Pismo State Beach

A comfy campout with 2 to 5 mile hikes
Driving to and sleeping at a campground
Perfect for families with young kiddos
Pups are welcome at camp and on hiking trails

Strolling through butterfly groves and sand dunes at Pismo State Beach

Strolling through butterfly groves and sand dunes at Pismo State Beach

Strolling through butterfly groves and sand dunes at Pismo State Beach

Strolling through butterfly groves and sand dunes at Pismo State Beach

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Last updated
May 24, 2024

Trip · 3-day camping trip

For · Families and butterfly seekers

Vibe · Relaxing and chill

Reservations · Yes, book a site at North Beach Campground

Drive · 3.5 hours from LA

Ideal dates · May to September

Pets · Welcome at camp, the beach and trails, but not in Pismo Dune Preserve and Oso Flaco Lake

Pismo State Beach (PSB) neighbors Oceano Dunes State Vehicle Recreation Area (SVRA), the only drivable beach in the country, but that's ending by 2024. The sand dunes will stay though, which is one of Pismo's many natural gems. Another is that from November to February, one of the largest Western Monarch Butterfly populations flock to Pismo SB's Monarch Butterfly Grove. This park is butterfly and Bewilder approved.

Official State Park Website

Directions to Campground

Main image credit: N/A

Stuff to know

  • As of June 1, 2021, there's an extra $10 fee for using the dump station. You can pay by credit card. Help do your part to keep our parks clean :)
  • The Pismo State Beach Monarch Grove is free to visitors and open to the public daily from sunrise to sunset.
  • Just visiting for the day? The fee is $5 a car.
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Pismo State Beach

Where to camp

North Beach Campground

Each campsite comes with a:

  • Picnic table
  • Fire ring
  • Space for up to 8 people
  • Two parking spots
  • Drinking water (on site)
  • Showers (on site, token operated)
  • Flush toilets (on site)

Pismo State Beach has two campgrounds: North Beach and Oceano. They both have showers (token-operated), restrooms, drinking water, and firewood available on site, but North Beach is closer to the beach whereas Oceano is about a quarter-mile walk to the ocean. At North Beach., you're only a mile away from downtown Pismo, and if you visit between November to February you'll likely see Western Monarch Butterflies migrating to Pismo SB's Monarch Butterfly Grove.

Check-in: After 2 PM · Check-out: Before noon

View Campground Map

Nightly Rate: $25

North Beach Campground
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Itinerary

Day One

Pismo SB Sand Dunes

Leave LA and stop by Trader Joe's to pick up fresh groceries

  • TJ is a 10-minute drive from camp. There's a Vons in town too.
  • Located at 955 Rancho Parkway in Arroyo Grande
  • Open from 8 AM to 9 PM daily
  • ​Last pit stop · Chevron - 340 5 Cities Drive in Pismo Beach

Check in and set up camp at North Beach Campground

  • Set up camp, wander around the campground, and relax

Wander along Monarch Butterfly Grove

  • Wander among the Monarchs on this easy 1.5 mile out and back trail.
  • This trail takes you through scenic butterfly meadows and along Meadow Creek for your best chance at catching the migrating beauties.

Cook up some dinner

Head to the beach for sunset and s'mores

  • Walk to the state beach area closest to camp. Bring your camp chairs, jacket, beach towel, s'mores ingredients, drinks, firewood, and water for dousing the fire
  • Find a spot for a beach campfire, get comfy, and watch the sunset  
  • Enjoy your first night at Pismo State Beach!
Pismo SB became a state park in 1934, and its sand dunes attracted mystics, artists, and philosophers called The Dunites. For real.

Day Two

Pismo SB. Credit: Tim Trad

Make brekkie, stroll along Coastal Access Trail, and find a spot to hang out by the beach

  • It's an easy, flat, about four mile round-trip hike from camp
  • Bring everything you'll need to spend the morning chilling and relaxing by the beach: Towel, water, snacks, a jacket, sunscreen, swimsuit, sunglasses, a good book, some games to play in the sand, and sandals
  • Part of the trail takes you along Highway One and by downtown, but Pismo Beach Pier is worth checking out

Walk to Ada's Fish House in downtown Pismo Beach for lunch

  • Diners love the seafood dishes at this family-owned restaurant
  • Located at 558 Price Street in downtown Pismo Beach
  • Open from 11:30 AM to 9 PM daily

Head back to camp, take a hot shower, and cook a sunset dinner

  • Cook up your last dinner at Pismo SB and spend the rest of the evening stargazing
For more than 10,000 years, the Northern Chumash people lived along the coast and Pismo's sand dunes

Day Three

Pismo SB. Credit: Max Templeton

Pack up and check out by noon

  • Cook up brekkie, clean up around camp, and throw away any random pieces of litter

Head home!

The name Pismo comes from the Chumash language word for tar, or pismu, which was gathered from tar springs near Pismo Beach​
June 1, 2024

Bewilder at LAist Super-Fun Saturday

Make wildflower seed bombs with Bezzi the Yeti at LAist's Super Fun Saturday

Event in 2 days

Bewilder Basecamp: Spooky Wonders

Join Bezzi the Yeti on her first spooky camping adventure!

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Bezzi's Pick
$399.95

NEMO 4-person Aurora Highrise

This colorful tent has plenty of standing room, is easy to set up, and pack out!

Bezzi's Pick
$249.95

NEMO Stargaze Reclining Camp Chair

Lean back, and we mean all the way back, in this comfy camp chair. You'll never want to sit up.

Bezzi's Pick
$159.95

NEMO Moonlander Camp Table

We can confirm that these camp tables withstand hot bevvies and rock collections.

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Breakfast

Food For The Sole Blueberry Banana Crunch

Gluten Free • Vegan

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Breakfast

Packit Gourmet Diner Deluxe Eggs with Sausage

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Dessert

Campfire cinnamon roll ups

Vegetarian

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Snack

Brookside Dark Chocolate Covered Blueberries

Vegetarian

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Angie's Boom Chicka Pop

Gluten Free · Vegan

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Santa Cruz Organic Apple Sauce

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Lunch

Summer rolls with almond butter satay

Gluten Free · Vegan

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Dinner

Dan dan noodles

Gluten Free · Vegan

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Asian chicken lettuce wraps

Gluten free

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Dinner

Pho ramen

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Curry ramen

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Peanut butter cheesecake overnight oats

Vegetarian

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