Where to stay in Pismo Beach, CA

When friends come to visit they ask for ideas for lodging, so here’s my punch list of places to stay in Pismo Beach and neighboring Avila Beach, San Luis Obispo, and Arroyo Grande. If you are looking for that modern “boutique” small hotel vibe with luxury ambience, you will have to go to San Luis Obispo. But the coastal zone of Pismo and Avila towns are really worth the views and beach-vibe. We live right in town (Pismo), all of these hotels are 15 minutes or less by car from us and from the San Luis Obispo Airport.

Here are our picks:

Our top pick is the Inn at Avila Beach. Avila Beach is a small village with its own beach and cute pedestrian promenade. We recommend the Inn’s 8 suites that are right on the street above the lobby with great ocean views and private balconies for sunsets. If those suites aren’t available, consider other options in Pismo for ocean view rooms. As a bonus they have a happy hour with free pie every evening! Nearby 30 yards away is excellent Kraken Coffee

Pismo Beach itself has dozens of ocean front properties of widely varying quality. Pismo is all about the beach and being on the cliffs above the waves.

Vespera is one of the bigger main hotels right in town of Pismo Beach, 1 block to shopping (think San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf–tourist shops selling t-shirts, fast food, sweets, etc. — funky but charming in an old-timey family-friendly way). The large, lovely beach is right there, stretching for miles in both directions and very swim and surf friendly (the ocean is cold though). Many of our friends love being right at the beach and have enjoyed this property, with its pool, restaurant amenities. It’s new construction too.

About 1 mile north of the center of town there are several options, such as Inn at the Cove, a bit jammed in between the 101 freeway and the coast, but has a really nice protected cove view and a path down to the water. It is walking distance to Dinosaur Park (5 minutes) and to the shops in Shell Beach (coffee, some restaurants) and worth a visit. Lots of restaurants , and coffee/breakfast at Steaming Bean is about 15 minute walk. Kon Tiki Inn is a 3-star hotel, includes free visits to the nearby athletic club and ocean front rooms with fire pits on the cliff over the sea (and beach access). The rooms look basic but nice. Sea Crest is another option. Similar to Kon Tiki–a little older and similar amenities.

For more of a “resort” vibe (eg: more rooms, more private property, a bigger restaurant and pool, a semi-private stair-access to a rocky tide-pool beach area) is The Cliffs.

For the classy boutique small hotel experience there are 2 good options in downtown San Luis Obispo (called “slo” by locals) which is 15 minutes by freeway to Pismo. The Hotel San Luis Obispo was opened in 2020 so on the newer side: about a block from the center walking/shopping district of town, spacious modern rooms, a restaurant and bar and pool on site.

Granada Hotel is smaller and cozier, tucked-in on a small side street, also just a block from the main pedestrian areas of SLO.

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