Pismo Beach Vacations

Pismo Beach surf casting
Surf casting poles at sunset in Pismo Beach, California (San Luis Obispo Convention & Visitor's Bureau)

Pismo Beach Travel Tips

  • Those looking for tide pools visit Margo Dodd Park, where you can take the stairs down to a large tide-pool area at low tide. When the tide is higher, it's a good place for snorkeling.
  • Another tide-pool spot is the beach below Spyglass Park; after you check out the pools, head back to the bluff tops for the playground, picnic tables, and barbecues.
  • If you're visiting between late October and mid-February, look for monarch butterflies resting in the eucalyptus and Monterey pines at the southern end of North Beach Campground.
  • Surfers congregate near Pismo Beach's pier but can find waves up and down the beach. Kiteboarders take advantage of the windy months from April to August, using high wind speeds to play in the waves along eight miles of beachfront.
  • Take the steps down to the small slice of Shell Beach for a quiet spot away from crowds. You're more likely to see wildlife here than fellow beachgoers.

Pismo Beach is that old-school San Luis Obispo beach town you dream about in the dark cold of winter—wide sands that call out for bare feet, clams for digging, and a boardwalk for strolling with ice cream cones in hand. The pier draws surfers from near and far for contests on its south side, though good waves for surfing, bodyboarding, and stand-up paddling crash all along the beach. Out of the water, cruise on bikes and explore the dunes on foot or, in designated areas, by ATV. Even the food here is a throwback to classic comfort cuisine: The best-known spots have things like barbecue, clam chowder, and fish-and-chips. Blue skies are on the menu year-round, but if they're fresh out for a day, drop into the bowling alley that's just a block off the beach.


Published: 18 Jun 2010 | Last Updated: 28 Jun 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

Best Hotels in Pismo Beach

$267
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#1
Pismo Lighthouse Suites
$279-$332
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#2
SeaCrest OceanFront Hotel
$152
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#3
Sandcastle Inn
$155
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#4
Cottage Inn By The Sea

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