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Pismo Beach | Visit California

Pismo Beach

Wine and waves meet at the vintage Central Coast town of Pismo Beach

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Whether you’re driving from the north or south on U.S. Highway 101, there’s an unforgettable moment as you reach Pismo Beach. The coastal hills open up to reveal shimmering turquoise waters and long stretches of the San Luis Obispo County coastline, with glimpses of this classic beach town hugging the shore. Work your way toward the sands, through streets of beach cottages, surf shops, and clam chowder joints.

Pismo Beach Pier

You can’t miss the historic 1,200-foot-long Pismo Beach Pier. Built in 1928, the pier is the closest thing to a town square for Pismo Beach. Take a walk out over the waves to watch the surfers, or maybe try your hand at fishing (no license required) for red snapper, ling cod, or even the occasional thresher shark. From the pier, stroll along the oceanfront boardwalk, or just hike along the hard-packed sands; the broad, flat expanses make this one of the most walkable beaches in all of California.

Outdoor Activities in Pismo Beach

Pismo Beach’s gorgeous setting means that there are all sorts of ways to connect to nature. Saddle up for horseback riding through the dunes just south of town and all the way to the surf on guided outings with Pacific Dunes Ranch. Tours with Central Coast Kayaks take paddlers into dramatic sea caves tucked into the craggy coastline north of downtown. Or, rent a “dune buggy” or an ATV to ride the sandy terrain at Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. And while you might spot enormous gray whales from the shores, tiny creatures that weigh less than a gram put on unforgettable displays when the thousands of monarch butterflies arrive at the Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove from late October to February.

Where to Eat in Pismo Beach

An iconic beach town deserves some traditional beach food and alfresco settings, and in Pismo you’ll find all sorts of timeless favorites. Spoon up some of the silky, award-winning chowder at Splash Café. Or bite into the Latin-inspired entrees at the Ventana Grill, one of the best sunset spots in town. Of course, the sound of crashing waves and the salty air will probably put you in the mood for seafood—pair gorgeous ocean views with the bounty of the sea at Oyster Loft, or choose from reliable, long-time fixtures such as Wooly’s, the Cracked Crab, and Ada’s Fish House.

Wine Tasting Near Pismo Beach

As the gateway to the nearby wine regions of Edna Valley, Arroyo Grande, and Avila Valley, the culinary scene in Pismo Beach also has a sophisticated side. Discover an outstanding selection of local wines without leaving town at Tastes of the Valleys, which earned honors as one of the top 20 wine bars in America from Wine Enthusiast Magazine. Central Coast vintners Sans Liege Wines has a tasting room in downtown where they showcase their French-influenced vintages.

Where to Stay in Pismo Beach

Speaking of sunsets, stay at one of Pismo Beach’s oceanfront resorts or hotels and you won’t even have to leave your room to watch the sky come aglow over the Pacific. At the SeaCrest Oceanfront Hotel, open up the balcony door of your airy, contemporary room to spot surfers catching a wave—or take advantage of the direct beach access and watch the sunset right on the sand. Spoil yourself at Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa, where the indulgences include hot-stone massages and the five-course chef’s tasting menu at its Lido restaurant. Both are pet-friendly. Camping is permitted on the Pismo State Beach Campgrounds.

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