Pismo Beach boardwalk shadows in the evening

Things to do in  Pismo Beach

Beaches below, monarchs above

Welcome to a classic California beach town, complete with wide-open beaches, fun family restaurants, and plenty of possibilities for paddling, surfing, and other sorts of water play. If wildlife is your thing, gray whales can be spotted in winter, just as a sizable monarch butterfly population migrates along the Western Monarch Trail. A nearby elephant seal rookery is also accessible year-round. Other things to do in Pismo Beach include wine tasting, visiting the Oceano Dunes, and digging for clams.

Top 1 attractions in Pismo Beach

Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove

Every winter, tens of thousands of monarch butterflies stop in Pismo Beach during their mass migration to a warmer climate. The bright-orange-and-black monarchs cluster together among the branches in a protected eucalyptus grove, creating a stunning natural display that attracts visitors from up and down the California coast.More

All about Pismo Beach

When to visit

Although it may seem like a great summer destination, Pismo Beach tends to be foggy May through July. Instead, plan your trip for fall, between September and November, when the average high is 72°F (22°C). You can also enjoy the beloved Pismo Beach Clam Festival if you visit in October. Winter months are cooler but sunny, and you can find deals on accommodations and fewer crowds.

Getting around

The nearest airport to Pismo Beach is the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport (SBP), although this might be pricier than bigger hubs located further afield. Once you get to Pismo Beach, needing a car depends on where you plan to explore. Several main bus routes can take you throughout town as well as to the beaches and Pismo Beach Premium Outlets. Alternatively, the Avila-Pismo Beach Trolley is a free service that operates seasonally and connects Pismo Beach to neighboring Avila Beach.

Traveler tips

In the know travelers love a little secret: Central California produces some great wines, thanks to a temperate climate that’s ideal for growing riesling, cabernet franc, sauvignon blanc, and pinot noir grape varietals. You can explore the local offerings at a few local tasting rooms, including Monarch Grove Winery Tasting Room, Tastes of the Valleys, and Edna Valley Vineyard, located in San Luis Obispo.

Local Currency
US Dollar ($)
Time Zone
PST (UTC -8)
Country Code

People Also Ask

How do I spend a day in Pismo Beach?

It's all in the name—Pismo Beach is beloved for its beaches where you can swim, surf, paddle, fish, and stroll. To try the clams the town is famous for, head to Splash Café. For further explorations, Hearst Castle, Morro Bay, and multiple wine regions are a day trip away.

What is Pismo Beach known for?

Once the self-proclaimed Clam Capital of the World, Pismo Beach celebrates its favorite shellfish with an annual clam festival (although the population is unstable). In addition to excellent seafood, this classic California beach town is home to sandy shorelines, a seasonal monarch butterfly population, and plenty of nearby wineries.

Is Pismo Beach worth visiting?

Yes, there is a reason that Pismo Beach sees roughly two million tourists each year—it's a fun, accessible, and beautiful place. Whether you want to take long walks on the beach, sip your way through local wineries, or use the city as a base for exploring up and down California’s Central Coast, everyone will find something to love.

Which is better: Pismo Beach or Morro Bay?

Where you travel depends on what you like to do. Known for excellent kayaking, Morro Bay is a fishing village with a slightly more rugged, wild coast. Pismo Beach, on the other hand, feels more like a classic California beach town, with its wide-open beaches and outlet mall.

What is the best time to go to Pismo Beach?

If you want to experience pleasant temperatures, the best time to go to Pismo Beach is from September through November. In the winter, you can also witness monarch butterflies overwintering and several whale species passing through on their Baja-bound migration. Many California beaches experience an unfortunate “May Gray” and “June Gloom” phenomena that blankets the shore with fog, so you may want to skip a summer visit.

Can you swim in the ocean at Pismo Beach?

Yes, you can swim at Pismo Beach. In addition to swimming along the 6-mile shoreline, beachgoers can surf, kayak, and go paddleboarding. In the past few years, the local waters have scored an “A” grade for water quality.

Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
What are the top things to do in Pismo Beach?
The top things to do in Pismo Beach are:
What are the top activities in Pismo Beach?
What are the top things to do near Pismo Beach?
Check out things to do near Pismo Beach: