Pismo Beach, along California’s magnificent central coast, is a place dedicated to sand, surfing, seafood, and sunsets – preferably all at the same time. This is a beach town where California’s classic surf culture still lives on. For one day in May, however, Pismo will be an international cycling capital as it once again hosts the best professionals in the world, sending them off on the longest stage of the 2019 Amgen Tour of California – 134 miles down the coast to Ventura.
From nearly any spot in Pismo Beach, the sand is just steps away. In fact, life seems to revolve around the beach and its seemingly endless activities. From blatantly obvious choices like surfing, swimming, or sunning to the more exotic dune surfing, horseback riding, or ATV jumping, this is the place to enjoy the Pacific Ocean in all its glory. The Pismo Beach Pier pierces into the ocean like a harpoon, where you can cast a line or watch the surfers drop in. The City of Pismo Beach sits at the northernmost end of a continuous fourteen-miles of blinding white-sand beaches that stretch all that way down to Santa Barbara County. In between are Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA) and Pismo State Beach, where access to the surf is as far as your tailgate. North of the pier are the remarkable natural sculptures of Dinosaur Caves Park - rent a kayak in town and paddle one-mile to the ocean caves, some small and others monstrous. While many visitors stick to the sand, the Dinosaur Caves prove that there’s more to Pismo than where the sand meets the surf.
Despite the surf and sand, Pismo Beach just wouldn’t be the same without the Pismo Clam. Only fifty years ago, Pismo earned a reputation as the Clam Capital of the World. Truth be told, the clam was so abundant that it could be harvested at low tide using a plow. Now the clams are hard to find, but their legacy lives on with the Pismo Beach Clam Festival, a three-day event that attracts 15,000 people each October. In restaurants, clams are served every which way. Try the chowder at Splash Café or the chowder fries at Wooly’s. Looking for something a little messier? Grab a seat at the Cracked Crab for a do-it-yourself adventure. Regardless, even the food scene here confirms that Pismo Beach is the essence of rustic surf culture.
Finishing up the perfect day in Pismo Beach might consist surfing the early morning swell under a haze blowing off the pier, followed by breakfast and coffee at Old West Cinnamon Rolls. Hit the dunes at Oceano before grabbing lunch back in town and then jump in a kayak for a tour of the caves. Regardless of how you spend your day, it is sure to end with a red-fired sunset overlooking the blue Pacific from the sand or cliffs. Life in Pismo Beach is slow and timeless, the perfect place for the fast-paced Amgen Tour of California to take a breath and enjoy the ocean air. Time to do it all over again tomorrow.