When to visit
- Very Favourable
What to do
- Worth the detour
- Must see
Pismo Beach is a convenient stopover between Los Angeles and San Francisco that is well worth a visit.
You will find many activities to enjoy during your stay such as surfing, sea kayak and quad biking in the dunes.
In addition, an astonishing landscape awaits you there, as Pismo Beach is surrounded by dunes and hills on each side of the city.
Oceano Dunes Natural Preserve
If you walk down the beach and keep going, or drive along the coast, you will discover this huge area of dunes in the town of Oceano, about 3 miles south of Pismo Beach.
It is recognized by scientists, environmentalists and visitors as the most beautiful and the largest area of coastal dunes remaining in California.
Pismo Beach Pier
Take a stroll through the streets of the city and finish your walk along the beach, on the pier.
If the weather is right, you will be treated to a beautiful sunset to end the day on a high note!
Pismo Beach Premium Outlets
If you want to shop for great American or international brands at very attractive prices, the Pismo Beach Outlets is a must for you.
Open Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
This incredible castle was built between 1919 and 1947 to house the vast collection of art and antiques of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst. It is located on a hilltop and offers an exceptional view of San Simeon and the surrounding area.
The castle had 56 bedrooms and 61 bathrooms, a central kitchen, 19 living rooms, a library, 51 hectares of gardens, outdoor and indoor swimming pools, a movie theatre, tennis courts, the largest private zoo in the world, and even an airfield.
It was almost a hill town unto itself! After Hearst's death in 1951, the castle became uninhabited and was given to the State of California, which turned it into a museum. Today it is a State Historical Monument and National Historic Landmark and is open to the public.
Several guided tours are offered, and a 40-minute film on the castle's history is shown at the Hearst Castle Theater. Reservations are highly recommended. Dining options available on site.
Opens daily at 9 a.m. Closed on Thanksgiving Day (4th Thursday in November), Christmas Day and January 1.
ELEPHANT SEAL VISTA POINT
Located about 7 kilometres north of San Simeon and the road to Hearst Castle, Elephant Seal Vista Point is one of the best spots in California to watch elephant seals. Hunted almost to extinction for their oil-rich blubber, they are now protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
Their rookery grows from year to year and currently stretches for about 10 km along the shore around Point Piedras Blancas, north of San Simeon. They come ashore for a few months each year to molt, give birth and mate. They spend the rest of the year out at sea, swimming thousands of kilometres from the coast and diving to depths of up to 5800 feet in search of food.
The best time to observe the seals is from December to March. The observation areas are open every day of the year and access is free. There is a large parking lot on site that can accommodate RVs.
Where to eat
- $ Inexpensive
- $$ Moderate
- $$$ Upscale
- $$$$ Fine dining
SPLASH CAFÉ ($)
Splash Café near Pismo Beach Pier is famous for its award-winning clam chowder. In fact, it serves more than 30,000 gallons of clam chowder every year! It is also one of the longest standing Pismo Beach restaurants and one of the busiest restaurants on the coast since 1989. Splash Café serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and the menu features staples such as soups, chilis, tacos, sandwiches, burgers and salads. If you want to enjoy the sunshine, order your meal to go and have a picnic on the Pier!
Open in winter, Sunday-Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Friday-Saturday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. In summer, open every day from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
CRACKED CRAB ($$-$$$)
If you're in the mood for great seafood in an ultra-relaxed atmosphere, the Cracked Crab is the place to go. The restaurant's concept is simple: a bucket filled with a selection of shellfish steamed with spicy Cajun sausage, red potatoes and corncobs is dumped on your table. This is accompanied with melted butter, homemade spicy cocktail sauce, homemade triple mustard sauce, warm sourdough rolls, and the tools you need to get down to business. If you're not into seafood, there are always steak, chicken and vegetarian dishes. Note that the restaurant does not take reservations, so arrive early!
Open Sunday-Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
VENTANA GRILL ($$-$$$)
This exceptional restaurant offers spectacular Pacific Ocean views and superb coastal fusion cuisine. The upscale menu is based on a blend of South American and Mexican flavors, with a touch of California and the Mediterranean. Appetizers include soups, chicken wings with Chipotle, and tacos on fresh homemade tortillas. For the evening main course (served with beans and poblano rice), try the Chimichurri steak or pork chop with fresh pineapple salsa. And for dessert, opt for the chocolate fondue with churros and fruit, or plantains sautéed with rum. A pure delight!
Open for Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., for lunch Monday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sundays from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., for Happy Hour Monday-Thursday from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., and for dinner every day from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Where to sleep ?
- Very Favourable