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.
Guadalupe Weather – When to Visit
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.
Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes National Wildlife Refuge
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.
Ranch Guadalupe Dunes Preserve
Approximately 600 acres of coastal active dunes, with undeveloped native habitat including ~2 miles of beach, the Santa Maria River estuary, foredunes, back dunes, and riparian. Open to all sorts of passive recreation: birding, wildlife observation, surfing, fishing, hiking, picnicking and meditation.
Point Sal State Beach
The park consist of about 80 acres with about 1 1/2 miles of ocean frontage. Views of the coastline, beach and rugged mountain slopes are wonderful. Recreational activities here include fishing, beach combing, nature study, photography, picnicking and sunbathing. 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.
Paradise Beach is a 19-acre park that contains large lawn areas, picnic facilities, and a small beach. A wooden pier, first built by the Navy in WWII was renovated and turned into a recreational pier to be used by Marin County in 1963. Today’s concrete pier, one that is 302-foot-long with a t-shaped 194-foot-long end, replaced that pier.
Guadalupe Area Tours & Activities
Ultimate Wine Experience in San Luis Obispo
Savor the burgeoning wine scene around San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles on this tasting tour with half- and full-day options. Spend a few hours exploring a hand-picked selection of wineries in this increasingly-famous wine region, sampling red and white varieties. As you taste, you’ll get an introductory lesson on how to see, swirl, sniff, sip, savor each glass, upping your wine knowledge in the process. A guide, full- or half-day tour options, round-trip hotel transport, bottled water and a tasty picnic lunch (on full-day tour) are included. Read more about Ultimate Wine Experience in San Luis Obispo
Sandbar Surf School
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! Telephone: 805-835-7873 Web: Sandbar Surf School.
San Luis Obispo County by Convertible
This is a full-day tour (8 hours) of San Luis Obispo County by convertible for the solo traveler. The tour combines sightseeing with the region’s history. It takes you inland to the wine country, to charming old town sites, farms, ranches, lakes, to hidden beaches, dunes, sea caves, and to a spectacular old port that offers amazing views of the Pacific Ocean. Read more about San Luis Obispo County by Convertible
Learning to surf with Sandbar Surf School is a lifetime bucket list thing that you will never forget. We are the premier surf school in California’s Central Coast and we have been teaching surf lessons here in Pismo Beach since 1996. We have tons of local surf knowledge as well as many of our instructors are world travelers/surfers. We truly love what we do and you will have the best time in the world going with us. Laugh with us, surf with us and maybe even come to one of our bonfires! Read more about Surf Lessons
Sunset Guided Tour
This is a sunset cruise of beautiful Pacific Grove with breath-taking views of the Pacific Ocean. Enjoy the golden hues with streams of pink and blue as the sun appears to dip into the ocean. We ride the electric scooters as a group, seeing the sights on the way to Asilomar Beach to enjoy a beautiful sunset. This is a tricky tour as Pacific Grove does have the occasional marine layer, either way riding these electric scooters are fun! Read more about Sunset Guided Tour
Best Gualupe Restaurants
El Tapatio $11 – 30
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. Telephone: 805-343-2850 Web: El Tapatio.
La Pasadita Oaxaqueña Under $10
La Pasadita features traditional items found in the heart of Mexico, fresh simple items from Oaxaca, items include Carne Asada, Rolled Tacos, Fresh Guacamole, our signature “Mole Oaxaqueño” Enchilada Sauce, quality Rice & Beans, and the final touch to any item: their House-Made Salsas. Telephone: 805-314-1426 Web: La Pasadita Oaxaqauena
The Butterfly Grille Under $10
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. Telephone: 805-343-9400 Web: The Butterfly Grille.
La Simpatia Under $10
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. Telephone: 805-343-9284 Web: La Simpatia.
Far Western Tavern $11 – 30
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. Telephone: 805-937-2211 Web: Far Western Tavern.
Best Guadalupe Bars
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. Telephone: 805-937-2211 Web: 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. Telephone: 805-343-7510 Web: Adelina’s Bistro.
Rooney’s Irish Pub
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. Telephone: 805-934-3777 Web: Rooney’s Irish Pub.
Santa Maria Brewing Company
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. Telephone: 805-369-2256 Web: Santa Maria Brewing Company.
Best Hotels Near Guadalupe (Santa Maria)
Best Western Plus Big America
This Santa Maria hotel rooms have been called by many “the best hotel rooms in Santa Maria ” because of the size of the rooms and the cleanliness of the rooms. Each of our Santa Maria hotel rooms contains a mini refrigerator, microwave, iron and ironing board, coffee maker, cable TV, air conditioning, wet bar, voice mail, and each room is equipped for High Speed Internet Access, both hard wired and wireless.
SeaVenture Beach Hotel
SeaVenture Beach Hotel and Restaurant sits right on the white sands of Pismo Beach just south of the Iconic Pismo Pier and shopping district. Most guestrooms rooms offer King size beds, fireplace, private balcony with a two-person Hot Tub. On the top floor, be sure to enjoy panoramic Ocean Views from the SeaVenture Restaurant and Tapas Bar which feature delectable California Coastal Cuisine and a large wine list featuring many central coast wines.
Radisson Hotel Santa Maria
Radisson Hotel Santa Maria provides guests with a convenient location adjacent to Santa Maria Public Airport (SMX) and just half a mile from SR-135. Our pet-friendly Santa Maria, CA hotel also offers convenient access to nearby golf courses, Vandenberg Air Force Base and the Santa Maria Airport Business Park. Ask our knowledgeable front desk staff for tips on visiting nearby wineries like Cambria Estate Vineyards & Winery or Cottonwood Canyon Vineyard & Winery.
Candlewood Suites Santa Maria
Candlewood Suites Santa Maria provides guests with a fitness center, Gazebo BBQ, free guest laundry facility, a complimentary business center, IHG Rewards Club Program and complimentary Internet. Designed to provide the business traveler and the leisure traveler with extended stay comfort, accommodations offer a kitchen equipped with stove top, full-size refrigerator, microwave, dishwasher, plate, silverware, glassware and cookware. Suites also host pillow top mattress, recliner chair, flat panel TV, in-room DVD player & free DVD library.
Fairfield Inn & Suites Santa Maria
This hotel offers the ideal setting for exploring Santa Barbara County Wine Region, SLO Wines & Paso Robles Wine Country, Pismo Beach Premium Outlet, the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail, the Danish Village of Solvang, the Pacific Ocean and renowned Hearst Castle. Their newly remodeled hotel features an indoor pool, whirlpool spa, fitness room, complimentary hot breakfast buffet, free high speed Internet, guest laundry facility, free parking, a meeting room, plus a complimentary business center. Rooms feature a refrigerator, microwave, flat screen TV, movie channels and complimentary high speed Internet.
I love the beaches! I have been researching Central California coincidentally, as we are headed that direction for a vacation. Guadalupe looks like an area that we need to explore while there and absolutely worth a visit. Thanks for putting together all this information. You’ve made it easy!
Glad I could help Alia!
Guadalupe does look like a nice place to visit. I’m planning a trip to California in the summer. Kind of planning a couple places to visit, too. Which other cities are within 100 miles of Guadalupe though? Obviously, Santa Maria is close since you have to book a hotel, there.
As far as coastal communities, you will also find Arroya Grande, Ventura, Oxnard, and Long Beach in the area. I am lising coastal communities of course 🙂 Thanks for visiting Guadalupe California Vacations.
Being from Liverpool in England I have not visited that side of the world yet, but Guadalupe does sound great. I will definitely have to look into this place after reading your post, one I am going to add to my bucket list.
Thank you for sharing this.
All the best,
Glad you enjoyed reading Tom. This is a great area of California with so much to offer. Thanks for stopping by Guadalupe California Vacations.
The Guadalupe area looks like a great place to enjoy nature, not much for swimming. I think I would like the beach buggy and Kayak rentals the best. I enjoy taking nature pictures and sharing with my friends, this would be a great area to add to my collection.
Beach buggies and kayaks are always fun! This is a great coastal community. Thanks for visiting 🙂
Nice webpage on Guadalupe, Ca. Your pictures and descriptions are great. Plenty to do in Guadalupe. I like that you warn about Point Sal State Beach being dangerous for swimming. You provide a wide assortment of hotels and restaurants to your travelers. Great advice too on where to visit.
Glad you enjoyed Mick and thanks for visiting!
This is a great source of information Leahrae. One usually overlooks Guadalupe when looking at California…thanks for the in depth review!
Thanks for reading about Guadalupe California! Yes, it is often overlooked, but well worth it!
What an amazing post! Thanks so much for sharing…
Question for you – Are you aware of any festivals or native pow wows around May? I’m thinking that if we’re to go, I don’t want to be there during the ‘smog’.
Oh, I know all about that smog LOL. You won’t find much for events in Guadalupe because it is such a small town. You can head to Santa Maria which is close for some events. You can visit the calendar here. Thanks for stopping by.
Thank you for this post, as I have always wanted to visit this area but have not gotten around to it yet.
Guadalupe is near a wine region and I would love to do some wine tasting when in that area, as well as visiting Hearst Castle, and really make a day of it.
Do you know if there are tours for either of these, available from Santa Maria?
And which beaches do you recommend for swimming, since a couple of the ones that you mentioned are not really swim-friendly?
The best beach, and it is beautiful, is Paradise Beach. It is definitely swimmable. And yes there are tours for Hearst Castle (I had to look this one up 🙂 and you can see which tours are available here. Of course, there are always wine tours everywhere in this area 🙂
I enjoyed reading this whole page, from top to bottom. Good job. I’m familiar with Guadalupe. I’ve taken PCH several times, and it brought me back to when I had a construction job in 2013 driving the manual truck back for miles, the sight was awesome! I’ll be over there in CA possibly in September, it would be nice to give it a look. The central coast sailing charters stood out to me. I’ve seen whales but not up close. I’d definetly like to check that out! You could find me eating at El tapatío. For sure lol.
The dunes and dunes centers sound awesome. It’s a must see. There’s so much to look forward to. Thank you for sharing, good job.
The whole place is a must see and El Tapatio is the BEST place to eat, especially if you love Mexican food. I have seen the whales up close and smelled their breath (disgusting), but it is an amazing site! Thanks for reading!
My girlfriend wanted to visit Guadalupe in our spring vacation this year, but we decided to visit Montenegro first. I guess Guadalupe will be our destination next year after reading this post. 😀
Thanks for visiting Guadalupe California Vacations Dan. It is a great place and so much to see!
Wow guadalupe sounds amazing, I definitely will have to check it out for my next vacation :). I think I also have to go to La Simpatia, love some mexican food! Thanks for sharing!
Yes, my favorite food for sure. I love good Mexican food and a good margarita 🙂 And yes, great place! Thanks for stopping by!
Very informative post I really think about to go there. The quiet and peace would be great and it seems that there are many sights to see too. I went to Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo before and loved them although in San Luis Obispo there wasn’t much to do except a good restraunt. Pismo Beach was lovely and I think we drove the car on the beach. What fun! Thanks for the good post.
You are welcome Tom and Pismo Beach is so close. So much to do in the whole area for sure. And yes, not a lot in San Luis Obispo. Thanks for visiting Guadalupe California Vacations.
We typically head to California in the summer to escape the heat of Arizona. Usually we hit SoCal, with the nice beaches in the San Diego area. Lately though, we have been breaking out of our normal routine and have been exploring the areas further north. I have been wanting to get north of LA and check out Pismo, and SLO. Guadalupe fits right into that area as well.
It’s great that protected lands have been established for that area. I like how you used the term “passive recreation”, so people have a good idea what to expect. Nice list of place to go, eat and stay. Thanks for the awesome info, I appreciate it.
Glad you enjoyed Steve and yes, it is a great area. I actually prefer the beaches north from San Diego. Don’t get me wrong, I love San Diego, but for many different reasons 🙂 Thanks for visiting Guadalupe California Vacations.
I am guessing there are several places you can use an offroad vehicle, but only one of them says it’s not allowed right. How do you get around ranch Guadalupe dunes preserve and it’s 600 acres? Walk a lot or is there some type of best way to experience that location? Definitely one of the most interesting California vacation destinations.
There are many points of interest at the dunes and off-road vehicles are allowed at a few. So maybe I should change that wording. Anyway, it is easiest to look at the points of interest and decide which ones you want to see, and proceed to make plans for those. Here is the list for the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center which lists everything there is to see and do. It is definitely something that you cannot do in a day. Thanks for visiting Guadalupe California Vacations.
Your website is so informative! From weather, to activities to do, and places to visit. I will definitely be returning here to check out beaches across the globe.
Thank you Courtney! I am working my way around the globe for sure 🙂 Thanks for visiting Guadalupe California Vacations.