Tuition (in-state)
$19,071 ($8,724)
Admission Difficulty
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4 College Junior

Nightlife: You have the ability to make your nightlife how you want it to be. If you don't want to go out on a saturday or just chill, it's totally accepted, but if you choose to go out you can definitely find somewhere to go.

College Junior

Nightlife: I don't do college parties.

4 College Junior

Nightlife: Parties usually just happen on the weekends and only in one area.

3 College Sophomore

Nightlife: Most friends that go to other schools say that the parties are too spread out. Meaning that there is no center where the parties happen. A lot of the parties are on Hathway, but other parties could be on the other side of the train tracks.

5 College Senior

Nightlife: The downtown area is very fun. Numerous bars too choose from all within walking distance from each other and cover charges are minimal


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Rankings View more rankings . . .

  • 171st
    Biggest Party Schools
  • 575th
    Best Drink Prices
  • 1204th
    Tamest Party Scenes

Student Author OverviewWhat's This?

Amy Herman
Burbank CA
Liberal Studies
Grad Year
View all previous student authors

In comparison to San Francisco, LA, and San Diego (which collectively draw in a large percentage of the student population), San Luis Obispo's nightlife is a bit quieter. Few places are open around the clock, and not many more are open past 10 p.m. Most of the bars are restaurants by day, so they close after dinner to convert into San Luis Obispo's social scene for the 21-and-up crowd. Not 21? There are lots of activities sponsored by ASI (student government), University Housing, and different clubs on campus. Thursday nights are filled with two back-to-back, fun activities: farmers' market and line dancing. Both draw enough people to pack the venues each week, and everyone is sure to run into at least half of the people they know at either event. If this isn't your scene, then the Madonna Inn hosts somewhat classier nights with ballroom dancing.

Generally, Cal Poly students have a diverse range of interests. Outdoor activities are popular, so you can go rock climbing, play miniature golf, or go to the drive-in. There are a few cute coffee shops, which boast open mic nights and concerts. Linnaea's and Kreuzberg cafés are two of the more popular ones downtown. As far as the party scene goes, it's there as much as you look for it. It's easy to find and easy to avoid. You don't have to look far for a party if you know someone who knows someone.

Facts & Statistics

Primary Areas with Nightlife
Student Favorites
  • The Graduate
  • Tortilla Flats
Other Places to Check Out
  • Black Sheep Bar & Grill
  • Buffalo Bar & Grill
  • Cielo
  • Creekside Brewing Co.
  • Creeky Tiki
  • Firestone Grill
  • Koberl at Blue
  • Spike's Pub
  • Woodstock's Pizza
Favorite Drinking Games
  • Beer pong
  • Card games
  • Century Club
  • Kings
  • Power Hour
  • Quarters
Useful Resources for Nightlife
  • Local newspapers
Closing Time
2 a.m.
Cheapest Place to Get a Drink
At homeā€”the majority of Poly students prefers to buy their own alcohol and drink before or after going somewhere. House parties are bigger than bar hopping.
Organization Parties
Most clubs or campus groups use campus facilities to throw parties or book a room at a local restaurant. Partying at Poly is more of a spur-of-the-moment affair that entails a group of friends getting together to go out.

Club ListingsWhat's This?

The Graduate

This is both a restaurant and the Central Coast's largest nightclub, with dancing Tuesday through Saturday. It is probably the most popular place to go, especially Thursdays, which is country music night. Eight bucks gets you through the door.

990 Industrial Way

San Luis Obispo

(805) 541-0969

Bar ListingsWhat's This?

Mother's Tavern

Both a restaurant and bar, Mother's has a live DJ after 9 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, plus karaoke after 9 p.m., Sunday and Monday. This place won New Times' "Best Bar" award tons of times.

725 Higuera St.

San Luis Obispo

(805) 541-8733

The Shack

With happy hour every day from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., the Shack is the place to go. Watch any game on TV and drink a good draft beer, including Pozo Pale Ale, Sam Adams Boston Lager, and Natty Lite.

763 Foothill Blvd.

San Luis Obispo

(805) 546-8623

SLO Brew

The brewmaster has never proved wrong here. You can get your drinks in pints, pitchers, four-beer samplers, or six-beer samplers. Watch for daily specials including kegs and eggs on Sunday mornings and free tacos on Fridays.

1119 Garden St.

San Luis Obispo

(805) 543-1843

Bull's Tavern

This bar is kind of a dive, but cheap drinks and plenty of Cal Poly students make this a happening place.

1032 Chorro St.

San Luis Obispo

(805) 541-2217

Frog & Peach Pub

It is a neat pub with a huge backyard and pretty good rock, punk, and metal bands.

728 Higuera St.

San Luis Obispo

(805) 595-3764

The Library

Dancing and drinking, the Library has it all. It is usually packed with Cal Poly students because it's cheap and close to campus. Go early, eat, and listen to the live bands play.

723 Higuera St.

San Luis Obispo

(805) 542-0199

What to Do if You're Not 21What's This?

The Graduate

Anyone over 18 can get into the Grad, and anyone at all can go to a house party. You won't miss out on the social scene at all if you aren't old enough to drink.

990 Industrial Way

San Luis Obispo

(805) 541-0969

Student Polls

Rate the off-campus bar and club scene on the following topics    Based on 98 responses

Very poor
  • Convenience to get to
  • Cover charges
  • Distance from campus
  • Drink prices
  • Fun
  • Variety/number of options

What's the best way to get to the popular nightlife spots?    Based on 106 responses

  • 3% There are no good options.
  • 32% Use a designated driver.
  • 3% School-provided shuttles/buses.
  • 8% Public transportation.
  • 2% Taxis.
  • 52% Walk.

What is the biggest party event of the year?    Based on 25 responses

  • 56% Wow week
  • 16% Halloween
  • 16% St. Fratty's Day
  • 8% Farmers market
  • 4% Track Conference Party

What is the party scene like on campus?    Based on 111 responses

  • 10% Parties? What parties?
  • 3% Good parties are few and far between.
  • 49% Some decent frat/house parties, weekends only.
  • 36% Lots of options Wednesday-Saturday.
  • 3% Tons of raging parties almost any night of the week.

Where can you find the best parties?    Based on 19 responses

  • 42% Friends' parties around town
  • 38% Near the Greek houses
  • 21% Only parties if you are in greek life or sports



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