You might have heard of Pismo Beach, especially if you’ve taken a road trip up PCH. But this hidden spot still remains to be a quiet, quaint beach town practically untouched on the Central Coast of California. If you feel like going somewhere a little different than a typical trip to Big Sur or Santa Barbara, then here’s how to see Pismo Beach, California.
Halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles lies Pismo Beach, a charming beach town known for its amazing wineries, stunning coves and romantic solitude on the central coast of California. With a population of less than 8,000, its still an offbeat location known mostly to Californians who visit for the day on a PCH road trip.
Whether you’re looking for a different side of California or a romantic hideaway, Pismo Beach has everything you could want for a quiet getaway.
Where to Stay
Most hotels, motels and homestays in Pismo Beach are simple. They’re all 3-star properties with beautiful views and standard amenities. And while there are plenty of places to stay, these are my recommendations from personal experience!
Pismo Beach is known for its quaint and boutique hotels, but if you’re looking for something a little larger and grandiose, head to Cliffs.
My parents retreat to this cliffside hotel every winter for their birthday. (They actually share the same birthday. If you knew my parents, this is the least weird thing.) At
One of the best parts of this hotel (aside from its panoramic ocean views and spacious rooms) is its private entrance to the famous cove of Pismo Beach.
What to See
Pismo Beach is full of secret spectacles you have to see. From natural wonders to manmade gems, here are the must-see sites you have to see to believe!
Every Fall/Winter, hundreds of thousands of orange and black butterflies seek refuge from the cold in Pismo Beach. From late October to February, the butterflies cluster into the limbs of large Eucalyptus trees, making it look like the tree itself is breathing!
Pismo Coves and Caves
Wander through the mesmerizing caves of Pismo Beach! The “Dinosaur Caves” are located on the northern end of Pismo Beach, varying in color, shape and texture. Explore the caves and witness the most incredible view as the sunbeams peek in.
Who remembers Lady Gaga’s “G.U.Y.” music video? The famous Hearst Castle has not only been used for this music video but as the home to William Randolph Hearst. This Spanish style mansion has some crazy history here and it’s definitely worth touring!
The heart of Pismo is at its pier! Here you’ll not only find the long and picturesque pier but a 60-acre-beach, sand showers, volleyball courts, children’s play equipment, benches, drinking fountains and of course restaurants and shopping nearby!
What to Do
Despite it’s size, location and population, there are a ton of things to do in Pismo Beach!
Horseback Ride Along the Beach
Perfect for a romantic vacation or animal lovers is horseback riding along the beach! Ride private trails through the Oceano Dunes and Beach as you take in amazing views of Pismo.
Kayak in the Ocean
Enjoy a more athletic and beautiful view of Pismo’s beachside. If you want to see the cove a bit more intimately, kayaking is both fun and hands-on (literally).
Rent an ATV or Buggy and Explore the Sand Dunes
If you’re an adrenaline junkie then you’ve just reached adrenaline paradise! The sand dunes that roll up and down for miles are perfect for a steady but speedy race. Just make sure you’ve got that travel insurance!
Attend Art in the Park
Right by those Dinosaur Caves is a lot more than waves! Starting in May, Pismo Beach hosts “Art in the Park” every first Sunday of the month until November. You’ll find local crafts, artisans, food and music making it the perfect outing for the family!
Between Edna Valley, Avila Valley and Arroyo Grande, there’s more than enough vineyards to visit and taste. Take a tour with 101 Wine Tours where you’ll spend an afternoon with a certified somelier as they take you to the best wine tasting rooms. (Our particular trip consisted of Sextant, Kynsi and Saucelito).
Where to Eat
Like most of Pismo Beach, dining is casual. Whether you’re looking for a Mom and Pop shop or a fine dining experience, you’ll be experiencing the chill California vibes everyone is talking about!
Old West Cinnamon Rolls
Quite possibly the most decadent rolls you will ever have! We got these bad boys as a birthday breakfast for my parents’ and it was better than any cake. Make sure to arrive early as these sweet treats are best when hot and fresh.
One of the best views of Pismo Beach can be seen at Ventana Grill. This casual yet romantic spot offers Mexican cuisine and a balcony for enjoying the sunset.
Mo’s Smokehouse BBQ
For ribs that fall off the bone and sweet BBQ sauce, you’ve gotta head to Mo’s! This comfort food not only tastes fantastic, but there’s a family vibe here that makes dining that much more like home.
If you’re looking for an upscale dining atmosphere, then it’s all about Oyster Loft. While the view might pale in comparison to Ventana, the experience will make you feel incredibly luxurious and lavish.
The Splash Cafe
Come for the California vibes, stay for the food. Known for its legendary clam chowder, The Splash Cafe is a Pismo Beach staple! Be prepared for a wait, but it’s definitely worth it.