Pismo Beach is located on the central coast of California.
A quick history lesson: Pismo Beach was originally found during the first European land exploration of California. Originally there was a small Chumash Indian village there, as documented in 1769 by expedition member Juan Crespi. Many years later, it was part of the Mexican land grant made to Jose Ortega. The original town of Pismo beach was established about 1890.
The name Pismo comes from the Chumash language for tar. Tar was a highly valued product that Chumash Indians used to create their sea going canoes, and water from their homes. It was used for many household items too.
Pismo Beach is located about 177 miles, or 3 hours north of LAX. It is worth the drive! You can choose from two routes; One is quick on major freeways (1-405, to 101) while the other takes the slow route (Highway 1).
It is an absolutely beautiful drive up Highway 1. You will see many beautiful and iconic parts of Southern California on this one drive alone. This includes Marina del Rey, Santa Monica, Malibu, Oxnard, Ventura, Solvang and Santa Barbara (to be clear, Highway 101 is the main route with Highway 1 branching off and on it).
Technically Pismo Beach is a small town of about 9000 people, but for holidays and long weekends it gets very crowded. It’s best to enjoy it mid week, not during holidays.
This beach has some thing for everyone – you can camp, BBQ, and ride dirt bikes right on the beach- if that’s not for you, there’s fine dining and shopping, too. There is a huge pier that stretches into the ocean; a stroll on it is lovely. You can see the surfers, swimmers, and beachgoers.
Pismo Beach was recently renovated in 2020 and it looks spectacular now. It has a large, well-laid plaza which includes shops, restaurants, cafés, and an oversized neon sign for snapshots, children’s play area, benches, clean restrooms and artwork. I appreciate is that designers were careful to include ADA access to the beach, playground, and slides.
Yes, slides! In fact, the whole area is very ADA-friendly. There are ramps to access sidewalks, brightly painted crosswalk areas, signs, and the plaza is flat and even, with many benches and places to sit. The pier itself is like other piers- slightly elevated bumps and one must be a little cautious- but otherwise it is safe.
One of our favorite things to do is visit Splash Cafe. This award-winning chowder shack is amazing! Sometimes there are lines of people waiting to get a bowl of chowder- trust me, it’s worth it. They also have great sandwiches, fries, onion rings, crabs and more.
There is a parking garage nearby to access all the fun. There’s also much free parking on the street, but that can get crowded occasionally.
If you have any questions, please contact me and I will be glad to give you more information. It is a beach left by locals and visitors alike. And we welcome all!