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Los Osos Travel Guide: 0 reviews and 4 photos

While many Californians, and perhaps even a few non-Californians, have heard of Morro Bay, virtually no one has ever heard of Los Osos. I, for one, would like to keep it that way, so don’t tell anyone about this page, alright?

And where, may you ask, is Los Osos? First, find San Francisco and Los Angeles on a map and look halfway between them. You’ll see the well known estuary called Morro Bay.

Now, if you picture Morro Bay as a big letter ‘D,’ and cut a little notch in the straight piece right at the top, that notch marks the inlet to Morro Bay - with the straight part of your ‘D’ being a 4-mile long strand of sand dunes. The famous Morro Rock is at the top left point of your ‘D,’ with the town of Morro Bay going around to the right. Halfway around you hit marshland and Morro Bay State Park. And, at the bottom, you hit Los Osos: first passing the subdivision of Baywood Park, then into Los Osos proper (where most of the businesses are), then on to Cuesta-by-the-Sea, and, if you keep going, you reach Montana De Oro State Park, before driving into the Pacific Ocean.

I know this place intimately because my grandparents lived here, so I’ve been coming here every year my whole life. It really hasn’t changed all that much since I started coming here in the 1960’s.

Los Osos could be completely overrun with many times its current population. However, a couple of factors have kept this from happening. First, a building moratorium was placed on the community due to the fact that it has no sewer system; all 5,000 of the houses here run on septic tanks.

It is just far enough away from San Luis Obispo (10 miles out on 2-lane Los Osos Valley Road) that it hasn’t become a bedroom community. Other towns that have easy access to Highway 101 make much more sense to commute from, and some have grown into little employment hubs on their own.

So, for the time being, Los Osos is stuck in limbo... and I’m not complaining!

The ‘town’ of Los Osos, meaning the shopping area, banks the main road – Los Osos Valley Road (often abbreviated to LOVR) – and has such things as a Ralph’s Market, a Rite-Aid and a Starbucks. There’s a few little malls around this area that have a handful of stores each; some standouts are Carlock’s Bakery and the Los Osos Book Exchange.

As you continue on LOVR, you go past Sweet Springs Saloon – the only bar in Los Osos proper. After that you pass the brand spankin’ new skate park at the South Bay Community Center.

Continue on and turn right towards the water on Pine Street and you will hit Cuesta-by-the-Sea, where you’ll see lots of quirky old homes with strange sculptures and weather vanes, interesting architecture, and odd little touches that used to be so common in small California seaside towns.

If you don’t turn right into Cuesta, and keep going on LOVR, it will turn into Pecho Valley Dr. This road goes past the golf course and then in a few miles, you enter Montana De Oro State Park. This is where the road ends, leaving a 20 mile stretch where no roads mar the shoreline.

Los Osos is a great place to stroll around the streets, look at the waters (or muds, depending on the tide) of Morro Bay, try to identify that squawking bird, or get a bite to eat before a nice hike along the bay beaches, a drive to nearby Montana de Oro State Park, or a trek up Bishop Peak.

Los Osos, by the way, means “the bears.” I have no idea why this town got that name. There are no bears here, and I can’t think of any aspect of this town that is the least bit “bearish.” But, the people had their reasons, I suppose. Maybe it was to scare away tourists.

  • Last visit to Los Osos: Dec 2007
  • Intro Updated Dec 25, 2007
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