Too much of a good thing

San Luis Obispo County might have too much of a good thing—at least when it comes to deciding where to capture the best photos. Stretched far and wide across California’s Central Coast, some of SLO County’s highlights include 80 miles of coastline, unspoiled beach towns, marine wildlife, hikeable mountains, and spirited festivals. How do you decide where to take pictures?

I’ve been exploring this coastal Shangri-la for over a decade and still haven’t discovered everything. Whether you’re a SLOcal or a visitor, if you’re faced with the decision of where to tote your camera, here are a few of my suggestions of locales I’ve snapped in the past few months.

Elizabeth White


When I venture outside with my camera to explore San Luis Obispo County and beyond, I don’t always know what will catch my eye. Although the crashing surf, lofty clouds and colorful seasons help guide me, what ultimately inspires me at my final destination is often a surprise. I capture brief moments in time with my camera, and sincerely hope you enjoy my view.

Elizabeth White Photography

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Pismo State Beach

Pismo Beach is known for vibrant sunsets that reflect on its glassy, watery shores, but the morning sunrises can also take your breath away. If you’re an early riser and the fog is at bay, head out to Pismo Pier to capture the sun rising behind the hills while this sleepy beach town comes to life.

Morro Bay Harbor

Head north on scenic Highway One to Morro Bay. When you spot the 581-foot volcanic plug known as Morro Rock, you know you’ve arrived. Drive down to the Embarcadero and stroll along the Morro Bay Harbor where you can catch fishermen in action, watch harbor seals bask in their temperate climate, or hop on a boat ride for a bayside view.

Montaña de Oro State Park

Just six miles southwest of Morro Bay lies a mountain of gold. Montaña de Oro State Park’s hills are emblazoned with golden rod during the florid spring months. But no matter what time of year, you can soak in the briny view walking along craggy bluffs, sandy dunes, or from the top of Valencia Peak, perched 1,300 feet above the deep sea.

Cayucos Pier

About six miles north of Morro Bay is Cayucos, “America’s coolest small town.” Established as a shipping location in the late 1800’s, the Cayucos Pier still stands today as one of this historic town’s landmarks. If you visit the pier on a clear day you’ll find sweeping views of the pristine coastline, Morro Rock jutting in the distance, and on a windy day, maybe even a brave surfer jumping into the choppy swell below.

Elephant Seal Rookery

For portraits of wild things, drive five miles past San Simeon on winding Highway One. There you’ll find the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery, a temporal home to the northern elephant seal. The pups, juveniles and adults spend part of their time on shore, and depending on what month you visit, they’ll entertain you as they fight, breed, nurse, molt and sleep—not necessarily in that order.

Hiking Trails

If you feel like getting some exercise, take your camera along for your next hike. San Luis Obispo City has over 30 miles of trails, not to mention what the rest of the coastal community has to offer. From inland to the shoreline, scenic spots proliferate throughout SLO County.

Regional Festivals

Year-round, San Luis Obispo County celebrates just about everything. From art, birds, classic cars, comedy, clams, Earth Day, film, kites, oysters, music, poetry, railroads, the Renaissance, paella, macaroni & cheese, beer, tequila, wine—and holidays—the festivities never stop.

No matter what you explore in life, here’s my advice: Carry your camera with you wherever you go and bring your sense of adventure. Capture the moment. Capture the world.

Pismo Beach

Morro Bay Harbor

Montana de Oro State Park

Cayucos Pier

Elephant Seal Rookery

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Best Photography Spots in San Luis Obispo County