After living in San Luis Obispo County for over a decade, I have spent countless hours finding the best locations for family photos. Four things I look for when picking a location: ease of parking, safety (no cliffs, poison oak), freedom to run around, and the ability to bring a stroller to carry all the things. So I wanted to share the most popular locations for family photos.

Laguna Lake Park

Laguna Lake Park is located right off of Madonna Exit in San Luis Obispo County. This space has a ton of variety, so you could have four different sessions all in one spot. There are fields, a tree grove, the lake, grasses, and Madonna mountain in the backdrop. There are multiple parking lots, so finding a spot is easy. Plus it is dog-friendly.

Monarch Butterfly Grove

Monarch Butterfly Grove is a special place on the Central Coast from November to February. Thousands of butterflies migrate to Pismo Beach trees for a few months each year. It is a great spot year-round as the landscape is always full, the light is always pretty, and it is stroller and wheelchair accessible. Longer family sessions can head to the boardwalk or the beach too providing lots of variety. It may just be one of my favorite locations in San Luis Obispo County.

Avila Beach / Pismo Beach

If you are willing to deal with some sand and some excited kiddos, Avila or Pismo Beach is a great spot. Avila Beach has a cute little boardwalk with shops, restaurants, ice cream, and more. And the wooden pier provides a great backdrop. Winter is our favorite time as it is less crowded and beautiful weather. Keep in mind, that kids will want to play in the sand. I say, let them be kids! So expect these photos to be a little more candid.

Pismo Beach is another great spot in San Luis Obispo County if you want more rocks and cliffs in your photos. My favorite spot is at the north end of the beach and the best time to go is at low tide. Use this website to see when low tide is when planning your session. You can park at the SeaCrest Hotel and walk down their staircase which is about 80 stairs.

Sweet Springs Nature Preserve

Sweet Springs is a great spot to use year-round. You’ll see lots of wildlife and it is flat. The preserve is open from dawn to dusk, with parking on Ramona Avenue across from the Morro Shores Mobile Home Park. Note: Dogs are not allowed so as to not disturb the wildlife. There is always great light and space for kids to explore.

SLO Train Station

The Train Station is centrally located in San Luis Obispo County at the end of Santa Rosa St & Osos. I like to use the nearby buildings as they have lots of fun texture and architecture.


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