What’s on your bucket list?

A pair of costume clad characters charge into the ocean during the 2011 Carlin Soule’ Memorial Polar Bear Dip at the Cayucos pier.
A pair of costume clad characters charge into the ocean during the 2011 Carlin Soule’ Memorial Polar Bear Dip at the Cayucos pier. Jayson Mellom Photography

Sitting on my surfboard in Morro Bay last spring, I watched as a dolphin headed in my direction, then disappeared beneath the water’s surface. I stuck my GoPro under the water, guessed where the dolphin might be, and hoped for the best.

Later, when I checked my video clips, I excitedly let out a triumphant “Wooohooo!”

I had achieved a long-sought bucket list item: Capture underwater video of a dolphin.

Up to that point, my life’s bucket list had mostly consisted of things I hadn’t actually done: Play for the Cubs, go to law school, publish a best-selling novel. But the satisfaction I garnered from that dolphin made me realize that a great Bucket List item doesn’t require an agent or the ability to hit a 95-mph fastball.

In fact, the Central Coast offers many great Bucket List possibilities.

The term “bucket list” derives from the 2006 movie of the same name, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. In the movie, two dying men create a list of things they want to do before they “kick the bucket.” In more recent years, the phrase has caught on, and the Internet is full of bucket list ideas that range from extreme (“rappel down a waterfall”) to the much more attainable (“see Dave Matthews perform live”).

Like many local residents, I’ve already checked off several local Bucket List items. But even after 16 years here, I’ve never toured the Piedras Blancas Light Station, taken the polar Bear Dip in Cayucos or checked out the wildflowers in the California Valley.

Thus began the Tribune’s SLO County Bucket List, a feature that will incorporate fun print stories with photos, video, social media and, hopefully, you, the reader.

Here’s how it will work: I’m going to compile a fun list of things SLO County residents can do in their own backyard. Then I will recruit my co-workers and readers to do some of those bucket list items and share the experience with words, photos and/or video.

But first we’ll need to create the SLO County Bucket List.

I’ve included a tentative list of 20 items here, but we’ll want many more. So send your Bucket List suggestions to, and we’ll compile a final list, which will be posted on The Tribune’s website, Then we’ll encourage everyone to participate in the Bucket List items and share their experience in our online Bucket List section. We will regularly publish Bucket List features complied by the staff, which will appear both online and in print, and we will post reader submissions online.

The SLO County Bucket List

  • Take photos at the Oceano Dunes
  • Visit the James Dean Memorial in Cholame
  • Go whale watching
  • Visit Hearst Castle during the holidays
  • Take a selfie at the San Andreas Fault
  • Try ballroom dancing
  • Take up surfing
  • Ride a trolley
  • Perform a song or comedy routine at an open mic night
  • Tour the lighthouses in Avila Beach or San Simeon
  • Visit the famous bathroom at the Madonna Inn
  • Try zip lining in Santa Margarita
  • Place a piece of gum in SLO’s Bubblegum Alley
  • Participate in a Rock to Pier run in Morro Bay and Cayucos
  • Visit a mission and learn about its history
  • Go wine tasting in the North County
  • Visit the Monarch butterflies in Pismo Beach
  • Visit an old cemetery and learn out about someone buried there
  • Dress up and take the polar bear plunge on Cayucos Jan. 1
  • Hike to the Cal Poly “P”