As a photographer in central California, these are a few of my favorite spots to take photos in the Pismo Beach, California area. Enjoy!
My 6 Favorite Pismo Beach Area Photo Locations
1. The Monarch Butterfly Grove Beach in Pismo Beach, California
400 S Dolliver St, Pismo Beach, CA 93449
This beach area is beautiful! With driftwood trees, rolling dunes, a seasonal pond near the ocean, and easy ocean access, this is one of my favorite photo locations. However, it takes around ten minutes to walk out to the water and it can be challenging to find since the parking area doesn’t feature a big sign. However, it is one of my go-to photo spots in Pismo Beach and it’s a great place to avoid the crowds.
2. Dinosaur Caves and Margo Dodd Park
2701 Price St, Pismo Beach, CA 93449
Dinosaur Caves is a very popular park in Pismo Beach. It is easy to find, has wide open spaces, and has lovely ocean views. However, there isn’t a lot of shade so it’s a better photo location for foggy and cloudy days or it also works if your eyes aren’t too sensitive to the sun. Margo Dodd Park is also right next door to Dinosaur Caves and has a beautiful white gazebo that is perfect for photos.
3. Wilmar Stairs and the SeaCrest Hotel
2241 Price St, Pismo Beach, CA 93449 – Limited public parking at the hotel. Turn immediately to the right as soon as you drive in. Or park along the side of the road along Wilmar Avenue, a side street just south of the hotel. There’s beach access at the end of the road.
This area is gorgeous, and it’s often busy around sunset. However, it’s a lovely spot to show off our tall cliffs, the Pismo Pier, and features some remarkable rocks and sea caves during low tide.
4. Oceano Dunes
Oceano is approximately a ten-minute drive from Pismo Beach and shows off our incredible, tall dunes for miles. You may or may not get peeks of the ocean, but the dunes are a fantastic backdrop for photos and it’s very easy to get away from the crowds.
5. The Cliffs Hotel and South Palisades Park
Cliff’s Hotel, 2757 Shell Beach Rd, Pismo Beach, CA 93449 – limited public parking. More public parking is located at South Palisades Park, Beachcomber Dr, Pismo Beach, CA 93449.
The Cliffs Hotel and South Palisades Park are very close to each other and both have large beautiful lawns and beach access. These areas are often busy, but it is possible to find pockets to take incredible photos. Shade is limited so these parks are best at sunset.
6. Secret Garden at the Madonna Inn
100 Madonna Rd, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405
This area is closer to San Luis Obispo and has a beautiful garden and lots of shade trees; it’s a wonderful place to take photos on windy days since the trees block much of the wind. However, there are often weddings so we need to work around their wedding schedule.
Additional Photo Location Options
I also like Eldwayen Ocean Park and Memory Park in Pismo Beach, and there are some great beaches with awesome rocks in Morro Bay, too.
The Best Hikes Nearby
We’ve done all of these hikes at least a few times. I highly recommend checking them out! Also, even though these aren’t my normal photo locations, I’m always down for a hike if you want to take photos in these areas.
- Avila Ridge Hike & Pirate’s Cove
- The Pismo Preserve
- Bob Jones Trail & The Secret Garden (cute spot for snacks along the trail)
- Bishop’s Peak
- Bluffs Trail Montana De Oro
- Pecho Coast Trail (docent led)
My Favorite Restaurants
- Blue Moon Over Avila
- Ventana Grill
- Joy Shell Beach or Joy Health Bar
- Honeymoon Cafe
Beautiful Pismo Beach Area Hotels
Please keep in mind, I haven’t stayed overnight at any of these hotels yet. However, their grounds are beautiful, and I love each of these locations for different reasons. I would recommend any of them to my family and friends if they stay in the Pismo Beach area.
- Seacrest Hotel
- The Cliff’s Hotel
- Inn at the Cove
- Inn at the Pier
- Madonna Inn
- Sycamore Springs Mineral Resort & Spa
- Avila Lighthouse Suites