5 Best Museums on the Central Coast

Discover the fascinating and vibrant culture and history of San Luis Obispo County at these wonderful locations. Truly there is something for everyone—the Old West, the legendary trains, fun and educational children’s museums, extraordinary regional artists, classic military aircraft and vintage cars, and so much more.


1. San Luis Obispo Railroad Museum

The storied history of trains in the United States, California, and, in particular, on the Central Coast, is told in such compelling ways at this museum. It has collected, restored, and displays railroad artifacts, photographs, and important documents. It also has an enchanting 1,200 square foot operating model train, historic railroad equipment, and many other relics of the golden era of railroads.  


1940 Santa Barbara Ave, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401



2. Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo Children’s Museums

These two museums will delight children—and the child in us all. The mission of these museums is to “learn through play.”   And they accomplish this extraordinarily well with their numerous, highly creative exhibits, and interactive experiences. They shouldn’t be missed!


Paso Robles Children’s Museum

623 13th Street, Paso Robles, CA 93446



San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum

1010 Nipomo St. San Luis Obispo, CA 93401



3. Pioneer Museum

To this day, the Old West continues to capture the imagination of people, not only in the United States, but throughout the world. You’ll find a tiny 19th century jailhouse, a one-room prairie schoolhouse, with its little desks, inkwells, and chalkboards, a saddle crafted by the famous Edward Bohlin, a rickety chuck wagon, historic carriages, and cowboy paraphernalia galore. 


2010 Riverside Ave., Paso Robles, CA 93446



4. San Luis Obispo Museum of Art

This true gem of a museum is often overlooked. It absolutely shouldn’t be. It presents an astonishing array of exceptional contemporary California artists—including a strong presence of Central Coast ones. It “offers a variety of original, ever-changing exhibitions of painting, sculpture, fine craft, printmaking, and photography.” And it has a great gift shop.


1010 Broad Street, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401



5. Estrella Warbird Museum & Woodland Auto Display

This rather unconventional museum features an incredible collection of restored and preserved military aircraft and memorabilia “about those flew and worked on military aircraft.” On the grounds of the Warbird Museum, you’ll find the 17,000 square foot Woodland Auto Display with its Model Ts, race cars, luxury automobiles, roadsters, vintage motorcycles, and even a replica of a 1940's gas station.


4521 Dry Creek Road, Paso Robles, CA