Pismo State Beach Things to Do

  • Notice the car parked on the beach.
    Notice the car parked on the beach.
    by KimberlyAnn
  • Mallard Duck Near the Lagoon
    Mallard Duck Near the Lagoon
    by KimberlyAnn
  • Chinese Goose
    Chinese Goose
    by KimberlyAnn

Most Recent Things to Do in Pismo State Beach

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    Monarch Butterfly Grove

    by KimberlyAnn Updated Feb 1, 2010
    The Butterfly Grove
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    Pismo State Beach is an area of one of the largest areas for wintering Monarch Butterflies in the United states, varying from 20,000 to 200,000 per year. Wow! Wouldn’t that be something to see? These orange and black butterflies will form large hanging clusters in the Eucalyptus trees in the grove, and when it is warm and sunny, they will become more active, flying through out the area looking for nectar and drinking water. These clusters help to keep the butterfly warm on cool, gray days, and the weight of the cluster prevents it from blowing around too badly in the wind. The butterflies mate before they leave the area, then fly north looking for milkweed, the only plant on which they lay their eggs. These Monarchs then die, leaving their off spring to continue the trip north, mating, and laying more eggs, each time dying, and leaving the new generation to continue north. Each new generation flies farther and farther north, until they reach as far north as they can go, sometimes as far as central Canada, before the weather becomes colder and the days shorter. Here they lay eggs and die. After hatching, the next generation migrates all the way back south to their wintering grounds. It is one of life’s mysteries as to how this generation knows where the wintering area is located. Generally they are in Pismo from early November to sometime in February. Unfortunately, we were there during the first two weeks of March. Even so, although there were no clusters, on a warm sunny day there were more butterflies flying around the area, than I have ever seen, including in both campgrounds. By the time we left, however, they were almost completely gone.

    Related to:
    • Eco-Tourism
    • Hiking and Walking
    • National/State Park

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    Ocean Dunes State Vehicle Recreation Area

    by KimberlyAnn Updated Jun 7, 2008
    Notice the car parked on the beach.

    Pismo is the only beach in California where the area along the water’s edge is firm enough to support travel by ordinary street vehicles. At the southern end of the State Beach is the 2800 acre Ocean Dunes SVRA, State Vehical Recreation Area, for off highway vehicles. This is a 5 and half mile stretch of beach which is open to street vehicles and off road vehicles. Passenger cars can easily drive on the northern portion of the State Beach, but four wheel drive vehicles are recommended for driving to the camping area and the off highway vehicle use areas in the SVRA Park. There are even areas of sand dunes where you may drive an ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles). You can even drive in and camp on the beach. It is recommended, however, that you only do this if you are using a four wheel drive vehicle to pull your RV, as you will have to cross a creek to get to the camping area. The depth of this creek varies, so you may drive across it when it seems small, then when you want to leave, discover it is much deeper and wider. Also note that high tides, heavy rains, and blowing sand may determine how safe it is for you to drive down the beach without getting stuck. Besides the official web page listed below, visit Duneguide for photos taken during prime time and flood season, and additional information.

    To view a video of the portion of the State Beach where vehicle travel is permitted, visit my video, Driving on Pismo Beach.

    Related to:
    • Beaches
    • National/State Park
    • Road Trip

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    Meadow Creek Trail

    by KimberlyAnn Written Apr 29, 2007
    The Meadow Creek Boardwalk

    The Meadow Creek Trail is an attractive, short walk that connects the area near the Le Sage Day Use access ramp to the beach, and the North Beach Campground and Monarch Butterfly area. The trail starts at the western end of the Le Sage Drive and leads north, ending near the campground and grove of eucalyptus trees, or you can park at the Monarch Butterfly area and begin by following the trail south along Meadow Creek. Much of this trail is a boardwalk, which runs over low dunes and follows the beach, winding past the golf course. At the end closest to the Le Sage Day Use Area, you will find a viewing platform, of coastal views. From this trail you may walk to the Grover Beach parking area and have a snack at the restaurant, or stop at the beach. Be aware that cars are allowed on the beach in this area.

    Related to:
    • Beaches
    • National/State Park
    • Hiking and Walking

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    Grand Dunes Trail

    by KimberlyAnn Written Apr 29, 2007
    Walking In the Dunes

    If you enjoyed the short, Beach Dune Trail, you might like to walk The Grand Dunes Trail. This is a one-way trail, which begins near the Grover Beach Day Use Area at the end of Grand Avenue, then winds south through the dunes to Oceano Campground. Some of the plants that grow in the dunes are primrose and sand verbena, as well as low bushes. The trail is all sand, and can be moderately strenuous. It can also be very hot in warm weather, so carry water. If you are a bird watcher, be sure to carry your binoculars. Also watch for small lizards scurrying across the path. Since dune plant life can be very fragile, human feet can damage the dunes. For this reason it is very important that you stay on the designated trail, and be aware that no dogs are allowed.

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • National/State Park

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    Beach Dune Trail

    by KimberlyAnn Written Apr 29, 2007
    Walking To the Beach From Oceano

    If you are at the Oceano Campground, or visiting the visitor center there, take the short winding Beach Dune Trail to the beach. It is a very lovely walk through a plant and shrub covered set of dunes. If you watch carefully, you may see small lizards and pretty birds along the way. Since Oceano is in the area where cars are allowed to be on the beach, don’t be surprised when you see them. The first time I walked out of the dunes and saw the beach, I was quite shocked. When I crested the last dune, and looked out at the beach, there were cars driving on it, as well as two horseback riders, a person flying a trick kite, joggers, and walkers. Talk about a mixture of beach users!

    Related to:
    • Beaches
    • Hiking and Walking
    • National/State Park

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    Nature Center and Lagoon Trail

    by KimberlyAnn Updated Apr 29, 2007
    Mallard Duck Near the Lagoon
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    There is a small Nature Center located at the Oceano Campground. This center has a few displays on the birds, animals, butterflies, and native plants in the area, as well as the Chumash Indian culture. There is also a collection of videos. Since we missed the main monarch season, we watched an interesting video showing the Monarchs when they are in the area in the thousands. Also located in the Oceano Campground, is the Lagoon Trail, an easy, three quarters of a mile walk that circles the lagoon. Along this walk you will see a variety of vegetation, and usually you will also see a number of birds

    Related to:
    • Museum Visits
    • National/State Park
    • Hiking and Walking

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Pismo State Beach Things to Do

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