, dramatic coastline, and soft seaside fog create a lovely atmosphere for photographs. Although the area is beautiful at sunset, it’s easiest to capture an excellent view of the sunrise here. You can find Dinosaur Caves at 2701 Price St, Pismo Beach, California 93449.
3. Palisades Park
This small 6-acre park is home to sunset yoga, dog walking, and sunbathing. While the park itself is beautiful and graced with grassy fields and palm trees, a quick walk down to the ocean opens up to tidepool areas that make wonderful backdrops. (Please be careful not to harm the wildlife while taking photographs here.) This is one of my favorite spots to take pictures. The park is located at Beachcomber Dr, Pismo Beach, California 93449.
4. Avila Sea Caves, Pirate’s Cove, Cave Landing Beach
While the area is known by many names, high above the ocean you’ll find a neat area with multiple beach access points, an awesome cave, and cliffside photo opportunities. While this spot is famous for its nude beach and college parties, it’s also a gorgeous natural area that makes for wonderful photographs. Avila Sea Caves, also known as Pirate’s Cove, is located at 1400 Cave Landing Rd. San Luis Obispo, California 93401.
5. Pismo Beach Staircase, SeaCrest Beach Access
This often-photographed staircase is found at the north end of Pismo Beach. It’s possible to park at the pier and walk north since it’s less than a mile away. However, it’s closer to park in public parking across from the Ventana Grill and walk south toward the entrance. There is a sidewalk that runs along the ocean behind all the resorts to this beach access point. While the staircase itself is a stunning destination, the area behind the resorts is equally beautiful and makes for incredible pictures. This beach access area is at 2241 Price St, Pismo Beach, California 93449.
6. Avila Beach
This picturesque beach town makes a gorgeous spot for pictures. Everywhere you turn looks like a postcard. Whether you choose to take pictures by the ocean or downtown, you can’t go wrong with photographs taken at Avila Beach. There are many photo opportunities in Avila so be sure to drive around, but this address will help you reach the general area, 443 Front St, Avila Beach, CA 93424.
7. Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes State Park
If you’re looking for a warm, clean backdrop for photos, this state park is the perfect place! Over 18 miles of dunes mean that it is possible to find a private, gorgeous windswept beach free of footprints and other visitors. This park can be found at 6999 W Main St, Guadalupe, California 93434.
8. San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden
While admittedly I have not visited SLO’s Botanical Garden, yet, I am sure it’s beautiful! This area is home to many unique species of flora and fauna and this garden is bound to create many lovely backdrops. The botanical garden is located at 3450 Dairy Creek Rd, San Luis Obispo, California 93405.
9. Montaña de Oro State Park
One could easily spend days exploring Montaña de Oro State Park! The park is over 8,000 acres and runs along some of the most dramatic coastlines in central California. Visit Montaña de Oro State Park at 3550 Pecho Valley Rd, Los Osos, California 93402.
10. Eldwayen Ocean Park
This small beachside park is less than 2 acres and features stairs for water access. This beautiful, small park is the perfect place in the Pismo and Shell Beach area for sunset pictures. Visit the park at Eldwayen Ocean Park, Ocean Blvd, Pismo Beach, CA 93449.
11. Bubble Gum Alley
While I find old gum lining the walls of an alley a tad eww… it does make for interesting and unique photographs! Bubble Gum Alley is found in downtown SLO at 733 Higuera St, San Luis Obispo, California 93401.
12. Carrizo Plain National Monument
This area is typically a dry lakebed that stretches for 50 miles. It’s home to beautiful wildflowers and an expansive meadow. If you’re looking for wide-open spaces to photograph, Carrizo Plain National Monument is a must. The address is 17495 Soda Lake Rd, Santa Margarita, California 93453.
13. Hearst Castle
I’m itching to visit Hearst Castle, but after the storm in March 2020, the area has been inaccessible. However, it’s due to reopen early in 2022! This area features a beautiful home, wildlife, and expansive gardens. You can find Hearst Castle at 750 Hearst Castle Rd, San Simeon, California 93452.
14. Madonna Inn
The Madonna Inn is a pink-lovers paradise. The inn is decorated with lovely pink furniture, pink walls, and pink light fixtures. The address is 100 Madonna Rd, San Luis Obispo, California 93405.
15. Morro Rock
This beautiful rock rises 581 feet above the shoreline in Morro Bay, and it can be seen for miles. The area around the rock is home to a few natural areas that make a perfect backdrop for beautiful pictures. You’ll also likely see cute little otters holding hands and snacking on starfish around Morro Bay.
101 Coleman Dr, Morro Bay, California 93442
16. Oceano Dunes
100 Pier Ave, Oceano, California 93445
17. Pismo Beach Pier
100 Pomeroy Ave, Pismo Beach, CA 93449
18. Grover Beach Dunes
105 W Grand Ave, Grover Beach, California 93433
19. Pismo Preserve
80 Mattie Rd, Pismo Beach, California 93449
4380 Highway 46 East Paso Robles, CA 93446
21. Oso Flacko Lake
1065 Guadalupe Street Guadalupe, California 93434
22. Avila Valley Barn
560 Avila Beach Dr, San Luis Obispo, California 93405
23. Biddle Creek Ranch Vineyard
2050 Biddle Ranch Rd, San Luis Obispo, California 93401
24. Lopez Lake
6800 Lopez Dr, Arroyo Grande, California 93420
25. Bishop Peak
Trailhead is located at 787 Patricia Dr, San Luis Obispo, California 93405.