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Pismo Beach pier

California

Pismo Beach: Wine, Waves and Adventure in a Classic California Town

By: Idoia Gkikas

Caron Krauch
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  • States:
    California

When you think of classic California, you’re probably picturing a place very much like Pismo Beach.

Located between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Pismo Beach offers an iconic California beach experience... with a twist. That’s because here, you can just as easily surf the Pacific Ocean as you can sip an award-winning Pinot Noir. Get a taste of the possibilities with this two-day itinerary, which mixes waves, wine and adventure in Pismo Beach.

Day One: Adventure on the Water

The first day of your visit is all about the water. Clean, white sand and beautiful vistas abound, as does a variety of fascinating marine life: Sea lions, otters, dolphins and even whales might make an appearance.

Sea kayaking is a peaceful way to explore the ocean, not to mention the only way to access intriguing coastal caves (when the tide is low) and other fragile marine environments. Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is fun and a great workout. Paddle at a leisurely pace or ride the waves like a surfer.

If the wind is up, try kiteboarding. It’s like standing on a surfboard attached to a kite – you get to enjoy the best of the wind and the surf. For traditional surfing, find excellent spots to catch a wave at both north and south Pismo Beach. With smaller crowds and no coral or rocks, Pismo is a great place to enjoy either sport. And getting out on the water isn’t a problem – plenty of professional outfitters offer equipment rentals and lessons.

After a day on the beach, stroll around downtown Pismo Beach, stopping in for a tasting at a wine bar and savoring a meal on an outdoor patio with stunning views.

Kayakers head out for a relaxing day on the Pismo Beach water

Kayakers head out for a relaxing day on the Pismo Beach water
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Bonita Ernst

Day Two: Wine Country and Seaside Scenery

The first part of day two is reserved for Edna Valley wine country, which is just a 10-minute drive from downtown Pismo Beach. Book a half-day guided tour in a luxury van, limousine or motor coach for a relaxing experience. Or join a half-day bike tour, which has the added bonus of including time spent outside in the beautiful weather. If you prefer to go at your own pace, rent bikes and explore the country roads and trails through San Luis Obispo’s wine country.

There’s no better way to end your trip than by soaking up the breath-taking beach scenery in the soon-to-be open Pismo Preserve. Just north of Pismo Beach, this must-see includes 900 acres of stunning coastline, forested hills descending into the Pacific Ocean, rocky cliffs, panoramic overlooks and a 18-kilometer trail system designed for hiking, biking, cycling and horseback riding. 

With such an unforgettable itinerary, it’s tempting to add an extra day – or two – to take it all in. From oceanfront resorts to family-friendly vacation rentals and ocean-side RV parks, a variety of lodging options are available to help extend your stay.

Known as SLO Wine Country, the San Luis Obispo wine region is distinct for its proximity to the Pacific Ocean. The cool marine air flows through the vineyards and gardens.

Known as SLO Wine Country, the San Luis Obispo wine region is distinct for its proximity to the Pacific Ocean. The cool marine air flows through the vineyards and gardens.
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Getting There

The San Luis Obispo Airport is located minutes from Pismo Beach and offers flights to and from Phoenix, Arizona; Seattle, Washington; and Los Angeles and San Francisco, California.

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