San Luis Obispo County’s Pismo Beach exudes a small-town feel with stunning ocean views. Things To Do In Pismo Beach CA One of the most popular tourist attractions in the area, the historic Pismo Beach Pier, extends 1,200 feet into the ocean and connects to a downtown district that’s lightly perfumed with the aroma of locally sourced seafood specialties.

Things To Do In Pismo Beach CA
33 Best Things To Do In Pismo Beach CA (California) 22

Pismo Beach, located north of the pier, has a laid-back atmosphere and natural surroundings. Sea stacks dot this part of the coast and can be seen from places like Palisades and Spyglass Parks at Paso Robles. 

Visitors can get a sense of a well-rounded vacation experience by taking advantage of the many amenities available, which include everything from motor lodges to restaurants and photo spots at Paso Robles. 

These must-see sights and activities in Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo County, will make your next trip even more enjoyable.

List Of Things To Do In Pismo Beach CA

1. Pismo City Beach

Pismo City Beach
Pismo City Beach

One of Pismo’s best-known beaches, Pismo City Beach, can be found just outside the city’s central business district. 

The Pismo Beach Pier, the city’s most recognizable landmark, juts out into the ocean here. It’s also a popular walking path for fishing, strolling, and photographing the beach on either side of the road at dolphin bay resort.

It’s a bustling area of restaurants and bars just across the street from the pier. Throughout the day and into the night, this trendy area is in high demand. You can get around the rest of Pismo Beach without having to get in your car thanks to the Pismo Beach Promenade downtown pismo.

This activity has long been popular, but new regulations have emerged in an effort to protect the clam population, and those who want their hands on clams must first secure an appropriate license. Other popular beach activities include sand volleyball, kiteboarding, and long walks along the pristine shores of the beach.

To get to the quieter north end of the beach, a large wooden staircase owned by the city can be found on Wilmar Avenue.

Address: 760 Mattie Rd, Pismo Beach, CA 93449, United States

2. The Dinosaur Caves Park

The Dinosaur Caves Park
The Dinosaur Caves Park

Pismo Beach’s crown jewel natural space, this 11-acre public park has a fascinating past involving a large concrete dinosaur that was visible from the highway. The Dinosaur Caves Park history This city-owned space no longer has the novelty dinosaur, but the beautiful shoreline and natural features still make it one of the county’s most popular oceanfront parks at grover beach.

The park’s perimeter is encircled by a paved path that ascends to the top of a rugged bluff with expansive views of the sea caves below. Park visitors can also enjoy a playground area with dinosaur and sea creature play structures and “dinosaur eggs,” which kids can crawl into, at this oceanfront park t downtown pismo beach.

Shell Beach, Pismo Beach, California, is home to Dinosaur Park, a zoo where visitors can learn about prehistoric creatures. There is also an amphitheater, a reception area, and a ceremony area with a view of the ocean that can be rented for events.

Address: 2701 Price St, Pismo Beach, CA 93449, United States

3. A Monarch Butterfly Grove

A Monarch Butterfly Grove
A Monarch Butterfly Grove

Located on the north end of Pismo State Beach, just south of the Pismo Pier, is the Monarch Butterfly Grove. During the monarch butterfly’s annual migration, it’s a must-see stop. 

This natural refuge is literally overrun by monarch butterflies between November and February, when they arrive by the tens of thousands to lay their eggs.

An incredible natural cycle and demonstration of long-distance migration can be seen at the Monarch Butterfly Grove in California. As a bonus, it’s a family-friendly activity that’s both free and fun.

Address: 400 S Dolliver St, Pismo Beach, CA 93449, United States

4. State Beach Pismo

State Beach Pismo
State Beach Pismo

State Beach Pismo has miles of sand and a wide range of seaside activities just south of downtown. It’s a great location for beach activities like surfing and swimming, as well as more unusual activities like freshwater fishing and sand dunes exploration at ocean boulevard.

Off-road and personal vehicles are permitted on the beach at Pismo State Beach, which is the only one in the state that allows this. 

All types of motorized vehicles are welcome in the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA), which includes numerous sand dunes of varying sizes and shifting patterns.

Pismo State Beach has two campgrounds, one for tents and the other for RVs, and the Oceano Campground, just south, is popular with motorsports fans. The Monarch Butterfly Grove, which is also located within the park, is closer to downtown at the North Beach Campground, which is quieter.

Address: Pismo Beach, CA 93449, USA

5. Spyglasses Park

Spyglasses Park
Spyglasses Park

Spyglass is a small park in a residential area with a view of the ocean. You can play lawn games in the large grassy area with playground equipment, barbecue pits, and picnic tables. 

The park’s mile-long beach, where visitors can surf, sunbathe, and explore tide pools, is the park’s real draw Santa Barbara.

The trail to the beach is a steep one, and it could be dangerous if you’re not careful. When visiting the beach at Spyglass Park, it is a good idea to bring a tide chart with you.

Address: Spyglass Dr, Pismo Beach, CA 93449, United States

6. Oceano Dunes

Oceano Dunes
Oceano Dunes

Pismo State Beach’s southernmost point is Oceano Dunes. As the only place in California where you can drive your car to the beach, it has been designated a State Vehicular Recreation Area at Central Coast Kayak.

ATVs, dune buggies, and motocross bikes are popular modes of transportation for traversing the expansive sand dunes, as they are less likely to become stuck. Oceano Dunes is a popular tourist destination because of its status as a Specially Designated Natural Area (SVRA).

An excellent place for first-time visitors or anyone interested in the shifting environment is the Oceano Dunes Visitor Center.

Address: 1001 Cabrillo Hwy, Oceano, CA 93445, United States

7. Avila Beach

Avila Beach
Avila Beach

Just north of Pismo Beach, Avila Beach is a small, unincorporated community that can be accessed via Highway 101. San Luis Obispo Bay’s shoreline provides a number of scenic places to stop and take in the view.

The Avila Pier and the adjacent shopping and dining district are the focal points of many visits to Avila Beach like a monarch grove. 

On either side of the pier, a stunning beach scene unfolds, and the storefronts give off a lively vibe. There are also several hands-on exhibits at the nearby Central Coast Aquarium.

All of Avila Beach’s coastline is worth a short detour. Fisherman’s Beach and Old Porte Beach offer seaside parking to the west. Smuggler’s Cave and Pirate Cove’s Beach are both worth a visit if you’re coming from Pismo Beach (clothing optional).

Address: 256 Front St, Avila Beach, CA 93424, United States

8. Pismo Beach Premium Outlets

Pismo Beach Premium Outlets
Pismo Beach Premium Outlets

There is a direct route from the 101 to Pismo Beach Premium Outlets in the town’s southeast. Name-brand deals and discounts of up to 40% are available at nearly 40 participating stores. Most stores at Pismo Beach Premium Outlets are open seven days a week and have plenty of parking at Central California.

The Nike Factory Store, Kate Spade, and Tommy Hilfiger stores, as well as Levi’s, OshKosh B’gosh, and IZOD, are often enough of a draw to warrant a trip.

Address: 333 5 Cities Dr, Pismo Beach, CA 93449, United States

9. The Avila Hot Springs

The Avila Hot Springs
The Avila Hot Springs

It’s just a short drive from Avila Beach, but Avila Hot Springs has something for everyone. Accommodations, recreation, and swimming are all available here just a short drive from Pismo Beach. 

The water’s heat and therapeutic properties are what draw people to this free public hot springs facility.

Avila Hot Springs’ 400-square-foot mineral pool, which is heated to a muscle-soothing 104 degrees Fahrenheit, is a great place to cool off in the summer.

It’s possible to visit Avila Hot Springs every day of the week. There are day passes available, as well as dry camping and cabins for those who want to stay overnight. 

For those who plan to stay for an extended period of time, there are also long-term cabin rentals available. In addition to swimming lessons, couples massages, and bike rentals for the Bob Jones Trail, Avila Hot Springs offers a variety of other services.

Address: 250 Avila Beach Dr, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405, United States

10. Palisades Park

Palisades Park
Palisades Park

Located six miles north of downtown, Palisades Park offers stunning views of the ocean. The park is popular for picnics and leisurely strolls because of its well-kept appearance and mile-long pedestrian path.

Tennis courts are available for the public to use, and the park’s playground is a popular destination for families with young children. To accommodate large groups, Palisades Park offers reserved picnic tables and barbecue pits.

Address: Florin St, Pismo Beach, CA 93449, USA

11. Bob Jones Trail

Bob Jones Trail
Bob Jones Trail

Bob Jones Trail this paved bike path, also known as the City to the Sea Trail, is a great way to spend an afternoon exploring the county of San Luis Obispo. 

After beginning near the bike-rental area at Avila Hot Springs, the three-mile path follows San Luis Obispo Creek all the way to Avila Beach. Passing through a golf course, the trail ends near the Avila Beach Pier after a scenic pedestrian bridge crossing.

Address: 443 Front St, Avila Beach, CA 93424, United States

12. Ebb Tide

Ebb Tide
Ebb Tide

Ebb Tide is a charming coastal park in the Shell Beach area of San Luis Obispo with views of the bay. The trailhead is located in a cul-de-sac on Shell Beach Road, and parking is limited. Large parking lots on the other side of Shell Beach Road provide additional options.

An open grassy area between a few houses serves as the park’s route. Every vantage point offers a stunning view of the ocean. There are many people who come here to relax and enjoy the sun.

Ebb Tide Park’s beach is reached via a narrow stairwell. Walking along this long and narrow beach is easy thanks to the rocky outcrop at its southern end, which provides access to tide pools. On the weekends, Ebb Tide sees a fair amount of traffic, but it’s still a relatively quiet area of the coast.

Address: 319 Ebb Tide Ln, Pismo Beach, CA 93449, United States

13. Eldwayen Ocean Park

Eldwayen Ocean Park
Eldwayen Ocean Park

Eldwayen Ocean Park, located in the Shell Beach neighborhood just a few blocks from Spyglass Park, is another well-liked gathering spot. 

Located on a bluff overlooking the ocean, it is more than a mile long and features a well-maintained path. A sand beach with tide pools can be reached via a flight of stairs within the park.

Address: Ocean Blvd, Pismo Beach, CA 93449, United States

14. Pismo Beach Clam Festival

Pismo Beach Clam Festival
Pismo Beach Clam Festival

The Pismo Beach Clam Festival attracts thousands of visitors each year to the city’s beaches and downtown streets. 

The Pismo Beach Clam Festival is celebrating its 73rd year of festivities this year, honoring Pismo Beach’s natural bounty and unofficial pastime. Much of the festival is defined by live music, three days of community spirit, parades, surf competitions, and clam digs.

Address: 581 Dolliver St, Pismo Beach, CA 93449, United States

15. Pismo Beach Pier

Pismo Beach Pier
Pismo Beach Pier

The Pismo Pier, also known as the Pismo Beach Pier, is a must-see when visiting Pismo Beach. Pier Plaza is home to a 1,400-foot-long wooden pier that extends into the Pacific Ocean.

As you stroll along the pier, you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of the ocean and watch for surfers and seabirds. You can get a great view of the city, hills behind, and the beach from the end of the pier! The Pismo Beach Pier offers fishing as well.

We walked the pier early in the morning, when only a few locals were out for their morning jogs. At sunrise, the light is ethereal. Spend some time on the pier at dusk, when it’s illuminated.

Address: 100 Pomeroy Ave, Pismo Beach, CA 93449, United States

16. Pismo Beach Sign

Pismo Beach Sign
Pismo Beach Sign

The famous Pismo Beach sign can be found at the Pismo Pier Plaza. For Instagram photos, the seven-foot-tall letters spelling out Pismo Beach are ideal. At night, they are illuminated.

The plaza pavement is lovely, and you can stroll the plaza while taking in the ocean and beach views. Playgrounds for whale-surfing overlook the beach.

The Pismo Pier Plaza is a great place to be at sunset, especially when the sky is colorful and the Pismo Beach sign is framed by it. Enjoy the sunset while savoring street food and drinks here!

Address: 2575 Price St, Pismo Beach, CA 93449, United States

17. Margo Dodd Park

Margo Dodd Park
Margo Dodd Park

Margo Dodd Park, a bluff-top park adjacent to Dinosaur Caves Park, offers stunning ocean views. Both parks can be enjoyed if you give yourself enough time.

The gazebo at Margo Dodd Park is available for rent for weddings and other special events. If you’re into landscape photography, there are some stunning rock formations off the coast.

In order to capture the many birds that flock to the rocks, bring binoculars or a zoom lens. The hundreds of pelicans’ antics can still be seen with the naked eye!

Address: Ocean Blvd, Pismo Beach, CA 93449, United States

18. Pismo Preserve

Pismo Preserve
Pismo Preserve

The nearly 900-acre Pismo Preserve is a haven for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, located just above Pismo Beach in California. Over 11 miles of trails and ranch roads currently exist in the preserve.

The preserve offers hiking, biking, and horseback riding opportunities. With stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and the coastline, trails meander through beautiful oak woodlands or along coastal ridgelines.

Address: 80 Mattie Rd, Pismo Beach, CA 93449, United States

19. Camp At Pismo State Beach

Camp At Pismo State Beach
Camp At Pismo State Beach

Camping is an option at Pismo State Beach, where there are two campgrounds. These two popular Central Coast campgrounds require reservations during peak times.

A campfire pit and tent camping are available at North Beach Campground. From the campground, you can walk to the beach and see monarch butterflies. The Oceano Campground has RV and tent camping options, as well as restrooms and showers. From the campground, you can walk to the beach.

Address: 555 Pier Ave, Oceano, CA 93445, United States

20. Giuseppe’s Cucina Italiana

Giuseppe’s Cucina Italiana
Giuseppe’s Cucina Italiana

Despite the abundance of seafood on offer in Pismo Beach, we’re partial to an Italian restaurant! Every time we travel to Pismo Beach, we make a point of eating at Giuseppe’s Cucina Italiana.

They also serve fresh seafood, including clam chowder in the Pismo style and clam pizza. Every pizza and pasta dish we’ve ever had from this restaurant has been delicious (and we’ve tried quite a few!). Sand dabs and meatballs are two of the best dishes on the menu.

They also have a location in San Luis Obispo, where we’ve eaten many times. On the weekends, the Pismo Beach location serves lunch and dinner, and is open for business every day.

Address: 891 Price St, Pismo Beach, CA 93449, United States

21. Tastes Of The Valley

Both Arroyo Grande and Edna Valley have excellent vineyards for wine tasting if you have time, but if you prefer to sample local wines in town, you can do so.

Tastes of the Valleys, a wine bar and shop on Price Street, has been praised for its excellent service and selection. Wines from the Central Coast, both red and white, can be found here. Have a drink or a few.

Address: 911 Price St, Pismo Beach, CA 93449, United States

22. Price Historical Park

Price Historical Park, which protects the former home of Pismo Beach founder John Michael Price, is a must-see for history buffs.

There were no other occupants of this home except John and his wife, who remained there until their deaths. The house was eventually abandoned and decrepit until it was restored. An orchard and a windmill are among the other historic structures in the park; there are also displays illuminating life as it was during the Gold Rush years of Pismo Beach.

Address: 100 Rancho Pismo Dr, Pismo Beach, CA 93449, United States

23. Pismo Bowl

Go bowling at Pismo Bowl when the weather isn’t ideal for outdoor activities! A family has owned and operated the all-ages establishment since it opened in 1939.

Its retro atmosphere and design give it a sense of grandeur. It has eight lanes, so it can accommodate everyone from beginners to advanced bowlers, as well as a variety of leagues and an arcade. A private party or just a more intimate experience is possible at Pismo Bowl if you reserve all eight lanes.

Address: 277 Pomeroy Ave, Pismo Beach, CA 93449, United States

24. Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area

A beautiful part of Pismo State Beach is the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. This place is so unique and entertaining that it merits its own listing! It’s the only place in California where you can drive your car on the beach without fear of being ticketed.

If you don’t have a four-wheel drive vehicle, consider renting an ATV, motocross bike, or dune buggy. Pismo Beach’s driving on the sand is a popular pastime. If you’re looking for an adventure-filled playground, this is it.

Address: 100 Pier Ave, Oceano, CA 93445, United States

25. Central Coast Kayaks

Kayaking is a fantastic activity to take part in along the California coastline. That’s why Central Coast Kayaks is a great choice for things to do in Pismo Beach. The company has been offering top-notch adventures and kayak tours in the beautiful local waters since its inception in 1993.

You can rent a kayak or paddleboard from Central Coast Kayaks in addition to traditional tours. To get up close and personal with marine life, you’ll be given the opportunity. There is something for everyone on these tours, whether you’re looking for relaxation or excitement.

Address: 1879 Shell Beach Rd, Pismo Beach, CA 93449, United States

26. North Beach Campground

Camping is a great way for outdoor enthusiasts to get a taste of a new location. Camping in Pismo Beach is restricted to specific areas, which can be frustrating at first. North Beach Campground is designed for just that!

If you’re looking to get away from it all while still being close to the heart of the city, this beach is for you! North Beach Campground is a well-kept campground with private showers and heated water, but it retains a sense of authenticity. It’s one of the few places in Pismo Beach where dogs are allowed, so bring your furry friend along.

Address: 399 S Dolliver St, Pismo Beach, CA 93449, United States

27. The Surf Shop at Pismo Beach

What can you do in California that’s both entertaining and educational? The Pismo Beach Surf Shop isn’t just a place to buy surf gear. It’s a great location for a variety of exciting and fun tours that include a wide range of activities.

The Central Coast of California offers numerous opportunities for outdoor recreation, including kayaking, surfing, paddleboarding, boogie boarding, and fishing. Price Street has it open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Kayaking and surfing are just two of the water sports taught at Pismo Beach Surf Shop.

The staff is welcoming and well-versed, so you get the best of both worlds: expertise and security. To ensure you’re in good hands, the shop has been providing these lessons since 1962. Adventurers of all skill levels can choose from a variety of challenging tours.

Address: 470 Price St, Pismo Beach, CA 93449, United States

28. Cracked Crab

An excellent seafood restaurant close to the boardwalk, the Cracked Crab is the place to go. The atmosphere is welcoming and clean, and the concept is enticing enough.

A mallet and some crab crackers are all you get with a bucket of cooked shellfish from this establishment. I think that’s the freshest it can possibly be at this point.

Address: 751 Price St, Pismo Beach, CA 93449, United States

29. Oyster Loft

An upscale seafood restaurant, Oyster Loft specializes in fine dining and regional seafood dishes. It offers indoor and outdoor dining options, both with high-quality culinary techniques and friendly service.

Seafood specialties include grilled octopus with orange glaze, pan-seared scallops, oven-roasted sea bass, crab cakes, pan-seared oysters, and wagyu steak and lobster. Desserts like creme brulee and berry corn shortcake are also available.

Address: 101 Pomeroy Ave, Pismo Beach, CA 93449, United States

30. Surfside Donuts

Customers at Surfside Donuts, a downtown donut shop, wait in line just like those at Splash Cafe! You’ll need to get there early if you want to get one.

Strawberry clamshell and salted caramel are just two of the many flavors available. It’s a great family-friendly restaurant, with gluten-free and vegan options available.

Address: 603 Dolliver St, Pismo Beach, CA 93449, United States

31. Hearst Castle

If you’re looking for something to do this weekend but don’t mind driving a short distance from Pismo Beach, here are some ideas.

Within an hour of the city, you’ll find the historic Hearst Castle, which is both unusual and fascinating. William Randolph Hearst, a sensationalist journalist with sway in the media, lived here.

Address: 750 Hearst Castle Rd, San Simeon, CA 93452, United States

32. Farmers Market

Checking out a local market is one of the best things to do in Pismo Beach. Shopping where the locals do is the best way to experience the culture of the place you’re visiting.

The Farmers Market on the Pismo Beach Pier is the primary location for this endeavor. If you’re looking for locally sourced, seasonal produce, delicious food, and a few crafts, this is the place to be.

Address: Pier, Pismo Beach, CA 93449, United States

33. Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort and Spa

Although it is located outside of town, the Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort and Spa is proud to once again call San Luis Obispo it’s home. If you’re in need of some serious pampering and relaxation, it’s well worth the trip.

Avila Beach Resort owns and operates the spa, which is known for its rejuvenating packages. Late-night “treatments” are available, too, so you can relax under the stars! Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort and Spa has 23 baths. It’s entirely up to you whether you want to wear a bathing suit or not.

Address: 1215 Avila Beach Dr, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405, United States

FAQs On Things To Do In Pismo Beach CA

Pismo Beach is famous for what?

The World’s Clam Capital. It’s hard to beat the panoramic views of the Pacific from Pismo Beach, a sleepy seaside town on California’s central coast. Pismo Beach is well-known as the “Clam Capital of the World,” and the annual “Clam Festival” is a highlight of the town’s clam-digging history. Wildlife, such as otters, can be found in abundance wherever clams are dug up.

Is a trip to Pismo Beach well worth it?

You can’t go wrong with a visit to Pismo Beach, a seaside town that’s both beautiful and charming. There’s enough to keep you occupied for a long time.

Pismo Beach or Morro Bay: which is better?

As opposed to Pismo Beach, I always find Morro Bay to be more peaceful and less crowded. For starters, Morro Bay is not on Highway 101, the major north-south thoroughfare connecting San Francisco and Los Angeles that runs from Big Sur to San Luis Obispo.

How much better is Pismo Beach compared to the less crowded Avila Beach?

There is more sunshine and warmth in Avila (especially during the summer months) and a beautiful drive through the woods to get there. However, there are more options for lodging in Pismo. Pismo is the place to go if you enjoy strolling along long stretches of sugar-white sand beach. Go to Avila, if you’re a true sunbather.

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