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Pete Starman/ Getty Images

Key Info

928 Pacific Blvd

Price & Hours

Free
6 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Details

Beaches, Natural Wonders, Free Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend

scorecard

  • 5.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

The Oceano Dunes are something like a massive natural sandbox, perfect for adventuring all day. The rolling hills of white sand overlook the ocean and offer a sense of tranquility away from the large urban areas in California. Previous visitors said driving along the dunes in a four-wheeled vehicle makes for an unforgettable experience. You can start off-roading at the Post 2 checkpoint, which is 1 mile south of Pier Avenue. It costs just $5 to register your vehicle for off-roading. While many people opt to simply drive their car onto the beach, another popular way to explore the dunes is on an ATV.

There are numerous places to rent ATVs at the west end of Pier Avenue. Steve's ATV Rentals and Arnie's ATV Rentals received positive reviews from past visitors, who appreciated the helpful staff members at both establishments. The staff will give you instructions on how to ride the ATV and where to take them; they're also available to help if you get stuck. Rental prices will depend on the type of ATV you select and how long you plan to use it, but prices may start at around $60 for two hours. Recent visitors recommended booking a morning ride as it can get crowded and too hot later in the day.

Oceano Dunes also offers visitors other recreational activities, such as swimming, surfing, fishing and hiking. Hiking trails include the easy Oso Flaco Lake Trail and the moderately challenging Sand Highway OHV Trail. Camping is also allowed on the beach or amid the dunes south of Post 2.

Oceano Dunes are located off Highway 1, just a few miles south of Pismo Beach. Entrances to the beach are located at the west end of Grand Avenue and the west end of Pier Avenue. The Oceano Dunes are open to the public from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. daily. For more information, visit the California Department of Parks and Recreation website.

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#1 Pismo State Beach and Pier

One of the main attractions in Pismo Beach is undoubtedly the pier. This 1,370-foot-long wooden structure stretches into the Pacific and acts as a community gathering point where visitors can fish, attend seasonal events or simply admire the views. Some of the pier's annual events include Pumpkins on the Pier and the Tree Lighting and Celebration, which kids are sure to enjoy.

Beyond the pier is Pismo State Beach, which stretches along the California coast for about 17 miles. In the beach area near the pier, you'll find many people trying their hands at water sports, including surfing. This area is a surfer's paradise and hosts the annual World Surf League's Pismo Beach Open in January and February. The pier is even lit up at night, so nighttime surfers can navigate the waves. If you'd like to rent surfboards or other equipment, you'll find multiple surf shops near the pier, including the popular Pismo Beach Surf Shop.

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