Skip to content

Pismo State Beach in San Luis Obispo County is famous for clams, butterflies, birds, camping, and driving your car on the beach. It’s a wonderful state park that fronts three separate cities, Oceano, Grover Beach, and Pismo Beach. Below you’ll find information on the activities in the park plus the beaches and campgrounds.


If you want to go hiking, look for trails in the dunes between Pier Ave in Oceano and Grand Ave in Grover Beach (see below for more info on the park’s three beach entrances).

Walking the beach

The north end of Pismo State Beach is best for walking to avoid sharing the sand with vehicles. Starting at the north beach entrance you can walk northward to Pismo Beach Pier and all the way to Wilmar Stairs area which has gorgeous cliffs and many sea caves.


The famous Pismo Clam can be dug up right out of the beach if you know what you are doing and have the proper clamming permit. More info on clamming here.


Bird-watching is also popular on the beach and at the Pismo Creek Lagoon on the north end near the city of Pismo Beach. The easiest access to the lagoon is at the end of Addie Street (163 Addie St, Pismo Beach, CA 93449). Nearby Oso Flaco Lake Natural Area is another place with excellent birding.


In the winter months thousands of colorful monarch butterflies make the park’s eucalyptus grove their home and create quite a buzz (figuratively not literally). Consider a visit to the Pismo Beach Butterfly Grove.


There are several options for camping in Pismo State Beach. See the section below on Beaches and Camping for where you should go.


You can build a fire right in the sand at Pismo State Beach as long as it’s not a big one. They restrict the size to 3 feet in diameter and 2 feet high and require that it’s only clean untreated wood. You can find firewood bundles in the campgrounds (ask the camp hosts)  and some stores in the area. When you are ready to leave your fire, put it out with water and don’t cover it with sand.


Pismo Beach Golf Course, an executive par 3 golf course, is next to the dunes in Grover Beach (9 Le Sage Dr, Grover Beach, CA 93433). This is a fun short course that is inexpensive and easy for even the beginning golfer. They have golf clubs and electric carts for rent to make it convenient on your visit.


Most unique of all though, Pismo State Beach is one of only a few in the state where you can drive right onto the sand legally! Head to the city of Oceano to find the entrance at Pier Avenue or the city of Grover Beach for the entrance at Grand Avenue. Here are the other beaches in California that you can drive on.

Dog Walking

You can walk your dog on the beach here as long as they are on a leash that’s 6 feet or shorter. They are also allowed on the boardwalks and hiking trails except for any signed nature preserves in the dunes.

Other activities in the park

If you have the proper gear this state beach is also known for surfing, kite-surfing, horseback riding, and surf fishing. In Oceano there are rentals for exploring Oceano Dunes SVRA in an ATV.


IMG_3637 (Large)Pismo State Beach on a sunny day

Beaches and Campgrounds

This popular Central California state park has three separate units.

  1. The southern entrance to Pismo State Beach is on Pier Avenue in the town of Oceano. As you approach the beach Oceano Campground is on your right (555 Pier Ave, Oceano, CA 93445). At the end of Pier Ave you can drive your car onto the beach. From there if you drive south, you enter Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area where hard-core 4×4 and ORV enthusiasts roam the massive dunes.
  2. The central entrance to Pismo State Beach is on Grand Avenue in the town of Grover Beach. Visitors can drive onto the beach at this entrance too, but they are only allowed to drive south towards the Oceano entrance. There is no state park campground at the Grover Beach entrance, but the day-use facilities are superb.
  3. The northern entrance to Pismo State Beach is in the city of Pismo Beach next to the North Beach Campground (399 S Dolliver St, Pismo Beach, CA 93449). A trail to the beach begins on Highway 1 outside the campground. The beach at this location is only for walking as vehicles are not allowed on the sand north of the Grover Beach entrance. The lack of cars makes this end of the state beach much quieter, and because of the lagoon that forms next to the campground, this is the best bird-watching location. If you are visiting between October and February, check out the Monarch Butterfly Grove which is next to the campground.

Enjoy your walk (or drive) on Pismo State Beach!