Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove

#3 in Best Things To Do in Pismo Beach
 picture
Andrei Stanescu/ Getty Images

Key Info

400 S Dolliver St

Price & Hours

Free
Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-2 p.m. | Sat-Sun 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Details

Free, Parks and Gardens Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend

scorecard

  • 5.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

If you're in the area between the months of November and February, you must stop at the Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove, according to previous travelers. This sanctuary attracts a massive population of monarch butterflies that migrate thousands of miles to reach the mild temperatures in Pismo Beach. Not only is the central California weather perfect for the monarchs, but the eucalyptus and Monterey cypress trees in the grove provide them with ample protection.

The grove is staffed by volunteers who dedicate their time to learning about these creatures, and many past visitors were thrilled with the helpful information they learned from the volunteers. The volunteers can give you tips on how to treat the grove, including watching your step so you don't harm the creatures and leaving the butterfly clusters undisturbed. Photography is welcome in the preserve, and you're sure to catch some of your winged companions on camera.

From November to February, the sanctuary is open for visitation from sunrise to sunset and is staffed between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on weekdays, and 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekends. Educational discussions take place at noon on weekdays or at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on weekends, so plan accordingly if you want to hear information about the butterflies. The butterfly grove sits off Highway 1 between Grover Beach and Pismo Beach. There is a parking lot within walking distance of the grove, or you can try to find street parking closer, though previous visitors warned the street can become very crowded in peak season. Parking is free, as is entrance into the preserve. For more information, visit the website.

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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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