Sunset at Moonstone Beach, California

Budget Travel California: Where to Stay in and Around San Luis Obispo

From Paso Robles wine country, to the sleepy, beachfront community of Moonstone Beach, to the resort town of Pismo Beach, we covered a lot of ground on our recent trip to California’s Central Coast. The area in and around San Luis Obispo (SLO to locals) offers no shortage of charm, beauty, and oceanfront attractions.

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Depending on which corner of SLO you’re visiting, here are three great hotel options for travelers on a budget:

Adelaide Inn (Paso Robles)

Adelaide Inn in Paso Robles, California (exterior)
Adelaide Inn in Paso Robles, California

Paso Robles sits at the heart of Central Coast wine country, so it’s the ideal base for travelers looking to explore the nearby vineyards and wineries. Ideally situated in the center of Paso Robles, the Adelaide Inn is a short drive from everything that might interest wine-loving travelers in the San Luis Obispo area.

For those looking to venture further afield, the Adelaide Inn is equidistant (roughly 35 miles) from every touchstone area you might want to visit, including Pismo Beach, Cambria, San Simeon, Morro Bay, and downtown San Luis Obispo.

King Guest Room at Adelaide Inn, Paso Robles, California
King Guest Room at Adelaide Inn, Paso Robles, California

The inn is a renovated motel that’s deceptively basic, albeit charming and rustic, from the street. Inside the guestrooms, modern amenities and accents abound.

For couples, the inn offers Standard Queen and Executive King Rooms. The former is well-appointed with all the amenities budget travelers have come to expect from a modern inn. The latter is ideal for travelers looking for affordable accommodations, but willing to splash out a bit on a few extra amenities.

Additional in-room amenities include:

  • Free wifi access
  • Pillow-top mattresses
  • Flat-screen TVs with cable
  • Microwave ovens
  • Refrigerators

Onsite amenities available to all guests include:

  • Large Heated Pool and Spa
  • Miniature Putting Green
  • Picnic/BBQ Area
  • 24-Hour Fitness Room
  • Morning Muffins & Fruit
  • 24-Hour Front Desk
  • Safe Deposit Boxes at Front Desk
  • Washers & Dryers (coin operated)
  • One Day Dry Cleaning/Laundry Service
  • Free Parking (standard & RV)

Oh … and fresh-baked cookies every afternoon! (We’re so easy to please …)

The hotel frequently offers specials for little more than $110/night. For budget travelers looking for a weekend vacation to the Central Coast wine region, it’s a solid getaway option.

The Traveler’s Take

Adelaide Inn is ideal for wine-loving travelers seeking affordable accommodations in the heart of San Luis Obispo’s wine country.

Blue Dolphin Inn (Cambria / Moonstone Beach)

Cambria is a well-known region that has somehow managed to resist the typical crush of commercial tourism. Moonstone Beach in particular is the ideal getaway for couples looking to escape to a beautiful beach community in coastal San Luis Obispo.

Blue Dolphin Inn on Moonstone Beach in Cambria, California
Nighttime on the Patio at Blue Dolphin Inn in Cambria, California

Immediately across the street, the Blue Dolphin Inn mirrors the quiet, calm, and beauty of Moonstone Beach. It’s simple, elegant, affordable, and perhaps most importantly for vacationing couples, adults-only.

The entire property was recently renovated by local designer Lisa Marlow. All twenty rooms throughout the inn are well-appointed. The six, full oceanview rooms in particular offer stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.

Deluxe King Guest Room at Blue Dolphin Inn in Cambria, California
Deluxe King Guest Room at Blue Dolphin Inn in Cambria, California

The long list of available amenities includes:

  • Fireplace in every room
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • Keurig Coffee system
  • Sanijet Bathtubs (in select rooms)
  • Pillow top mattresses
  • Afternoon coffee and tea
  • Evening bedside chocolates
  • Free parking
  • Free DVD library
  • Microwave ovens
  • Refrigerators

… all coupled with available delivery from area restaurants means you needn’t ever leave the room if you don’t want to.

One thing we especially appreciated was the daily picnic breakfast-to-go. Of course you don’t have to take it to-go, so essentially breakfast in bed is included every day. It’s all hot (depending on what you order), made to order, and surprisingly delicious!

Oh … and fresh-baked cookies are delivered to your room every day! (SLO really loves their cookies …)

Even miles from the Central Coast’s vineyards, the wine culture pervades. We spent each night at Blue Dolphin Inn relaxing on the patio overlooking Moonstone Beach, watching the sunset with a glass (or three) of wine. Every so often, another smiling couple holding hands would amble by, sipping their own wine, laughing and softly whispering to one another.

Did I mention the sunsets from their patio overlooking Moonstone Beach are simply stunning?

Sunset at Moonstone Beach, California
Sunset at Moonstone Beach, California © Mike Richard

The Traveler’s Take

Blue Dolphin Inn is ideal for couples seeking a quiet, romantic, beachfront getaway in San Luis Obispo.

SeaCrest Oceanfront Hotel (Pismo Beach)

Not far from downtown San Luis Obispo and the SLO airport, Pismo Beach is a more traditional, beachfront tourist destination. The “downtown” area boasts a variety of shops, restaurants, bars, and attractions.

SeaCrest OceanFront Hotel in Pismo Beach sits on a beautiful 5-acre oceanfront bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Here we witnessed some of the most stunning sunsets of our entire stay in San Luis Obispo.

Sunset at SeaCrest Oceanfront Hotel in Pismo Beach, California
Sunset at SeaCrest Oceanfront Hotel in Pismo Beach, California © Mike Richard

Guestrooms feature bright, contemporary, retro-modern designs with all modern amenities. Available amenities include:

  • Continental breakfast
  • Coffee and cookies in the afternoon (again with the cookies!)
  • Direct beach access
  • Heated pool with ocean view
  • Outdoor hot tubs
  • BBQ gas and charcoal grills
  • Entirely smoke-free guestrooms
  • Complimentary WiFi access throughout the hotel
  • Fire pits and heaters
  • RoofTop Terrace, 4th floor overlooking Pismo Beach

Guest Suite at SeaCrest Oceanfront Hotel in Pismo Beach, California

More than anything else, we loved the SeaCrest’s large, private outdoor patio space overlooking the Pacific. With a glass of wine in hand, feet up on the fire pit, watching the sunset, it was easy to imagine ourselves in the Caribbean (even in late September). The vibe was fun, laid back, and slightly reminiscent of staying at a tropical resort without all the raucous noise and manic crowds.

While it’s ideally situated close to downtown SLO, it’s also only a short drive from everything San Luis Obispo County has to offer, including the Central Coast wine country, Cal Poly, Pismo Beach sand dunes, and award-winning golf courses.

The Traveler’s Take

Travelers seeking a vibrant, fun, affordable beach getaway minutes from downtown SLO and area restaurants, shopping, and attractions would do well to look to SeaCrest OceanFront Hotel.

Founding Editor

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