Oceano California Vacations

Located on the southwest portion of the Discovery Route, the classic and historic beach town of Oceano is known for it’s majestic dunes, beautiful parks, fertile farm fields, and remains the only beach in California you can drive on. Established in 1893 as a railroad town, Oceano still retains most of the original flavor of the past.  Oceano is a very family-friendly place. The Oceano lagoon with its abundant wildlife is one of the crown jewels of the central coast. The Guiton lagoon trail encircles the north side of the lagoon and provides excellent bird watching, exploring, and photo opportunities. Some of the best live stage entertainment in the area is at the Great American Melodrama, where the audience can participate in cheering and booing the heroes and villains portray by a cast of very talented performers.

Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area is the top tourist attraction in the city of Oceano. Gateway Post 1 to Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area is the entry point where cars and vehicles pay a fee to drive on the beach. Passenger cars can drive on a small portion of the beach but many are not sand-ready to drive to the dunes for camping and off roading. Sand dune terrain is best accessed with 4-wheel drive vehicles.

Enjoy the many wonderful beaches of Oceano, and the Central California coast (you’ll find a list here), then come visit Oceano.  Our Oceano California Vacations guide has all your answers to start planning your beach vacation.  Just keep reading.

Oceano Weather – When to Visit

The warmest month of the year is September with average temps from mid 50s to the high 70s. February is typically the wettest month with 4 of the 18 inches of annual rain. The winter months will be chilly with temperatures between 43 to 67 degrees. In the summer months, the temperature averages are between 53 and 78 degrees.  You do need to know that the California coast is prone to “June gloom.” This happens when the offshore ocean fog layer comes inland and hovers over the shore all day long. The condition can start in May and often extends into July.

Best Oceano Area Beaches

Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area, Oceano California, Oceano beaches, things to do in Oceano, restaurants in Oceano, bars in Oceano, California beaches, Central California beaches, Oceano Tours, Oceano Attractions, things to do in Oceano, best Oceano hotels, best Oceano restaurantsOceana Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area

Oceano Dunes Preserve is one of the most expansive coastal dunes left in California. The Preserve offers rare opportunities for on-the-sand activities—you can camp, go horseback riding, and drive right on the beach in the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA). In fact, it’s the only California State Park that allows vehicles to do so (four-or all-wheel drive recommended). Thrill-seekers: Don’t miss the opportunity to fly up and down the massive mounds of sand in a Hummer or your own ATV or dune buggy.

Oso Flaco Lake Beach, Oceano California Vacations, best Oceano beaches, California beaches, beach travel, beach destinations, things to do in Oceano, Oceano Tours & Activities, best Oceano Hotels, best Oceano restaurants, best Oceano barsOso Flaco Lake Natural Area

At the southern end of San Luis Obispo County, the Oso Flaco Lake Natural Area offers a quiet preserve for flora and fauna. With a river, freshwater lake, dunes, and sweeping ocean views, this harmonious natural area is part of the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area.


Guadalupe Nipomo Dunes Beach, Oceano California Vacations, best Oceano beaches, California beaches, beach travel, beach destinations, things to do in Oceano, Oceano Tours & Activities, best Oceano Hotels, best Oceano restaurants, best Oceano barsGuadalupe-Nipomo Dunes National Wildlife Refuge

Managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, this refuge contains some of the most remote and least disturbed areas of the Dunes Complex. Visitor access is only permitted from the beach, and requires a rigorous and sometimes hazardous two-mile hike from Oso Flaco Lake parking lot or Rancho-Guadalupe Dunes Preserve parking lot. No access or services available; visitors must walk in.


Pismo State Beach, Oceano California, Oceano beaches, things to do in Oceano, restaurants in Oceano, bars in Oceano, California beaches, Central California beaches, Oceano Tours, Oceano Attractions, things to do in Oceano, best Oceano hotels, best Oceano restaurantsPismo State Beach

Pismo State Beach has a pleasant year round climate making it ideal for outdoor recreation and exploring!  Pismo State Beach offers visitors the options to choose from many diverse activites including: camping, surfing, swimming, fishing, bird watching, walking trails, a boardwalk through the dunes, a vistor center, free educational programs, a freshwater lagoon and the opportunity to observe Western Monarch Butterflies (November-February).


Elldwayen Ocean Park, Oceano California Vacations, best Oceano beaches, California beaches, beach travel, beach destinations, things to do in Oceano, Oceano Tours & Activities, best Oceano Hotels, best Oceano restaurants, best Oceano barsEldwayen Ocean Park

Eldwayen Ocean Park is a grassy park that offers access to a strip of beach. The park has picnic tables, other seating and a set of stairs that leads down to the nearby beach. This beach is a popular spot to kayak from, as it offers relatively quick ocean access to nearby beaches that can’t be accessed from land due to erosion.



Things to Do in Oceano

Oceano Area Tours & Activities

Dune Buggy, UTV or ATV Experience at Pismo Beach

Set out on a spectacular dune buggy adventure on the sands near Pismo Beach, CA, approximately 1.5-hours north of Santa Barbara. For 2-hours you’ll whip across dunes and zoom alongside the coastline past crashing waves in either a single or multi-person 4WD vehicle, enjoying what locals truly consider ‘off-roading.’ This is actually the only public beach in the state where driving is allowed. Instruction is included, so no need to worry if you’ve never ridden in a dune buggy before.  Read more about Pismo Beach Dune Buggy Experience

California Sunset Guided Bike Tour

Admire San Francisco’s top attractions as the sun sets over the city on this 3-hour evening bike tour. Led by a local guide, you’ll pedal past Crissy Field, Fort Mason and Fisherman’s Wharf before heading across the Golden Gate Bridge for the sunset. Your guide will provide fun and factual commentary about the city’s rich history as you continue on through the Presidio, making stops at the Palace of Fine Arts and more. For an even more relaxing ride, upgrade to an electric bike.  Read more about San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge Evening Guided Bike Tour

Surf Lessons

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

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.  Read more about San Luis Obispo County by Convertible

Best Oceano Restaurants

Chacho’s Mexican Food  Under $10

Great food, great value and the locals love it! What more can you ask for? Everything is homemade, including the tortillas at Chacho’s.  All of their food is authentic Mexican food. Try their infamous burritos made with their amazing homemade tortillas.  Telephone:  805-489-5136  Web:  Chacho’s Mexican Food.

Rock ‘n Roll Diner  $11 – 30

The two old railroad cars that house this old-fashioned American diner aren’t the only attraction here. Generous breakfasts, juicy pastrami burgers, great guacamole burgers, and a surprising number of very good Greek dishes make this a popular place for a casual breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Fifties music, and a kid-friendly atmosphere make this the campers’ favorite.  Telephone:  805-473-2040  Web:  Rock ‘n Roll Diner.

Beach Burger  Under $10

Beach Burgers in Oceano is serving up great burgers, fries – seasoned steak, sweet potato or beer battered. Open daily for lunch and dinner.  Telephone:  805-473-2383  Web:  Beach Burger.

Old Juan’s Cantina  $11 – 30

Owned and operated by a local family with Mexican roots for two generations, Old Juan’s Cantina is a terrific spot for authentic Mexican food in a family-friendly atmosphere. Favored by locals and visitors alike, the extensive menu features festive appetizers, hearty combination plates, sizzling fajitas, and the best margarita on the coast.  Telephone:  805-489-5680  Web:  Old Juan’s Cantina.

Sylvester’s Burgers  $11 – 30

It’s Big, It’s Hot, It’s Juicy! Serious Central Coast burger nuts swear by Sylvester’s, a bright yellow and turquoise shack whose meaty motto is a smiling burger with Mickey Mouse-like hands and feet declaring that he’s “Big, Hot ‘n Juicy.” Only 100 percent unfrozen USDA grade beef is used, and the chewy sesame seed buns are always perfectly toasted and buttered. Don’t forget milk shakes (including pineapple), malts and floats, all made with real ice cream, or the chili and just-cooked onion rings.  Telephone:  805-270-4434  Web:  Sylvester’s Burgers.

Best Oceano Bars
R & D’s (Ralph and Duanes)

R&D’s is owned and operated by Mother and Son, Marsha &  Arly Maretti. They have an excellent team of friendly bartenders on staff, and a high-energy DJ ready to start the party. In addition to the main bar that features a pool table, pong table and dart board, there is a BIG outdoor patio – affectionately known as “Marsha’s Backyard” – which has plenty of seating, an additional bar, oak pit barbecue and a stage where bands come to entertain during the summer months.  Telephone:  805-481-2871  Web:  R & D’s.

Mason Bar & Kitchen

Drop in for casual dining in a spirited atmosphere at the bar, or enjoy fireside ambience in our dining room.  Their menu relies on locally sourced ingredients to offer a diverse, evolving menu.  With 25 beers on draft, an eclectic wine list, and only premium spirits, creative cuisine meets premium libations.  Telephone:  805-202-8918  Web:  Mason Bar & Kitchen.

Mongo’s Saloon  $11 – 30

Mongo’s Sports Bar & Restaurant of Grover Beach, CA features great food, cold drinks and entertainment every day of the week. Stop by for great food, cocktails, cold beer, live music and meet the friendly staff and local customers. Try their award winning Bloody Mary’s, 1/2 lb Burgers, fabulous Fish & Chips, and homemade Clam Chowder!! Watch your favorite sport on their 9 HD TVs. Happy hour is daily from 3 – 7 p.m.  Telephone:  805-489-3639  Web:  Mongo’s Saloon.

Harry’s Night Club & Beach Bar

Harry’s specializes in FUN!  Full service bar with live music every night at 9:00 pm.  They also have afternoon bands on Saturday & Sunday starting at 3:00 pm.  They have 3 pool tables that are always hopping too.  Go for a cold one, dance the night away, or enjoy a game of pool.  Telephone:  805-773-1010  Web:  Harry’s Night Club & Beach Bar

Best Oceano Hotels

Pacific Plaza Hotel

A stay at Pacific Plaza Hotel is an invitation to discover Oceano Beach Dunes. The hotel sits comfortably between the land and sea with a protected natural park as its neighbor. There is 5 1/2 miles of open beach for vehicle use and ATV riding. We are just minutes away from award-winning golf courses, the best wine tasting, and great local restaurants.

Oceano Inn

For travelers visiting Oceano, Oceano Inn is an excellent choice for rest and rejuvenation. Well-known for its budget friendly environment and proximity to great restaurants and attractions, Oceano Inn makes it easy to enjoy the best of Oceano. Free wifi is offered to guests, and rooms at Oceano Inn offer a refrigerator and air conditioning. During your stay, take advantage of some of the amenities offered, including a 24 hour front desk and a picnic area. Guests of Oceano Inn are also welcome to enjoy BBQ facilities, located on site.

Sand, Sun & Wine! B&B

Sand, Sun & Wine! offers accommodation in Oceano. Pismo Beach is 4.3 km from the property. All units have a TV and DVD player. All units feature a kitchen fitted with a dishwasher and oven. A microwave and toaster are also featured, as well as a coffee machine. There is a private bathroom with a hairdryer in each unit.

Pier Condominium #606

This Newly Renovated spacious and beautifully decorated studio is located in Oceano just 3 blocks to the ocean/dunes & directly across the street from the Oceano Elks Lodge. The kitchenette is fully equipped with all the essentials you need. Large flat screen TV. Laundry facility and hot tub on site. Walk to local restaurants, sand sun and fun!

A Tuscan Sun

This Oceano home for 10 is right on the beach! Enjoy the soft, yellow sands and the gentle roar of the sea, as well as great hiking (or, thanks to nearby rentals, ATVing) through the Oceano Dunes.  Warm up by the fireplace before retiring to either of the two large living rooms, complete with plush furnishings and flatscreen cable TVs. Between DVD players and Netflix streaming on the WiFi, you’ll never be bored.


  1. Traci Rothman

    Oh my goodness you have so much info on pretty much every beach in the world! Very beautifully written love all the detail, the shops and everything you can pretty much want or do at them. You did a great job loving your site 🙂

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thanks Traci, and I am glad you enjoy visiting Beach Travel Destinations. Come back when you are ready to plan your next beach vacation!

  2. Emily

    Wow, this would be such a great place to visit! This is such great information, I can’t believe how much is offered in this area. Thanks!

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you Emily for visiting Oceano California Vacations! I am glad you enjoyed!

  3. Deivid

    Beach!! Beaches are my favourite place to get a holiday on. Your website goes through what are the opportunities to do there when to do it in a lot of detail, making it easy to understand.
    It would be cool if you added the prices to go there, hotels that are available and perhaps some of their reviews, and your general opinion about this lociation in a conclusive sentence or two.

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      It is really hard to add prices to get there, because it is so dependent on where you are coming from.  If you click on the hotel links, you will find the pricing and the reviews 🙂  I never thought about adding my own opinion for each location.  That is an idea!  Thanks for taking the time to comment and visit Oceano California Vacations.

  4. linda

    This site was wonderful. It was very thorough with information about vacation destinations. And, I love the beach!. I especially enjoyed the info about things to do and dining. It eliminated a lot of searching on my own, and would be a good reference to go back to if this was a destination choice. I also liked the addition of the video. It really gives you a clear picture of what the area has to offer.

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Glad you enjoyed Linda!  Thank you so much for stopping by and visiting Oceano California Vacations.

  5. Will

    Thanks for sharing Leahrae. Seems like California just has an endless amount of beaches to visit. I love riding ATVs so I’ll definitely have to try that if I’m ever in the area. Did you have a favorite restaurant out of the ones you listed?

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I’d have to say my favorite is Chacho’s. I love Mexican food! And yes, California does have endless beaches. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Matiss

    Yap, it’s official. I truly want to visit California now. 🙂
    I would love to learn to surf and to spend some time in those marvelous hotels. Restaurants would also be a treat!
    Thank you for sharing, I do appreciate it a lot!

    Cheers and have an awesome day!

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      This is a great area Matiss. So many beautiful beaches, so much to do and yes, great restaurants as well. Glad you enjoyed reading!

  7. BrandonW4

    I just love this website.

    Not only to you give us ideas where to go and what to do while we’re there, but you give us the information we to make the most of or trip as well.

    I would love to rent a sunbuggy!! You couldn’t get me out of one of those.

    Now all I need is the time and money to do all these things!!

    Thank you for this great read.

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are some welcome Brandon. Thanks for visiting Oceano California vacatons. Sunbuggies are a blast! Hope you can make it here soon.

  8. William

    The Vehicular Recreation Area would be my first stop. I would love the opportunity to drive an ATV. I’ve never seen Oceano on the map before. Maybe I just didn’t see it. In any case, this seems like a great place to visit

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thanks for visiting Oceano California Vacations. Oceano is very close to Santa Barbara William, and a great little coastal community.

  9. Erin

    This seems like such a cool part of California to visit. That old train depot would be great to see in person. I love seeing old buildings such as that. It looks like there is something for everyone to do there.

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are right Erin, plenty to do for everyone. And a little different than your normal beach community. Where I live we have the beach, and then we have the beach. Not a lot of other activities that are not water related. Thanks for reading!

  10. Mick Krug

    Great picture of the sand dunes there in Oceano. I would love to rent a dune buggy there and drive up and down the shore line. The beach is amazing in that you can drive right up on it. I enjoyed the video. Nice places to visit with good restaurants and hotels. A beachcombers paradise!

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes it is Mick! Lots of choices whether it be camping or staying in a hotel, then all the beach activities. Super fun!

  11. Tony

    Hi, Leahrae,

    Another fantastic place you’ve chosen to show! What an amazing feeling would be to drive to the beach and see the dunes:) A dune buggy sounds like a great option, not to be missed!

    You make me dream! I will put visiting Oceano on my bucket list, for sure!

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I am glad I am making you dream! Oceano California is a dream beach destination with a unique way to enjoy. You will love it! Thanks for visiting Oceano California Vacations.

  12. Jill

    Hi Leahrae, I love the way you describe the beaches and give so much information regarding the activities available. It is amazing all the information you give so that we know prices of hotels and options of house rentals, car rentals etc. Oceano looks like a great place for a family holiday. What really appealed to me was the mention of all the wild life and the mention of horse riding on the beach.

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, the wildlife, horseback riding, riding on the dunes and the beach…nothing gets better Jill. It is a great way to enjoy a family vacation. Thanks for reading.

  13. Sanders

    Thanks for a great article on Oceano. The weather sounds like heaven to me, especially winter with the mild 43 to 67 degrees (I live in Iowa). While everyone else is freezing, I’ll be basking in the sun. Camping on the beach, horses, 4 wheelers…and you got a great selection of nightlife activities. Maybe next winter I’ll dig the camper out of the snowdrift and pay you all a visit!

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thanks for stopping by Sanders and you would love it. Personally, anything under 60 is darn cold! But I suppose if you are from Iowa, the winter weather here would seem, well warm 🙂

  14. John

    I am ready to pack my ATV in my suitcase. Just in case it does not fit, I see that I have a choice of where I can rent one at the beach.
    I like the idea of camping in the dunes, what could be more out in nature than at the beach.

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      John, this is the best place to camp out on the beach and take the ATVs. I couldn’t agree with you more! It doesn’t get any better for sure! Thanks for visiting.

  15. Tom L

    This is fun to read it’s full of good information. I drove the car on Pismo
    Beach before and had the time of our life. It was so much fun and so very real.
    Like it says though the soft sand dunes are another thing altogether. It sounds
    fun to go there but you might need an ATV for real good fun. I like the
    pictures and imagine that the horse riding could be so much fun too. Thanks for
    the good article!

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I don’t know what is more fun the beach, dune buggies or horseback riding. Both in my book, and this is a great place for that. Thanks for visiting Oceano California Vacations.

  16. Eric

    June Gloom must be fun to screw around in the fogginess. But I think I will wait until November/December in between the holidays to go. Oceano sounds like a fun place to let go and crash some dune buggies or Atv’s. I didn’t see you mention anywhere to find a horse, do they have those at the rental places or somewhere special?

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, you can rent horses, I though I added the horse back riding…now I have to go back and edit 🙂 The best is going to be Pacific Dunes Riding Ranch. There are others as well. The fog could be fun, much more so than LA smog LOL. Thanks for visiting Eric!


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