Outside Magazine says community, climate makes San Luis Obispo shine

Jun 15, 2017

San Luis Obispo is named one of the top 25 "Best Towns Ever" by Outside magazine in a recent cover story. Jonah Ogles, an editor for Outside, spoke to KCBX about what gave the SLO the honor.

KCBX: Thanks for joining us, Jonah.

OGLES: Of course.

KCBX: So lists like this are very popular among internet communities. But how did Outside specifically determine which towns are the best?

OGLES: You know, we've been doing these types of issues for a long time. I mean they go back 15-20 years. And we're always sort of struggling to find new and interesting ways to talk about really great places. And the way we decided to do it this year is.. we thought OK, after all these years of us trying to figure this out, why don't we go to other experts? So we put together what we called the 'Council for Better Living'. So we had four people with varying backgrounds and areas of expertise. And we talked to them... 'Okay, if you are going to you know pick up and move today, which cities would be on your short list? And which ones do the thing that you're an expert in very well?' So we talked to someone who looks at issues of social and economic and environmental justice. We talked to somebody who had a lot of expertise with city bike paths and also trails for mountain bikes and road riding in places. We talked to a brewer, and then we talked to an author who specializes in kids in nature, and communities and nature. So we tried to really get a comprehensive look at these cities. And what we were surprised to find is that actually a lot of them kept recommending the same places, which says to us - those are places that are doing things right.

KCBX: What sets San Luis Obispo apart from other cities and towns in America?

OGLES: Well I mean... certainly you guys have the climate advantages. You know, it's when you compare it to like Grand Rapids, Michigan...I'm from that state, nd while I love it, you know that the climate is maybe less than friendly for several months out of the year. Whereas for you guys, it's just like perfect 'play temperatures' year round. But also the thing that really impressed me as we dug into San Luis Obispo and our writer researched... it was just the sense of community that you guys have there. I mean, obviously location is going to dictate climate and the access that you guys have, which is truly amazing. But we also want these places to be towns that, you know, our readers, if they wanted to, could actually pick up and move there and find community. And find they really felt like they belong. We hear from readers every year, actually. 'Hey, 20 years ago I actually moved Town X because you guys recommended it.' And certainly San Luis Obispo seemed very livable. It seemed like the place he would want to be taking your kids on a bike ride down to the farmer's market, or going to the drive-in on the weekend. And it just seemed like a place that you wanted to be a part of that community.