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Mimi Ditchie Photography/ Getty Images

Key Info

Price & Hours

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

Details

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

scorecard

  • 5.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

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.

Pismo State Beach also offers public restrooms and sand showers, among other amenities. The beach is dog-friendly as long as they're kept on leashes, and the beach allows small campfires on the sand. Near the pier and beach area, there are plenty of restaurants and shops, including popular Pismo Beach staple Splash Café, which is famous for its clam chowder. 

You may be able to find some street parking near the restaurants, although the area is usually crowded. There are also parking spaces along Highway 1. If you'd rather opt for a lot near the pier, there are some paid public lots off Pomeroy Avenue. Or, you can park on the sand. Pismo State Beach is one of the only beaches in the state where you can drive your directly car onto the sand. Drive on from the Grand Avenue or the Pier Avenue entrances – you'll just need to pay $5 for a day-use permit and abide by the 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. car hours. For more information, visit the city's website.

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#2 Pismo Beach Wineries

The Pismo Beach region is full of places to sample central California's wines. In fact, the Central Coast boasts some of the state's oldest grapes, and its mild temperatures help grow grapes perfect for sauvignon blanc, riesling, cabernet franc and pinot noir, among others.

If you're tight on time, consider stopping by one of the tasting rooms near the downtown area. Monarch Grove Winery Tasting Room is located at the end of West Grand Avenue and sits nearby the Pismo Beach Golf Course. Monarch Grove earns high marks for its friendly staff and reasonable prices. Another visitor recommendation is Tastes of the Valleys, which allows patrons to sample wines by the glass or in flights. Travelers commend the shop of its wide selection and knowledgeable staff.

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