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Pismo Beach
For a beach vacation, you could hardly do better

California's Central Coast is a treasure trove for the traveler -- from wineries to historic sites to wide, expansive beaches, this part of California seems to have it all. And, if a beach vacation is in your plans, you could hardly do better than beautiful Pismo Beach.

The ocean, of course, is at the top of the list when you visit Pismo Beach. There are numerous lodgings on the beach and, during a recent visit, we rented a beachfront hotel unit and enjoyed some great family time exploring Pismo Beach, checking out the waterfront caves and walking the endless beaches. The funky pier area is loaded with kids’ attractions which made our 5-year-old quite happy.

The sea was a little rough during the time we visited so we didn’t get a chance to spot much of the sea life that is so abundant along this part of the California coastline. It turns out that Dolphin Bay, where we were staying, actually has that name for a reason – its waters are home to long-beaked and short-beaked common dolphins as well as several other variations of dolphins and porpoises. Seals, sea otters and gray whales also are often sighted in the area, especially in the winter months.

As you might expect, the area’s golf courses take full advantage of the area’s scenic beauty and the ocean breezes make even the warmest days ideal for getting a little exercise. Other significant attractions near Pismo Beach include:

Beaches, beaches and more beaches -- The beaches, in fact, are often the main reason visitors come to this part of California and Pismo Beach is just the beginning. More than 80 miles of beaches are ready for exploration, each just a little different than the one preceding it. Driving Highway 1 along the coast is a kaleidoscope of colorful beach scenes that offer everything from wide, sandy beaches for sun worshippers to craggy shoreline perfect for finding tide pools and various forms of sea life.

Montana de Oro State Park – This 8,000-acre park includes some 50 miles of well-maintained trails. Visitors enjoy hiking, biking and horseback riding on these trails and there is shore-fishing and scuba diving from the park’s beaches.

Cambria – Just up the coast, this artists’ colony offers a charming afternoon of shopping as well as enjoyable dining in several local restaurants. The scenery in this part of the county is what really makes it appealing – the closer you drive to the coast, the more Monterey pines appear. This area offers a combination of rolling hills, quiet winding roads and towering pines. It’s also here that you’ll find Moonstone Beach, so named because of the semi-precious agate and jasper stones that can be found in the sand.

San Simeon and Hearst Castle – When you stay at Pismo Beach you are within striking distance of one of California’s top tourist attractions, the famous Hearst Castle. Bus coaches leave from an elaborate visitors’ center and take visitors a few miles up into the mountains to the former home of publishing magnate William Randolf Hearst.

Paso Robles – Drive inland a ways and you’ll see that the Paso Robles area presents another type of getaway experience altogether – a group of 80 tasting rooms just waiting for you to stop and enjoy the fruits of these up-and-coming wineries. Paso Robles hasn’t been discovered to the degree that Napa has, so prices are lower and the locals say the quality is just as good. In this particular region, the volcanic soil has made the local grapes especially appropriate for red wines.

For more information on Pismo Beach, phone 800-443-7778 or visit

RECOMMENDED LODGING: Click here for more information on recommended lodgings in the Pismo Beach area.

Please visit California Weekend for more information on California travel .
Photo credits: Cary Ordway, Sandi Ordway