Five Best Events at the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival

Now in its 24th Season, the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival is recognized as one of the best in the country. For the last three years, it has been MovieMaker’s coveted list of the “Top 50 Festivals” for new and upcoming talent.

There are stellar films and movie stars and events and unique venues. In short, because there are so many fabulous things about the SLO Film Festival, it is difficult to choose just five.

But I’ll give it a go!


1. Independent Film & King Vidor Career Achievement Award


A centerpiece of the SLO Film Festival is the Independent Film & King Vidor Career Achievement Award. Legendary actors, directors, film editors, film composers, and others in the Industry, such as Morgan Freeman, Josh Brolin, James Cromwell, Alan Arkin, Elmer Berstein, Ernest Borgnine, Neil Travis, Ann Margret, to name just a few, have been awarded this prestigious award.


This takes place on Saturday night, March 17, at the historic Fremont Theater in downtown San Luis Obispo. The always informative and entertaining Ben Mankiewicz, the host of Turner Classic Movies, will be returning as the host for the evening.

2. Surf Nite


Surf Nite is so fun, so entertaining. In fact, the Boutique Hotel Collection has been a long-time Major Sponsor of the Festival and its Surf Nite. Over the years, Surf Nite has honored legendary surfers and surf filmmakers, such as Bud Browne, Gerry Lopez, Greg Noll, Nat Young, Jeff Clark, Linda Benson, and many more. This year, on Friday, March 16, the North American premiere of The Big Wave Project will be shown at the Fremont Theater. Filmmaker Tim Bonython will be traveling straight from Australia to introduce this awesome movie.


3. The Venues


The venues are one of the best parts of the SLO Film Festival. Movies are shown at the intimate Palm Theatre, the stunning and historic Fremont Theater, and Downtown Theatres—all in San Luis Obispo, as well as at the Bay Theatre in Morro Bay and the Park Cinemas in Paso Robles. Over the years, movie screening and special events have been held at a Masonic Lodge, beautiful wineries, Old West ranches, Hearst Castle, and many other remarkable places.

4. The Parties

Of course, it wouldn’t be a real festival without the parties! And the SLO Film Festival has some of the very best. Great food and wine and lively and intelligent conversations! Party Central is the Festival Tent, located directly in front of the Old Mission in downtown San Luis Obispo. All the spectacular events—except one, at Tolosa Winery—are held in the Festival Tent.


One of the many outstanding benefits for Movie Mogul pass holders is that the each day and night of the Festival they get unfettered access and all-day/night snacks, wine, beer, and other refreshments at the Festival Tent.

5. The Movies

The core of the Festival is, of course, movies. There are dozens of movies, ones you’ll never see at mainstream theaters or even on conventional streaming channels. The diversity of films is amazing. You’ll find full length movies, shorts, and documentaries on an extraordinary variety of topics. It is simply hard to convey how exciting and unique this is. So many of us are just exposed to huge Hollywood-style productions. But this is an opportunity to delve into a truly fascinating world of film that definitely expands one’s view of cinema. 

Check out the full schedule of movies and events at: slofilmfest.org. There are a variety of options for tickets and festival passes.


Don’t miss the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival. It is treasured by locals and for film fans that travel to our area to this phenomenal event. Congratulations to Executive Director, Wendy Eidson, the SLO Film Festival Board of Director, the countless volunteers, and the SLO County businesses, media outlets, and individuals that sponsor and/or support it.





Top 5 Apple Harvest Activities in San Luis Obispo County

Fall is in the air and it is the season of harvest on the Central Coast. Besides our grapes, we have a wonderful apple orchard region nearby in rural San Luis Obispo and Avila Valley. September is the ideal time to visit and experience all the apple harvest festivities that our region has to offer. Here are some of our favorite apple-tivities!


1. Avila Apple Festival – Sunday, September 18th in Avila Beach

It’s everything apple in downtown Avila Beach where the smells of fresh apple pie, caramel apples, and sweet tasting ciders from the Avila area fill the fresh ocean air. This free, fun-filled afternoon for the entire family will feature booths of local apple growers, food booths, contests, apple art, games and crafts for the kids, educational demonstrations and great local entertainment on the headliner stage. Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort is right down the road from the festival and is the perfect place to stay to enjoy an apple adventure. More information at www.avilaapplefestival.com

2. Apple Picking at Avila Valley Barn in Avila Beach

September is peak apple season at Avila Valley Barn. Be sure to visit during this time to enjoy fresh apple varieties including Golden Delicious, Braeburn, Fuji, Granny Smith, and more! Here, you can do more than just apple picking. There are hayrides, farm pets, a deli, and ice cream. Avila Valley Barn is has so much family fun to offer especially during apple season. More information at: www.avilavalleybarn.com

Picture: http://www.avilavalleybarn.com/

Picture: http://www.avilavalleybarn.com/


3. Hard Cider at Bristols Cider House in Atascadero

If you prefer a more adult apple harvest experience, be sure to visit Bristols Cider House in Atascadero. As the only cider pub on the Central Coast, they serve all of their craft ciders including their exclusive sessions like Brigstock and Magelwurzel (it’s pink because they add beet to it!) as well as Lone Madrone wines. Their tastings will take you through a selection of 5 of their current ciders and it is a great way to sample what they have to offer and how different each cider is. Be sure to visit Thursday through Saturday to enjoy locally catered food to pair with your refreshing cider. Bristols is open from 1pm to 8pm Wednesday through Sunday. They are closed on Monday and Tuesdays. More information: www.bristolscider.com

Picture: http://www.bristolscider.com/

Picture: http://www.bristolscider.com/


4. Apple Wine at Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards in San Luis Obispo

The Central Coast is, of course, very famous for our wines and wine region. So, naturally, we would pair wines with apples to make a unique apple wine. You can find this experience at Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards. Visit their tasting room and taste their Red Delicious and Golden Delicious wines. They are made using grapes and are fermented with local apple juice. They are a must try for apple fans! Enjoy their picnic grounds while you are there. Kelsey’s Tasting Room is open daily from 11am to 5:30pm. More information: www.kelseywine.com

picture: http://www.slowine.com/wineries/kelsey-see-canyon-winery

picture: http://www.slowine.com/wineries/kelsey-see-canyon-winery


5. The Apple Dumpling at the Apple Farm Restaurant in San Luis Obispo

For nearly 40 years, the Apple Farm Restaurant has been creating delicious scratch made cuisine in San Luis Obispo. One of their most famous menu items is the Hot Apple Dumpling. This amazing dessert features a whole apple that has been peeled and cored. It is filled with cinnamon and other spices, brown sugar, and butter and then wrapped in their famous pastry dough and baked in the oven. It is best eaten with two giant scoops of vanilla ice cream and topped with cinnamon sauce. It is so huge that we recommend having someone to share it with. It is the ultimate apple dessert experience on the Central Coast! More information: www.applefarm.com/dining

Top 5 Mind-Body and Spiritual Pursuits on the Central Coast

Now that we are in the thick of summer, one can find countless activities that speak to your inner self. Of course, one might ask what I mean exactly by this. Well, these explorations are about discovering hidden power and a sense of tranquility and balance.

1.       Transform yourself with Yoga, Tai Chi, and Pilates classes, offered daily in the Yoga Dome at Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort & Spa. The resort’s Yoga Dome, located on a ridge overlooking Avila Valley, is the perfect space for these energizing classes. The resort’s long-time instructors, leaders in their respective disciplines, are dedicated to ensuring each student—from beginner to advanced—achieves his or her goals.  Classes are $15 per class; or one can buy a 10-visit Yoga Pass for only $100. Classes are complimentary for hotel guests.  A complete schedule is available online at sycamoresprings.com

2.       The Zen of Paddleboarding! Rent a paddleboard in Avila Beach and discover Port San Luis and the picturesque coast. What a better way to focus your mind and body than paddling out on the ocean, with the seabirds, harbor seals, sailboats and fishing boats, and the historic wharfs…You might even see whales!  Away from your cell phone and your daily hassles—you can lose yourself and find yourself in this natural wonderland. Visit avilapaddlesports.com.

3.       Discover the magical realm at the Secret Garden. Situated Creekside in downtown San Luis Obispo, you’ll find a collection of fine teas from all over the world, as well as exotic spices and herbs, in the enchanted atmosphere of the Secret Garden. Visit: organicherbshop.com

4.       The New Camaldoli Hermitage, though slightly pass the SLO County line, is an easy 90 minute drive up the coast, on the south side of Big Sur. This is the real thing: a community of Christian monks that live a life of solitude and prayer. Fortunately, you can experience this monastic life at this stunningly beautiful retreat. Situated high on a ridge overlooking the Pacific, the monastery has an utterly simple but magnificent chapel, as well as a delightful bookstore. If you are so inclined, you can also spend the night in a humble, yet lovely, abode. The rooms have a single bed, a desk, and bathroom—and extraordinary view of the coast. There is a small kitchen a few steps away and modest meals are included.  If you choose, you can participate in mass or theological discussions.  For all the details, visit the website, appropriately named: contemplation.com

5.       What could be more uplifting, ennobling, and profound that classical music? Experience the San Luis Obispo Moziac Festival, July 13-July 26. You’ll hear the most transcendental music, including Mozart, Bach, contemporary compositions, Beethoven, theatrical pieces, and so much more, performed by full orchestras, string quartets, solo instrumentalists, singers, and actors. There are also excellent culinary events and receptions.  One of the most remarkable facets of this festival are the venues, including the world-class Performing Arts Center at Cal Poly, Chapel Hill Chapel in Shandon, private haciendas, the Old Mission, just to name a few. For festival information and to buy tickets, go to: festivalmozaic.com