Pismo State Beach Oceano Campground offers the perfect place to stay for a relaxing camping trip on the Central Coast.
In Pismo Beach, you can spend your days riding dune buggies over giant sand dunes, go on scenic oceanfront hiking trails, indulge in fresh seafood, and observe plenty of wildlife.
This Central Coast town is the perfect seaside escape for those who enjoy camping, surfing, fishing, or just want to spend time by the ocean during the hot summer months.
This guide covers all you need to know about staying at Oceano Campground including campground location, how to make reservations, what to do in the area, and other visitor tips!
Looking to rent an RV or campervan for your camping trip to Pismo Beach? We recommend using our favorite van rental company Outdoorsy! Outdoorsy offers thousands of recreational vehicle rentals from popular California cities like Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Bakersfield, and many more!
Guide To Camping At Pismo State Beach Oceano Campground:
Oceano Campground Location
There are two State Beach campgrounds in Pismo Beach and we’ve stayed at both. The second campground is called North Beach Campground and is located just 2 miles north next to the Monarch Butterfly Grove. Both campgrounds are very similar and offer spacious, grassy camping spots in an excellent location just steps from the beach.
The entrance to Pismo State Beach Oceano Campground is located off Pier Avenue, next to the visitor center. The easiest way to get there is to take the N 4th St exit off Highway 101, turn right onto W Grand Ave, turn left onto Cabrillo Highway 1, then make a right onto Pier Avenue. The entrance into the campground will be shortly after.
If we forget any supplies, we usually stop by Vons general store off W Grand Avenue to stock up on anything we may need for our camping trip.
About Pismo State Beach Oceano Campground
Oceano Campground Pismo Beach offers campsites that are designed to accommodate both RV camping and tent camping. The campground is separated into two sections with the RV camping in the front and the tent campsites situated further in the back of it.
The campsites at Pismo Oceano campground cost:
- RV sites with full hook-ups are $40 in the off-season and $50 in the summer. There are currently 34 RV sites that can be reserved online.
- Tent campsites are $25 in the off-season and $35 in the summer. There are currently 33 tent sites that can be reserved online.
We stayed in one of the tent sites in our campervan since our van doesn’t need electrical hookups. The campsites are very spacious and can accommodate up to 2 vehicles with a max occupancy of 8 people.
There was plenty of distance between other campers so we didn’t hear much noise (except for wild animals at night!). We got a really good night’s sleep and were not bothered by other campers, even if they did stay up late. The quiet hours start from 10 pm to 6 am.
If you reserve one of the outer tent campsites, you’ll have some trees and vegetation offering shade. This is a nice bonus in the summer when the heat starts to pick up.
If you plan to bring your four-legged friend, you’ll be happy to know that dogs are allowed at the Pismo State Beach Oceano Campground. While visiting the campground dogs must be kept on a leash at all times and cleaned up after. We always bring our dog when camping in Pismo Beach as there are plenty of dog-friendly trails nearby.
Check-in time is after 2:00 pm and checkout time is at 12:00 pm. If you need to use a dump station, there is one located by the Oceano Dunes SVRA entrance and costs $10.
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Oceano Campground Amenities
Each of the sites at Oceano Campground Pismo State Beach comes with a fire ring, a picnic table for eating, and a paved parking area.
If you forget to bring firewood, there is a small liquor store called Pier Liquor by the campground entrance that sells firewood bundles. The campground also has a campfire center on site, but we personally haven’t used it yet.
There are multiple clean restrooms with flush toilets and hot showers throughout the campground so you’re never too far away from either. To use the showers, you will need smaller cash bills that can be exchanged for tokens.
One token is good for 2 minutes so it takes a few tokens to take a full shower. The water was surprisingly hot which is always a nice bonus when camping!
Pismo SB Oceano campground also has a visitor center and a Guiton Hall nature center on site. These are great resource centers if you want to learn more about the local educational programs, the history of the park, and wildlife.
From the campground, you can also head on multiple short hiking trails such as the:
- Lagoon Trail
- Beach Trail
- Dune Trail
Oceano Campground Reservations
Oceano Campground Reservations can be made online on the Reserve California website. You can search by ‘Pismo SB’, select the arrival date and click on ‘show results’.
It will show available campsites for both Oceano Camp and North Beach Campground. Be sure to select the Oceano Camp option to see what is available. You can then browse through all available campsites and select the one that best fits your needs.
Do note that in the busier peak season, this campground can get sold out, especially on the weekends. We highly recommend booking the camping sites well ahead of time, if possible.
In the off-season, there are usually plenty of sites available. We’ve stayed here several times in the winter season and didn’t have any issues reserving a campsite.
Things To Do At Oceano Campground
Many people visit Pismo Beach to spend their time relaxing in nature and enjoying water activities like swimming, surfing, windsurfing, and fishing. The campground is located just a short walk from the ocean so there is plenty to see and do in the area!
Here are a few popular things to do around the Oceano Campground:
Explore Guiton Trail
The Guiton Trail is located within the Pismo Beach State Park grounds and can be easily accessible from the campsites. This walking trail follows next to the Oceano Lagoon which is an excellent place to stretch your legs, take your dog for a walk, and observe local wildlife.
This fresh water lagoon is home to many local California plants, animals, birds, and fish species. A few wild animals that reside within this natural habitat include coyotes, skunks, raccoons, beavers, muskrats, and weasels.
This freshwater lagoon provides a healthy environment where wild animals can thrive. As you walk around the wooden boardwalks and pathways of the Guiton Trail, you’ll come across many informative signs about the local plants and animals.
Walk Down To The Beach
One of the best parts about Oceano Pismo Beach camping is the easy beach access that this campground offers!
To walk down to the beach you can take the Beach Trail that travels between sand dunes from the campground down to the beachfront. This trail is very short and only takes 10 minutes before you will emerge on the sandy shoreline.
If you don’t want to get sand in your shoes, you can also take Pier Avenue to the beach. This road ends at the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area where you can rent dune buggies or drive your own car on the beach – a pretty cool experience that’s unique to this area!
Rent a Dune Buggy
On a previous visit to Pismo Beach, we rented a dune buggy that we spent a couple of hours riding along the Oceano Dunes. We rented a 2 seater from Steve’s ATV Rentals which is located next door from the Oceano Campground entrance.
Riding a dune buggy is such a fun experience and a must-do in Pismo Beach! With a dune buggy, you can explore miles of towering sand dunes, some as high as 100 feet!
Drive On The Beach
If you don’t want to spend the money on a dune buggy rental, you can pay a small fee and drive your own car onto the sandy beach.
Oceano Dunes SVRA and Pismo State Beach is the only place in California that allows you to drive your personal car on the shoreline. You can even make a fire pit on the beach or get a permit to camp overnight.
Hike The Dune Trail
The Dune Trail is another short hiking trail that can be easily accessible from the Pismo State Beach Oceano Campground. This trail is around 2.5 miles long round trip and it travels between sand dunes.
The hike ends at Fin’s Bar & Grill at which point you can walk back the same way you came, or walk back along the beach for a change of scenery.
What To Bring Camping
Here are a few things that we recommend packing for a camping trip in Pismo Beach:
- Helinox Chair Zero. Foldable chairs are great for eating, hanging out, or sitting around a campfire. We have a couple of foldable chairs that we can easily put together when we’re stopped at a campsite or store at the back of our van when not in use.
- REI Camp Foldable Table. We also have a small camping table that we can prop up for eating meals. This table has foldable legs that are easy to set up and is made of aluminum material that lasts a long time.
- AeroPress Travel Coffee Press. Using an AeroPress is one of the easiest ways to make coffee while camping. We love this coffee press because it can fit into small storage spaces and it won’t break if you accidentally drop it. If this is too much work, REI also sells Kuju Coffee Single Serve pour-overs that are so easy to use!
- Travel Towel. A travel towel is great for outdoor trips because this type of towel is light and dries quickly which is perfect after showering. It’s also very compact and folds a small – perfect for limited storage spaces like tent or car camping.
- Packing Cubes. Staying organized while camping can be a challenge. These travel packing cubes will keep everything nice & tidy and also save a ton of space.
- Down Hoody. The Central Coast tends to stay cool all year long, especially in the evenings. I have a lightweight jacket that I can easily bring along on outdoor trips.
- Headlamp. Having a headlamp is a must for camping trips. A headlamp is essential in case you need to find your way to the restroom at night (or check out spooky wildlife noises outside your tent).
Things To Do In Pismo Beach
Looking for fun things to do on your trip? Here are some of the best attractions in the town of Pismo Beach:
Pismo Beach Pier
Pismo Beach Pier is one of the most popular places to visit in Pismo Beach. This place is always buzzing full of tourists and out-of-town visitors.
At Pismo Beach Pier you can go on a walk along the wooden pier, observe surfers in the ocean and try to spot whales migrating along the coast.
At the beachfront Pismo Beach Pier Plaza, you can snap a photo in front of the giant ‘Pismo Beach’ sign or stop for lunch at one of the several local seafood restaurants.
Monarch Butterfly Grove
Pismo Beach is home to one of the largest Monarch Butterfly groves on the west coast. Each winter Monarch Butterflies migrate to Pismo Beach to escape the cold weather. I’ve visited this butterfly grove many times and it still leaves me in awe every time!
The best time to see the butterflies are from November to February. If you come at the right time, you might see over 10,000 butterflies resting on the eucalyptus trees within this sanctuary. Outside of these months, there won’t be many of them left.
Is going surfing on your bucket list? There is no better place to learn than Pismo Beach!
People travel from all over the world to catch waves on the Central Coast, especially in Pismo Beach. But if you’ve never been surfing before, going for the first time can feel very intimidating.
We recommend signing up for a surfing lesson that comes with all the necessary equipment, surfboards, wet suits, and experienced guides that can help you catch waves in no time like a pro!
Dinosaur Caves Park
If you have little kids, you’ll enjoy spending a few hours at the Dinosaur Caves Park. This oceanfront park has a kid’s playground, walking trails, views of rugged ocean cliffs, and opportunities to observe local bird species.
Margo Dodd Park
If you plan to visit Dinosaur Caves Park, you can easily add a stop by Margo Dodd Park on the same trip. This is another beachfront park with walking paths, grassy areas, a gazebo, and benches for sitting and enjoying ocean views.
Meadow Creek Trail
Meadow Creek Trail is a popular beachfront pathway that starts by Fin’s Bar & Grill and travels along the ocean to Monarch Butterfly Grove. The trail starts on a wooden boardwalk with views of the sand dunes, the ocean, and the adjacent Pismo Beach Golf Course.
The trail ends at the Monarch Butterfly Grove where you can observe migratory Monarch Butterflies in the winter months.
Old West Cinnamon Rolls
If you have a bit of a sweet tooth, stopping by Old West Cinnamon Rolls in Pismo Beach is a must! This charming family-operated bakery sells some of the best cinnamon rolls in all of California along with other pastries and sweet treats.
Pismo Preserve is located on the north side of Highway 101 and offers one of the best places for wilderness hiking in Pismo Beach. This beautiful nature preserve has a variety of trails ranging from 1 mile to 8 miles in length.
Pismo Preserve is also dog-friendly so many people come here with their pups for fresh air and exercise!
Avila Beach is located 15 minutes north of Pismo Beach and is a great place to explore away from the tourist crowds.
If you’re looking for beautiful natural attractions, we recommend checking out Cave Landing, Smugglers Cave, and Pirate’s Cove Beach. From here, you can also head on the 3-mile-long Ontario Ridge To Shell Beach Bluff Trail.
A few other noteworthy attractions nearby include:
Pismo Beach is one of our favorite weekend getaway spots on the Central Coast. It offers plenty of campground options, beautiful beachfront trails, and other fun outdoor activities.
Here are a few other related posts that you may like:
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- 10 Incredible VRBO Vacation Rentals In Pismo Beach
- Review Of Staying At Morro Bay State Park Campground
- 10 Best Hotels In Morro Bay For A Scenic Getaway To The Coast
- How To Hike Irish Hills Natural Reserve In San Luis Obispo
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