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
Oceana 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 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 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
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).
Eldwayen 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
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.
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.