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11 Best Things to Do in Pismo Beach, California

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Pismo Beach is a quaint beachside city with incredible, expansive vistas of the Pacific Ocean. Here is a list of the top things to do in Pismo Beach, California, as a family, solo, or with your peers.

But there’s much more to this charming town than meets the eye. From exploring the tide pools to visiting wineries and other tourist attractions in Pismo Beach, visitors can enjoy various fun activities.

Getting around Pismo Beach is a breeze as you have options like bus tours, luxury car tours, and private rides. Read on to learn some of Pismo Beach, California’s best things to do.

TL;DR

  • Most significant landmark – Pismo Beach Pier
  • Best park – Eldwayen Ocean Park
  • Free activity – Monarch Butterfly Grove
  • Activity for kids – Dinosaur Caves Park
  • Activity for adults – Oceano Dunes SVRA
  • Best shopping – Pismo Beach Premium Outlets
  • Nightlife – Pismo Bowl
  • Place to staySandcastle Hotel on the Beach

Things to Do in Pismo Beach, California

1. Dinosaur Caves Park

Dinosaur Caves Park Pismo California
Image Source: TripAdvisor

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

Looking for things to do in Pismo Beach Pier, California, with kids? Then, head over to Dinosaur Caves Park. Your little ones can explore the tide pools and hike along the cliffs.

This open space covered with lush grass has an interesting story about a concrete-plastered brontosaurus statue once visible from the highway. This statue was once an entry point into a sea cavern at the Dinosaur Caves Park.

Although the statue is no longer there, the Dinosaur Caves Park has a stunning playground that now stands in honor of the dinosaur.

The one-of-a-kind playground in the Dinosaur Park now displays figures of a gentle dinosaur and its three hollow eggs. If your kids are animal lovers, they will enjoy other figures of marine animals at the Dinosaur Caves Park.

You and your family will enjoy strolling along a paved path around the Dinosaur Caves Park perimeter while taking in the spectacular views of the sea caves. You will love the park’s stunning shoreline and other natural landscape features, making it a people’s choice oceanfront park in California.

See Related: Things to Do in Brentwood

2.  Monarch Butterfly Grove

Monarch Butterfly Grove

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

If you’re looking for free things to do in Pismo Beach, California, you should visit the Monarch Butterfly Grove. At this destination, you can see these beautiful insects up close.

Every year, between November and February, thousands of black and orange-colored monarch butterflies bring the Monarch Butterfly Grove to life. They grace it with their vibrant colors.

Monarch Butterfly Grove is their haven as they escape the freezing winters in the north. These butterflies cluster in the branches of the towering eucalyptus trees, creating a picturesque landscape.

On a nice afternoon, you will notice the butterflies flying back and forth while feasting on nectar. For nature lovers, the mesmerizing sight of these insects at the Monarch Butterfly Grove will bring peace and tranquility.

You can use the readily available telescopes at the Monarch Butterfly Grove to catch a better glimpse of the butterflies. While you can see these butterflies from other spots, the Monarch Grove is the best site as its colonies are large. Check here for tickets and tour information to visit Monarch Butterfly Grove.

3. Spyglass Park

Spyglass Park
Image by Art Poskanzer used under CC BY 2.0

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

Are you looking for the best free things to do in Pismo Beach, California, in a quiet environment? If so, you should visit Spyglass Park. The park sits on a bluff with excellent Pacific Ocean views, making it one of the perfect places to take sunset photos at Pismo Beach Pier.

Spyglass Park is open to the public and boasts a long list of amenities that make it perfect for a fun day. The four-acre park has picnic tables, benches, and BBQ pits where you can grill food. 

If you love being in the water, you’ll be happy to know that a beach stretch extends for almost a mile. While at Spyglass Park, you can sunbathe, try the tide pools, or go surfing. 

The best time to visit Spyglass Park is early or late afternoon. Such hours allow you to avoid crowds and get the perfect lighting for your sunset photos.

The best thing about Spyglass Park is that it caters to the disabled since it allows for handicapped access to the picnic area.  Interested? Book a room at the Spyglass Inn while visiting Spyglass Park.

See Related: Things to Do in Lone Pine

4. Pismo Beach Premium Outlets

Pismo Beach Premium Outlets

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

Pismo Beach is a shopper’s paradise, offering plenty of shopping opportunities. One of the best places to shop in Pismo Beach is the Premium Outlets. 

Popular stores like Kate Spade, Nike Factory Store, Tommy Hilfiger, and Levi’s can be found. With so many stores, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for at the Pismo Beach Premium Outlets.

What’s great about Pismo Beach Premium Outlets is its various services to make your shopping experience more enjoyable. There’s a food court where you can take a break and refuel before continuing your shopping spree.

If you tire from all the walking, you can take a break at one of the many benches in the outlet center. And if you have a furry friend, you don’t have to exclude them from the fun as the Pismo Beach Premium Outlets has a dog park.

Explore the brand and product selection here before visiting the outlets to get an idea of what stores you want to visit. Oxford Suites Pismo Beach is just a quick 2-minute drive from the outlets if you want to be close by.

See Related: Best National Parks in California

5. Pismo State Beach and Pier

Pismo State Beach and Pier

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

You can’t visit Pismo Beach without spending some time at the beach. Spanning 17 miles, Pismo State Beach is one of the most popular beaches in California, and it’s easy to see why.

Apart from being the only beach in California where you can drive right onto the sand, this lovely, sandy beach is well-known for its vast and flat sands, making it an excellent spot for walking, jogging, and biking.

Pismo State Beach is perfect for soaking in California’s famous sunshine. You can pose for photos at the Pismo Beach sign! And if bird-watching piques your interest, you’ll be happy to know that Pismo State Beach is home to various birds. Like the locals, you can also try passing the time at Pismo State Beach by flying a kite.

Pismo State Beach is also a great place for fishing as it’s home to many fish species. You can walk to the beach via West Grand Avenue. Pismo Beach Pier crowns Pismo State Beach and offers stunning ocean views. While walking along the Pismo pier, you can pose for a photo at the most photographed site on Pismo Beach.

And if you’re lucky, you might see some dolphins or whales swimming by as you stroll along the Pismo Beach pier. The Pismo Pier lights up at night, making the site more beautiful while ensuring that nighttime surfers are safe.

At the end of the Pismo Beach Pier, you can look back at the hills and the city behind you or at the sandy beach to get better ocean views. And if you’re looking for a place to stay while touring this destination, check out the Sandcastle Hotel on the Beach!

It is just a short 3-minute walk to the pier. If camping is more your style, be sure to secure your campsite for one of the two sites available at Pismo State Park. Alternatively, just up the road, the North Beach Campground is another great spot to camp or park your RV.

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6.   Eldwayen Ocean Park

Eldwayen Ocean Park
Image by Sergei Gussev used under CC BY 2.0

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

Eldwayen Ocean Park is one of the best places to visit in Pismo City Beach, California, if you’re looking for a spot to relax and enjoy the stunning ocean views.

This park offers plenty of benches to sit back, relax, and enjoy the Pacific Ocean breeze. Eldwayen Ocean Park is perfect for watching the waves crash against the rocks.

When the tides are low, you can access the sandy beach and watch the creatures that come to show off their beauty. The park also has a pathway leading to downtown Pismo Beach, so you can walk or run along the California coast.

Eldwayen Ocean Park is also an excellent place for fishing, as many rocks create perfect hiding spots for fish. And if you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of a whale or a dolphin swimming by.

The park is tranquil, with the verdant grass contrasting beautifully with the panoramic ocean views. If you enjoy solitude, you’ll be glad to learn that the park is never crowded. You can walk peacefully or enjoy a fun time at the picnic tables.

Consider a vacation rental here to ensure you have a reliable place to stay as you enjoy this park. This gorgeous rental is great for friends and families – and has magnificent views!

7.  Pismo Bowl

Pismo Bowl
Image source: Pismo Bowl Facebook

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

Is the outdoor weather quite bad for outdoor activities? Then, take the fun indoors by rolling some strikes at Pismo Bowl.

This bowling alley has been around for over 80 years and is a popular spot for locals and tourists. Its retro design will take you back in time, ensuring you feel nostalgia for the golden era of bowling.

With eight bowling lanes, this destination is the perfect space for public and private services, including league bowling. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have the Pismo Bowl to yourself. You can reserve all the lanes for a more private party or experience.

Apart from bowling, the Pismo Bowl has a full-service diner where everything is fresh. The menu offers various items, including delicious pizza and chicken wings.

They also have a bar if you want to enjoy a drink or two while you bowl. You will find a premium beer selection at the bar to help you relax and unwind.

See Related: Things to Do in Monterey

8. Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area

Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area
Image by Ken Figlioli used under CC-BY-SA-2.0

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

If you’re wondering what to do in Pismo Beach, California, while spending time with your four-wheel drive vehicle or dune buggies, you must head to the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. This is one of the only California beaches you can drive on the sand.

With five miles of beach access, you can take your time and enjoy the views of the Oceano Dunes. Don’t worry if you don’t have a four-wheel drive vehicle. You can still enjoy the Oceano Dunes by renting a motocross bike or an ATV. You can even go horseback riding!

The Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area is a great place to spend the day with friends or family. Nothing will beat the experience of driving in downtown Pismo Beach with the wind in your hair.

Other than dune exploring, there’s an ocean boulevard view, which brings a sense of relaxation and peace. If you’re an off-roading fan, you’re in for a treat when visiting the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area.

When you’re done, you can relax at one of the many picnic tables or explore the tide pools to see what creatures you can find. If you’re ready to explore Oceano Dunes, book your ticket here.

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9. Palisades Park

Palisades Park
Image by Chris Light used under CC Share Alike 4.0

Address: 160 Hermosa Dr. Pismo Beach, CA 93449, United States

Situated on a cliff about 100 feet above the shoreline, Palisades Park is one of Pismo Beach, California’s best places to visit. The park is an excellent spot for whale watching, as it’s a common place for these mammals to pass by.

If you love photography, this is also the perfect place to take some stunning ocean shots. The best time to visit is early morning or late afternoon when the lighting is ideal.

Besides being an excellent spot for whale watching and photography, Palisades Park is also perfect for picnics, as there are plenty of tables and benches to relax and enjoy food. There are also BBQ pits available if you want to grill your food.

Sitting on six acres of land, Palisades Park offers stunning ocean views and walking paths about a mile long. The calming atmosphere in this park is perfect for leisurely walks.

If you’re bringing your kids to Palisades Park, there is a playground where they can spend time. Adults can enjoy the basketball and tennis courts available at the park. 

If you want to visit Palisades Park, consider a vacation rental around the area. I found this perfectly located property (with private beach access) most agreeable!

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10. Central Coast Kayaks

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

One of the best things to do in Pismo City Beach is kayaking with Central Coast Kayaks. This is a great activity for visitors of all ages as it is a perfect way to explore California’s coastline and see some amazing marine life.

Central Coast Kayaks offers guided and unguided kayak tours, so you can choose what suits you best. If you want to explore independently, you can rent a kayak for a few hours.

But the guided tour is the way to go if you want someone to show you around. The guides at the Central Coast Kayaks are knowledgeable and will ensure you have a great time while kayaking.

During the tour, you will paddle through kelp forests and see some amazing sea life. You might even get to see some dolphins or other marine life.

Central Coast Kayaks have provided visitors with kayak rentals, freshwater fishing trips, and camps during typical tours. The tours are different; you can choose what you want depending on your desired experience. Be prepared to get wet and have fun when you kayak with Central Coast Kayaks.

11.  Pismo Beach Clam Festival

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

Every October, Pismo Beach comes alive with the Clam Festival. The Pismo Beach Clam Festival brings together thousands of visitors to celebrate the different clam flavors and the community supporting the industry. 

But the event is more than just a clam chowder festival. The fun doesn’t end there, as there is live music, clam-eating contests, and parades during the Pismo Beach Clam Festival.

The festival also holds cook-off demonstrations that you can attend to learn how to prepare clam chowder using the freshest ingredients. 

A kid’s zone at the festival will entertain the little ones with free face painting and other fun activities. You can shop for souvenirs at the many vendor stalls set up at the festival.

The festival also brings together local organizations around the clam capital that support the industry, and this makes it a perfect place to learn about the history and culture of Pismo Beach, California.

You won’t have to worry about getting hungry since there are food trucks and vendors to keep everyone well-fed. The fun in the Pismo Beach Clam Festival is why California City is recognized as the Clam Capital. 

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Tours in Pismo Beach

1. Pismo Beach: Surf Lessons with Instructor Top Recommendation

Pismo Beach is the perfect place for anyone to learn surfing. Here, you will be able to better understand the basics of this sport and master the art of catching a wave. Surf Lessons with Instructor - Discover the joy of with this group surfing lesson on Pismo Beach. Learn the basics of surfing from an instructor, build confidence, and develop your skills in a fun and safe environment.

2. Paso Robles Wine Adventure with pickup from Pismo Beach, CA

Take a trip to the heart of California wine country with this small-group tour. You'll go wine tasting in the Paso Robles area, traveling to at least four different wineries and enjoying a picnic lunch on the way. Best of all, you won't have to worry about appointing a designated driver in your group as you'll have a professional guide on hand to drive you around while you sample some tasty wines.

3. Pacific Coast Highway: Self-Guided Audio Driving Tour

The Pacific Coast Highway driving tour covers over 300 miles of California coastline. This self-guided audio driving tour is perfect for anyone who wants to take in the breathtaking sights and sounds of this famous and beautiful coastline on their own terms.

What is Pismo Beach, California, known for?

Pismo Beach is best known for its beautiful beaches, world-class whale surfing playground, and spectacular sunsets. With only a population of around 8,000 people, Pismo Beach is one of California’s best-kept secrets.

This little beach town is located on California’s Central Coast, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Despite its size, this destination will offer you a respite from the hustle and bustle of city life.

How to Get Around Pismo Beach

Once you know what to do in Pismo Beach, California, the next step is getting around. The city offers different transportation options; the best one will depend on what you want to do and see.

The easiest way to get around Pismo City Beach is on foot since most attractions are within walking distance. Pismo Beach, California, also has a bus route schedule operated by the Regional Transit Authority. Check it out to see whether it goes through your desired destination. 

Travel by Car

If you’re traveling with your kids or as a group, the best option is to hire a car, which allows you to move around at your own pace. You can typically find the best deals at Kayak.

Rent a Bike

If you love adventure, hiring a bike is the best way to see Pismo Beach, California. You can explore off-the-beaten tracks and find hidden gems inaccessible by car.

Biking also allows you to take in all the sights and sounds of the city without worrying about parking. Click here to hire an electric, surrey, or cruiser bike.

Getting Around as a Solo Traveler

The best way to travel around Pismo Beach solo is by bike since it’s both convenient and economical. Even if you can’t peddle, you can use an assisted electric bike to make your life easier. You can also use the bus as it stops at most of the attractions in the city.

Getting Around for Groups and Families

For convenience and cost-effectiveness, using a rental car when traveling in a group or with your family is best. A car will help you get to different destinations quickly and hassle-free.

It’s the best way to see what Pismo Beach, California, offers while ensuring you still have some energy left to hike, surf, or enjoy the nightlife.

FAQs

What are the best tourist attractions in Pismo Beach?

Some of the best tourist attractions in Pismo Beach, California, include the Monarch Butterfly Grove for a close-up look at these beautiful creatures, the Pismo Pier for fishing and stunning sunset views, and the Surf Shop for surfing lessons and a souvenir to remember your trip by.

What is the best thing to do with kids in Pismo Beach?

If you’re looking for things to do with kids in Pismo Beach, California, visit Dinosaur Park and let your kids have fun at the one-of-a-kind playground. Take the Clam Festival, where they can enjoy free face painting and watch surf competitions.

What are some things to do in Pismo Beach when it rains?

There is no need to worry about what to do on a rainy day in Pismo Beach, California. If you can’t spend time at Pismo State Beach, you can go for a wine tour or bowling at Pismo Bowl.

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