Established by Father Junípero Serra on Sept. 1, 1772, Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa is the fifth in California's chain of missions. The mission prospered, with an assistancia, or assistant mission rancho established at Santa Margarita in the 1790s. Another granary and chapel were constructed near present-day Avila Beach in 1808. Twenty-five years later, on July 25, 1797, Mission San Miguel Arcángel was founded. This mission also prospered, with ranchos established at San Marcos and El Paso de los Robles.
With its gorgeous creek-side setting and lovely restored mission and present-day parish, Mission Plaza is the community's cultural and social center. The historic plaza stands amid a vivacious downtown that offers opportunities for superb shopping experiences, outdoor and indoor dining and nights on the town. Its popular Thursday Night Farmers' Market lets residents and visitors buy locally grown fresh produce and enjoy an outdoor BBQ. This unique blend of history, culture, commerce and entertainment make San Luis Obispo's downtown one of the most attractive and diverse U.S. downtowns.
Nurturing local businesses is a high priority for San Luis Obispo. The community counts computer software/multimedia, light manufacturing/light industrial and business/customer service centers as some of its most important industries.
Past and present come together at various museums located throughout San Luis Obispo. Local attractions include the San Luis Obispo Children's Museum, San Luis Obispo County Historical Museum and the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. The awe-inspiring Hearst Castle, William Randolph Hearst's monument of glory where the riches of the past are well preserved, is located nearby.
The SLO International Film Festival promotes the appreciation of classic films and the film preservation movement by showing select films of historic and cultural significance. For the past decade, this Central Coast cultural event has grown into an 11-day event screening 50 to 70 films. Another popular event is the San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival.
Locals who wish to escape the crowds to stretch out and take in the beauty of the area, visit the local parks and nearby Pismo State Beach and Oceano. Hiking, swimming, fishing and clam digging are the most popular pastimes.
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