On our last day in Pismo Beach, we packed up the tent and wanted to hit the road relatively early so we didn’t arrive too late in the Bay Area. B and I differ on what kind of quick breakfast to have — I always want fresh juices, acai bowls or smoothies and he thinks it’s the perfect excuse for a sausage mcmuffin. I can never convince him to go the healthier route so we always end up doing both.
As I was searching for a good juice bar, I stumbled upon VirtJuice in Arroyo Grande (about 3 miles south of Pismo Beach and about a 5 min drive from where we stayed).
It was the perfect assortment of pressed juices and smoothies. VirtJuice even offered “immunity” shots consisting of lemon, ginger, cayenne and coconut water, which is perfect after a long 4th of July weekend of late nights and early mornings.
VirtJuice hand presses their juices every morning and displays them in mason jars. They are the first thing to sell out of so be sure to arrive early if you are craving the juice!
I decided on the cookie dough smoothie. My sister has recommended a similar smoothie to me so I knew I had to try it. It was delicious. I could have sipped on it contently the whole car ride! It had such a fresh and healthy taste, but weirdly tasted similar to cookie dough. It was amazing — wish there was one close by so I could order this smoothie on the daily. I think I would have to try Carrot Cake next.
I love how different VirtJuice’s options are than the standard smoothie market. And I am sure their menu will only expand from here since we visited on their 4th day of business!
Pismo Beach is an easy breezy beach town located half way between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Its’ small town feel and endless beach draws California natives and West Coast dwellers alike. So of course I had to check it out!
6:30pm: Dinner at Ventana Grill- This Latin inspired restaurant is situated on the cliffs of Pismo Beach. The panoramic views (see picture above), modern decor and flavorful dishes make this place a must eat . Ventana starts you off with homemade tortillas and cinnamon butter while you peruse the menu. We started with clam chowder, which was one of the best we have ever had — it had the perfect ratio of clams to potatoes. For entrees, B ended up choosing the chicken burrito and I chose jumbo shrimp al ajillo. Both were a little spicy, but the flavor of each was unreal. I don’t love spicy entrees but I couldn’t get enough of the garlic and chile combo. For dessert, we chose the fondue plate with homemade churros. The dessert was very average. Next time, I would opt for an appetizer or side dish instead because savory is definitely their specialty. Do note, Ventana Grill issues very few reservations (two per hour I think, they prefer leaving their tables open to walk-ins. ) so it is best to come around 6:30pm or the wait will be insane. They do have a lovely bar with the same stunning view if you do find your self playing the waiting game!
8pm: Sunset – Watch the sunset on benches located on the balcony of Ventana Grill. It is the perfect spot to relax and remember what vacationing is all about.
9am: Breakfast at Honeymoon Cafe- The cafe caters to locals and tourists alike. Its’ fresh and simplistic menu leaves you wanting more. I chose an english muffin egg sandwich with fresh spinach and B opted for the traditional egg, bacon & potato combo. It was very chilly and overcast when we arrived so I had to get a hot coco to bring me comfort. It was well worth it — look at the size of that thing! There is dinning indoors but it is pretty small. Honeymoon Cafe is located about 5 blocks away from the downtown area. There is only street parking so come early and you will leave happy!
11am: Kayak – Grab a kayak and explore the caves of Pismo Beach. Central Coast Kayaks offers an amazing “Cave Expenditure” tour. The tour lasts about 3 hours and all levels are able to attend. B and I were very much looking forward to this tour but the weather was not on our side. I really hope we are able to experience the caves next time because I hear great things! Tour includes guide, instruction, paddling equipment, water, snacks and pictures!
2pm: Lunch at Mo’s Smokehouse BBQ- Great little BBQ joint located right next to the iconic Pismo Beach pier! Their signature is ribs and pork sandwiches, but we ended up deciding to share half a bbq chicken. It was so juicy and the skin was grilled to perfection (just the way I like it). There are three different sauces available and so of course we had to dip the chicken in all three. Sweet Carolina sauce ended up winning the title in our book. All entrees are served with baked beans, potato salad and corn bread muffins. The portions are huuuuuge! And we had to order fries per B’s request. The side of fries could have fed 4 people comfortably. Needless to say we left with full stomachs and clogged arteries!
4pm: Explore the Sand Dunes - As I mentioned before, Pismo Beach has endless beaches (18 miles I believe) so what better way to explore them than on an ATV?! I have driven an ATV in Park City (where B claims I almost killed us) but there is nothing like driving one with the ocean in the distance. It is a whole new experience. Sun Buggy offers a plethora of options of four wheelers and the prices can’t be beat! All prices include helmets and goggles.
7pm: Dinner at Ribline by the Beach- Located about two miles south of Pismo Beach in the smaller town of Grover Beach. Ribline has great BBQ style options with the the most clever names! I chose the “skinny pig” (there is also “naked piggy in the club” and “bye bye piggy”) which is a pulled pork sandwich without sauce. Ribline rubs their meat with special spices to sit overnight so even without the bbq sauce the meat was so flavorful! Ben ordered the burger and said it was some of the best fries he had ever had! Service was on the slower side, but the food comes piping hot!
9pm: Roast s’mores on the beach! Pismo Beach represents how California used to be so live up the opportunity to make your own bonfire and roast those puppies! Have you ever bought waffle cones and filled them with marshmallows, peanut butter and chocolate chips then wrapped it in tin foil to roast over the fire? It is amazing and a lot less mess! I will have to do a little feature to show exactly what I mean because you need to try this.
9am: Breakfast at Penny’s All American Cafe – This diner style cafe is located not too far from the Honeymoon Cafe and offers the all american staples like fluffy pancakes, french toast, omelets, sausage, etc. It is one hearty breakfast! The line does get long fast so be sure to get there before your starving. Too often I come hangry to busy restaurants so this reminder is to me…
10:30am: Walk Downtown Pismo – From Penny’s, walk toward the beach and you will end up in the thick of the downtown area where there are many shops to gaze at. There is a taffy shop on the corner that offers quite the selection and tastes delicious. They also do tours of how taffy is made throughout the day. Oh and don’t forget to walk a little north and grab yourself a cinnamon roll from Old West Cinnamon Roll. You can smell them from a block away!
Pismo Beach was so quaint and charming. It is the perfect 36 hour getaway.
Oh and one more thing don’t forget to stay here when you come into town. It is a secluded oasis from the hustle and bustle, but still provides the ocean view!
This weekend surprised me a little bit. I was excited to experience another California beach town, but was very apprehensive to camp. I have always really disliked camping. I camped every summer for 5 years with my church youth group and absolutely dreaded the week long trip. However, that is why I think I hated it so bad. It was far too long to be sleeping in the Big Bear mountains with 30+ teenage girls. The food was mass produced and my time was based on what was planned by the counselors.
B loves camping. He loves having an excuse to get dirty and enjoy the great outdoors. He loves sleeping in a tent and hearing the whistling of the wind. He loves spotting deer and trying to catch lizards. So when B told me he would like to go camping for the 4th of July holiday I had to go along with it.
I started scouring the internet for campsites in the Big Sur / Pismo Beach area because if I am going to camp I am going to have it by a beach (also note the research process started happening in the end of May). There appeared to be some great state parks but all were filled to the brim. I even looked up north and south of Pismo. Everything was completely booked. I thought, well maybe this is my sign. Maybe we are not supposed to go camping and B could curse fate. Still, in the back of my mind I felt terrible that I was not going to make B’s dream of camping a reality. I searched many hours without any success. After no hope in the horizon I started to look at other travel destinations for our holiday weekend. I guess people plan their 4th 6 months in advance because I was not liking the variety and price of options. I turned to Airbnb in the 11th hour (2 weeks before July 4th) since we previously had such a great experience renting.
And then I found it. The best of both worlds! A post was listed on Airbnb highlighting “glamping” in the Pismo Beach area. It was perfect.
This weekend’s camping (or “glamping”) at Laura and Ben’s farm was such a treat. Their farm is situated in the rural part of Arroyo Grande, which is less than 5 miles from Pismo Beach.
We arrived a little after 7pm. Laura greeted us and took us on the tour of her 4 acre property. There we learned that Laura and Ben also offer lodging in their re purposed water tower and tepee (I would love to have a night in either the next time we are in town).
Their property is so charming and whimsical. Ben mentioned that he designed the property so every corner you turn there is something new and exciting. He said this was the perfect place to let your inner child run wild. And run wild we did.
There was even an adult size teeter totter and swing set!
Bonus points if you know where the inspiration of this circular door came from!
Laura and Ben start a campfire in the evenings for all their guests to enjoy.
The first night we stayed in their “glamping” tent that housed a double mattress with bench. There is a community bathroom located on their property that provides both an indoor and outdoor shower (and towels! ). The second night, all of their designated lodging areas were completely booked but Laura was nice enough to offer their meadow where we were able to set up a tent (so see I did get a camping and a glamping experience all rolled into one).
I can’t say enough good things about the experience we had. Laura and Ben are so friendly and welcoming. The attention they put into the little details of their farm make it magical and picturesque. It really made B want a place like theirs to call home someday. We will see!
B is already talking about our next camping adventure but I am taking it one experience at a time…
This long weekend in Pismo Beach was so relaxing and lovely. I wish it never had to end. Great food, breathtaking sights and even better company. Three day weekends are good for the soul. Here is a little sneak peak of our weekend in pictures!
How was your weekend?
Check back for a Pismo Beach guide and full details on my first “glamping” experience!
And don’t forget to follow along on instagram!