San Luis Obispo - Travel and Transport
Travel to San Luis Obispo
San Luis Obispo is located halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, with theoretical car driving times of approximately 3 - 3.5 hours. Unfortunately, massive traffic jams are an everyday occurrence in LA as well as around San Francisco, making the car travel duration more likely up to 5 - 6 hours. California’s coast is an eye catcher, but the most beautiful parts of the central coast, such as Big Sur, Cambria, Avila and Morro Bay, are close to SLO anyways and should not be considered as reason to travel per car to San Luis Obispo from LAX or SFO!
We strongly recommend flying to San Luis Obispo!
Flying to San Luis Obispo
San Luis Obispo houses a regional airport with the airport code SBP and has connections to international airports in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Seattle and Phoenix. More information about destinations can be found here. The airlines operating this routes are United Airlines ("United" in short), American Airlines and Alaska Air.
United is a member of Star Alliance, which makes it possible to book directly from many destinations and major airlines from Europe and Asia/Australia, such as Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, All Nippon Airways (ANA), Jetstar Airways, Eva Air, Thai Air, Air India, Air China and Air New Zealand.
American Airlines is part of an alliance as well, Oneworld, and SLO can be booked directly from airlines such as British Airways, Finnair, Iberia, Qantas, Cathay, Fiji Airways and China Southern.
Unfortunately, other major airlines such as Air France, KLM and Virgin Australia do not have alliances or connection codesharing and one must book the flight to SLO directly at United, American Airlines or Alaska Air, with round trip tickets in the conference time of approx. $280 (last checked in February 2019, United: LAX to San Luis Obispo).
San Luis Obispo is connected to international airports in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Seattle and Phoenix. Once arrived in the US, you have to go through the customs before getting on your regional flight or leaving the airport. This can vary between 30 min and 3 hours (!) so be prepared and plan ahead on connection flights!
If you are not holder of an American passport or of a valid visa for the US, you need to apply for an ESTA prior (!) to your travel. Your airline, once booked, should provide all necessary information.
Going by Train
Instead of flying to SLO from LAX or SFO, you can also take the train. Amtrak information and tickets are available here. The train takes about 5-6 hours from LAX or SFO, and costs approximately $50 per trip. We do not recommend to travel per train from other international airport destinations outside of California due to unreasonable travel times.
Going by Car
If you still insist on renting a car at LAX or SFO, (we consider other international airport destinations such as Denver, Seattle or Phoenix as too far away for a reasonable car transport) all major rental car companies (Avis, Alamo, National, Hertz, Budget, Enterprise, ..) can be directly accessed at the airport. We recommend taking the highway 101 to San Luis Obispo.
Going around San Luis Obispo
Getting to/from Hotels to/from SLO Airport: Most Hotels have airport shuttles. You can call them when you arrive and they will pick you up, or you can arrange it ahead of time.
Getting to the conference venue from Hotel: When residing at a hotel at Monterey street, this is a 20-30 min. walk.
San Luis Obispo's downtown can be easily explored walking, but there are many other attractions, landmarks and special locations outside of town, and transport becomes necessary. There is a local and regional public transport system, but exploring the wine-country or visiting Big Sur requires an Uber or a rental car.
The City of San Luis Obispo’s Transit Division operates a quality fixed route service, as well as a seasonal Trolley. Travel conveniently from neighborhoods to major shopping centers, local schools, including Cal Poly, medical offices, and work sites on one of SLO Transit’s eight fixed routes.
Reginal Transit Bus
The San Luis Obispo Regional Transit Authority is the provider of intercity mass transportation in San Luis Obispo County, California, with service between most cities in the county: Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Paso Robles, Grover Beach, Morro Bay, Pismo Beach, Cambria, San Simeon, Los Osos, Cayucos, and San Luis Obispo. Hourly routes operate Monday - Friday, with more limited Saturday & Sunday service. The base travel fare is $1.50-$3.00 each way, or a Regional Day-Pass may be purchased for $5.00, good for unlimited trips on all fixed-routes in the county. Five routes are branded as part of the SLORTA (9, 10, 12, 14, and 15). RTA also operates fixed route transit service in the Five Cities Area for South County Transit (Routes 21, 23, 24, & 25) and the free Avila Beach Trolley on a seasonal runs.
Several rental car companies such as Enterprise, Avis, Hertz are operating in SLO, but also local companies like Cheap Wheels Rent A Car and Funride. They can be found on the map here.