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The 20 Best Things to Do in Pismo Beach for First Timers

Pismo City Beach

Pismo Beach is a city that stretches along the Central Coast of California. Although the area is best known for its beaches and wineries, there are fun and interesting activities and attractions to enjoy that will suit all ages and interests. It is better if you plan your visit before embarking on your trip to make sure you do not miss out on the best the city has to offer and to make sure you have the best experience possible. Here are the 20 best things to do in Pismo Beach for first-timers.

Oceana Dunes

20. Have a Driving Adventure on the Oceana Dunes

If you want to try something adventurous during your visit to Pismo Beach, then you might want to have a driving adventure on the sand dunes. There are several companies offering fun experience days where you can drive an off-road vehicle over the impressive sand dunes of Pismo Beach. This is a brilliant activity for adrenaline junkies to try.

Shell Beach Bluff Trail

19. Walk the Shell Beach Bluff Trail

While Pismo City Beach and Pismo State Beach are where tourists head to enjoy some quintessential seaside activities, those who want to enjoy the natural beauty go to the beaches at Shell Beach. To access these beaches, you should park at either Dinosaur Caves Park or along the oceanfront. Both these locations have a waterfront trail leading to Shell Beach. The beaches are in little coves against the rocky surroundings. It is important to keep an eye on the tide because there is no way back out if the tide comes in while you are in a cove. You will see lots of birds such as gulls and pelicans at Shell Beach, so it is a nice spot for nature lovers.


18. Try Watersports

According to Happy Go Abi, Pismo Beach is the perfect place to try some new watersports. There are plenty of places offering equipment hire and there are options for instruction in some watersports. Some of the most popular watersports in the area include surfing, sea kayaking, kiteboarding, and paddleboarding. There are water-based activities for people of all ages and abilities, so you will find an activity that appeals to you.

Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort and Spa

17. Relax at Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort and Spa

For many people, going on vacation is all about getting some rest and relaxation as a break from the stresses and strains of their daily lives. While in Pismo Beach, the best place for a relaxing experience is at Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort and Spa. This spa has restorative hot baths that contain the natural hot spring water, which is known for its rejuvenating properties. Visitors can hire one of the 23 baths by the hour, and clothing is optional. The tubs are staggered up a wooded hillside, so you can relax in beautiful surroundings. The facility is also open at night, so you can sit in a steaming bath of water under the stars.

Anemones at Eldwayen Ocean Park

16. See the Anemones at Eldwayen Ocean Park

Nestled against the cliffs of Shell Beach is Eldwayen Ocean Park, which stretches a mile along the coast. People visit this park to enjoy the views, relax on the grassy areas, or to enjoy a picnic at the picnic tables. However, the best feature of the park is on the beach, which you can reach via a stairway. During low tide, you will see an array of interesting sea creatures in the tilde pool and along the rocks. These include urchins, limpets, crabs, sea anemones, and puffy sea stars. If you are on vacation with your children, they will love exploring the tide pools and identifying the different creatures.

Sunset from the Pier

15. Watch the Sunset from the Pier

The pier is an iconic landmark of this city, and you will see it many times during your trip. Although you can stroll down the pier at any time of day or night, the National Geographic recommends watching the sunset from the end of the pier. This 1,200-foot pier juts out from the rocks and cliffs, and after the sun has set, you can stroll back towards Pismo Beach while admiring the warm glow over the city’s skyline. People also enjoy fishing form this pier. Although there are some rules that everyone has to follow, you do not need a fishing license to fish from the pier and there is equipment hire available.

Local Beers at Pismo Brewing Company

14. Try Local Beers at Pismo Brewing Company

Although the area is better known for its wines, Pismo Beach also produces some excellent beers. The best place to appreciate these is at the Pismo Brewing Company. This local craft brewery is located close to the beach and pier. It has an indoor tasting room and a pet-friendly patio area. You can order single beers, although the better option is to ask for the six beer sampler. Children are welcome, and there is a root beer option for them. The brewery also serves snacks and light bites, such as nacho platters and soft-baked pretzel sticks. This is an excellent place to visit on a hot day as you can cool off with a cold beer and enjoy a snack at the same time. After sampling the beers, you can buy your favorite to enjoy at home.

Pismo Preserve

13. Explore Pismo Preserve

Those who enjoy hiking and spending time outdoors should reserve some time in their schedule to explore Pismo Preserve. This is a large nature preserve that covers 900 acres, and there are multiple recreation trails. Some of the park is elevated, so you can enjoy mesmerizing views over Pismo Beach. You will also walk across poppy fields and you will see cattle grazing. Other activities to enjoy in the preserve include mountain biking and horse riding.

Ventana Grill

12. Enjoy a Meal at Ventana Grill

There are many outstanding restaurants to try during your visit to Pismo Beach. One of the best is the Ventana Grill. This is a waterfront restaurant that sits on a rocky perch and boasts stunning ocean views. The menu consists predominantly of Latin-coastal dishes. There is a daily happy hour with reduced food and drink specials. Sunday brunch is a great time to visit the restaurant as there are carved meats and a seafood station. Diners visiting for Sunday brunch can also enjoy bottomless bloody Marys and mimosas.

History at Price Historical Park

11. Learn About Local History at Price Historical Park

Pismo was founded by John Michael Price, and the historic homestead and ranch at Price Historical Park are his former home. It was built in 1893, and it is registered on the National Register of Historic Places. The inside of the house has been restored, and preservation is ongoing. If you take a tour, you will learn about the early history of the area.

Drink Wine at Tastes of the Valleys

10. Drink Wine at Tastes of the Valleys

Pismo Beach and the surrounding area are known for wineries. Therefore, you should include some wine tasting in your vacation itinerary. One of the best places to enjoy this activity in the city is at Tastes of the Valleys, which is a local wine bar. The wine bar boasts more than 1,000 wines that showcase the produce of the regional vintners. Alternatively, you can sign up for a wine-tasting tour that offers a day experiencing the artisan wineries in the area.

Pismo Beach Surf Museum

9. Visit Pismo Beach Surf Museum

Time Out recommends a visit to Pismo Beach Surf Museum. As surfing is so popular in this area, it is hardly surprising that there is a museum devoted to this activity. Them museum is located within the oldest surf shop along California’s Central Coast. There is an exhibition that highlights the history of this sport. One of the highlights of a visit is a collection of photography from the 1960s, There is also a collection of kayak and paddle gear on display.

Cycle the Bob Jones Trail

8. Walk or Cycle the Bob Jones Trail

The Bob Jones Trail is also known as the City to the Sea Trail, and this is a paved path for walking and cycling. The path runs three from close to the Avila Hot Springs to Avila Beach Pier. Along the way, it passes through a golf course. It is a peaceful spot to enjoy the surroundings without the distractions of traffic noise.

Avila Hot Springs

7. Go to Avila Hot Springs

A popular spot to visit is the Avila Hot Springs. These natural springs provide hot water, and a fun, recreational area has been created to make good use of this water. There is a large freshwater, heated swimming pool alongside a mineral pool. While the swimming pool offers plenty of space for splashing around and having fun, the mineral pool is used for its therapeutic health benefits. It is open seven days a week, and day passes are available.

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa

6. Visit Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa

If you are interested in history and architecture, then one of the best places to visit in Pismo Beach is the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. This is one of the top tourist attractions in the area, and it is just a short drive from the city. Both public and private services take place at this historic mission, which was built in 1772. When services are not taking place, tourists can view the mission and visit the on-site museum. In the museum, there are documents and artifacts relating to the history of the mission and the local area.

Palisades Park

5. Stroll Around Palisades Park

Palisades Park is a public park that covers six acres along the coastline. It has wonderful ocean views, pedestrian paths, and manicured lawns. It is a popular spot for people who want to enjoy a picnic during their day out. Some of the amenities within the park include playgrounds, barbecue pits, picnic tables, and tennis courts.

Pismo State Beach

4. Have Fun at Pismo State Beach

Pismo State Beach is the section of beach that begins just south of downtown and stretches for miles along the coast. It is popular for a wide range of activities, including freshwater fishing, exploring the sand dunes, clam digging, swimming, and surfing. There are also all the usual seaside attractions and amenities running along the beach.

Butterflies at Monarch Butterfly Grove

3. See the Butterflies at Monarch Butterfly Grove

If you are in Pismo Beach between November and February, you should go to Monarch Butterfly Grove. This time of year is the time of the annual monarch butterfly migrations. The grove is a natural shelter with pine and eucalyptus trees. During these months, the butterflies take over the branches of the trees. As this is a pretty area, it is worth visiting even when the butterflies are not there. It is a free activity, so it is ideal for those on a budget.

Dinosaur Caves Park

2. Go to Dinosaur Caves Park

This 11-acre natural park on the coastline earned its name thanks to a large concrete dinosaur that once sat within the park that you could see from the highway. The statue is no longer in the park, but the name has stuck. This park is a nice place for a walk with ocean views, as there is a paved path that runs along the top of the rugged cliffs. There are also offshore sea caves to explore if you hire a kayak from Margo Dodd Park, which is nearby. Children visiting the park can enjoy the dinosaur-themed playground. The park is sometimes used as an events venue as there is an amphitheater, a ceremony space, and a reception area.

Pismo City Beach

1. Spend the Day at Pismo City Beach

According to Planetware, one of the best things to do in Pismo Beach for first-timers is to spend the day at Pismo City Beach. This is the main stretch of beach that runs alongside downtown Pismo Beach. There is a pathway along the beach for people to enjoy walking and fishing. People use the beach as a leisure facility, and some of the popular activities include kiteboarding and volleyball.

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Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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