Things to Do in Pismo Beach

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Hat, Shell Beach, Central Coast

Shell Beach, The Cliffs, Pismo

Short on time? Follow this link to a Google Maps version of our guide of things to do in Pismo Beach with all of our favorite spots labeled! You can “follow” the guide, and the saved locations will automatically transfer to your own Google Maps account.

Tyler and I will always hold the Central Coast of California in a special place in our hearts. We went to school in San Luis Obispo where we were friends for years before we started dating our senior year.

We made some of our best memories in college–separate and together–exploring the area surrounding San Luis Obispo, lovingly known as SLO. (Read about our favorite places in SLO itself here).

Shell Beach, The Cliffs

I told Tyler for my birthday this year that all I wanted was a tri-tip sandwich from Firestone in SLO…such a pregnant move. And who is Tyler to say no to his baby mama–or a Firestone sandwich?

Instead of staying right in San Luis Obispo this time (it can be busy and a little college student-heavy), we decided to stay in Pismo Beach and spend the weekend soaking up the ocean air.

Shell Beach, The Cliffs

Where to Stay in Pismo Beach: The Cliffs Hotel + Spa

Our very first choice was to stay at The Cliffs Hotel + Spa, a luxurious oceanfront getaway in Shell Beach. We ate at The Cliffs’ amazing Sunday brunch on one of our first dates, so my hormonal little heart thought it would be just so romantic to stay at the hotel for the weekend and reminisce.

The Cliffs just exudes peaceful vibes, from the friendly staff to the laid back, pastel decor. After a long drive in traffic coming down from the Bay Area (I’m sure you can imagine the dramatic level of road rage Tyler reaches), we felt instantly at ease in our bright, clean, and coastal-themed room. The ocean view didn’t hurt either.

Central Coast Hotel, Where to StayThe Cliffs Central CoastShell Beach, The Cliffs, Central Coast

My favorite thing about the Cliffs, besides the view, is its access to the beach. The hotel itself sits on a bluff, and a trail runs along the edge of the bluff and leads down to the beach. Perfect for a sunset stroll.

Shell Beach, The CliffsCentral Coast, Pismo

We also loved the pool. There’s something so satisfying about lounging at a pool, looking at the ocean, but not having to lay on the beach and get sand up every nook and cranny, know what I mean? The strawberry lemonade from the poolside bar was maybe my favorite thing I had the whole weekend. Poor Tyler, I wouldn’t shut up about it.

Central Coast, Pismo, Shell Beach

We LOVED being able to relax on the coast while still being able to access San Luis Obispo, the local wineries, and all of the hiking the area has to offer. We had our own little ocean-view escape but could emerge into the hustle and bustle in town if we wanted to.

Central Coast, Pismo, Shell Beach, Beach and Pool

Where to Eat in Pismo Beach

While there are plenty of places to eat in San Luis Obispo, you might feel reluctant to leave the coast after settling in at your beachside retreat at The Cliffs. If this is the case, try a few of our favorites, just minutes from the hotel in Pismo Beach.

The Steaming Bean

I’m a simple girl. All I wanted each morning on this getaway was to eat a breakfast burrito and sip coffee on our balcony overlooking the Pacific, is that so much? Fortunately, it only took Tyler a few minutes to run over to the Steaming Bean to pick up these delicious weekend morning essentials for me.

what to do in Pismo Beach


This place is kind of legendary for Cal Poly students. Hoagies, a cozy surf-themed sandwich shop in Pismo, makes this insane tri-tip wrap that will blow your mind. We love this place and definitely recommend it, even though they can be a little slow sometimes. Our favorite thing is to grab these to-go and bring them down to the beach.

Ventana Grill

Did someone say date night? Head to Ventana for romantic ocean views and amazing food. If you’re not in the mood to splurge for a meal, hit the happy hour and order some chips and guac for us.

Central Coast, Pismo, Shell Beach


LOVE this Japanese restaurant over in Pismo. The sushi rolls at Yanagi are amazing, but the best part is the grill. Definitely make a reservation for a seat in front of the chef and watch them work their magic on your meal.

Central Coast, Pismo, Shell Beach

What to Do

We loved picnicking down on the beach, but you might also want to try the Avila Ridge hike down the road. The brunt of this hike is in direct sunlight, so do it first thing in the morning or at sunset for a really spectacular view. We also love Talley Vineyards nearby for a little wine tasting. Or, check out the adorable downtown area of Arroyo Grande.

Central Coast, Pismo, Shell Beach

We love, love, love the Central Coast and seem to be getting really skilled at coming up with excuses to head to the area.

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