Pismo Beach evokes old-world California with its rugged coastal scenery and its emphasis on outdoor living.
Fish from the pier, hike over sand dunes or enjoy the watersports on offer; you’ll find that most activities at Pismo Beach center around the sun, sand and waves.
To see the main stretches of the coastline, take advantage of the free Avila Beach Trolley. This seasonal service operates a roundtrip from Pismo Beach Premium Outlets, a shopping center, to Port San Luis, stopping at beaches in between. Hop off the trolley and hit the sand to sunbathe, surf or swim. Kite flying and kite boarding are also popular in this area, because of the prevalent Pacific Ocean breeze.
If you visit between late October and February, be sure to check out the migrating Monarch butterflies. Every year, tens of thousands of them fly to Pismo Beach seeking respite from the colder weather further north. The colony can be found on the branches of eucalyptus and Monterey pines in the Monarch Butterfly Grove, located just half a mile (800 meters) south of Pismo Beach.
South of the township, hikers and thrill seekers have plenty of opportunities for fun at the towering sand dunes of the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Complex. This natural landmark is 18 miles (29 kilometers) long and contains dunes that stand hundreds of feet above sea level.
Go on a hike and discover the flora and fauna, such as the California red-legged frog and the California tiger salamander. Visit the Interpretative Center in Guadalupe, about 16 miles (26 kilometers) from Pismo Beach, for information on the area.
If you prefer things a bit faster, get behind the wheel of a rented quad, dirt-bike or four-wheel drive and speed around the sand drifts of the Oceano State Vehicular Recreation Area, one of the only areas in California where it is legal to drive on the beach. There are ATV rental agencies in the town of Oceano.
Pismo Beach is approximately halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The main street, Price Street, is just a short walk from the Pacific Ocean, and has many restaurants, cafés and souvenir shops.