San Luis Obispo offers some of the best and most varied museums in the area for history, art, local culture, events and activities for all ages. Each museum provides a special view of the region’s history, and culture. In San Luis Obispo, there’s a museum for every interest.
San Luis Obispo Museum of Art
The San Luis Obispo Museum of Art delivers a unique view of the artistic and creative side of the region’s lifestyle and interests. Exhibits that include paintings, sculpture, photography, fine crafts and all manner artwork are on display. The exhibits include a permanent collection, established in 1998, that defines the roles of artists that are important to the local region and to California. This collection was made possible by the efforts of volunteer curator Arne Nybak. Along with the exhibits, community programs include films, concerts, art talks, and educational programs. Admission is free to the museum but there may be an admission fee for some of the events and activities. The Art Museum is located at 1010 Broad St, San Luis Obispo. For more hours and more information about current events and programs call (805) 543-8562 or visit www.sloma.org.
History Center of San Luis Obispo County
A quick walk up the street from the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art stands the History Center of San Luis Obispo County. Open for more than 60 years, the center is one of the favorite places for learning about the history of San Luis Obispo County. A vast collection of correspondence, newspapers, directories, maps, and photographs is a resource for historical and genealogical research. The exhibits are opportunities to explore the history of the area as it leads to today’s lifestyles and cultures. The museum is located at 696 Monterey Street and is open Wednesday through Monday, 11 a.m. To 5 p.m. Admission is free. Learn more at historycenterslo.org or by calling (805) 543-0638.
The museum at Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa
The mission museum is housed in the original Convento Wing of the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. Now holding a collection of artifacts representing more than two centuries of local history, including Native California, the Mission Era, and American settlement, the wing was originally the residential quarters of the Franciscan friars. The museum is located in the mission at 751 Palm Street and admission is free. The museum and adjacent gift shop are open every day but may be closed for short periods of time. Winter hours are 9 a.m. To 4 p.m. Summer hours are 9 a.m. To 5 p.m. Call the gift shop (805) 543-6850 to be sure the museum is open for the time you want to visit.
Central Coast Veterans Memorial Museum
The Veteran’s Museum honors all veterans or all generations, with emphasis on those from the Central Coast. The collections and displays include military artifacts from WWI to today, historical memorabilia, and a research library. The Central Coast Veterans Memorial Museum is the only Central Coast site certified by the Library of Congress for recording interviews for the Veterans History Project. Located at 801 Grand Avenue, the museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. To 3 p.m. For more information visit vetmuseum.org or call (805) 543-1763.
The San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum
For families with young children, check out the San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum. From miniature sets to inspire imaginations, to the hands-on activities, there is no shortage of fun learning here. Many of the exhibits are more than what they seem and children and adults alike will delight in new discoveries. Located at 1010 Nipomo St., the museum is open Monday through Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. For admission prices and more information call (805) 544-5437 or visit www.slocm.org.
San Luis Obispo Railroad Museum
The San Luis Obispo Railroad Museum has it all, from the first narrow-gauge Pacific Coast Railway that carried people and goods from Avila to San Luis Obispo, through the arrival of the Southern Pacific Railroad in around 22 years later in 1896, to modern times. The exhibits include a variety of railroad cars and railroad equipment, including a 1926 Pullman observation car. The museum presents a variety of displays and artifacts that cover railroads and railroad topics such as Surf, Santa Maria Valley, Southern Pacific, Amtrak, Port San Luis, the Pacific Coast Railway, Orchard Express, Union Pacific, and more. A variety of community events are hosted throughout the year. The museum, located at 1940 Santa Barbara Avenue, is The museum is open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children, with kids under 3 admitted for free. For more information, see slorrm.com or call (805) 548-1894.
Art After Dark
For art buffs, a great time to visit the streets of San Luis Obispo is the first Friday of every month, except December, from 6 to 9 p.m. Art After Dark, offers a walking tour of galleries and museums, and the chance to meet artists and view the newest exhibits. In addition, up-and-coming performers enhance the fun, artistic vibe as they play at local shops. There is no shortage of talent in San Luis Obispo County and this event ensures everyone a chance to enjoy it. Find more information at www.artsobispo.org/art-after-dark/what-is-art-after-dark.