Guadalupe is known as the “Gateway to the Dunes,” and this town is the opposite of a big city. At first glance, it looks more like an old wild west movie set.The friendly Central California community of Guadalupe is easily accessed by travelers. California’s Pacific Coast Highway runs through the city’s downtown. Uncover miles of sand dunes at Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Preserve. Although more remote, the long beach and extensive dunes of Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes National Wildlife Refuge are begging adventure seekers to find them. With steep slopes, dangerous rip currents and the occasional shark, swimming is discouraged, though, at Point Sal State Beach.
Enjoy the many wonderful beaches of Guadalupe, (you’ll find a list here), then come visit Guadalupe. Our Guadalupe California Vacations guide has all your answers to start planning your beach vacation. Just keep reading 🙂
Weather (When to Go)
The best time to visit Guadalupe is from March to May or from September to November. Temperatures are fairly mild year-round, hovering in the 60s and 70s, but traveling in early spring or fall ensures you won’t be fighting crowds and rates will be less expensive. Summer is peak season, and the best time to go if you’re looking for a beach vacation, but you’ll have to contend with more crowds. If you’re traveling during the winter months, make sure to pack an umbrella because Guadalupe sees most of its rainfall between December and February. No matter when you decide to visit, pack layers as the as morning and late evening temperatures tend to be much cooler than the daytime highs.
During December – February, daytime temperatures range from highs in the mid-60s and drop to lows in the mid-40s at night, which is freezing by Guadalupe standards. This season is also when the city sees most of its precipitation, which means it’s not ideal for sightseeing or lounging on the beach. But, this also means prices are likely the lowest. Spring (March – May), is one of the best times to see Guadalupe, before the crowds of summer. Temperatures are still mild with highs in the upper 60s and the city will see plenty of sun. You’ll find pleasant temperatures during June – August averaging in the 70s and hardly any rainfall, summer is peak season in Guadalupe. This is also the time of year locals call “June Gloom” — the foggy season. Crowds have thinned out by early September but high temperatures still hover in the upper 60s to mid-70s, making fall a great time to visit the city. Room rates will also have dropped from their summer highs. Just watch out for the Santa Ana winds, which can be strong this time of year.
Things Not to Miss
Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes National Wildlife Refuge contains a remote dunes complex and a seldom visited beach near Guadalupe. The refuge was created in 2000 to protect the dunes habitats of many animals including brown pelicans, least terns, snowy plovers, peregrine falcons, and rare breeds of frogs and salamanders. Eighteen different species of rare plants are protected in the refuge as well.
Oso Flaco Lake Natural Area is a California state park that is part of Oceano Dunes State Vehicle Recreation Area. This park offers visitors a trip through several diverse natural habitats for viewing flora and fauna.
Approximately 600 acres of coastal active dunes, with undeveloped native habiat including ~2 miles of beach, the Santa Maria River estuary, foredunes, backdunes, and riparian. Open to all sorts of passive recreation: birding, wildlife observation, surfing, fishing, hiking, picnicking, and meditation. No off-road vehicles, sandboarding, kites, fires, camping or pets are allowed.
The park consists of approximately 80 acres and includes just over 1 1/2 miles of ocean frontage. Views of the coastline, beach and rugged mountain slopes are exceptional. Lion Rock, located offshore, is an important bird-roosting site and is also used by sea lions and other marine mammals. Recreational activities at Point Sal SB include fishing, beach combing, hiking, nature study, photography, picnicking and sunbathing. Because of extremely dangerous rip currents, occasional shark sightings, and the absence of Lifeguard service, swimming is not recommended.
With general information and directions to the local dune access points and other points of interest, the Dunes Center is a must see for anyone interested in traveling through the Central Coast and the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes. They also have a variety of educational opportunities in the Center with different animal specimens, interactive activities, as well as a collection of short films about the local area.
Things to Do
They have the best prices on the best selection of the best OHVs on the beach! SunBuggy is the only place you can choose from a great variety of off road vehicles, UTVS, ATVs, and real dune buggies. For more information call 855-783-1325, or visit them on the web at Sunbuggy Fun Rentals.
Their professional and skilled instructors are there for your safety and to provide you with everything you’ll need to experience surfing, the ocean, and the beauty of Pismo Beach. Their private classes, group lessons, and extended surf camps are geared for people of all ages, skill levels and abilities – Wetsuits, Soft-top Surfboards, and the Ocean are provided! For more information call 805-835-7873, or visit them on the web at Sandbar Surf School.
Welcome to Central Coast Kayaks! They are your local, full service kayak shop. Proudly offering tours of the Central Coast, camps and classes to expand your abilities, guided kayak fishing trips, rentals of kayaks, fishing kayaks, & paddleboards, and the best kayak repair crew on the coast! For more information call 805-773-3500, or visit them on the web at Central Coast Kayaks.
They have fantastic whale watching and wonderful weather year round. All of their boat tours are family friendly and appropriate for all ages from infants to great grand parents. Experience an abundance of wildlife viewing opportunities on every tour and see for yourself why locals and visitors alike consider these tours their favorite way to share the beauty of the Central Coast with friends and family. For more information call 805-540-4667, or visit them on the web at Central Coast Sailing Charters.
Explore the pristine waters, natural coastline, and secret beaches of Avila, the hidden gem of San Luis Obispo County, with Avila Beach Paddlesports. Avila Beach has the best weather on the Central Coast, so don’t forget your sunblock! Beginners are welcome and free instruction and safety information is always included with kayak and paddleboard rentals. For more information call 805-704-6902, or visit them on the web at Avila Beach Paddlesports.
Best Rated Restaurants
$-Inexpensive $$-Moderate $$$-Pricey $$$$-Ultra High End
$ El Tapatio
This is great authentic Mexican food. Their Mexican inspired dishes combine ancient traditions with contemporary ingredients, spiced to suit your tastes. They invite you to join them for authentic Mexican food that can make any meal a special occasion. For more information call 805-343-2850, or visit them on the web at El Tapatio.
$$ – $$$ The Butterfly Grille
Butterfly Grille is a full-service restaurant and bar and features the tastes and trends unique to the Central Coast of California. Whether you’ve just stepped off the course or you’re in the mood for a hearty breakfast, you’re sure to have a pleasurable experience. Nestled in the Woodlands Village community, with the golf course as a backdrop, the Butterfly Grille’s ambiance is on par with that of a private facility. For more information call 805-343-9400, or visit them on the web at The Butterfly Grille.
$ Guadalupe Restaurant
They have been serving delicious authentic Mexican food since 1975. They are family owned and operated, so you can be sure to get an authentic Mexican atmosphere. Their specialty began with serving delicious home-made Menudo and Burritos. They have expanded to offer delicious items such as Barbacoa, Pozole, Chile Verde, Chimichangas, Potato Tacos and much more. They also have a great beer and wine selection. For more information call 626-334-9614, or visit them on the web at Guadalupe Restaurant.
$ La Simpatia
This is one of the hidden gems on the Central Coast. Rich in family history, you will never be disappointed in your meal. Rosa and her crew provide excellent service, and her family recipes are delicious! Don’t miss the chile rellenos, and try a combo plate so you can get a taste of everything. They have a full bar as well. For more information call 805-343-9284, or visit them on the web at La Simpatia.
$$ Far Western Tavern
This restaurant is recognized as a landmark of Santa Maria Style Barbecue, a renowned regional fare rooted in native ingredients and methods that were first popularized by 19th century rancheros. The menu blends this local barbecue style with other dishes that reflect our family’s heritage in the Santa Maria Valley’s Swiss-Italian ranching community, all prepared with fresh flavors from nearby farms, ranches and vineyards. For more information call 805-937-2211, or visit them on the web at Far Western Tavern.
Far Western Tavern
Besides being an upscale Santa Maria style BBQ restaurants. Sit at the mahogany bar and have some great drinks! Visit the bar from 2-5 pm for a special bar menu and enjoy items not on the regular menu. For more information call 805-937-2211, or visit them on the web at Far Western Tavern.
The bistro has a great bar, good food and reasonable prices. Never really crowded, and easy parking. Chef is well experienced, prepares bistro fare with quality ingredients. From oven fired pizzas and sandwiches, to full entrees. This is delightful find on the Central Coast. For more information call 805-343-7510, or visit them on the web at Adelina’s Bistro.
Great local venue with a wonderful selection of beers including Smithwick’s on draft! They make a killer black and tan as well. You’ll get some great homemade potato chips on your table while you read the menu. Rooney’s in house micro brews are served straight from the brewery to the tap. For more information call 805-934-3777, or visit them on the web at Rooney’s Irish Pub.
Thirsty visitors can enjoy an impressive gallery of two dozen brews available on draft to satiate every preference. All beers are fresh and locally made in Santa Maria. Half-pound burgers, dogs, large salads and fries are on the menu. Smaller bites and appetizers include pulled pork taquitos, buffalo wings, and a trio of sliders in soft buns with your choice of tri-tip or house pulled pork and fresh slaw. Haystacks of onion rings are served with freshly made chipotle aioli. For more information call 805-369-2256, or visit them on the web at Santa Maria Brewing Company.
There are no hotels directly in Guadalupe, so hotel accommodations are for nearby Santa Maria.
Historic Santa Maria Inn
Featuring an outdoor pool, this historic Santa Maria hotel is a 30 minute drive from Riverbench Vineyard and Winery. Complimentary Wi-Fi is included in all warmly decorated rooms. There is also an on-site restaurant. A flat-screen TV with cable is featured in each comfortably furnished room at Historic Santa Maria Inn. Tea and coffee-making facilities are provided. A fridge included for added convenience. After exploring local attractions, guests of Santa Maria Historic Inn can relax in the hot tub or sauna. For a day of pampering, a variety of salons and spas are available on-site. Serving a California cuisine, Garden Room Santa Maria Restaurant offers all day dining. Olde English Tap Room and The Wine Cellar and Martini Bar feature an extensive cocktail menu. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit the Historic Santa Maria Inn.
Holiday Inn & Suites Santa Maria
A 37-inch flat-screen cable TV is available in every room at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Santa Maria. Decorated in natural colors, each room and suite includes a stovetop, microwave and small fridge. A work desk and seating area are provided. Guests can dine at the on-site Portabella Bar & Grill. Open for breakfast and dinner, it serves local produce and wines. A well equipped gym is offered at the hotel. Free Wi-Fi is available in the public areas. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Santa Maria.
Radisson Hotel Santa Maria
A short walk from the Santa Maria Museum of Flight, this California hotel offers on-site dining. A heated outdoor pool and hot tub are available. All comfortably furnished rooms include free Wi-Fi. Featuring a 37-inch flat-screen TV with cable, all spacious rooms at the Radisson Hotel Santa Maria include tea and coffee making facilities and a fridge. Each bright room has a balcony. Santa Maria Radisson Hotel’s Vintner’s Bar and Grill offers dishes such as champagne chicken piccata and Cajun blackened snapper. An extensive wine list highlighting local selections is available. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Radisson Hotel Santa Maria.
Candlewood Suites Santa Maria
Located just off Route 101 and less than 2 miles from downtown Santa Maria, this all-suite hotel features rooms with full kitchens. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel. The Candlewood Suites Santa Maria has modern accommodations with a flat-screen cable TV and a sitting area. A coffee maker and ironing facilities are included. A fitness center with cardio equipment and a TV is open to all guests at the Santa Maria Candlewood. A business center, airline and rental car services are also available. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Candlewood Suites Santa Maria.
Fairfield Inn & Suites Santa Maria
This hotel is located off Highway 101 in Santa Maria. It has a fitness center with cardio equipment, and offers spacious rooms with cable TV, and free Wi-Fi. Rooms at the Fairfield Inn & Suites Santa Maria include a sitting area and flat-screen TV. They come equipped with a coffee maker and ironing facilities.
In the morning the Fairfield Inn serves a continental breakfast with cereal and fresh fruit. The hotel also offers a local restaurant dinner delivery service. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit the Fairfield Inn & Suites Santa Maria.