Pismo Beach: Tropical Paradise in Your Backyard

The Central Coast of California, long considered a necessary interlude on the way to somewhere else, is now catching many a travelers’ fancy. With its lush green bounty, quiet beauty, and some of the best wines you’ll ever find in California, Pismo Beach seems like a paradise of simplicity between Los Angeles and San Francisco – and is not that far away from Santa Barbara.

Whether it’s the mineral-rich hot springs or the laid-back surf culture, there’s just something in the water here. If you’ve also been cooped up in your home for the majority of 2020 – like the rest of us – a trip to Pismo Beach will cure that cabin fever. If slow, salty life calls to you, this is the perfect time to drench your senses in all that makes this beach a must-see.

Sun, Sand, and Surf

Let your inner kook out and hit the beach where there’s a friendly break regardless of your skill level. The locals are pretty chill here and while you may see some surfers close to the pier, try to paddle out about a 100 yards to either side of it to get to the stunning waves with less competition to catch them.

Water temps here never get higher than 66 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s relatively cool. You can rent surfing and kayaking gear from the nearby Pismo Beach Surf Shop, which began in 1962 and actually has a cool history. If you want to know more about the local culture and hotspots or want to sign up for a lesson, the owner Bill Bookout will be happy to indulge.

Paddle at Dinosaur Caves

Arguably, Dinosaur Caves is the best place to paddle in Pismo. This series of deep grottoes is named for the gigantic dinosaur sculpture that once stood on the bluffs. You can take a paddling tour to see dolphins, sea lions, sea otters, and whales this time of the year. Once you run out of gas, refuel with a homemade muffin and locally roasted coffee at nearby Steaming Bean. This pet-friendly café has everything: a beautiful outdoor patio, chipper baristas, and a well-stocked library.

 

Watch a Monarch Flutter

The Monarch Butterfly Grove on the north end of Pismo State Beach is a must-visit if you want to see thousands of monarch butterflies descend upon this habitat. The eucalyptus-filled grove is known to provide them natural shelter from cool ocean winds. In addition to the majestic monarchs, the grove welcomes people from across the West to witness the migration. 

The Dune Buggy Experience

The Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area within Pismo State Beach is the only place in California where you can ride a dune buggy, ATV, or motocross bike! You can set out on a spectacular adventure on the sprawling sand dunes near the beach and enjoy what locals consider “off-roading”. Who says you have to go to Dubai to experience stunning beaches à la Fast And Furious!

The Pismo State Beach stretches for miles along the coastline south of downtown and offers all the seaside activities your little heart can take: swimming, surfing, paddleboarding, and suntanning. For those looking for something unique, sand dune exploring, freshwater fishing, and clam digging can be a lot of fun.

Soul Food and More

If you decide to get away from the bustle of the shore, Price Street is worth a visit. This sophisticated retail district has some of the best restaurants and bars in the state. The Moose Deli & Brew is a dog-friendly eatery that offers mouthwatering sandwiches; Taste of the Valleys is hands-down the best wine bar to taste hundreds of Central Coast wines by the glass; Chop Street is a local-favorite for their craft beers and fish tacos. 

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