Pismo Beach


What? : Pismo Beach is a city on California's Central Coast. It's known for its many beaches. The Monarch Butterfly Grove shelters monarch butterflies that migrate to Pismo State Beach in the cooler months.


Where? : The town is located on California central coast along 101 Highways.

Google Map Link


Due note 1: We visit Pismo many times and at all seasons, this is not only summertime destination.


Due note 2: the town itself can be very crowded at holidays or weekends so be prepared. Book hotels in advance.


Due note 3: if you are planning on ATV ride try to book it in advance.


My thoughts: We really like this town, long walks along the beaches, wonderful sunsets and good nightlife.


The visit:

Pismo beach is classic California tourist beach town, go down to the 1200-foot Pismo pier and take a leisurely long walk on the beach. You can go south for many miles, to the north the open beach ends at the cliffs section in less than a mile.

On the southern edge of town, Pismo State Beach and Oceano Dunes are popular places to visit. A habitat for thousands of migrating Monarch butterflies each year Special Vehicle Recreation Areas operated by the state, allowing for the unique opportunity to drive ATVs and off-road and private vehicles onto the sandy beach.


Dunes and beach car access:

Stretching for miles along the coastline south of downtown, Pismo State Beach offers a wide variety of seaside activity.

Pismo State Beach is also the only beach in California where visitors can drive onto the beach with off-road and personal vehicles.


The Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area allows motorized vehicles to explore the abundant shore and sand dunes.

many visitors are renting ATVs or dune buggies and drive the sprawling sand dunes. This unique SVRA status makes Oceano Dunes a very popular place, especially on the weekends.

Two campgrounds are available for tents and RVs at Pismo State Beach.


Monarch Butterfly Grove:

On the north end of Pismo State Beach, the Monarch Butterfly Grove is an essential stop during annual monarch butterfly migrations. Between November and February, tens of thousands of monarch butterflies descend upon this natural shelter from cool ocean winds and literally overtake the branches of the surrounding eucalyptus and pine trees.

tall eucalyptus trees and may butterflies during a specific season


Avila Beach (north of Pismo Beach):

Avila Beach is located just off Highway 101 on California’s central coast north of Pismo Beach. Beach town located in small bay oceanfront, the town center has many restaurants and shopping opportunities, just above the sandy beach below.

Avila Beach has its own uniquely sunny and warm microclimate, long beaches and a pier, the one in front of the main beach is open and you can fish from the pier.

You can keep driving Avila Beach drive all the way to it end, 1 mile west at Harford Pier, there are few beaches along the way.



Pirates Cove beach:

In order to reach Pirates Cove beach, from Avila Beach drive take Cave Landing Road going uphill and park in the dirt parking lot at the end.

Hike down the path leading south, take right and will reach Smugglers Cave after few hundred feet. To the beach take the left trail, go down the wooden steps and proceed to the beach.

Over the years it’s become a local’s favorite and clothing optional beach.

Please note that this beach has no restrooms, lifeguards, or facilities.