13 Best Things To Do In Pismo Beach, California - Updated 2021

things to do in pismo beach california
Kirsty
Kirsty
Updated

Pismo Beach is a city in San Luis Obispo County that offers many opportunities for outdoor activities, attracting an array of people to the coast. Whether it’s interesting landmarks you wish to explore or the local parks which hold historical statues, you’ll find something of interest with all the amazing activities available in Pismo Beach. With some of the top campsites in the area and amazing Vrbo vacation rentals, finding the perfect home base for your trip won’t be a problem.

Scroll down now to check out the best things to do in Pismo Beach, California.

1. Visit Monarch Butterfly Grove

Monarch Butterfly Grove
Source: Photo by Flickr user USFWS Pacific Sou... used under CC BY 2.0

Every year, thousands of monarch butterflies descend on Pismo Beach seeking shelter for the winter. From October to February, the butterflies gather within the grove of the Eucopitis tree on Pismo Beach. This is one of the largest in the country, with over 250,000 butterflies visiting over the last 5 years. When visiting this attraction, volunteers are on hand to offer daily talks. They provide information and facts about the yearly spectacle that brings visitors to the beach. Museum of Natural History in Morro Bay also offers more information about these butterflies. If you’re looking for things to do in Pismo Beach this weekend, just drop by Monarch Butterfly Grove. Daily talks are held, weather permitting.

Monarch Butterfly Grove

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

Website: Monarch butterfly Grove

2. Take your kids to Dinosaur Caves Park

PhotosbyLito_2015-08-29-1963
Source: Photo by user Photos by Lito used under CC BY 2.0

The 11-acre (4.4-hectare) Dinosaur Caves Park in Pismo Beach got its name from a giant brontosaurus sculpture built here during the 1940s. When most of the neighborhood objected to the sculpture, it forced the creator, H Douglas Brown, to stop building and the sculpture collapsed over time. Eventually, it was turned into a park with benches, an event space, and a dinosaur-themed playground. The park is a popular spot as it overlooks the ocean.

Dinosaur Caves Park

Address: 2701 Price St, 93449 Pismo Beach, CA

Website: Dinosaur Caves Park

3. Take fun photos at Pismo Beach Pier Plaza

Pismo Beach Pier
Source: Photo by Flickr user Harold Litwiler used under CC BY 2.0

You can’t leave Pismo Beach without getting a photo in front of the iconic “Pismo Beach” sign at Pismo Beach Pier Plaza. This area is a tourist hotspot, providing easy access to a beautiful beach. Enjoy the perfect family day out and check out the children’s play area and the concession stand, which serves gourmet street food from a renovated vintage Airstream. Since its renovation, it has also added some new attractions, including a visitor’s center, Sheldon’s Bait Shack, and a pedestrian bike path. You can even stay in one of the beachfront hotels for an endless view of the waves.

Pismo Beach Pier Plaza

Address: 760 Mattie Road, 93449 Pismo Beach, CA

4. Surf with Pismo Beach Surf Shop (from USD 82.0)

More than just a shop, Pismo Beach Surf Shop offers a wide range of water tours such as kayaking, paddleboarding, surfboarding, and boogie board rentals. Surf’s up! You’ll never run out of fun things to do in Pismo Beach. If you’re not wanting to learn a new hobby or skill, then the store offers up a range of classes. Surf lessons have proven the most popular and they have been teaching visitors since 1962, so you’re in safe and capable hands. Lessons begin with water safety and can last up to two hours.

Pismo Beach Surf Shop

Address: 470 Price St, 93449 Pismo Beach, CA

Website: Pismo Beach Surf Shop

Opening hours: 9am - 6pm (daily)

Pismo Beach Surf Lessons

Duration: 2 hours

5. Surf and swim at Pismo State Beach

Pismo Beach
Source: Photo by Flickr user Sergei Gussev used under CC BY 2.0

Never miss the chance to enjoy different recreational activities in Pismo State Beach, a charming 17-mi (27.35-km) beach line fronting the towns of Oceano, Pismo Beach, and Grover Beach. Being located along the central coast of California gives Pismo State Beach the advantage of a year-round pleasant climate. Locals and tourists alike find this great for many outdoor activities like fishing, camping, surfing, swimming, and even birdwatching. Day passes for vehicles come with an additional fee, and if you plan to go camping, you can make reservations on their website 48 hours to 6 months in advance.

Pismo State Beach

Address: 555 Pier Ave, Oceano, CA 93445, United States

Website: Pismo State Beach

Opening hours: 6am - 10pm (daily)

6. Savor delicious seafood at Oyster Loft

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account


Top your great Pismo Beach adventures with equally great seafood and dessert here at Oyster Loft. This Californian restaurant along Pismo Beach’s waterfront offers a range of appetizers, mains, and desserts and mainly serves seafood. You can kick off with crab cakes, orange-glazed octopus, or fresh oysters from the raw bar. The main course includes oven-roasted seabass, wagyu steak and lobster, and pan-seared scallops. Dessert offerings include berry corn shortcake and creme brulee, but these are subject to change depending on the availability of ingredients. While mainly seafood-heavy, the resto does serve vegan options. Walk-in diners are accepted but reservations are highly encouraged.

Oyster Loft

Address: 101 Pomeroy Ave, Pismo Beach, CA 93449, United States

Website: Oyster Loft

Opening hours: Wed - Sat: 5pm - 9pm; Sun: 3:30pm - 9pm (closed on Mon & Tue)

7. Have a cocktail at Rooftop at Inn at the Pier

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account


If you’re looking for a great spot to relax and unwind or maybe to have a great bonding time with your friends, you should definitely check out Rooftop at Inn at the Pier. Perched on the roof deck of Inn at the Pier Hotel, this establishment offers a sweeping view of the stunning Pacific coastline. With its effortless West Coast ambiance and breathtaking sunset views partnered with playful cocktails and a beautifully curated menu, it is undoubtedly a place you cannot miss before leaving Pismo Beach.

Rooftop at Inn at the Pier

Address: 601 Cypress St, Pismo Beach, CA 93449, United States

Website: Rooftop at Inn at the Pier

Opening hours: 11:30am - 8pm (daily)

8. Shop at Pismo Beach Premium Outlets

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account


Pismo Beach Premium Outlets is a small shopping outlet located in Central Coast California, just between Los Angeles and San Francisco. You can easily spot its beige facade as it is right off the freeway. Enjoy up to 65% discounts at all of its 40 designer brands, which include Levi’s Outlet, Nike, Polo Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Van Heusen, Aeropostale, Calvin Klein, Carter’s, Coach, Guess Factory Store, Kate Spade New York, and many others. The shopping center also has restaurants, lots of parking, a dog park, an ATM, and a baby changing station.

Pismo Beach Premium Outlets

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

Website: Pismo Beach Premium Outlets

Opening hours: Mon - Thu: 11am - 7pm; Fri - Sat: 10am - 8pm; Sun: 11am - 6pm

9. Enjoy sunset views at Margo Dodd Park

Sunset at Margo Dodd Park
Source: Photo by Flickr user Sarah Zukoff used under CC BY 2.0

Margo Dodd Park overlooks the beach and is one of the best places to enjoy ocean and sunset views in Pismo Beach. It features a gazebo and a recreation area, and at the end of the beach is a tide pool where you can enjoy snorkeling. This is a great spot for budding photographers since there are many photo opportunities. Dinosaur Caves Park is just a few steps away from here.

Margo Dodd Park

Address: Ocean Blvd, Pismo Beach, CA 93449

Website: Margo Dodd Park

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

10. Have a picnic at Eldwayen Ocean Park

Pismo Beach
Source: Photo by Flickr user Sergei Gussev used under CC BY 2.0

A visit to the Eldwayen Ocean Park is a must for families who are on their California tour. The 1.5-mi (2.41-km) stretch of oceanfront park is perfect for different recreational activities or simply relaxation. As a long, narrow park along the bluff in the Shell Beach area of Pismo Beach, Eldwayen Ocean Park has grassy recreational areas. These are great for outdoor games and picnics. There are benches where you can enjoy snacks and stairs leading to tide pools and a sandy beach where you can take long walks while watching the sunset. The park has a first-come-first-serve policy, so reservations are not necessary. And speaking of outdoors, did you know that Pismo Beach also offers the best RV rentals? Book one for the full outdoor experience.

Eldwayen Ocean Park

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

Website: Eldwayen Ocean Park

Opening hours: 6am - 10pm (daily)

Nearby options

11. Visit The Dorn Pyramid


The Dorn Pyramid stands alone in an isolated location just out of Pismo Beach. Because of the weight of the pyramid, this is the only location that could support the massive structure. It was constructed in 1905 by a wealthy lawyer after he lost his wife and son during childbirth. The entrance of the pyramid reads ‘Disturb not the sleep of death.’ Two stones on the pyramid remained unsealed until 2018 since it is said that the lawyer, Fred Adolphus Dorn, wanted to be buried in the same place. However, he moved to San Francisco and remarried, and when he died in 1940, he was buried at Cypress Lawn Memorial Park in Colma.

The Dorn Pyramid

Address: 2890 S Higuera St. San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

12. Sign up for an ATV tour at Oceano Pismo Dunes Preserve (from USD 80.0)

Oceano Sand Dunes
Source: Photo by Flickr user Matthew Dillon used under CC BY 2.0

Oceano Pismo Dunes Preserve is the only California State Park that allows four or all-wheel drives on its shores. This is a great opportunity to ride a sand buggy - a must for thrill-seekers. You can also book Hummer or ATV tours in the area. Besides all the activities on the sand, you can also indulge in water activities. Try surfing or kiteboarding, or embark on a three-hour cave excursion and explore some protected caves. If you want to go at your own pace, rent a kayak.

Oceano Pismo Dunes Preserve

Address: 555 Pier Ave, 93445 Oceano, CA

Website: Oceano Pismo Dunes preserve

Pismo Beach Dune Buggy Experience 2-Hour Scenic Coast Ride

Duration: 2 hours

2 reviews

13. Stop by Bubblegum Alley

Walls in Bubblegum Alley, San Luis Obispo
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Crawfish2007 used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

A weird but increasingly popular tourist attraction, this 4.5-meter-high (15-foot) and 21-meter-long (70-foot) alley showcases an accumulation of chewed gum embedded on the walls. Some see it as distasteful, while others see it as art. Professional artists have gone on to replicate it, such as artist Matthew Hoffman who erected a self-portrait of himself entirely made of bubblegum. Bubblegum Alley has been featured on a number of TV shows and news programs. It has also appeared in Ripley’s Believe It or Not! How this wall started is not known, but some suggest that the alley started after WWII as a San Luis Obispo High School graduating class event. Some locals say it’s an eyesore, and others are calling it a special landmark that brings in trade - visit the alley and see for yourself!

Bubblegum Alley

Address: 733.5 Higuera St, 93401 San Luis Obispo, CA

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Weird but wonderful

Still wondering what to do in Pismo Beach? While the attractions here vary, it’s always fun to explore something different on your trip to Pismo Beach. The awesome Airbnb vacation rentals and the hotels with in-room hot tub are a big plus! You can even bring your furry friends on your Pismo Beach adventure as the place has pet-friendly hotels, too. If you have time to explore nearby cities, head to San Luis Obispo to check out Bubblegum Alley and see what brings everyone to this strange yet popular attraction.

Frequently asked questions about the best things to do in Pismo Beach, California

1. What are the top attractions to visit in Pismo Beach?

If you find yourself in Pismo Beach, then you definitely have to visit these top attractions: the unique Bubblegum Alley, the educational and interesting Monarch Butterfly Grove, and of course, the gorgeous Pismo State Beach and Eldwayen Ocean Park.

2. What are the best outdoor activities in Pismo Beach?

Some of the best outdoor activities in Pismo Beach include a day visit to Monarch Butterfly Grove, beachside activities like enjoying a picnic, strolling, or playing beach volleyball on the sands of Pismo State Beach. You can also go dune cruising with Oceano Pismo Dunes Preserve.

3. What are the most popular things to do with kids and family in Pismo Beach?

Have a blast with the whole family - both kids and parents are sure to enjoy a tour of Monarch Butterfly Grove, a visit to Dinosaur Caves Park where kids can have fun in a dinosaur-themed park, and of course, a day out in the waters and sands of Pismo State Beach.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Kirsty is based in the U.K's countryside, she loves travelling although she loves culture and exploring new places to visit. Her heart and favorite place will always be Disneyland. In her spare...Read more

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