Pismo Beach, California

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As you start up the most dramatic stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway, you’ll pass through several small towns which, in my opinion, are pretty darned near perfect.  Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo, and Morro Bay are exactly what you’d expect a California coastal town to be: laid back, picturesque, and unpretentious.  As an added bonus, two out of the three have beautiful waterfront locations.

If you’re headed north on the Pacific Coast Highway, you’ll arrive in Pismo Beach first.  Downtown Pismo Beach is located along a big beach, with a long pier providing a centerpiece.  Before you walk out the pier…

… take a walk underneath it, spending some time with the surfers who are likely hitting the waves.  Then go topside…

… for a great view of California’s coastal mountains to the north (most of these mountains are missed by California Highway 1, which turns inland towards SLO).

This is an old-fashioned pier, so don’t expect to find a tourist attraction or restaurant at the end.  Instead, a simple rental shack provides rods for fishermen, and that’s it.

You don’t have to walk far from the end of the pier to find restaurants and other unique shops.  Pismo Beach’s actual “Main Street” is a block away, but most tourist-friendly stores line up along Pomeroy and Hinds Avenues, both of which run into the pier parking lot.

Seafood? Here? What a surprise!

Not far from the pier, there are plenty of hotels, motels, and condos available.  Staying anywhere in this part of town, on the west side of Highway 101, is ideal.

As you leave Pismo Beach, keep an eye on the time.  The Big Sur coast can be a slow drive.  If you get started too late in the day, you’ll end up in the middle of the mountains by sunset, and miss half the scenery as you continue on to Monterey in the dark.

North of Pismo Beach, Highway 1 and 101 run together and turn inland, to San Luis Obispo. 

Drivelapse Video

Here’s the time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive from Pismo Beach to Morro Bay:

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