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Pismo State Beach: Camping, Clamming and More on California's Central Coast

Along California's Central Coast you'll find Pismo Beach, one of the states most popular seaside cities. In addition to its world famous Pismo State Beach, the area has a lot of attractions that are only a short walk from any one of its numerous parking lots. Whether you're planning a camping trip, or just looking to spend a day in the area, we hope the following info helps guide the way!

Where is Pismo Beach Located?

Pismo Beach California tourism welcome city sign.

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As stated above, Pismo Beach is situated on California's Central Coast in San Luis Obispo County — It is south of Morro Bay and right next door to the city of Grover Beach. You can reach it by way of the Pacific Coast Highway, which includes stretches of both Highway 1 and 101.

Pismo Beach State Park

Walkway along the shore and wooden bench overlooking the ocean, California Central Coast

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Although Pismo State Beach isn't exactly classified as a "park," it is treated as a California State Park and operated by the CA Department of Parks and Recreation. Like a lot of California State Parks, there's a number of outdoor activities you can enjoy in and around Pismo State Beach, from horseback riding, to collecting famous Pismo Clams. Beyond the state beach there's even more to experience, from four-wheel drives over sand dunes, to high-end shopping and dining on Grand Avenue.

Pismo State Beach Camping

Modern Class C Motorhome Camper Van RV on a Sandy Pismo Beach in California. Summer Vacation Road Trip.

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There are number of campgrounds to choose from in and around the Pismo State Beach area. Here are a few of your options:

  • The North Beach Campground: Designed for tent-only campers, this beautiful site has fire rings and picnic tables, not to mention easy beach access that puts the Pacific within easy walking distance.
  • Oceano Campground: Situated along the freshwater Oceano Lagoon, this site is the way to go if you've got an RV or trailer (although tent-campers are more than welcome as well). Its grounds are outfitted with electric hookups and a dump station.
  • Others: There are quite a few campgrounds and RV resorts in the Pismo area, so don't worry if the standard options above aren't available when you want. A quick Google search can show you more, and there's always Airbnb's and hotels to consider as well.

What is There to Do in Pismo Beach?

Off road vehicles at Pismo Beach Dunes.

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Besides obvious beach activities like biking, surf fishing, and bird watching, there's a lot of fun things to do and places to visit when you're in Pismo. Here are some attractions you should definitely check out when the ocean gets too salty with you:

  • Monarch Butterfly Grove: If you're visiting during the Winter months, come visit the home of tens of thousands of monarch butterflies. Although they live in a eucalyptus grove, we're sad to say there aren't any koala bears on hand.
  • Dinosaur Caves: This is a great destination for those with kids given its playground and dinosaur egg sculptures.
  • Pismo Beach Pier & Boardwalk: Since the city's pier and boardwalk aren't built up like a midway, think simple, serene walks at sunrise and sunset.
  • Oceano Dune District Visitor Center: Whether you want to learn more about the park or just shoot the breeze with some friendly volunteers, stop by this visitor center for the interpretive lowdown.
  • Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area: Also often referred to more simply as the Oceano Dunes SVRA, this ATV-friendly beach is your go-to destination for kicking up sand on the Pismo Dunes. Don't have access to an ATV? No sweat! Highway vehicles are permitted on the Oceano SVRA during daytime hours in designated areas!

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READ MORE: 25 Cities, Parks, Forests & Attractions to Customize Your California Road Trip