Pismo Beach

6.9 Worth a stop

The clams in Pismo Beach are divine.

  • Je ne sais quoi (How cool is it?) 7.3
  • Scenery 7.1
  • Water 6.2
  • User Ratings (1 Votes) 6.6

Where is Pismo Beach, CaliforniaEnjoy the sunset from the pier of the Clam Capital of the World in Pismo Beach

Pismo Beach is a simple little place along the central coast of California with a nice pier. I had the pleasure to stop in right before Christmas 2016 in the middle of an amazing road trip from Monterrey to San Diego.

Pismo Beach is a city in San Luis Obispo County, in the Central Coastal area of California, with a population slightly under 8,000 in 2014.

In 1882, the first wharf at Pismo was built. William Woodrow Ward in 1924 built a full-length pier and allowed full use of it by the public. The pier was renovated again in 1985 after suffering considerable storm damage. Like the Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach, it takes a beating.

Where is Pismo Beach?  35°9′N 120°39′W

Pismo Beach is a beauty.

The beginning of the Pismo Beach pier has a couple bars and restaurants. The weather wasn’t the greatest, so we ate inside at a cheap place overlooking the pier. The fried clams were delicious with a lot of cocktail sauce. After dinner, we got up a toy from a vendor hawking stuff on the empty boardwalk. Totally cheesy, but fun. Just like the area and worth a visit on your beach vacation.

Clam Capital of the World

The Pismo clam was named for the long, wide beach where so many were once found, once in such abundance that they were harvested with plows. Harvesting the clams once drew thousands of clammers to Pismo during low tides. Today, it is still legal! Unfortunately, over-harvesting and the voracious appetite of the sea otter (which feasts on clams), there are not many clams left.

Pismo Beach Pier and Clams

The motto, “Clam Capital of the World”, was adopted by Pismo Beach in the 1950s. There is a Clam Festival every October with clam chowder competitions and a clam themed parade. For whatever reason, their awesome motto has been abandoned by city of Pismo Beach.

The clam is still quite prevalent in Pismo though. When you first get to Pismo Beach, a gigantic concrete clam statue meets you. The Pismo Beach Surf Shop, supposedly the oldest
Surf Shop on the Central Coast can be seen from the Pismo Clam. The Pismo Beach Chamber of Commerce also has an eight-inch shell of the Pismo clam (Tivela stultorum) on display. Pismo Beach is somewhat comparable to Coquina Beach in the Outer Banks. The beach towns have totally different vibes, but clams bring them together.

The area has received a substantial number of mentions in popular culture, including the films The Big Lebowski, Clueless, and A Night at the Roxbury, the TV show United States of Tara, and the animated series Futurama, Robot Chicken, and The Critic.

If you like this beach town, check out Calafia Beach further down the coast or the beach in Ocean Shores up in Washington State.

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About Author

This project, Beach Spot, has been a lingering thought for nearly 20 years. It started on a crazy offshore Venezuelan island, Isla Margarita, during the first dot com craze. The idea evolved while life continually got in the way. A decade was spent on a Mediterranean island as well as a number of years chasing the sun in the USVI.

Back living stateside in San Diego, this project will hopefully be an enjoyable look at a number of beach towns.

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