Wednesday, August 28, 2013

SLO Weekend Part 2, Bubble Gum Alley and Big Sky Cafe

College applications... words that seemed so distant 17 years ago are now nearly an every day part of our vocabulary.  Doing due diligence, our travels this summer took us on a California college tour including Cal Poly, UCSB and UCLA.

Overnighting in one of my favorite central coast towns, San Luis Obispo, I eased my college anxiety with a visit to the SLO Farmer's Market, time in Morro Bay (see yesterday's post on Morro Bay) and also enjoyed a fabulous breakfast at the esteemed Big Sky Cafe.

San Louis Obispo, California, Farmer's Market
After driving a little over 6 hours on our trek from San Diego, our schedule just happened to mesh perfectly with the weekly downtown San Luis Obispo Farmer's Market, held Thursday's from 6-9 PM.  Covering some 5 blocks on Higuera Street - between Osos and Nipomo Streets - the road is closed to car traffic as rows of vendors fill the area with many intersections featuring live music and entertainment.

Incredibly popular, the mid-market hours find the area packed with locals and tourists alike as people fill up on produce for the week or simply fill up on BBQ for dinner.  One end of the market features a plethora of prepared food choices ranging from homemade pasties to Indian dishes to tender BBQed ribs and artichokes, while the other boasts the bounty of the area with tables overflowing with produce.

McLintocks BBQ - San Louis Obispo Farmer's Market
McLintocks BBQ... mouthwatering!
While we didn't wait in the 2 block long line for McLintocks BBQ, one couldn't help but stand and watch the grilling guys who sang and cheered their way through the evening.  Cheerful bouts of laughter resounded as customers made their orders of grilled corn, artichokes and the famous McLintock Tri-tip, and happy faces eagerly received their loaded plates of bounty.  The incredible aroma, wafting for blocks, will easily lead you to their location, which I hear is most definitely worth the wait.

Bubble Gum Alley - San Louis Obispo

Taking a gander around town, we made a point to stop at a San Luis Obispo landmark... Bubble Gum Alley.  Whether your thoughts turn somewhat to disgust or pure fascination, the alley is worth a peek.

Legend has it the bubble gum in the alley began to accrue sometime in the 1950's as a rivalry between SLO High School students and those from Cal Ploly (though it has also been said that the gum may have began as far back as WWll as a SLO High School graduation event).  In any case, Bubble Gum Alley has been very "gummy" since at least the 1970's and has been growing every since.

Bubble Gum Alley - San Louis Obispo
Located between 733 and 734 Higuera Street, the alley walls are covered with vibrant wads of chewed gum.  Have you left some on your visit??  While we didn't leave our mark, we did watch a young couple fashion their chewed gum into an artistic heart, marking their love on the wall forever more.

SLO has numerous lodging options, and I thought I'd mention our stay at the La Cuesta Inn.  Cute, comfortable and clean, the Inn offered a reasonable price, a good location and my son loved the free wifi.  Note the Apple Restaurant across the street was NOT recommended by a number of locals.  And luckily, I have a wonderful alternative...

Big Sky Cafe - San Louis Obispo
Big Sky Cafe... what a treat!   With breakfast served until 1 PM and dinner menu beginning at 4:30, all day is covered (they are open for lunch as well) with healthy, fresh choices.  Offering a comprehensive menu in addition to vegetarian and vegan options, everyone is sure to find something to suit their tastes, and I loved the local and organic resources.

Breakfast for us began with good (and I mean really good) coffee and juice quickly followed by our entrees of eggs, oatmeal and a fabulous yogurt/fruit/granola parfait which I selfishly refused to share.  My son gushingly commented on the bacon which he refused to share, and my husband devoured his perfectly cooked steel cut oatmeal and ended up ordering a fruit plate of his own.

Big Sky Cafe - San Louis Obispo

Heading out of town on our way to UCSB and then home, we all three reflected on our stay.  My son loved the campus as well as the towns of SLO and Morro Bay, but more importantly (teasing!) so did I.  Stamping my whole hearted approval on this college possibility I know I'll be happy visiting often should this be his final decision.  If not, I'm happy to visit anyway!


From the Archives....
Perusing my iPhoto Library, this shot turned up from exactly 7 years ago to the day of our 2013 visit to Bubble Gum Alley.  That's Liv on the right in the pink... 4 of the other kids are beginning their own college searchs this year.  Dave, the man in the back, is a good friend of ours and a Cal Poly graduate.  He insisted the wall was a must see and the kids loved it!

Notice from the photo above how the gum goes so much farther down on the walls.

Bubble Gum Alley - San Louis Obispo
Liv Life - 2007 - SLO Bubble Gum Wall


  1. What a marvelous day out! :-) The markets sound incredible - those gorgeous berries!! And that tri-tip? Swoon. :-) They've never heard of tri-tip here in Oz, so it must definitely be a California thing. :-)

  2. Kim, gorgeous photos in this central coast travelogue! I've been to Bubble Gum Alley and there's something...artistic about it. Both the La Cuesta Inn and Big Sky Cafe sound like hits worthy of noting for our next SLO visit. Thank you for sharing this.

  3. Great photos, and certainly heartwarming reminders of my old hometown! I sure miss it. Not to be picky, but it's actually San LUIS Obispo.

    1. That's just about as embarrassing as it gets!! (Insert red face here!!) I know that in my head, and didn't correct the "auto-correct". I just went with its suggestion. Thank you, thank you for telling me!!

  4. OK, now I have to see Bubble Gum Alley! We dined at Big Sky Cafe for dinner one night when we were coming or going from UC Santa Cruz :)


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