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Playful Pismo

Updated: Oct 20, 2021

Pismo Beach, a seaside town on the Central Coast of California, is located exactly midway between Los Angeles and the Bay Area, and is an ideal stopover for road trips to or from LA. We love the place for its food, the pier and the great sunsets.

This summer, we decided to spend a few nights at our favorite beach town and soak in the beachside charm and some pure O2, while the air quality in NorCal plunged due to the wildfires.

Places to Stay

Pismo On The Beach Vacation Rentals have one and two bedroom units located directly on the beach. The place can be booked via VRBO or AirBnB or directly on their website. We stayed in Unit A with direct access to the ocean. Each unit comes with a fully equipped kitchen and strong wifi. It was nice to work remotely for a few days with the ocean directly in front of us. I even took a few work calls while lounge on the beach. That is what I call LIFE!

Shore Cliff Hotel is a couple of miles away from the main strip and is situated in a pelican sanctuary with the best ocean views from your private balcony.

We could see, smell and hear the pelicans as long as we were there, but it didnt bother us after a couple of hours. This hotel also comes with a decent sit-down breakfast, a luxury during these days of Covid. We stayed in a deluxe Ocean View room, which complimented my photography hobby very nicely. The grounds are beautifully kept with cozy swings and benches sprinkled all over the property. The gazebo, carefully situated at the edge of a cliff, is a great place to watch the setting sun and the pelicans return home for the day.

Where To Eat

Cool Cat Cafe - American diner serving burgers and milkshakes, which is very vegetarian friendly. The milkshakes ("adult" shakes available too) are delicious and BIG!

Rosa's Italian Restaurant - Fancy, upscale dining offering large portions of Italian goodness.

Pizmo Cafe - A no-frills pizza restaurant on Pomeroy Street, just a couple of blocks from the pier, that dishes out the usual Italian fare.

Chipwrecked - A local favorite because of which the lines are sometimes long during tourist season. This hole-in-the-wall joint, just off the pier, serves different flavors of chips, along with salads and sandwiches. Chips range from savory, such as the garlicy, peppery, Santa Maria to sweet, like the cinnamon spiced Victoria.

Cowboy Cookie & Icecream - Icecream store close to the Pismo Beach sign which specializes in yummy icecream served over warm chocolate chip cookie. Every ice cream lovers delight!

What To Do

ATV on the Beach - The top rated activity in Pismo Beach is to ride 8 miles of sand dunes at Ocean Beach, on an ATV. Riding those dunes on a four wheel ATV is sure to get your adrenaline pumping and is a thrill not to be missed. There are various ATV types and configurations to choose from, but you need to be 21 to ride solo. The outfitter we went with is Steves's ATV. They followed all Covid protocols and made sure our ride was fun and safe.

Avila Beach - Just 30 minutes north of Pismo Beach is the welcoming paradise of Avila Beach. This seaside resort town welcomes its visitors with a charming little downtown, natural hot springs and oceanfront restaurants. The newly paved, 6 mile Bob Jones Trail starts and ends at the beach and is great for hikers and bikers. Off the beaten track, a little further north of the beach, is the historic Harford Pier which is mainly used for commercial fishing. It is fun to walk out on the pier and watch the sea otters swim underneath.

Pirate Cove Cave - Pirate cove cave is a hidden gem in Avila Beach which can be accessed via a short trail at the end of Cave Landing Dr. The cave, or rather, the tunnel of rock , overlooks the San Luis Bay and is a perfect vista spot during sunset.

Morro Bay - Morro Bay is yet another charming seaside town about an hour north of Pismo Beach. Like any other seaside town, it has a long line of oceanfront shops selling souvenirs and trinkets, along with coffee and ice cream shops. Along the water, it is lined with rugged cliffs and tucked-away sandy beaches, all of which overlook the great Morro Rock.

Shell hunting on Pismo Beach - The long stretch of Pismo Beach is a shell hunters paradise. We found dozens of almost perfect clam shells during our early morning walks on the beach. Our intention was to only take back memories with us. So the shells went back into the ocean to thrill another shell hunter.

Watching Surfers at the Pier - Pismo Beach is surfers paradise. At any given time, you can see a number of surfers, from beginners to professionals, shredding the waves. You can spend hours "surfer watching" on the pier or on the sandy beach.

A surfer calls it a day as he heads home at sunset.

Explore Sea Caves during low tide - The northern end of Pismo Beach is lined by a number of interesting sea caves. The walls of the sea caves seem unreal, and are colored yellow or white with grey striations. It is fun to explore these caves, some over a 100ft deep. During high tide, these caves can only be reached via a kayak. There are a number of kayaking outfitters in downtown Pismo that offer sea cave exploration tours. During low tide, the caves can easily be explored on foot. The landmark to see these caves during low tide is the steps leading to the beach from the Seacrest hotel.

View of the ocean from inside the caves

Unique rock formation and blue striations on the walls of the sea caves.


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