poly picks 2021

mustang life

Best Beach

Avila Beach by Tessa Hughes


With summer rapidly approaching, the beach is the best place to spend those long, sunny, hot days, and Avila Beach was voted the community's favorite in the county! Avila Beach is a quick drive off of U.S. Highway 1 and sits between Pismo and Los Osos. 


Avila Beach is a charming, old town with both a quaint beach and various shops, dining and lodging options to choose from. 


At one end of the beach is a family-friendly park, and at the other end is a beautiful walkway with a scenic overlook of the breathtaking blue ocean. Dividing the beach is a fun pier for guests to walk out on so they can take in the beach, ocean and town from a new perspective. Additionally, the Central Coast Aquarium is located right next to the beach for tourists to check out the marine wildlife that traditionally inhibits the Central Coast.


For a nice walk into the city, park a few miles out of town, at the trailhead of the Bob Jones Trail and take the pathway through the trees and the Avila Beach Golf Course right into town and the waterfront. The beach is the perfect place to relax, swim, walk or play games with your friends. Meanwhile, the town itself features a myriad of dining options for every palette, along with various surf shops and boutiques, wine tasting rooms for a calming afternoon sampling an extensive array of local wines and numerous bars to hit up at night for a more lively experience. 


All of these features are the reason Avila was voted the best beach in San Luis Obispo and is viewed as one of the most gorgeous spots along the Central Coast.



Best Surf Spot

Morro Bay by Taylor La


As one of the most iconic landscapes in SLO County, Morro Bay has been deemed the best surf spot by Cal Poly students. Known for its 500-foot-tall and 23 million-year-old rock formed from remnants of long-extinct volcanoes, surfers can catch waves with a stunning view under the shadow of this immense landmark. Morro Bay is also home to fascinating wildlife, including sea otters, which surfers can spot floating in the water.    


Many surfers also compliment the big swells at Morro Bay. Cal Poly senior and environmental activist Rachel Blumer said “Morro Bay has the most consistent waves with the most breathtaking view of the Morro Rock!” 


Since the beach faces due west, a variety of different breaks occur as the waves hit the sandbars. A prevalent surfing culture dominates the city, as Morro Bay has hosted surfing competitions in the past, attracting locals and surfers from all over the region. This surf spot is great for beginners and intermediate surfers, as the tide introduces a diverse range of waves from medium to high. The tides are especially perfect for surfers with longboards who desire slow-breaking waves.


Other factors that make this particular surf spot special is its convenience. Front row parking is free and easily accessible to visitors. The beach stretches for miles, making it the perfect spot for a variety of activities, such as surfing, fishing, sightseeing and walking alongside the beach. 


The spacious landscape also allows visitors to maintain social distance during COVID-19 pandemic, so they can enjoy the scenic view and safely spend some time outside. The waters also remain uncrowded so surfers can spread out from each other. 



Best Sunset Spot

Prefumo Canyon by Lauren Boyer


If you like chasing sunsets, San Luis Obispo gives you plenty of beach coves, hilltops, swings and hikes. The best place to see the sunset in San Luis Obispo is from the top of Prefumo Canyon.


Also the winner of this year’s Best Hidden Gem, Prefumo Canyon is located off of Los Osos Valley Road. Accessible year-round, this road is a 15-minute drive up a beautiful and steep hillside. As you drive uphill, take in the breathtaking views of Morro Bay, rolling hillsides, Bishop Peak and all of San Luis Obispo’s natural treasures. 


Parking is available on the side of the road, so you can enjoy the views from outside your car. During sunset, a golden glow settles along the grassy hills of the canyon. In the spring, you might be lucky enough to catch the grazing cattle tending to their newborn calves! The hill also has clumps of rock formations scattered around for you to sit on, but the grass is also a great option for resting or having a picnic. 


No matter the weather conditions, locals can always rely on Prefumo Canyon for their sunset fix. From atop this magnif-icent canyon, the open sky displays an ever-changing palette of pinks, oranges and purples. Because the hillside cuts off the horizon, the sunset lingers long after the sun goes down. This leaves you with ample time to soak in the scenery and to relax. However, it is best to leave before night fully rolls in, due to the treacherous drive down.


Although it is a bit of a drive from Cal Poly’s campus, Prefumo Canyon is the best place to watch the sunset. 



Best Trail

Bishop Peak by Carley Epple


Towering over the city of San Luis Obispo (SLO) is Bishop Peak, Cal Poly’s favorite go-to hike. Bishop Peak is the highest of the nine sister peaks in San Luis Obispo County and one of the most popular trails in the area. 


Depending on where you start, the hike can range from 3.4 to 4.5 miles round trip. While Bishop Peak is one of the steeper, more difficult hikes in the area, the view makes it worth the journey! At the top of the peak, hikers can enjoy the panoramic views of Cal Poly’s, San Luis Obispo and the surrounding areas. 


Three different trailheads are located on Patricia Drive, Highland Drive and Foothill Road. All trailheads are located next to ample free parking. If you hike in the spring, you might spot cattle roaming in the grassy meadows, along with SLO’s native wildflowers dotting the hills.


“Bishop’s is by far my favorite hike in San Luis Obispo because of the incredible views. People

are always friendly along the trail and it is a great workout,” Cal Poly junior Madeline

Skinner said. “Hiking Bishop’s will never get old.”


Although Bishop Peak is mostly known for its hiking trails, it is also a popular spot for climbers.

From smaller boulders to advanced lines, climbers of all levels are welcome on Bishop Peak. 


As you make your way up the mountain, you might also hear the ringing of bicycle bells in the distance. Mountain bikers who access the trails are required to use these bells to alert hikers and climbers of their presence, keeping everyone safe! 


Dogs are also welcome, but the county asks that you keep them on a leash and clean up after them. 


Bishop Peak trail takes about an hour and a half round trip, with the top of the peak sitting at 1,559 feet.



Best Hammock Spot

Avila Beach by Tessa Hughes


Hammocking is integral to the culture at Cal Poly. Many students partake in it and are constantly looking for unique places to hang their hammock – Avila Beach being the most popular destination! 


Located off of U.S. Highway 1, Avila Beach is a quick drive from Cal Poly, and lounges comfortably between Pismo and Los Osos. The pier at Avila Beach has many great opportunities for hammock-ers to relax and spend the warm summer days blissfully amongst the sun, friends and fellow beachgoers.


Not only was Avila beach voted the best spot to hammock, but it was also voted the best beach in the county. To get there, hammock-ers are taken through a lush oak valley and are welcomed into a city with a quaint beach, along with various shops, dining and lodging options.


The beach itself extends from a family-friendly park on one side to a scenic overlook of the gorgeous ocean on the other, with the Avila pier located right in the middle. This spot is the ideal hammocking location for visitors. Many pillars support the pier, so there are plenty of available spots to hang your hammock. The shade from the pier makes this location the ideal spot to hammock at the beach and enjoy the warmth of the sun’s rays without getting too hot. 


Avila beach is the perfect place to hammock because of its location, amenities and other features. If you’re looking to try a new hammocking spot, Avila Beach is the place to go to enjoy the views, shade and warm weather.



Best Nighttime Activity

Beach Bonfires by Katie Halstead


Beach bonfires are a tradition that all Cal Poly students know and love. San Luis Obispo County is home to many beaches and bonfire campgrounds that scream bonding time in the outdoors! As the best nighttime activity for Cal Poly students to enjoy, our community has voted beach bonfires to be the most memorable time with friends and best evening leisure activity. 


Individuals can enjoy this nighttime activity at Olde Port Beach, Avila Beach, Grover Beach or the middle portion of Pismo State Beach. The entrance to Grover Beach is located just south of Downtown Pismo Beach along West Grand Avenue, and Olde Port Beach is just north of Avila Beach on Avila Beach Drive. 


Pismo Beach’s prime location makes it the ideal spot for a beach bonfire. In addition to their fire pits, the beach is also near In-N-Out Burger, where visitors can grab a late-night bite on the way home. 


With many incoming freshmen experiencing their first beach bonfire during Week of Welcome, Cal Poly students have made this an ultimate late night tradition and what it means to be a Mustang! 


Nutrition senior Arian Aghadjanians said, “I love going to Grover Beach for a bonfire. I remember going down there during WOW with my whole group. We roasted marshmallows and played games. It was so much fun!” 


As one of the first social activities students experience during their first weeks in San Luis Obispo, many students resonate with this valuable and one-of-a-kind memory that symbolizes one of the best bonding experiences near Cal Poly.


The best way to execute a great night with a beach bonfire is to pack the essentials and be prepared to bundle in the cold weather. Follow this bonfire checklist to prepare for your next nighttime excursion:  

    • Extra blankets and towels 
    • Long-sleeve clothing 
    • Extra firewood  
    • Lighter/matches  
    • Napkins
    • Trash bag
    • Speaker
    • Camping chair (optional)
    • Smores: (1) Graham crackers (2) Chocolate (3) Marshmallows
    • Extra food and drinks 



Best Boutique


Lulu Luxe by Tessa Hughes


Have you been craving a new, darling off the shoulder top since the weather’s getting warmer? Need a cute new pair of sunglasses now that sunny skies seem to be the only weather on the horizon? Are you tired of your old pajamas and a soft, new lounge set is just what you need for a good night’s sleep? Well, Lulu Luxe has all of this and more, and is conveniently located right here in San Luis Obispo. 


Downtown San Luis Obispo is filled with various stores, shops and fashion boutiques, which can make it hard to find the best one. Lulu Luxe was just deemed the Best Boutique in SLO and it is here to meet all of your fashion needs and emergencies. Located among the beautiful tree-lined streets of downtown, they offer a beautiful and thought-out selection of clothing perfect for women of all ages. 


Lulu Luxe was established downtown in 2007 and for the past 14 years, they have been serving the Central Coast community the hottest and freshest fashion looks. They are always stocked with the latest styles and are good at keeping up with what is popular and trendy.


This family owned boutique is home to a diverse range of styles, brands and apparel, and has something for everyone. To check out what cute clothes they have right now, visit their Instagram page @lululuxeslo. 


They are also taking the necessary health and safety precautions in the store so that all of their customers feel safe. Lulu Luxe offers hand sanitizer to all of their patrons, along with a contactless payment method. They also sanitize surfaces between customers.


The store is located at 864 Higuera St. and they can be contacted by calling 805-787-0877 or emailing [email protected]. Their temporary business hours are Sunday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. 



Best Plant Store

Poly Plant Shop by Sheri Donahue


The Poly Plant Shop is Cal Poly’s own on-campus plant store that provides plants and cut flowers for landscaping or indoors. The shop embodies Cal Poly’s “Learn by Doing” mantra and provides students with the opportunity to learn more about garden center management and operation with hands-on experience working in a retail setting.


Located on campus, the Poly Plant shop is housed in the Environmental Horticultural Science Unit (Building 48) near the end of Via Carta Road, past the baseball fields and near the entrance to the Leaning Pine Arboretum. 


According to their website, the Poly Plant Shop “provides students with real-world, hands-on experiences in production, floriculture, design and sales and marketing.” This student-run business is comprised of several teams that manage different areas of the production and maintenance process. These include the floral design, tropical foliage, orchid, cut flower, succulent, arboretum and plantscape crews. Students are also in charge of overseeing the retail side of the business at the Poly Plant Shop and Farmer’s Market. 


Anyone in the community can stop by to purchase an assortment of plants, from Cal Poly-grown tomatoes to floral arrangements and bouquets. The Poly Plant shop also offers Cal Poly-certified organic compost, which is available to purchase in bulk. A selection of their student-grown products is available for wholesale, including seasonal varieties like poinsettias and Easter lilies.


For on-campus plant needs, the Poly Plant Shop offers free delivery, plant rentals for events and an orchid and flower subscription service available for dorms or campus offices. Their website allows customers to view their product selection and place orders for pick-up or on-campus delivery.


To check out Poly Plant Shop’s up-to-date hours and to make a reservation for in-store shopping visit their website at polyplantshop.com.



Best Study Spot

Kennedy Library by Daisy Kuenstler


If you need a getaway to grind out your work, Kennedy Library offers the perfect study spot for busy college students. With each of the five floors varying in noise level, there are plenty of available locations depending on your study preferences. 


Although the library has been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are expecting to open their 24-hour study space on Monday, May 10, with limited hours. These hours will include Monday through Friday 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. 


In order to comply with current health guidelines, Kennedy Library offers contactless checkout for all Cal Poly-owned and California State University-owned materials. Contactless pick-up times are Monday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Tuesday and Thursday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. For students who prefer to have their materials shipped to them, the library also has an off-campus delivery system. 


The library offers many amenities for Cal Poly students such as group study rooms, computer spaces, quiet study and late night study hours. These resources allow for all types of learners to find a spot in the library best suited to their preferred working environment. Graduate students even have their own designated rooms with their own desks, computers and whiteboards. 


The Kennedy Library also has 24/7 live chat help available online at lib.calpoly.edu. The website also provides links to resources, including support with senior projects, research assistance, how to write an annotated bibliography and more. 


Lastly, located within the library is the Writing and Learning Center, which is currently offering free virtual tutoring. There are undergraduate and graduate tutors available to provide support for over 250 courses across all six colleges. 


Kennedy Library is located right on Cal Poly’s campus, next to Dexter Lawn. It is easy to contact them using their website’s chat feature or by calling 805-756-5760.



Best Place to Workout

Cal Poly Recreation Center by Taylor La


Cal Poly’s Recreation Center continues to amaze and resonate with students, visitors and local members as the most jaw-dropping workout facility in the San Luis Obispo  community. The Recreation Center has provided a welcoming place for fitness and wellness to students for over 25 years. 


In 2008, students agreed to increase tuition for renovations. Since 2012, the Recreation Center has exceeded expectations with modern amenities, indoor and outdoor facilities and state-of-the-art workout equipment. With over 20,000 square feet of exercise space, students can discover a variety of fitness selections to detach from school, schedule workout routines with friends and prioritize self-care. 


The Recreation Center is home to a variety of indoor and outdoor facilities. The first thing that visitors will notice is the indoor courts, which are the size of two full basketball courts, or three volleyball courts. There are also six racquetball courts for more intimate competitions with friends. Students may also sign up for a variety of studio classes, such as mind and body, strength and tone, cardio and cycling, and cross training. These classes can be found on the Cal Poly app to reserve your spot and check for available class times. Lastly, the three-lane indoor track that loops around the gymnasium is perfect for rainy days. 


The Recreation Center is also home to sand volleyball courts, the Poly Escape Rock Climbing Park, a lap pool and leisure pool with patio chairs. The indoor and outdoor leisure spaces are great places for students to recharge and relax between workouts and classes. After completing a day at the Recreation Center, nothing feels better than treating yourself to a smoothie and acai bowl at ShakeSmart, which is located right outside the center. 


A great part of the Recreation Center is its efforts to create an inclusive environment. There are many opportunities for students to learn and receive support and guidance from personal trainers, studio instructors and group workout classes. Reserve your next visit to the Recreation Center to explore all these amenities and expand your workout routine! 



Best Trader Joe's Product

Two Buck Chuck by Iyla Dizechi


It’s no secret Trader Joe's is a college student’s best friend. From frozen meals to boba ice cream, the selection is limitless. At just $1.99, the popular Charles Shaw wine, or “Two Buck Chuck” familiarly, continues to be an all time favorite amongst students. 


Despite its name, “Two Buck Chuck” doesn’t cost $2 everywhere. In some states, it can sell for around $4.00. Luckily, it still cost $1.99 in its home state of California.


Their budget-friendly wines are known to be tasty and of course, offer a very affordable alternative for college students. 


Whether you're a white wine or red wine lover, the “Two Buck Chuck” has numerous options for everyone. For those who prefer a sweeter wine, Charles Shaw’s Pinot Grigio is a common favorite. On the other side of the spectrum, Sauvignon Blanc offers a more dry and fruity flavor. 


If you’re looking for a tasty snack to go with your wine, Trader Joe’s mini en croute (creamy brie cheese wrapped in puff pastry) and sugar plum jam make the ultimate sweet and savory pair. 


Cal Poly senior and wine fanatic Ava Maslan loves celebrating her nights with the “Two Buck Chuck” red wine selection.


“I drink a lot of red wine and I definitely think that it's the best for the cheapest you can get out there,” Maslan said.  


Take this as your sign to run to Trader Joe’s, located at 3977 Higuera St. and load up your shopping cart with your favorite “Two Buck Chuck” wine and celebrate in the best budget-friendly way.



Best Day Trip

Big Sur by Tessa Hughes


The weather is warming up, which means the weekends are finally becoming the perfect time for day trips. Here on the Central Coast, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, there are many destinations that would make for a fun weekend trip. Of all these spots, students have deemed Big Sur the best. 


About a two-hour drive from Cal Poly up the scenic U.S. Highway 1, Big Sur is located between Carmel and San Simeon. Sandwiched between stunning mountains and the breathtaking ocean, Big Sur is the ideal spot for hiking and enjoying the natural scenery. 


Wildflowers cover the coastal mountains, while condors may be seen flying overhead and sea otters can be spotted swimming in the ocean. Big Sur is the perfect place for adventurous hikers and those who appreciate nature, as there are various activities to embark on. From hiking and camping to visiting the beach and other scenic overlooks, Big Sur has something for everyone. 


Big Sur is also home to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, which includes 276 miles of protected marine land along the shoreline. Gray whales migrate through Big Sur’s waters June through October and elephant seals can be found on the shores during peak seasons in January, April and October. Big Sur features some of the best restaurants in California, a wide variety of art galleries and an array of luxury hotels.


If you have been yearning to escape San Luis Obispo for a fun weekend trip, take this as your sign to pack your bags and head up to Big Sur. The location truly is the most idyllic Central Coast spot for a beautiful escapade.