Pismo Beach is the frisky heart of California's most usable beach. It is situated near the northern end of a broad strand of fine sand. The splendid shoreline extends from dramatic sandstone bluffs north of downtown to many miles of hard sand to the south backed by picturesque sand dunes. The village has been evolving as a rollicking refuge for down-to-earth travelers for over a century. With gentle weather, it worked as a seaside escape from inland heat. Fame came thanks to this coast=s super-abundant treasure of Pismo clams.
The grand strand and relatively mild weather have long-since replaced the now-much-scarcer clams as the main draw. Wetsuits have made the chilly ocean tolerable for surfing, boogie boarding, snorkeling, and scuba diving. A quarter-mile-long pier, walkways and stairways now link the shoreline with the heart of town. Downtown has a still-rustic look and feel—more so than any of California's coastal communities. There are some notable restaurants amid casual bars, shops and amusements. Beyond the forest home of thousands of monarch butterflies (a mile south of the pier) are seemingly endless miles of beach and dunes. This unspoiled littoral is ideal for walking, clamming, horseback riding, and all-terrain vehicle riding. It is also the only place in the state where automobiles can be legally driven on the beach. Incentive to linger longer in this special setting has recently improved, too. California's largest concentration of upscale oceanfront lodgings now lines bluffs and beaches along the western border of Pismo Beach.