With surfing, shopping and dining on the itinerary, downtown Pismo Beach is all about overdelivering on classic California fun in the sun. While the golden sand beach is a popular locale for surfers and sunbathers alike, Pismo Beach’s dynamic downtown—anchored by the newly renovated 1,200+ foot-long Pismo Beach Pier and Promenade—is a destination in its own right. This is for good reason: there’s just so much to do, see and taste, whether you go by foot, bicycle or board. Not far from the water’s edge and offering up an array of unique shops, board and bike rentals and amazing restaurants, you’ll find hundreds of ways to savor the sunshine in downtown Pismo Beach all year round. At the heart of all the action lies the Pismo Beach Pier, home to a vibrant farmers market (held Wednesdays from 4 to 7 p.m.), a visitor’s center, Whale Surfing Playground for the kiddos, and vintage trailers serving up top notch refreshments. Of course, there’s also the illuminated, seven-foot-tall “Pismo Beach” selfie attraction backdropped by the glittering Pacific that you must see to believe! Plus, with close proximity to breathtaking attractions like the Oceano Dunes, quaint Avila Beach, and the award-winning Edna Valley and SLO Coast Wine Region, you’re in a unique position to soak up some of Highway 1’s most coveted coastal treasures. Ready to dive in? The water’s fine and the clam chowder is stellar. Time to paddle out to downtown Pismo!
Explore Pismo Beach
Shopping Pismo Surf, Skate & Bike Shops
Moondoggie's Beach Club
Established in 1986, Moondoggie’s Beach Club is a Pismo Beach tradition for surfers, skaters or anyone looking to take home a little piece of Pismo Beach’s local beach culture. Carrying handy grab-and-go beach bag necessities like SPF, towels, hats and sandals, you’ll also find uniquely California-styled clothing for men, women and kids. Looking to get in the water yourself? Check out the shop’s array of wetsuits, surfboards and gear. Yes, they also offer surf lessons, offered to beginners and intermediates alike. There’s no time like the present to take the plunge!
Pismo Beach Surf Shop
The oldest surf shop operating on the California Central Coast, Pismo Beach Surf Shop has proudly outfitted local and traveling beach-goers since 1962. Among the racks of wetsuits, shirts and board shorts, you’ll also find surfboard, skim board and standup paddle board rentals. Want to hit the waves but not quite sure where to start? With professionally hosted surf lessons and kayak tours available, you can explore Pismo Beach the way the dolphins do—from sea level. Whether you book an intimate, private surf lesson or a fun group kayak adventure, you’ll get a truly local experience.
Esteem Surf Company
With its tongue-in-cheek tagline, “Not L.A., Not the Bay,” Esteem Surf Company celebrates Pismo Beach’s unique position along California’s sunny coastline. With a laid back vibe and cozy atmosphere, this surf shop is packed to the gills with everything you need to enjoy a day on the water. Explore unique wares, including sunglasses, stylish clothes for men and women, vintage finds, beach blankets, accessories and more. Want to learn how to hang ten? Just ask a staff member about renting a wetsuit and a board. With a little help from these friendly folks in the know, you’ll be paddling out with confidence in no time.
Pancho's Surf Shop
Known for their massive selection of surf gear, clothes and board rentals combined with warm customer service, Pancho’s Surf Shop is a must-stop for anyone looking to unleash their inner sun-worshipper in style. Conveniently located near the Pismo Beach Pier, this classic surf shop boasts an extensive array of surfboards, wetsuits, skate decks, clothing and accessories (just look to their colorful floor-to-ceiling displays, which are truly hard to miss). Need a pair of flip flops, water shoes or a sweatshirt to combat that cool evening breeze? Swing by this favorite surfer’s hangout packed with everything you need to splash into good times.
Pismo Supply Co.
Boasting the largest skateboard selection in Pismo Beach, this friendly little board shop located in the heart of downtown Pismo Beach is ready to outfit anyone interested in rolling on four wheels. Breeze around town on a brand new deck, grab the gear you need to upgrade your own board, or simply peruse the shelves of unique skate accessories, including stickers, t-shirts, beanies, baseball caps, backpacks and more.
Pedal Up Pismo
Pedal Up Pismo makes exploring Pismo Beach on two (or more) wheels easy, fun and totally carefree. Want to feel the breeze in your hair and sun on your face? Rent a bike for the hour or the day—it’s up to you! Plus, if you need a wetsuit or surfboard, they have those too, making for one super convenient one-stop experience. With electric bicycles for easy, no-fuss exploration and classic beach cruisers ready for the farmer’s market or pier, you can traverse the coast in whichever way you wish. Have a few friends in gow? Try a single, double or triple Surrey bicycle for group-sized fun you can take all over town.
Shopping Pismo Gifts & Souvenirs
The Sky's the Limit
Known for combining “kites, flags and fun,” The Sky’s the Limit has the ability to bring out the adventurous child that lives within us all. Ignite your imagination with seasonal flags and colorful kites ready to take flight, discover whimsical garden art or pick up classic children’s toys perfect for souvenirs and keepsakes. A mom-and-pop novelty shop with charm to spare, you’ll also find stuffed animals, wind chimes and seasonal decor all designed to delight at first sight. In other words, if it puts a smile on your face, you’ll probably find it here!
If you want to take home a special memento of beautiful Pismo Beach, look no further than Pier Gifts, a classic souvenir shop stuffed with Pismo branded clothing, mugs, magnets, keychains and so much more. Commemorate your visit to downtown Pismo with snow globes, seashells or shot glasses—really, let your personality be your guide! After all, no two beach towns are exactly the same. It’s no wonder why thousands of travelers flock to Pier Gifts hunting for their own local treasure.
The Sports Forum
True sports fans shop at The Sports Forum in Pismo Beach, where you can find the largest local selection of professional sports memorabilia in the area. Family-owned and operated since 1988, you’ll find everything from team-branded wallets to your favorite player’s jersey in this friendly beachside shop. Sure, you’re a fan, but do you have the gear to prove it? With hats, socks, coolers, decals, license plate frames, slippers and scarves all emblazoned with your favorite team, you’ll have no problem showing your undying pride in downtown Pismo Beach.
Ashtie's Beach Shack
Show the lady in your life you’re thinking of them (or treat yourself) with something special procured from Ashtie’s Beach Shack in downtown Pismo Beach. With contemporary women’s clothing, fun gifts and accessories to spare, you’ll find sweatshirts, t-shirts, sandals, swimsuits, beach cover-ups alongside beach blankets, gifts and souvenirs.
Pismo dine in or take out restaurants
Comfort food collides with the coast at Beachin’ Biscuits, Pismo Beach’s answer to a hot, warm and supremely filling breakfast. Serving up flaky fresh buttermilk biscuits smothered in from-scratch gravy, filled with scrambled eggs or slathered with house made honey butter, you can squash your savory (or sweet) breakfast craving in a single bite. Feeling extra hungry? Grab a loaded Tsunami Breakfast Burrito, Grilled Ham and Cheese Panini, Gnarly Potatoes or Sunrise Breakfast Tacos filled with onions, peppers, bacon, eggs, and fresh salsa.
Located at the base of the Pismo Pier, Wooly’s offers up dockside dining with a pet friendly patio to boot. With Pismo Beach favorites like clam chowder, fish and chips, steamed clams and thick half pound Angus burgers all paired with creative specialty cocktails, local wine and craft beer, you’ll get a hearty, casual meal paired with an unrivaled view of the ocean. Plus, with easy grab-and-go offerings like kid’s corn dogs, onion rings, garlic bread or potato salad, you can easily grab a snack, if that’s what you’re after. Of course, it’s hard not to chow down when there’s something called “chowder fries” on the menu.
Grab a satisfying pick-me-up at Pierside Market and you’ll have all the energy in the world to catch a wave, skim the surf or hop on that e-bicycle. With fresh, super fruit-packed acai bowls courtesy of Krave a Bowl, tuna-topped poke bowls overflowing with rice and veggies and luscious build-your-own wraps and sandwiches ranging from breakfast to lunch staples,, you can choose your own flavor adventure with yummy results. Whether you prefer extra blueberries, a squirt of hot mustard or avocado with your Breaker Fries (basically, fries topped with all the good stuff you could possibly imagine), you’ll feel in control of your own culinary destiny. Speaking of seizing the day, you’ll want to check out Pierside’s coffee offerings, too. For dessert, there’s always a simple scoop of vanilla or a deep fried banana split, depending on your mood.
The humble potato chip soars to new levels of awesomeness at Chipwrecked, downtown Pismo Beach’s gourmet answer to the modern snack attack. With bold, creative flavors like The Santa Maria (imbued with the same combination of garlic, pepper and smoke famous for Santa Maria barbecue), the Sao Martinho (featuring flavors of paprika and Portuguese linguica), and The Diana (which smacks of sweet cinnamon and is served with a side of cheesecake dipping sauce), you’ll upgrade your lunch with a satisfying crunch. Plus, with good-to-the-last bite sandwiches, salads and more,, you can fit a full square meal into your next snack run.
Gaming and grub come together at Hotshots Pismo, where you can devour appetizers, burgers, sandwiches, pizza, seafood and desserts alongside taps of craft beer and more dozen pool and air hockey tables. After you obliterate your hunger, it’s time to hit the arcade or pool hall, where folks of all skill levels regularly chalk their cue sticks (the hangout is also known to host APA, SDPPA and amateur pool league tournaments). Before you head out the door, check out the gift shop, where you’ll find thousands of unique and funny t-shirt designs lining the walls, loads of Pismo Beach branded trinkets and even a billiard pro shop.
Mo's Smokehouse Barbecue
Whether you’re in the mood for juicy barbecued chicken, sweet shredded pork or a half rack of hickory smoked ribs smothered in a tangy vinegar-based sauce, you’ll find it slow cooked to perfection at Mo’s Smokehouse and barbecue in downtown Pismo Beach. This local favorite knows a thing or two about preparing meats the right way: each cut is smoked on site and served with a whole lot of love (that love includes a corn muffin, beans and your choice of coleslaw or potato salad). Whether you grab a barbecue sandwich, rib sampler or chipotle lime chicken tacos, you’ll be sure to kill your craving for something cooked slow and low.
With a vast selection of on-tap and bottled craft beers, the boardroom is actually a fun place to hang, whether it be a random Tuesday night or the weekend. Go from “pier to beer” in seconds thanks to close proximity to all the action downtown. Savor thoughtfully crafted dishes—including flatbread pizzas topped with everything from pineapple to pepperoni, plus soups, sandwiches, salads and sliders—all ready ready to complement that extensive beer list. Local wine lover? No worries, you’ll find everything from Edna Valley chardonnay to Paso Robles cabernet sauvignon behind the ample bar.
Dumpling noodle soup, orange chicken and unagi eel-drizzled chicken wings are only a few of the tantalizing Asian fusion delights on offer at Fay’s Fusion in downtown Pismo Beach. Experience a new twist on takeout when you explore Fay’s menu, designed to quell those unexpected hunger pangs in a jiffy. Not sure what to try first? The braised pork belly, soy glazed salmon and flavorful shrimp wonton soup are all a great place to start.
Famous for its rich, creamy clam chowder, Splash Cafe has earned its place as one of the top dining destinations in downtown Pismo Beach. Savor this award-winning coastal cuisine poured into a warm sourdough bread bowl and topped with bacon, green onion, cheese or even extra clams. Of course, you can also graze on fried fish, calamari or shrimp and chips; specialty seafood sandwiches featuring cod, salmon, ahi or lobster; juicy burgers from the double bacon to vegetarian variety; chili dogs, salads, wraps and decadent desserts, too. Want to take home that fabulous, made-from-scratch flavor? Grab some frozen chowder to go and enjoy a piping hot reminder of Pismo Beach whenever the mood strikes.
A 50-year tradition in Pismo Beach, Brad’s Restaurant combines the fresh flavor of local seafood with savory oak pit barbecue served fresh morning till night. Savor casual American flavors at their most scrumptious: a seafood omelet served with a side of bacon and OJ to delectable shrimp cocktail, fried fish and chips or smoky, barbecued tri-tip sandwiches all grace this time-honored menu. With a great senior offering served for lunch and dinner and lighter afre like the crab and shrimp louie salad or a cup of classic chili–if you’re craving it, you can most likely enjoy it at Brad’s.
Pismo Fish & Chips
True to its name, Pismo Fish & Chips specializes in sizzling platters of crispy seafood served fresh from the fryer straight to your tummy. Originally opened on the promenade in Pismo Beach way back in 1963, this locally-loved haunt has offered some of the best fish and chips in town ever since. Stop in for fried white cod, shrimp or calamari, and chips as well as grilled pleasures, including rich and succulent salmon, firm and flaky tilapia, meaty swordfish or buttery trout. Want to get even closer to the sea? Start with a half dozen oysters on the half shell!
Pismo Coffee, Candy & Ice Cream Shops
Kraken Coffee Company
Known for their bold “poor but sexy” roasts first popularized by San Luis Obispo sister shop Kreuzberg California, Kraken Coffee Company knows how to pour up a strong shot of strong espresso, foamy latte or refreshing cold brew with style. Since 2019, the hip Pismo Beach location proved itself as a go-to source for an incredible cup of joe paired with fresh baked pastries and quirky, seaside decor. Love the vibe? Shop Kraken’s array of hand-picked housewares, cook books and coffee accessories all while you anticipate your order.
Whether you like ’em glazed, raised or covered in rainbow sprinkles, Surfside Donuts has a fresh-from-the-fryer confection with your name on it. Always made from-scratch daily and featuring unique flavors—salted caramel, spiced chai, Fruity Pebbles and the bacon-topped “Elvis,” just to name just a few—this fun-loving hangout is the place to nosh exciting new donut flavors in Pismo Beach from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. (that said, some flavors sell out quick, so run, don’t walk)! Need a pick-me-up before you hit an early morning surf sesh? Grab a cup of Stumptown Hair Benders Blend coffee along with your donut, a combo sure to instantly brighten your day.
Cowboy Cookie & Ice Cream
With more than three decades of experience crafting the most irresistible cookies on the Central Coast, Cowboy Cookie & Ice Cream is a fresh-baked tradition often imitated, never replicated. Using the same gourmet recipes and fresh, all natural ingredients that first inspired their flagship San Luis Obispo locale, it’s no wonder the Pismo Beach location garners such loyal fans, both locally and afar. From peanut butter “critters” and sugar “mavericks” to cinnamon-dusted snickerdoodle “tumbleweeds,” each melt-in-your-mouth cookie is better than you ever remembered grandma baking. Plus, you can top all that warm cookie dough goodness with a scoop of ice cream when you order a decadent “ice cream cookie cup.” Need we say more?
When you feel like creating your own frozen bliss, head to Pismo Beach Yogurt, a local favorite for dessert time, celebration time or anytime. At this cheery frozen yogurt shop, your imagination can be your guide! Choose your own frozen yogurt base before topping the sweet treat with whatever snacks look particularly appealing (cereal, chocolate fudge, candy, berries—you name it). With hundreds of flavor combinations to choose from, it would take years to try them all. Here’s to trying!
Old West Cinnamon Rolls
Purveyors of piping hot coffee and the best cinnamon rolls around, Old West Cinnamon Rolls is an icing-topped tradition not to be passed up in Pismo. Located downtown, this sweet-smelling shop entices travelers of all ilk with waves of gloriously fragrant dough. Whether you choose cinnamon-raisin walnut with classic cream cheese glaze, almond-topped or heart-shaped, you’re in for a wallop of fabulous fresh-baked flavor.
Pismo Festivals & Events
Wine, Waves and Beyond
Paddle out to Pismo’s premiere wine and surf culture celebration, combining a surf movie night, classic Volkswagen car show, surf contest and Barrel to Barrel tasting, featuring more than 40 wineries, breweries and local culinary goodies. Held annually each May over three days of fun, experience one of the most unique annual events held on the Central Coast.
Pismo Clam Festival
Held annually each October, the Pismo Beach Clam Festival celebrates Pismo Beach’s time-honored love of locally made clam chowder. Attracting visitors from around the state, this vibrant and delicious event allows generations of families to show off their own recipes over three days of fun in the sun. Held at the Pismo Beach Pier and Promenade and overlooking the ocean, the citywide event combines live music, an expanded Family-Fun Kid Zone, local food vendors, a beer and wine garden and—of course—the Beer Best Local Clam Chowder Contest. Who knew that a little competition could taste this good?
4th of July Firework Show
Fireworks explode over the Pacific at Pismo Beach’s annual 4th of July Firework Show, a dazzling display of artistry and patriotism held on the sand along the Pismo Beach Pier. This ticketed visual feast for the eyes is known for delighting folks of all ages as spectacular colors glitter across the coastal night sky. Pack a beach chair, blanket and perhaps a cooler and prepare to kick back while the show unfolds above.
Billabong Still Frothy Surf Festival
Held each September at the Pismo Beach Pier, the Billabong Still Frothy Surf Festival is all about catching that next big wave. Offering up friendly surf competition opportunities to all ages, this event brings together surfing enthusiasts from across the West Coast and beyond. Held by a nonprofit whose goal is to shepherd active beach community lifestyles through events, education, beach preservation, fundraising and charitable contributions, spectators and competitors can leave feeling the good vibes. Of course, winners can feel even better walking away with cash prizes and epic bragging rights, too!
“The Classic” Pismo Beach Car Show
When those engines begin to rev, you know that The Classic Pismo Beach Car Show is just around the corner. Held annually each September, this celebrated worldwide event is known as the premiere car show to attend in Pismo Beach, featuring vintage rides motoring in from as far away as Alaska and Australia. A beloved local tradition since the early 80s, you’ll find hundreds of shiny paint jobs lining the streets of downtown Pismo Beach—quite a sight to behold on a sunny day! Of course, you can also sign up to ride your own rod through during the iconic Sunset Cruise Parade.
Taste of Pismo
Bringing together a team of talented top chefs each August, Taste of Pismo is a 21+ celebration of fantastic local food, fine wine and craft beer. With culinary creatives vying for the coveted “Best of Taste Award,” you’re encouraged to sample all that this crave-worthy competition has to offer (plus, you can have a hand in awarding the “Taste People’s Choice” award). Vote for your favorite chef, brewery or winery while savoring a little of this and a whole lot of that. Needless to say, come hungry and ready to eat!
Best Things to Do in Pismo
Pismo Beach Golf Course
Your golden opportunity awaits at Pismo Beach Golf Course, mere steps from the sand. Hit the links while seagulls and pelicans soar overhead in Pismo Beach. This nine-hole par 27 executive course covers 29 acres of oceanfront with views of the Oceano Dunes Preserve—an impressive swatch of SLO CAL real estate. The sound of crashing waves adds a true blue California vibe to this treasured coastal gem. Yes, you can enjoy the allure of Pismo Beach, even if your idea of “fun in the sun” doesn’t include a surfboard!
Monarch Butterfly Grove
What’s orange and black and fluttering all over? The Monarch Butterfly Grove in Pismo Beach is a must-see spectacle that you might be surprised to find tucked away along Highway 1. If you’ve never seen these otherworldly beauties flutter in unison, plan to do so October through February, when populations are at their peak. This truly is a magical experience!
With a stunning network of open space trails traversing elevated coastline, the Pismo Preserve allows hikers, bikers and equestrians to enjoy expansive panoramic ocean views. Truly, you won’t run out of nooks and crannies to explore here: At 880 acres, the Pismo Preserve comprises 11 miles of single-track trail and ranch roads twisting through oak woodlands and coastal ridges. Many of the lookouts along these trails are ideal for whale watching, as whales migrate just off the shoreline. Views also reach to the Irish Hills to the north and past The Oceano Dunes to point Sal State Beach in the south. Needless to say, bring those binoculars!
A mix of food, shopping and breathtaking views, the newly renovated 1,200+ foot-long Pismo Beach Pier and Promenade is the beating heart of downtown Pismo Beach. Home to a vibrant farmers market (held Wednesdays from 4 to 7 p.m.), a visitor’s center, Whale Surfing Playground for the kiddos, and vintage trailers serving up top notch refreshments, there’s something for everyone in your group. Of course, there’s also the illuminated, seven-foot-tall “Pismo Beach” selfie attraction backdropped by the glittering Pacific that you must see to believe. Don’t forget to say “cheese!”
Best Things to Do Near Pismo
Monarch Dunes Golf Course
Nearby in Nipomo, you’ll find another fabulous place to tee off. Lose yourself in at Monarch Dunes Golf Course, backdropped by Highway 1’s coastal highlands and otherworldly dunes. Nestled atop the Nipomo Mesa, this unmatched golf resort is home to a pair of award-winning courses crafted in the Scottish links style. Expect to be wowed by views of windswept dunes, eucalyptus groves, the coast and amber-colored hillsides. The 18-hole par 71 championship course takes full advantage of its glorious setting—which might be partly why it’s garnered so many accolades from GOLF Magazine, Golf Inc. Magazine, Fairways + Greens Magazine, Golf Digest and more. The course’s five scenic lakes, spacious driving range and onsite bistro, the Butterfly Grille, might also factor in, of course. Monarch’s second offering, a unique 12-hole, par 3 course lives up to its name: “The Challenge.”
The Great American Melodrama
Combining classic vaudeville pizazz and hilarious interactive audience participation, you can boo, hiss and chuckle your way to good times at the Great American Melodrama in nearby Oceano. With seasonal offerings featuring singing, dancing and a whole lot of laughs, this is one “dinner and a show” that the whole family will enjoy.
Eat at Jocko’s Famous Steakhouse
Cooking their steaks over red oak coals since the 1940s, the pit crew at Jocko’s Famous Steakhouse in nearby Nipomo know how to serve up a superb slab of meat you’re sure to marvel over. With it’s simple motto “well fed” in mind, make room for a family-style feast of Texas toast, ranch-style beans, a relish tray, salsa, salad course and a tasty dessert!
Adventure the Oceano Dunes
The surreal, moon-like Oceano Dunes is best known for the Oceano Dunes State Vehicle Recreation Area (SVRA), the only one of its kind to allow vehicles to drive on the sand. Kick your vehicle into high gear and roll on to your heart’s content. Whether you drive your own ride or hop in an ATV, you’re sure to get an adrenaline rush!
Avila Beach Golf Course
Get back into the swing of things at the nearby Avila Beach Golf Course, known for pleasurable play along the San Luis Bay. A stone’s throw from Avila Beach’s white sand coastline, this attractive course is beautiful and cunning, providing exciting challenges around every bend. With 18 holes, a pro shop and private lessons, the 72 par course measures in at a whopping 6,364 yards and is studded with kikuyu grass fairways and bentgrass greens. Command your cart across hilly terrain flanked by stately oaks, ending your game with a glass of local wine from Mulligan’s, the onsite full-service bar and restaurant. From elevated greens affording sweeping views of the sea to a unique tidal estuary, you’ll be wowed again and again by the natural wonders on display in awe-inspiring Avila.
Best Places to Stay Near Pismo
While downtown Pismo Beach is a fabulous place to enjoy shopping, dining and seaside attractions, we recommend beating the crowds with rejuvenating and restful stays nestled nearby all the action. With comfortable hotels and vacation rentals ready to welcome you in Avila Beach (a ten minute drive north), Edna Valley (a ten minute drive east) and Oceano & Nipomo (a five minute drive south), you can find the perfect launch pad for your next Pismo Beach adventure.