Morro Bay’s Top Dog Coffee Shop

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I love dogs. I mean, who doesn’t love dogs? If you don’t like dogs then I still respect you but I’ going to have to also respectfully disagree with you because dogs are great. And this coffee shop has “dog” in its name so that already makes it pretty cool…

But in all seriousness, Top Dog is one of my favorite coffee shops to hang out in the SLO area. They feature two locations: one in Morro Bay and one in Cayucos. I’ve only ever been to the one in Morro bay and it’s amazing, so I’m sure the one in Cayucos is just as amazing.

This locally owned cafe’s ambiance is tranquil and serene. There’s an outside back patio with greenery and sunlight shining enough to warm you, but enough shade to provide sight of your laptop.

Free wifi and outlets are offered with purchase of food or drink which isn’t hard to do, because there are SO MANY choices of what to get from coffee to tea to food to alcohol. It’s a great place to sit and get some work done on the computer while enjoying a bite to eat or a drink. You could come here every day for a month and never get the same thing twice. 

The shop also offers friendly service. I never know what I want when I get there because there are so many choices but the barista patiently waits while I consider every combination possible… One of my favorite things to get is a Yerba mate tea u lait with soy milk. It’s steamed soy topped yerba mate tea. Great for a caffeine fix if you’re not feeling coffee.

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The interior is decorated with pictures of dogs most of which are on the beach which is very inspiring to look at when you’re studying/getting work done. The exterior garden patio is filled with plants and flowers with a gentle breeze on a hot day.  It’s a relaxing place to hang out and enjoy the authentically laid back cozy and artsy atmosphere of Morro Bay.

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High Street Deli: A Local SLO Legend

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High Street Deli is a local SLO legend. It’s a sandwich shop in the middle of a neighborhood on High Street with a funky hippy vibe and retro decor. The shop has been serving SLO for almost 100 years now. Built in 1927 it originally sold milk, cigarettes, and deli sandwiches to the workers in the railroad district of town. Now, it’s SLO’s most authentic sandwich joint.

 

High Street is a SLO favorite because it has proven over time to show character. Their famous 4:20 daily special yields a $6.99 sando from 4:20pm until their closing at 5:30, and their student deal on Tuesday gives Poly students with a valid school ID card the chance to grad a sando for $6.99 as well. Every time I’ve been to the place it’s been ridiculously busy but the service is fast and friendly.

Pro tip: If you want to get the dutch crunch bread (which is THE best) go earlier in the day as they will run out and might not ask you what you want as a replacement… and will sub it with a french roll. Which is not nearly the same level of delicious as dutch crunch. In addition to sandos High Street offers draft beer and kombucha on tap as well as an assortment of other local drinks in the fridge.

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DUTCH CRUNCH

They’re located in a very residential area with free street parking so you can enjoy your sandwich for as long as you please. Their side patio is a great place for sitting during warm weather and appreciating the unique vibes in the shop of the locals and tourists alike.

 

Also… If you like surprises, ask for your sando “stoney” and you’ll be get a mouthful surprise of whatever the sandwich crafters were feeling would be a good addition to your sandwich. (anything from avocado to sprouts, it’s all fair game and nothing’s off limits when you make it stoney!)

They’re open from 9am-5:50pm daily and their menu can be found here.  Check ’em out!

Art After Dark in San Luis Obispo

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Mural painting to support Jack’s Helping Hand at East Well Being and Tea’s Art After Dark

On the first Friday of every month in downtown San Luis Obispo, hundreds of community members gather together downtown to support local businesses and check out locally crafted art. This free event runs from around 6pm-9pm when around 20 galleries, boutiques, salons, and other venues open up their doors after hours to spotlight local aspiring artists and members of the SLO neighborhood.

It’s called Art After Dark, and it’s a great way to spend a casual Friday night in downtown SLO. Many shops also give out small snacks and wine for guests to enjoy while they check out the exhibits!

We started our Art After Dark journey at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art and were treated with wine and appetizer snacks while we checked out their latest exhibits. Admission is always free to the SLOMA, so you can come in at any time! You’ve also probably seen the SLOMA artwork around downtown as many of the local businesses support the museum by displaying artist’s work in their shops.

After the SLOMA we checked out Humankind Fair Trade, a nonprofit retail store which seeks to provide practical income to artists in developing countries, by selling their Fair Trade products and telling their unique stories here in SLO. There was a guitar player strumming outside the shop, and inside we were given an amazing apple chutney cream cheese cracker spread with more wine!

They have really cool products that you can feel good about buying, because they’re ALL fair trade. I bought an amazingly beautiful string of chakra flags which were handmade from Nepal, for only 3 dollars. They’re hanging in my bedroom right now. 😉

The amazing thing about HumanKind Fair Trade is that there are only a few full time “employees.” The rest of the time the store is completely staffed by volunteers who help out because they have a passion for the fair trade industry. If you’re interested in helping out or volunteering for them, stop by the store or email the store manager! 

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Next we visited East Wellbeing and Tea. There was live music playing and wine samples.

East is one of my favorite places to wind down and reconnect with myself when I’m feeling overwhelmed, because they have an incredible selection of tea options and well being opportunities. They also have small snacks available from Bliss Cafe. The chocolate almond milk is a MUST. It’s a great quiet place to study or just to hang out and relax.

East’s teas are 95% organic. They also brew teas which are custom blended locally by Secret Garden which are not organic but are still 100% natural. My favorite kind of tea at East is the “Yin” tea which is relaxing. They have a bunch of other amazing teas as well and my goal is to try them all…

We stopped at Pipstick’s on Monterey street which was right across from East Well Being and Tea, which had a TON of really cute stickers and crafting supplies. We also stopped into Bambu Batu which is a groovy store which sells items made from bamboo.  They had clothing/sheets (clothes and sheets made from bamboo material are SO soft!), apparel, and home decorations. There was also a man reading tarot cards in the corner of the shop.

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Pipsticks’ stickers
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Bambu Batu

Art After Dark is a true San Luis Obispo experience. The exhibits at each store change every month, so even if you go every month, your experience will never be the same. It’s a really nice way to showcase the local artists in our town, enjoy a low key Friday night out, and get to know the local SLO community.

Check it out! 

 

 

Cal Poly’s Tranquil Hidden Gem: The Leaning Pine Arboretum

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The 50+ year old Leaning Pine Arboretum is an oasis of 5 acres of plants, flowers, and scenic mountain views located right on Cal Poly’s campus. It’s in the Environmental Horticultural Science facility and is open to the public FOR FREE from 8am-5pm Monday-Saturday. Every time I go, it’s peaceful and empty! It’s a great place to go if you need a quiet place to think, read, or step back and take a moment to breathe… and it’s within walking distance from any building at Cal Poly.

The collections of plants in the arboretum are arranged by geographic nativity. There are hundreds of different plant species from the world’s five mediterranean climate regions: Australia, California, Chile, the Mediterranean basin, and South Africa. There’s also a New Zealand garden, a Dwarf and Unusual Conifer garden, a Formal garden, and displays of cycads, palms, and many different succulents. Read more about the individual gardens, by clicking here!

The exciting part about this gem is that it’s open year round, and the plants are constantly changing by season. I visited during April, and there were gorgeous flowers everywhere! You’ll never have the same experience twice.

They offer guided tours for groups as well as paper and cell phone self lead tours so that you can enjoy each section of the gardens for as long as you’d like.

The purpose of the gardens is to act as a sort of “open air classroom” for education, and to foster horticultural practices that are in harmony with nature. For example, to control pests in the area, they use non-toxic traps and environmentally friendly bait. The arboretum fertilizes only as needed and uses organic fertilizers. All green waste is recycled, and mulching lawnmowers are used to recycle clippings in harmony with the environment.

It assists Cal Poly students in their opportunity to “learn by doing” and is used mainly as a laboratory for students and classes for independent research and project studies. Students also maintain and care for the facility as volunteers, paid employees, and in their classes under the direction of a faculty member.

Since the space is a living lab for students to learn, it’s important to remember to respect the environment by staying on the path, refraining from climbing trees or any sculptures/structures in the gardens, and as tempting as it is to take one of the gorgeous flowers, fruits or succulents you must leave everything behind for future visitors to enjoy.

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The one tricky part about taking time to enjoy the arboretum is that it’s difficult to find parking if you choose to drive to campus. There are a 45 minute meter spots in the area, but if you’re interested in spending more time in the gardens you’ll need to find an alternative option. Visitors can buy permits to park in designated spots around campus Monday-Friday for hourly and daily amounts of time by visiting a pay station and getting a parking pass.

Pro Tip: Parking on campus is free on the weekends, so Saturday would most likely be your best bet to enjoy the gardens for as long as possible without having to worry about paying for parking.

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If you’d like a more personal experience or a group tour, you can arrange for an arboretum staff member led visit by contacting the Arboretum Manager at (805) 756-2888. Here’s a map of how to get to the gardens!

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Courtesy of the Leaning Pine Arboretum Website

The Sweetest Shop in SLO: SloDoCo Donuts

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If you’ve been to San Luis Obispo I hope you’ve heard of SloDoCo. This legendary 24/7 donut shop has had a special place in the minds, hearts, and tummies of SLO residents since its grand opening in October of 2010 and has continued to grow and thrive since then.

Its founders Jacob and Jessie Pickering originally met each other in a donut shop, and then worked together to successfully fulfill their dream of opening up their own donut shop (how SWEET!). With the help of Cal Poly engineers to maximize the space for studying (free wifi and power outlets!!) and socializing (the shop has plenty of games to test your competitive edge with while you get that sugar rush), they opened up SloDoCo.

SloDoCo is special because the staff is always thinking of new unique donut flavors which are inspired by anything and everything. They feature a variety of vegan, and gluten free donuts so that everyone can enjoy their goodness. They have the classics like chocolate cake and old fashioned every day, but rotate seasonal specials each month too.

The “eggnog” flavored donut was a favorite of mine during the holiday season and I bought my dad a donut covered in yellow “peeps” on Easter Sunday. On St. Patrick’s Day, they dyed every single donut green for the whole day. And on 4/20 they went pretty crazy celebrating as well…

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4/20 eyeball donuts

The brief creative twist on a “donut-waffle” hybrid they made when I was a second year was so great that I literally made it into the cake I blew out the candles on at my 20th birthday party.

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It is a cake made up of four different “doffles”

SloDoCo’s business has continued to grow steadily in the years that I’ve been at Cal Poly. They recently expanded into the retail space next door and doubled in size, as well as added a stage for open mic nights and music performances. This made many up and coming SLO musicians happy, because it provides a place for local artists to showcase their talent.

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Open mic night at SloDoCo

I can’t see their growth stopping any time soon because SloDoCo is a favorite for everyone of every age in the San Luis Obispo area. This is because the warm atmosphere and  good vibes when you walk through the door makes you feel like you’re home (and it smells like heaven). It’s a space you can relax in and enjoy a cup of coffee/tea (they have that, too!) and chow down on some of the most creative themed donuts that taste out of this world any time of day or night… even at 4am.

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Grabbing a snack for the top of a sunrise Bishops’ Peak hike 😉

Take a trip to this welcoming donut wonderland to buy a milk and cookies pillow, thai tea, matcha, lavender, Nutella, creme brûlée, or one of everything because once you take that first bite of any sweet and fluffy fresh baked creation you’ll be eternally hooked. For roughly $1-$3 a donut your taste buds will be transported out of this world… especially if you get the famous marshmallow frosted galaxy themed donut.

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SloDoCo is located at 793 Foothill Blvd in San Luis Obispo in suite F. But trust me, you won’t have to worry about finding the place because right away you’ll see the line of people out the door 😉

 

Libertine Brewing Company SLO’s *TACO TUESDAY!*

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I’ve written about the Libertine Coffee Bar… well, Libertine Brewing Co. (right next door to the coffee bar) is a whole experience. I’m a legal alcoholic drinking American citizen now and I’m out and exploring the many breweries and wineries that we have been blessed to be able to enjoy in the SLO area. And Libertine’s “Taco Tuesday” has been on my list for a while…

Taco Tuesday at the Libertine means $2.50-3.50 each a taco and happy hour all day. If you’re looking to save a buck: take advantage of taco tuesday. My veggie and chicken tacos were amazing. I got four. No regrets.

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YUM

This place is the kind of place that I see myself meeting up with friends to celebrate making it through a day or work (whether it be schoolwork or work-work) and winding down with hearty conversation and yummy food and drink. The atmosphere is fun, and the eats are good.

The San Luis Obispo Libertine location hosts over 76 taps including beer (of course!), wine, kombucha, and cold brew coffee. Libertine is most known for their trendy “sour beers,” but if you’re not into that, it feels like they really do have everything to make a beer, wine, or even a non-acloholic drink lover satisfied.

Check out more information on their website, here!

 

The Coolest Classes I’ve Taken at Cal Poly

Every quarter when registration comes around I wonder what the most interesting classes are to take at Cal Poly, that students might not necessarily know they can take. We spend a lot of time and effort in academic classes which go toward our major and are required, but the truth is that we only get to do college once.

Why not enjoy it a little bit?

These were some of the most fun classes I took at Cal Poly, and *GASP* most of them counted for absolutely nothing toward my degree… I had the opportunity to take some fun classes in my college experience because I did summer sessions every year and AP credits earned in high school, so I had some wiggle room to indulge in an enjoyable class or two (or eight) before graduating.

Some of the classes I mention actually can count for general education credit if you haven’t fulfilled that specific requirement yet or are great if you need elective credit. People would ask me why I was putting more work on myself by taking extra classes that “didn’t count for anything,” if I could just have a lighter course load or just even have graduated early. I always responded in the same way:

Money < Knowledge

I’m lucky enough to be paying in state tuition, so it doesn’t matter how many credits I take here at Cal Poly as long as I’m a full time student, because it’s the same amount of money per quarter whether I take 12 units or 20 units. I took these extra classes to learn  because I love learning and I’m not going to have the opportunity to take a class on “branded wine marketing” virtually for free (or at the same cost as my schooling would have costed anyway) anytime soon in my life. I wanted to take advantage of all the opportunities I had to learn in college, about as many things as I possibly could. 

And there’s one thing that all of these classes had in common which made them especially fun for me to take: the teachers were overflowing with passion about what they were teaching us. All of these teachers truly enjoyed what they were doing and this joy connected with us as students in a special way because their interest in the subject translated into making the class fun and interesting.

So here they are, the most fun classes I’ve gotten to take at Cal Poly:

AEPS 215 “Floral Design 1”

This class was a class I had wanted to take ever since I heard about it when I was a freshman but could never get into because of bad class registration times. I finally got to take it as a senior and it was everything I hoped it would be. I learned a lot about the industry of floral design, as well as a lot about well… arranging flowers. It was so much fun and the professor was so enthusiastic about what she was doing with her life that it made me excited to learn. Be warned: this class does require a decent amount of studying for the midterm and final. Lots of memorizing. But there are great quizlets out there to help you study 😉

 

 

 

 

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The class usually takes place fall and winter quarters in the evening, from 3-7 and 4-7 and although you rarely have to spend the entire time in the lab, it does end later at night than other classes, depending on what kind of schedule you prefer.  If you like Floral Design 1, Floral Design 2 is offered Spring quarter and features more advanced techniques, giving you the opportunity to take your knowledge to the next level!

WVIT 343 “Branded Wine Marketing”

The only prerequisite for this class is an Econ class (ECON 201, 221 or 222) which you can most likely take to earn your “D” general education credit anyway. This class taught me information about marketing which I’m interested in as a career, with a specific product twist: WINE! It was interesting to hear the professor’s experience in the wine industry (and just about her life in general… I took the class with Marianne Wolf and she has just had a very exciting time on this Earth so far). I will warn you that this class requires a lot of work with multiple midterms and group projects, but it’s also very fascinating and I came out feeling like I had a new connection made with the WVIT industry.

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Who first decided to ferment grapes, and then drink the juice?

KINE 109 “Bowling”

Aww jeez, this is the classic senior class. It’s one of the most capstone right of passage classes for seniors to take at Cal Poly just for the experience at “the only bowling alley in SLO” which happens to be located on campus. And why not?! Since it’s credit/no credit and it’s only an hour session twice a week all you have to do is have fun. And now that you can DRINK ALCOHOL from Mustang Station next door attached to the bowling alley (only after 2pm) how could you not take this class if you have the chance? No joke, my bowling average went from 65 to 145 in the course of the ten weeks in class. They say practice makes perfect so take bowling and grab a beer to go with it just because you can. You won’t regret it.

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Comin’ at ya

PSY 202 “General Psychology”

This was an actual academic class which is normally taken for class credit, and I actually had to try to study for it even though it was a course I just decided to take for fun. It was an enormous lecture style class once a week, and then meetings with a professor in a smaller class workshop setting during week as well. I learned a lot in this class. It was by no means an “easy A” but if you need D4 credit, and you’re interested in the way the human mind operates, I would definitely recommend taking this class. Also, DO go to the lecture, because the professors choose very specific lecture questions to test on the midterm. And also just because it’s cool to learn about the human mind.

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DANC 132 “Beginning Modern Dance”

I haven’t danced formally since I was seven, when I took Irish step dancing. You can imagine how much my Irish step dancing teacher loved that my name is Molly O’Brien (it’s a very Irish name). This class was a good experience for me because I felt really out of my comfort zone. I didn’t know what modern dance really was until I took this class…

We learned fitness techniques and vocabulary for certain dance moves. We even put on a performance with the rest of the upper level dance classes at the end of the quarter. For this course we didn’t have any huge scary scantron exams, but I did have the requirement to go to a Cal Poly dance show and write a paper about it, which was honestly a really great experience because I had never taken the time to appreciate the beauty and effort it takes to create an entire dance performance until this class. I would recommend it if you like to move and have an interest in trying something new. 

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Definitely me dancing

BIO 123 “Biology of Sex”

This class counted for my general education credit in the “B” science area. Despite its provocative name it’s not a dirty class by any means… in fact it’s a very factually driven scientific class on the topic of reproduction. Our professors for this class were so passionate about the process of reproduction and so excited to tell us all about the multiplication of cells when snails (or really any other animal for that matter) are making babies that it was interesting on a deeply molecular level. I learned so much about reproduction that I would not have been taught in any “health” or “sex ed” class. This class does require a level of maturity, respect, and understanding. You’re not just going to be sitting there talking about sex for two hours twice a week, you’re going to be learning about all different ways animals on our Earth reproduce and it’s fascinating. You’ll also be taught the valuable life lesson of how to a sense of humor and laugh at yourself during uncomfortable moments.

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Giraffes fight each other with their necks. Ouch

GRC 377 “Web Print and Publishing”

This class supported my minor and counted for area “F” general education credit. It was a class where we learned how to use the Adobe Suite including Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, and Dreamweaver, even using the programs to code and build our own website. It challenged me and my patience (building a website is hard!) but gave me skills that I can use to market myself for a huge range of jobs now in the future that I wouldn’t have had access too if I didn’t know basic coding. I also learned more than I ever would have guessed possible on typography. 

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My own built website

DANC 210 “Active Wellness”

This class doesn’t really have much to do with dancing despite the official course name, it’s about general physical well being, health, and fitness. It teaches everything that high  school health class should have but didn’t. I just started taking it this Spring quarter of 2018, so I’m still learning what it’s all about, but basically every class we have a lecture on different aspects of health such as fitness and exercise, and then we do a series of exercises which teaches us about the fitness in our own body. We learn about muscles, bones, and the way our bodies work in a healthy, noncompetitive, and judgement free environment. It’s a great class if you’re passionate about health and wellness or just want to learn more about how to be a generally healthy person. 

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I do this pose literally everywhere

Flame-working

This wasn’t an academic class, it was through the Cal Poly craft center. That means that we didn’t have to worry about grades or exams! It was $85 to take and we met 6 times during the quarter in two hour sessions with a student instructor. I learned so much, burned myself a couple times, and made some really beautiful creations like marbles, pendants and even sculpture pieces. Now, I’m hooked! I bought a “propane card” pass for use of the torch and propane outside of class time, as well as many more colors of glass to experiment with.

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If I had more time here I would have taken ART 102 (which seems kind of impossible to get into but fun, WVIT 210 because yes I would love to help pick grapes and make wine in a vineyard, FSN 121 which is cooking class, and the chocolate making class because cooking is fun and getting class credit for it is even more fun, BRAE 141 because why wouldn’t I need to learn how to drive a tractor, the equestrian horse riding class, and SO much more. Let me know if there are any fun classes I forgot especially if they don’t have prerequisites!!