Your Classic Getaway to Pismo Beach

Here’s a place in the heart of California’s Central Coast where people still live the California dream. Pismo Beach is a classic beach town set on seven miles of pure white sand.

Published: 6/17/2014

Here’s a place in the heart of California’s Central Coast where people still live the California dream. Pismo Beach is a classic beach town set on seven miles of pure white sand. It has a relaxed, friendly vibe and all the makings for a getaway for couples, families, and groups of friends—including the four-legged variety. Pismo Beach is located halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles along scenic Pacific Coast Highway 1 and Highway 101, so it’s easy to reach and oh, so easy to settle into.

Day One: Check In and Check Out

Even before you set eyes on the glistening sand and iconic 1,200-foot wooden pier, you’ll appreciate Pismo Beach for its amazing variety of places to stay. Whether you’re looking for a campground, a fully equipped RV park, a no-frills hotel, or a luxurious oceanfront resort, you’re sure to find it. Plus, an uncanny number of places are dog friendly. The interactive website describes your many options and lists several lodging packages to consider. Make your arrangements in advance, so all you have to do is check in and check out. Most lodging options are within several blocks of the shore, and you’ll be impressed with how quickly you’ll be able to get off the road and into your board shorts and flip flops.

Unpack, put on some sunscreen, and grab a leash if you’ve brought Fido along. The best way to start any Pismo Beach getaway is with a walk on the beach. Watch the surfers ride the gentle waves as seagulls soar overhead and children play in the sand. This is Classic California and, suddenly, you’re part of it.

But the joys of Pismo Beach only begin on this beautiful beach. As you stand there admiring the Pismo Beach Pier, it’s hard to imagine that thriving vineyards are planted just 10 minutes away. Walk a few blocks and visit the town’s locally owned wine tasting venues, Tastes of the Valleys, Vino Versato, and the tasting rooms for Sans Liege Wines. Swirl, sip, and ask questions and, in no time, you’ll know more about the region’s wines and start mapping out where you’ll want to tour! Choose a favorite wine to enjoy at sunset from your oceanfront hotel or one of Pismo Beach’s many restaurants. You’ll also want to drop in to the Pismo Beach Visitor Center on Dolliver Street before 5 p.m. to gather up a wealth of information about Pismo Beach and things you can do tomorrow.

Day Two: Wine and Waves

As the new day dawns, so do your opportunities to discover and enjoy Pismo Beach. Start the day with another beach walk, or head to the south of town and Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area, California’s only drivable beach. Take a Hummer ride or rent an ATV and explore this amazing mass of sand, now the most extensive coastal dunes remaining in California. Get a bird’s eye view of the area in an open cockpit biplane, or go sky diving. Play a round of golf, hike along a trail, go horseback riding, or spend a few hours on the beach trying your hand at surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, or fishing. Or to just sit back and watch everyone else.

Regardless, you’ll want to round out the day with some wine tasting. Pismo Beach enjoys an unrivaled proximity to wine country. In fact, there are two dozen wineries within minutes from the beach. So put down your gear, grab some binoculars, and head inland. The Edna Valley wine trail is just 14 minutes from the Pismo Beach Pier. South San Luis Obispo County, commonly known as SLO Wine Country, is largely composed of the Edna and Arroyo Grande Valleys—a rolling tapestry of ranch and farmland that introduce you to more natural beauty around every turn. Wherever you stop, you’re bound to be impressed by the friendly people who’ll greet you. Some tasting rooms offer self-guided tours, some have bocce courts, and many have picnic tables with splendid vista views. You can expect to taste exquisite Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, cool climate Syrah, and several intriguing Alsatian varietals. Here, gazing across the planted vineyards, it’s hard to believe that the Pacific Ocean lies just minutes away.

Wander, linger, and toast yourself for discovering this relatively hidden treasure of a wine region. There’s no need to hurry back to the beach, unless you’ve scheduled a late afternoon massage or other treatment at one of Pismo Beach’s luxurious day spas or resorts. The only thing left on today’s agenda is dinner with a newly discovered wine as you watch the sun set into the sea.

Day Three: Relax and Make Plans

Another day in Classic California paradise calls for another leisurely walk—this time on the Pismo Beach pier and the adjacent boardwalk. Window shop and find some fun souvenirs. Also, don’t miss the Pismo Beach Premium Outlets, where you’ll find the California Welcome Center with loads of information about the surrounding area. After all, it’s not too early to start planning your next visit, or better yet, decide to stay an extra day.

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As seen in the issue Summer/Fall 2014 of Touring & Tasting Magazine.