If easy access to sand, surf, epic sea-bluff views, and glorious sunsets over an ocean pier sound like the makings of a great beachside stay, then picture-perfect Pismo Beach, California, might be calling your name.
Visitors to Pismo Beach can hardly go wrong in the hotel department — whether they’re looking for a full-service resort with glowing fire pits and sparkling outdoor pools literally feet from the wide sandy beach or a quaint inn catching the sea breeze high on the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Located about 15 minutes southwest of San Luis Obispo, the small city of Pismo Beach lies along 7 miles of the 17-mile Pismo State Beach, a lovely stretch of oceanfront known for its white sand, rolling dunes, pleasant year-round climate, and stunning sunsets.
I have visited Pismo Beach numerous times on road trips along the breathtaking Highway 1, and I’ve always been struck by the robust variety of beautiful hotels sprinkled along the coastline, many offering a “toes in the sand” experience just steps from the guestrooms.
So I was delighted when I was invited to check out one of Pismo’s newest beachside hotels, Vespera Resort, a cool beach house–inspired resort located within easy walking distance of not just the beach, but also of the famous Pismo Beach Pier and bustling downtown Pismo Beach. (I was hosted by the resort, but my opinions are my own.)
During my stay, I had a chance to explore other beachside hotels as well, and many of them stand out for their great locations and wonderful amenities. The Experience Pismo Beach website lists more than 30 hotels, and about half of them are located right along the oceanfront.
Here are 7 gorgeous, beachside places to stay in Pismo Beach.
1. Vespera Resort
There is so much to love about Vespera Resort Pismo, an Autograph Collection resort that joined the Pismo Beach hotel lineup in 2019. First of all, the resort enjoys one of the best locations in town, sitting right along the convenient two-mile Pismo Beach Boardwalk. Guests are just a several-minute walk to the ocean surf, a quick jaunt to the famous Pismo Beach Pier, and right in the midst of the city center scene, with its collection of chowder cafés, surf shops, colorful diners, and fun bars.
In addition, the resort features guest rooms with patios that fully optimize Pismo’s beach scenes. From my deck, I had a perfect view of the Pismo Pier extending 1,200 feet into the ocean. The patio was also a great spot to take in the spectacular Pismo Beach sunsets. Each night,on cue, the sky became an orange-and-pink kaleidoscope, all reflected beautifully onto the surf.
A range of amenities is also available at Vespera, including a beachside pool, a Jacuzzi hot tub, numerous fire pits, a fitness center, and a great bar with large-screen TVs.
The resort is also the home of the delicious Pequín Coastal Cocina, a seaside restaurant that boasts an innovative take on Baja Coastal specialties, like ceviche, swordfish al pastor tacos, and churros served warm in a cloud of steam alongside a trio of decadent dessert dips. I especially loved the flight of ceviche, which includes a taste of all three of the cocina’s ceviche varieties — all with bold and bright California flavors like lime, shrimp and crab, avocado, and dragon fruit.
Pro Tip: Pismo Pup Club
Like much of Pismo Beach, the Vespera Resort is super dog-friendly and even has a Pismo Pup Club that promises to treat visitors’ four-legged friends “like a five-star diva.”
2. Sandcastle Hotel On The Beach
Right next door to Vespera and enjoying many of the same location advantages is the Sandcastle Hotel on the Beach, a contemporary, sand-toned hotel with beachy décor and direct access to the Pismo Beach Boardwalk and beach.
The Sandcastle is known for its modern style and bright and airy vibe. Guests are treated to plush robes, free high-speed Wi-Fi, and views of the Pacific coastline, the Pismo Pier, and the surrounding mountains. Rooms include a private balcony or patio.
The hotel also features The Deck, a first-floor bar and bistro that overlooks Pismo’s stretch of sandy beach and features a sunrise and sunset menu, with offerings such as the Pierside Breakfast Burrito with scrambled eggs, black beans, potatoes, guacamole, and grilled veggies at sunrise, or the warm spinach and 3-cheese dip at sunset.
3. SeaVenture Beach Hotel
Billed as one of the longest-standing hotels and restaurants right on the beach, SeaVenture Beach Hotel is located just down the boardwalk from Vespera and Sandcastle and also offers great access right on the beach.
Just steps from the hotel lobby, guests can walk straight to the boardwalk and immediately experience the soft sand of Pismo Beach. The hotel combines affordability with luxury and upscale amenities, such as private hot tubs and spectacular beach views.
Pro Tip: Surfing School
When I visited SeaVenture, surfing lessons were going on right in front of the resort. Among the options for surfing lessons in Pismo Beach is Sandbar Surf School, which offers beginner to advanced surfing lessons.
4. Pismo Lighthouse Suites
Located on the bluffs overlooking the beach, a bit to the north of downtown Pismo Beach, is a row of hotels that offer stellar views from above and great beach access via a series of winding wooden staircases. Pismo Lighthouse Suites is one of the stars along the bluff, with its all-suite guestrooms and panoramic views from the expansive pool and hot tub area.
Known as a family favorite, the Lighthouse Suites provide activities for all ages, including badminton, ping pong, and life-size chess on the open-air play deck. The hotel’s website notes that the accommodations were designed with families in mind, with each of the suites featuring two bathrooms, a balcony or patio with varying coastal views, and free Wi-Fi.
Guests also get a complimentary continental breakfast, freshly baked cookies at check-in, complimentary parking, and access to self-service laundry.
5. SeaCrest Oceanfront Hotel
Also perched in the bluffs overlooking the long expanse of Pismo Beach is the SeaCrest Oceanfront Hotel, known for its family-friendly atmosphere and easygoing vibe. The hotel has a spectacular pool complex that overlooks the ocean. The pool area includes three surrounding hot tubs, two terraces, barbecue grills, and an on-site restaurant and bar, the Blast & Brew. It offers a range of burgers, appetizers, and fine-dining options like a flame-grilled ribeye, flame-grilled salmon, and spicy Italian sausage and prawn risotto.
Every guest room and suite at the SeaCrest features newly designed furnishings with spacious work areas, balconies or patios, free continental breakfast, and free in-room WI-FI. The hotel also has terraces with ocean views. Easy access to the beach is available via the staircases that are located along the bluffs.
6. Edgewater Inn & Suites
Located near the city center and within easy access to the beach, the Edgewater Inn & Suites offers the best of both worlds for families and groups looking to relax at the beach and take in the fun activities downtown.
Among the amenities at the Edgewater are an outdoor pool and hot tub with beach views, complimentary coffee and snacks for breakfast, and Wine Wednesdays, an opportunity for guests to try local wines and cheeses. Fresh-baked cookies are served every evening.
The sign at the hotel’s entrance promises a “toes in the sand” experience, and the hotel offers direct access to the beach.
The Edgewater features 99 guest rooms, ranging from single kings to full kitchen suites with views of Pismo Beach. Rooms with private balconies are available. The hotel also has a self-service laundry.
7. Cottage Inn By The Sea
Tucked into the bluffs that overlook the Pacific Ocean is the Cottage Inn by the Sea, a hotel inspired by the English countryside. The grounds feature charming rock façades and a lush garden.
Guests can choose from among 80 ocean- or garden-view rooms. The guest rooms feature cozy fireplaces, driftwood-inspired headboards, and yellow accents that reflect the warm setting of the California Central Coast.
When To Visit Pismo Beach
Pismo Beach enjoys remarkably consistent temperatures all year long, making the town a year-round destination. September posts the warmest days, with an average high of 73 degrees Fahrenheit. I visited in September, and the days were warm and sunny, while the nights were cool but comfortable. October and November are also great months to visit, with an average high of 72 degrees in October and 69 in November. December through March tend to be a bit cooler, with average highs in the mid-60s range. April through August is warm and sunny, with average highs in the high 60s and low 70s. Pismo Beach averages 6 days of rain in both January and February, with an average of 5 days of rain in March, and two in April. The months of May through September average 0 days of rain.
Pro Tips: Along with its hotels and inns, Pismo Beach also has a wide range of vacation rentals, many available through Vrbo. Oh, and plenty of great restaurants!