Monday, November 16, 2015

San Luis Obispo: Why are they so happy here? (Photo: iStock)As that Neil
Diamond song says, "L.A."s fine, the sun shines most of the time." But now
that I"ve lived in Los Angeles for eight months after moving from New York,
I"ve found that, while indeed life here is "fine," there"s plenty about
Southern California that can make one just flat-out cranky.
The traffic, of
course, is killer.
All my friends back east know how good/bad Saturday Night
Live was a good three hours before I do.
And, really, does the sun have to
shine all the time?!?

Naturally, the erstwhile cranky New Yorker in me was
skeptical when I heard that, only a few hours away, there exists a town widely
known as one of the Happiest Places in America: San Luis Obispo, Calif.
That
isn"t just some phrase SLO puts on its road sign; it"s all official and
stuff.
The Blue Zones author, Dan Buettner, named San Luis Obispo, about two
hours north of Ventura County, one of the four happiest cities on Earth (it
was the only U.S.
city in the bunch).
San Luis Obispo frequently makes
Gallup-Healthways" annual rankings of cities with the best well-being.
And, as
if that weren"t enough, Oprah Winfrey featured the city in a "a segment titled
"The Happiest City in America."

Well, if Oprah said it, it must be true.So
my wife and I (plus our dog) recently ventured to San Luis Obispo County
— located about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco —
to effectively ask, "What the hell are you so happy about?" And lo and behold,
I actually got an answer.
Here are seve reasons why San Luis Obispo really may
be the Happiest Place in America.
1.
"They take it "SLO" Being chill is an
art form in SLO.
(Photo: Juice Media)I admit I might be a little "SLO" on the
uptake, but it took two days of reading local signs and hearing greetings from
store workers who kept referring to "SLO" before it dawned on me that "SLO"
stands for "San Luis Obispo." Of course, taking it slow is a way of life
here.
The famously wide sidewalks make it tailor-made for casual strolls.
The
city prides itself on its pleasantly laid-back feel.
"It"s kind of like a
Cheers town; you can go somewhere and everyone knows you," says Noelle DuBois,
President of Bang the Drum Brewery.
Speaking of breweries…2.
They like
to drink
People take their drinking very seriously here, and that too, is a
recipe for happiness.
Noelle runs Bang the Drum Brewery with her dad Gary (a
young 20-something woman runs a small-town brewery with her eternally cool,
outdoorsy father — Hollywood, this is a sitcom waiting to happen).
The
brewpub, which has the relaxing, wood-panel atmosphere of a coffee shop,
features a variety of hand-crafted brews made in batch sizes of half a
barrel.
As I enjoyed a bourbon barrel Aged B.A.
Belgian Dark, Noelle and Gary
told me about the town"s up-and-coming craft brewery scene, which includes the
growing popularity of area brew tours, one of which is called "Hop On." (I got
that pun immediately.)
One of the homegrown brews at Bang the Drum Brewery.
(Photo: Bang the
Drum)But while craft brewing is a big deal here, it"s wine that apparently
fuels this region"s drinking.
Throughout the county lies expansive wine
country with two dozen wineries.
I spent an afternoon at a tasting at Chamisal
Vineyards.
The vineyard grows five grape varieties including Chardonnay, Pinot
Noir, Grenache, Syrah, and an excellent Pinot Gris.
Since"studies show that
moderate drinking leads to an "increase [in] overall affective expression,
happiness, euphoria, conviviality, and pleasant and carefree feelings," maybe
San Luis Obispo, with its thriving wine and brew culture, is on to
something.3.
Quirky accommodations
The diverse grape varieties at the Chamisal Vineyards.
(Photo: Sid Lipsey)"A
perfect example of the SLO vibe could be found in one of the hotels I stayed
in during my trip — the endlessly charming Petit Soleil Bed &
Breakfast.
Inspired by the rustic places the welcoming hoteliers, John and
Dianne Conner, encountered during their trips to Europe, Petit Soleil is a
terrifically low-key way to ease into SLO"s "Don"t Worry, Be Happy" vibe.
Has a VW van ever looked as at home as this one does at the charming"Petit
Soleil?"(Photo: Sid Lipsey)At the front of the hotel rests an old-school VW
van.
And in the interior of the hotel is a cobblestone courtyard, perfect for
enjoying the 5-6:30 p.m.
evening wine tasting (as I said, they really enjoy
their wine here).
And it"s pet friendly, as one of my travel partners can
attest.
Speaking of which…4.
SLO loves small dogs in bags Chelsea the
Chihuahua: an SLO obsession (Photo: Tracey Steinberg)Our well-traveled
8-year-old chihuahua, Chelsea, was a big hit in San Luis Obispo.
For some
reason, our habit of toting her in a backpack when she gets finicky about
walking was the source of endless fascination among the SLO
townspeople.
Walking down the street in SLO with Chelsea in her mesh backpack
carrier had passer-by after passer by-asking, "Oh my gosh — that"s
a cute dog.
And a cute carrier — where did you get it?" Maybe they
don"t have small dogs in SLO, but any town where visitors get stopped on the
street repeatedly by extraordinarily friendly people inquiring after your dog
carrier must have a serious happiness surplus." The place to be on Thursday
night: The Downtown SLO Farmers" Market (Photo: Sid Lipsey)The attention
continued even after we briefly strayed into the town"s big social event: the
Thursday night Downtown SLO Farmers" Market along Higuera Street.
Alas, dogs
are not allowed there, so Chelsea and my wife milled about on the perimeter
while I stayed and sampled another item that must account for SLOs
happiness."
5.
Meat is kind of a big deal here Tri-Tip and other forms of
meat are given their proper due in SLO (Photo Firestone Grill)Could happiness
be found in meat? That seemed to be the case at the Farmers" Market, which
— though full of all kinds of treats, produce, and ethnic cuisine
— was especially meat-heavy.
People were lined up at multiple booths
for various forms of barbecue and tri-tip; the line was especially long at
F.McLintocks.
The trip-tip at Firestone Grill is also the stuff of local
legend.
Still, I eventually went with the tri-tip sandwich from Mother"s
Tavern.
It was flavorful, meaty, and heavenly.
Now I see why dogs aren"t
allowed at the Farmers" Market: Chelsea would have loved it.6.
They enjoy the
great outdoors" The view from Madonna Mountain (Photo: Tracey Steinberg)"We
have great outdoor activities," Kylee Jepsen told me when I ask her about
SLO"s notable happiness quotient.
She"s the Senior Communications Director for
Visit San Luis Obispo County and, it bears noting, a reasonably happy person
herself.
She continued: "There"s lots of hiking its beautiful terrain.
And
you"re within miles of the ocean, and who can"t be happy when they"re that
close to the ocean?" She"s right about the hiking, especially the view-heavy
trail along Madonna Mountain."Related:"Pacific Paradise: Drinking in the
Oceanside Beauty of La Jolla, California Avila Beach (Photo: Visit San Luis
Obispo County)The greater county of San Luis Obispo is full of beachside
communities.
I spent another tranquil evening taking in the beachside town of
Cayucos, Calif., about 20 minutes away from SLO.
After checking in at the
Shoreline Inn, it was a treat to walk around in a beachside community not
teaming with elbow-to-elbow tourists.
Plus, nearby Avila Beach also offers
opportunities for waterborne fun, including standup paddle boarding and
kayaking at Avila Beach Paddlesports — activities in which I did not
partake, but I did watch from dry land — happily.

7.
Good-natured
pranks on tourists" The residents of Morro Bay sun themselves.
"(Photo: Sid
Lipsey)Nothing can make one happier than a little giggle at someone else"s
expense.
And I got one during a Sub Sea Tour in Morro Bay, where we ventured
on a 21-passenger boat to look at the various birds and sea lions who call the
bay home."The boat has a glass-enclosed viewing area below deck where people
can get a view of the various fish and marine life.
But spoiler alert: The
operator likes to have a little fun.
As a group was looking at fish below, he
took out a plastic shark-on-a-stick he keeps hidden and mischievously plunged
it into the water." Jaws attacks our boat in Morro Bay (Photo: Mike
Mathis)The collective shriek from the unsuspecting passengers below made him
grin in the kind of way that says, "This never, ever gets old," even though
he"s probably pulled that stunt a thousand times.
SLO recently topped a poll
of cities with the happiest work environments.
If everyone gets as many grins
from their jobs as this guy gets from his shark trick, then it"s easy to see
why this town"s so darned happy.
Related:"10 Reasons Santa Barbara is the
Perfect Escape From L.A.So can SLO"s happiness surplus rub off on a visitor?
As I made the lovely, vineyard-heavy drive back to Los Angeles, I was occupied
with three thoughts.
One was that San Luis Obispo"s philosophy of taking it
SLO — by enjoying simple pleasures like a glass of wine, a fun chat
with strangers, and harboring a general commitment to wellness — is
something I want to take back with me to L.A.
The second was that I can"t wait
until I can visit again to get another dose of SLO-style happiness."
And the
third:"Man, I gotta get me one of them sharks-on-a-stick…
WATCH:"We
Moved Our Dog Cross-Country — and Rewarded Her With a California Spa
Weekend
Let World traveling club Travel inspire you every day.
Follow us
on Facebook, Twitter,Instagram, and Pinterest."
San Luis Obispo: Why are they so happy here? (Photo: iStock) As that Neil
Diamond song says, "L.A.'s fine, the sun shines most of the time." But
now that I've lived in Los Angeles for eight months after moving from New
York, I've found that, while indeed life here is "fine," there's
plenty about Southern California that can make one just flat-out cranky.
The
traffic, of course, is killer..2.
They like to drink
People take their
drinking very seriously here, and that too, is a recipe for happiness.
Noelle
runs Bang the Drum Brewery with her dad Gary (a young 20-something woman runs
a small-town brewery with her eternally cool, outdoorsy father —
Hollywood, this is a sitcom waiting to happen).
The brewpub, which has the
relaxing, wood-panel atmosphere of a coffee shop, features a variety of
hand-crafted brews made in batch sizes of half a barrel.
As I enjoyed a
bourbon barrel Aged B.A.
Belgian Dark, Noelle and Gary told me about the
town"s up-and-coming craft brewery scene, which includes the growing
popularity of area brew tours, one of which is called "Hop On." (I got that
pun immediately.)
One of the homegrown brews at Bang the Drum Brewery.
(Photo: Bang the
Drum)But while craft brewing is a big deal here, it"s wine that apparently
fuels this region"s drinking.
Throughout the county lies expansive wine
country with two dozen wineries.
I spent an afternoon at a tasting at Chamisal
Vineyards.
The vineyard grows five grape varieties including Chardonnay, Pinot
Noir, Grenache, Syrah, and an excellent Pinot Gris.
Since"studies show that
moderate drinking leads to an "increase [in] overall affective expression,
happiness, euphoria, conviviality, and pleasant and carefree feelings," maybe
San Luis Obispo, with its thriving wine and brew culture, is on to
something.3.
Quirky accommodations
The diverse grape varieties at the Chamisal Vineyards.
(Photo: Sid Lipsey)"A
perfect example of the SLO vibe could be found in one of the hotels I stayed
in during my trip — the endlessly charming Petit Soleil Bed &
Breakfast.
Inspired by the rustic places the welcoming hoteliers, John and
Dianne Conner, encountered during their trips to Europe, Petit Soleil is a
terrifically low-key way to ease into SLO"s "Don"t Worry, Be Happy" vibe.
Has a VW van ever looked as at home as this one does at the charming"Petit
Soleil?"(Photo: Sid Lipsey)At the front of the hotel rests an old-school VW
van.
And in the interior of the hotel is a cobblestone courtyard, perfect for
enjoying the 5-6:30 p.m.
evening wine tasting (as I said, they really enjoy
their wine here).
And it"s pet friendly, as one of my travel partners can
attest.
Speaking of which…4.
SLO loves small dogs in bags Chelsea the
Chihuahua: an SLO obsession (Photo: Tracey Steinberg)Our well-traveled
8-year-old chihuahua, Chelsea, was a big hit in San Luis Obispo.
For some
reason, our habit of toting her in a backpack when she gets finicky about
walking was the source of endless fascination among the SLO
townspeople.
Walking down the street in SLO with Chelsea in her mesh backpack
carrier had passer-by after passer by-asking, "Oh my gosh — that"s
a cute dog.
And a cute carrier — where did you get it?" Maybe they
don"t have small dogs in SLO, but any town where visitors get stopped on the
street repeatedly by extraordinarily friendly people inquiring after your dog
carrier must have a serious happiness surplus." The place to be on Thursday
night: The Downtown SLO Farmers" Market (Photo: Sid Lipsey)The attention
continued even after we briefly strayed into the town"s big social event: the
Thursday night Downtown SLO Farmers" Market along Higuera Street.
Alas, dogs
are not allowed there, so Chelsea and my wife milled about on the perimeter
while I stayed and sampled another item that must account for SLOs
happiness."
5.
Meat is kind of a big deal here Tri-Tip and other forms of
meat are given their proper due in SLO (Photo Firestone Grill)Could happiness
be found in meat? That seemed to be the case at the Farmers" Market, which
— though full of all kinds of treats, produce, and ethnic cuisine
— was especially meat-heavy.
People were lined up at multiple booths
for various forms of barbecue and tri-tip; the line was especially long at
F.McLintocks.
The trip-tip at Firestone Grill is also the stuff of local
legend.
Still, I eventually went with the tri-tip sandwich from Mother"s
Tavern.
It was flavorful, meaty, and heavenly.
Now I see why dogs aren"t
allowed at the Farmers" Market: Chelsea would have loved it.6.
They enjoy the
great outdoors" The view from Madonna Mountain (Photo: Tracey Steinberg)"We
have great outdoor activities," Kylee Jepsen told me when I ask her about
SLO"s notable happiness quotient.
She"s the Senior Communications Director for
Visit San Luis Obispo County and, it bears noting, a reasonably happy person
herself.
She continued: "There"s lots of hiking its beautiful terrain.
And
you"re within miles of the ocean, and who can"t be happy when they"re that
close to the ocean?" She"s right about the hiking, especially the view-heavy
trail along Madonna Mountain."Related:"Pacific Paradise: Drinking in the
Oceanside Beauty of La Jolla, California Avila Beach (Photo: Visit San Luis
Obispo County)The greater county of San Luis Obispo is full of beachside
communities.
I spent another tranquil evening taking in the beachside town of
Cayucos, Calif., about 20 minutes away from SLO.
After checking in at the
Shoreline Inn, it was a treat to walk around in a beachside community not
teaming with elbow-to-elbow tourists.
Plus, nearby Avila Beach also offers
opportunities for waterborne fun, including standup paddle boarding and
kayaking at Avila Beach Paddlesports — activities in which I did not
partake, but I did watch from dry land — happily.

7.
Good-natured
pranks on tourists" The residents of Morro Bay sun themselves.
"(Photo: Sid
Lipsey)Nothing can make one happier than a little giggle at someone else"s
expense.
And I got one during a Sub Sea Tour in Morro Bay, where we ventured
on a 21-passenger boat to look at the various birds and sea lions who call the
bay home."The boat has a glass-enclosed viewing area below deck where people
can get a view of the various fish and marine life.
But spoiler alert: The
operator likes to have a little fun.
As a group was looking at fish below, he
took out a plastic shark-on-a-stick he keeps hidden and mischievously plunged
it into the water." Jaws attacks our boat in Morro Bay (Photo: Mike
Mathis)The collective shriek from the unsuspecting passengers below made him
grin in the kind of way that says, "This never, ever gets old," even though
he"s probably pulled that stunt a thousand times.
SLO recently topped a poll
of cities with the happiest work environments.
If everyone gets as many grins
from their jobs as this guy gets from his shark trick, then it"s easy to see
why this town"s so darned happy.
Related:"10 Reasons Santa Barbara is the
Perfect Escape From L.A.So can SLO"s happiness surplus rub off on a visitor?
As I made the lovely, vineyard-heavy drive back to Los Angeles, I was occupied
with three thoughts.
One was that San Luis Obispo"s philosophy of taking it
SLO — by enjoying simple pleasures like a glass of wine, a fun chat
with strangers, and harboring a general commitment to wellness — is
something I want to take back with me to L.A.
The second was that I can"t wait
until I can visit again to get another dose of SLO-style happiness."
And the
third:"Man, I gotta get me one of them sharks-on-a-stick…
WATCH:"We
Moved Our Dog Cross-Country — and Rewarded Her With a California Spa
Weekend
Let World traveling club Travel inspire you every day.
Follow us
on Facebook, Twitter,Instagram, and Pinterest."
San Luis Obispo: Why are they
so happy here? (Photo: iStock) As that Neil Diamond song says, "L.A.'s
fine, the sun shines most of the time." But now that I've lived in Los
Angeles for eight months after moving from New York, I've found that, while
indeed life here is "fine," there's plenty about Southern California
that can make one just flat-out cranky.
The traffic, of course, is killer.

0 commentaires:

Post a Comment

Travel Club. Powered by Blogger.

Popular Posts

Popular Posts

.