Pismo Beach tucked away on California’s Central Coast, is a charming fishing village that serves as an ideal halfway point between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Hidden Gems In Pismo Beach CA Bars and restaurants line Pismo’s lively downtown, and the town’s long beach and massive pier provide just the right mix of urban and natural attractions to please visitors of any stripe.
After spending a year in nearby Paso Robles as a high school exchange student, my impression of California was shaped by Pismo Beach, with its wide swath of beach, lifeguard booths, palm trees, pier, and cute boutiques and cafes.
If you’re looking for a family-friendly vacation spot, a romantic retreat, or exciting nightlife, Pismo Beach has it all. To that, we can add stunning sunsets and breathtaking scenery as well as delicious food. All the makings of a picture-perfect weekend in Pismo Beach are here.
List Of 11 Best Hidden Gems In Pismo Beach CA Today
1. Enjoy the beach at Pismo Beach
The name of the city pretty much sums it up, though. Pismo Beach’s beaches are a hidden gem, boasting white sands, clear waters, marine life, and unforgettable sunrises and sunsets.
There are a number of beaches in and around Pismo Beach, but the one in the middle of town is where you’ll find the famous pier, an undeniable icon of San Luis Obispo County.
Visit the 1200-foot pier on its own for a fun time without the beach or the risk of sand in your mouth or shoes. However, if that is not a problem (and I certainly hope it is not because the beach is stunning), Whether you’re a solo traveler or not, town beaches are fantastic places to meet locals and make new friends through activities like sunbathing, swimming, kayaking, and beach volleyball.
Pismo Beach is close enough to Downtown Pismo Beach that you can walk there if surfing or fishing are your thing.
If you’re up for an adventure, head to Shell Beach, a surreal stretch of coast where the Pacific Ocean clashes with the jagged cliffs. Watching the sun go down here is like being transported to a picture-perfect movie scene (and since we are in the land of movies, just pretend you are and you will feel like you actually are!).
As long as the tide is out in Pismo Beach, Shell Beach is a great place to take the kids. There are lots of pools where they can play, and you may even see some crabs or starfish. One never knows what one might encounter; an octopus or sea cucumber could appear!
2. Splash Cafe
Splash Cafe is waiting for you if you want to eat like a local in Pismo, and if you’re looking for the best clam chowder in Pismo Beach, you’ve come to the right place, as this traditional dish has won awards at this restaurant.
All the dishes on the menu at Splash Cafe are prepared with the freshest seafood available that day. If you’re not a seafood fan but your traveling companions can’t wait to chow down, this restaurant also serves vegetarian dishes.
After you’ve had your fill here, you can go to some of Pismo Beach’s other top restaurants to try something new or to revisit some old favorites. All of the food here is fantastic.
3. Dinosaur Caves Park
The Dinosaur Caves Park in Pismo is accompanied by a hilarious legend. A Pismo local in the 1950s erected life-size prehistoric creatures by the roadside to catch the eye of passing motorists.
The city council asked him to end the project because it was unpopular with the community. Pismo’s Dinosaur Caves Park was revived many years after the initial concept was abandoned when the city adopted a new perspective.
At the very end of Shell Beach, Pismo Beach’s Dinosaur Caves serve as the city’s most popular event venue. Among the best things to do in Pismo Beach with kids, a visit here allows them to run around in the trails and play in the giant dinosaur sculptures while pretending to be the fiercest Tyrannosaurus Rex imaginable.
The trails here are popular among joggers, dog walkers, cyclists, and families because of the beautiful ocean views they provide.
4. Oceano Dunes
If you’ve been feeling like the discussion so far lacks excitement, we may have finally reached the topic that piques your interest. One of the best things to do in Pismo Beach if you’re an adventurer is to go dune buggying in the Oceano Dunes.
In Pismo Beach, you can go atving or drive a buggy for some adrenaline-pumping fun. For two hours, you’ll race across the sand and past the crashing waves. All necessary gear and equipment will be provided, so you can focus on having a good time.
5. Make it a Romantic Weekend
Pismo Beach has everything a couple could want in a romantic vacation: a long pier overlooking the ocean, dozens of adorable eateries to stop at for a bite, beach walks after watching the sunset, etc.
I know, I’m becoming overly sentimental… but that was the point!
Even if your idea of a romantic getaway isn’t as serene as a weekend in Pismo Beach’s hot springs or a spa treatment, you can still have a good time in this California city.
In addition to surfing, shopping, bar hopping, and horseback riding, hiking is a highly recommended pastime in the Pismo Beach area. You’ll be able to return to your regular life refreshed and with wonderful new memories.
If you are looking for some suggestions for a romantic dinner, here are a few:
- A breathtaking early dinner with a view of the sunset awaits you at Ventana Grill. A portion of the kitchen is open and visible to patrons, adding to the fun and inviting ambiance. Don’t forget to call ahead and make a reservation.
- Somerset Grill is a treat for the senses and a throwback to simpler times if you like fancy, wooden furniture from the 19th century. The fact that you will need to dress up for the dinner date increases its attractiveness. Vegan and vegetarian options are available, and the food is prepared with locally sourced ingredients. Reservations are encouraged.
The Vespera Resort Hotel, home to the Somerset Grill, is the ideal place to stay for a romantic weekend away.
6. Satisfy Your Sweet Cravings
Have an untreatable craving for sugar? Hello, and welcome to a piece of pastry heaven (among many, to be sure, but none the less deserving) Pismo Beach is home to two golden gems that will put your diet in jeopardy: their delicious homemade pastries and sweets.
If you’re looking for a spot to buy hip, Instagrammable, and delectable homemade donuts, look no further than Surfside Donuts. Greetings in the form of donuts can even be ordered specially made for you. This is a super sweet reward for a special someone (or for yourself!)
Address: 603 Dolliver St, Pismo Beach
Opening Hours: Mondays to Sundays: 6 AM to 11 AM
- A little known gem, Old West Cinnamon Rolls can be found in Pismo. All the local cinnamon roll aficionados go absolutely NUTS over this place. You can get a Classical Cinnamon Roll with any of the other frosting options, or you can choose to make a slew of other.
7. Monarch Butterfly Grove
Pismo Beach, California, is a popular stop for migrating Monarch butterflies from late October through February. Beautiful orange butterflies congregate each season in the branches of a grove of eucalyptus trees on State Beach, one of five locations in the state that attract thousands of butterflies each year.
At that time of year, Pismo Beach is home to a colony of butterflies estimated at 25,000 strong, making it the largest such population in the United States.
Witnessing one of these magnificent butterflies is a sight that will amaze and delight people of all ages. In a convenient spot on State Route 1 just south of the city limits, you’ll find the grove. Among the most picturesque spots in all of Pismo Beach, without a doubt.
8. Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa
Visit the Spa at Dolphin Bay Resort for the best massage in Pismo Beach and some pampering that will leave your skin glowing and your muscles relaxed, whether you’re in the area with a significant other, a group of girlfriends, or on your own.
If you’re looking to relax your body and soul, look no further than this hotel, which has a spa and also provides guided wellness rituals to help you do so.
Address: 2727 Shell Beach Rd, Pismo Beach Wednesday through Sunday, 11 AM to 6 PM
9. Go Kayaking or Surfing in Pismo Beach
Go Kayaking or Surfing, to ride the waves, surfers travel to Pismo from all over California and beyond. Anyone, from a complete beginner to a seasoned pro, can benefit from working out the kinks with a surfing instructor. We provide the surfboard and wetsuit.
Those who are confident in their abilities and prefer to go it alone can rent surfboards and kayaks from a variety of local businesses. There are many rental shops in the area, so it’s important to check out the beach and find the best one for you.
10. Stretch Your Legs And Go For A Hike
Hiking is a great option if you don’t like water activities but still want to have fun in Pismo Beach. Near Pismo Beach, you can embark on any number of stunning hikes that will get your heart pumping and reward you with breathtaking vistas. Some of the most well-liked paths are listed below.
- The Pismo Preserve is a fantastic destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers. Over eleven miles of roads and trails already exist on the ranch, and the oak forests, coastal ridges,, and sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean that make up those surroundings are all present. All fantastic spots for exploring on foot, on two wheels, or on horseback.
- One of the world’s most breathtaking coastlines can be found along the California Coastal Trail. If a hike in the Pismo Beach area is on your itinerary, don’t miss this one. Along the way, you’ll pass by sandy beaches, tide pools, impressive cliffs, forested mountains,, and bays.
- The California Coastal Trail is an under-construction, public trail network that will span over 1200 miles from Oregon to Mexico. The trail is great for a variety of outdoor pursuits, including cycling, skating, wheelchair, stroller use, and hiking and horseback riding on the bluff top dirt path. It’s one of the best things to do in Pismo Beach if you enjoy being outside.
- Hiking, strolling, and taking in nature on the Shell Beach Bluff Trail is an amazing experience. It’s only a mile long, which is good news (for sluggish hikers or those with limited mobility) given the breathtaking views of the ocean. You can also bring your dog on a leash, so it’s the perfect hiking trail for families with little ones.
11. Great American Melodrama
Oceano, just three miles south of Pismo Beach, is home to a theater called The Great American Melodrama & Vaudeville, where you can catch musicals, comedies,, and classic melodramas.
One of the best things to do in Pismo Beach at night is for some culture and entertainment after a day in the outdoors.
The theater has a posh cabaret theme and hosts a vaudeville revue with comedy, songs, and dances after every performance. It declares your e.d. numbers in the Y. When I lived in nearby Paso Robles for a year, I came here three times to see excellent performances.
FAQs Best Hidden Gems In Pismo Beach CA
What is famous about Pismo Beach?
Pismo Beach is an adorable seaside town with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. Where there are clams, there is usually plenty of wildlife like otters, and Pismo Beach is widely recognized as the Clam Capital of the World due to its abundance of clam digging spots and phenomenal Clam Festival.
Which is better Avila Beach or Pismo Beach?
Better beach and more enjoyable environment. Pismo’s central business district is a noisy and tacky tourist trap. The heart of it is undergoing extensive construction. In addition to Mr. Rick’s cocktail lounge, wine tasting, coffee shops, restaurants, etc. can be found in the downtown area of Avila.
Is Pismo Beach wealthy?
Pismo Beach, with a 2018 per capita income of $61,673, is affluent when compared to the rest of California and the United States. This sum equals about $246,692 per year, which is plenty for a family of four. However, the town of Pismo Beach is home to a wide socioeconomic range. There is a fair amount of cultural diversity in Pismo Beach.