Near the California coast halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo has much to offer as a family getaway, including some affordable -- and free-- fun things to do.
To start with free wonders in the natural world: nearby beaches variously offer tide pools, sand dunes, and many chances to see seals, sea lions, and sea otters -- and even elephant seals, pictured in the photo above.
Piedras Blancas beach, at San Simeon, is an annual breeding grounds for hundreds of elephant seals, from March through December. San Simeon's about a 40-minute drive from SLO. (Read more about the elephant seals).
More outdoor fun in the area includes: hiking, sea kayaking, surfing, diving, sailing, even kite-boarding.
- continue to San Luis Obispo Children's Museum