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Your Kind of Town: Pismo Beach, California
Are you an urban adventurer or a small-town dreamer? Do you crave culture or live for the beach? Find your spot in these 30 action-packed locales.  
Text by Dan Koeppel   Photograph by Brent Winebrenner

Photo: Pismo Beach, California
WAVES ROLL IN:  Nightlife on Pismo Beach's Pomeroy Street

 Beach Towns:

Pismo Beach, CA  |  Atlantic Beach, NC |  Cordova, AK 

Jacksonville, FL  |  Kahului, HI  | 
Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Pismo Beach, California: Make the Sea Your Home


Population: 8,600

: Sea level

Average July water
63ºF (17ºC)

Median Home Price:

Main Industries: Tourism, retail, real estate;  in San Luis Obispo, education and health care

Picture a classic California beach town—or just an ideal ocean town anywhere—with a sandy strand, a wooden pier, and waves dotted with surfers. That's Pismo Beach. Located about midway between the Bay Area and sprawling Los Angeles, it lies tucked amid redwoods and rocky outcroppings on one of America's least developed stretches of coast.

As with most shoreline retreats, tourism fuels Pismo's economy: More than 50 hotels fill with visitors during summer months, when Main Street's boutiques and wine bars bustle. Once high season ends, though, the town becomes positively idyllic. Winters are mild and quiet, with temperatures in the 60s (16 degrees Celsius) and the streets all but empty. Still, things seldom get dull—a handful of neighboring towns lend the area a cosmopolitan flair. You can drive 15 minutes north to San Luis Obispo for theater or ten minutes south to Arroyo Grande to shop at the farm stand. These nearby towns also offer more diverse employment and cheaper real estate (second-home buying has sent prices in Pismo proper skyward).

When it comes to the outdoors, however, Pismo is the epicenter. Six state beaches, two nature preserves, and three state parks lie within a 30-minute drive of town. Montaña de Oro State Park ( boasts the 3.3 mile (5.3 kilometer) Bluff Trail, one of the region's best beginner mountain biking routes, and Central Coast Kayaks conducts kayaking tours ($60 for two hours; of the marine-life-rich waters nearby. Action aside, the finest way to commune with the coastal environs is to slip away for a sunset picnic on Pismo's namesake stretch of sand.


Getting There:  Pismo Beach is 190 miles (306 kilometers) north of Los Angeles and 245 miles (394 kilometers) south of Frisco.  Commuter flights arrive daily to San Luise Obispo.     
Where to Stay:  The new Dolphin Bay Hotel ($204; over-looks the Pacific.

Where to Eat:  Steamers of Pismo ( servers the area's famous hard-shell clams. 

Moving There: Pismo Beach Chamber of Commerce (  Check for real estate listings. 

30 More Places to Live and Play:

Boise or Bust!

Outdoor Meccas  |  Adventure Cities  |  Small Towns

Cultural Hubs  |  Beach Towns  

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Cover: Adventure magazine

Adventure's September 2006 issue features 31 amazing adventure towns; chaos at the top of Mount Everest; an inside look at surfing California's Lost Coast; 11 fall weekend getaways near you; the best high-tech footwear, world class adventure travel; hiking the Alps, and more!

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