Located on California‘s Central Coast, Pismo Beach is often referred to as the Clam Capital of the World. Crystal blue waters, beautiful waves, mineral-rich hot springs, towering cliffs, and plenty of green space make vacation rentals in Pismo Beach incredibly picturesque. This thriving city offers mild, year-round temperatures, making it an ideal West Coast tourist destination. Families with children have plenty of things to do, including these 12 popular activities.

1. Tour Hearst Castle

Explore the grandeur of Hearst Castle with the family. This National Historic Landmark was designed by Julia Morgan in the early 1900s and was home to newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst. Millions of travelers tour the home each year to experience the lavishly designed interior. Children enjoy touring the grounds, where it’s common to spot zebra grazing. If you plan a visit to the castle, be sure to make reservations at least a month in advance to ensure a spot.

2. Take a Ride on the Dunes

Be sure to take your four-wheel drive with you to your vacation rental so you can ride out on the Oceano Beach dunes. You can also rent four wheelers or dune buggies at Pacific Adventure Tours if you prefer a smaller ride. Splash through the tide pools, drive along the water’s edge, and enjoy scenic views of the ocean with the family.

3. Visit the Charles Paddock Zoo

Located just a few minutes from Pismo Beach, the Charles Paddock Zoo is a small community zoo covering 5 acres of land. Hundreds of animals call the zoo home, including a rare Malayan tiger, spider monkeys, and a family of adorable meerkats. The Charles Paddock Zoo is family-friendly and provides plenty of opportunities to interact with the animals. The zoo features a small gift shop that sells unique souvenirs and refreshments, where you can also rent strollers for younger children to help make the visit easier.

4. View the Animals at the Central Coast Aquarium

Explore the animals of the deep at the Central Coast Aquarium. Touch-tanks provide the opportunity to come in contact with sea urchins, starfish, rays, and a host of other animals. Stay and watch the shark and octopus feedings, and listen and learn about the different sea creatures within the park. This is the perfect place to schedule a birthday party or other special event, or you can sign up to help with an annual beach cleanup as a hand up for the environment.

5. Fish From the Pier

Bring your fishing gear and head out for the day to the Pismo Beach Pier to catch salmon, seabass, and various other fish in the Pacific. Located on the Pismo State Beach, the expansive pier is over 1,300 feet in length and offers bench seating, white planked railings, and beautiful views of the beach. If the kids get hungry during your excursion, there‘s a snack shop on the pier with popcorn, soft drinks, candy, peanuts, and other goodies.

6. Bike the Bob Jones Bike Trail

Enjoy a day of activity with the family along the Bob Jones Bike Trail. If you didn‘t bring your bike to your vacation rental, you can rent them at Wheel Fun Rentals or Pierside Boards and Bikes. The scenic trail runs alongside the Pacific Coast Railroad from San Luis Obispo Creek to Avila Beach, and it offers gentle slopes for riders of any skill level. Experience lush landscapes, beautiful flowers, and a meandering stream. If you get tired of riding, the trail is also designed for walking and skating.

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7. Learn to Surf

If you‘ve ever wanted to learn to surf, Pismo Beach is the perfect place to start. Sign up with the Central Coast Surf School if you need to hone your skills, or bring your experience to pick up some new tricks and tips. Group lessons are available for two to five surfers, and you must be at least four years old and comfortable in the water to start learning.

8. Tour the Pismo Beach Butterfly Grove

Nothing is quite as magical as a rabble of butterflies fluttering in the breeze. At the Pismo Beach Butterfly Grove, you can experience thousands of brightly-colored Monarch butterflies as they flock to the Butterfly Grove. Listen to the volunteers as they offer talks and information on these insects, and watch as the butterflies form thick clusters hanging wing-down for protection against the weather. The Butterfly Grove hosts one of the largest colonies of Monarch Butterflies in the States, with nearly 25,000 individual insects.

9. Explore the Past at the San Luis Obispo Historical Museum

Use your vacation to Pismo Beach as a learning experience for the kids at the San Luis Obispo Historical Museum. Discover a gallery of famous people who were imperative to the founding of the city, and enjoy a variety of exhibits and artifacts. At the end of the tour, snap up something unique and memorable at the small gift shop for souvenirs.

10. Pet the Animals at the Avila Valley Barn

If you plan to cook at your vacation rental, stop by the Avila Valley Barn for fresh fruits and vegetables from the region. This fruit and vegetable stand also features a bakery of homemade goodies to satisfy any sweet tooth, and there are a variety of farm animals for the children to pet and feed. When weather permits, tractor rides are offered daily.

11. Spend the Day at Avila Beach

Settle into a cozy beach chair complete with an umbrella and listen to the surf while the children play in the sand. This stretch of paradise beach has a playground for children, complete with a pirate ship, and a wooden boardwalk with rows of shops, restaurants, cafes, and delightful distractions. Play a game of basketball for all ages, or take a break from the kids and schedule a round of golf. Take advantage of the nearby pool and water slides if you prefer to stay away from the sand.

12. Unleash the Dogs at the Eldwayen Ocean Park

If you brought your dogs with you to your vacation rental, Eldwayen Ocean Park the ideal spot to bring your pets and let them run and enjoy the surf. The towering cliffs on both sides keep your furry friend close by you, and the manicured lawns make a fantastic space for the kids to spread out a picnic blanket.

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