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  • Pamela Froman

Life's a Beach - in Pismo Beach


Nestled halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, lies a sleepy little beachside community known as Pismo Beach. With cute shopping, a beach view, and tons of great food, this little vista is a perfect place to eat yummy clam chowder and watch the sun set over the ocean.


Where to Stay:


Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa is an elegant all-villa resort. Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa is centrally located and ideal for romantic trips or family vacations where guests stay anywhere from two nights, to two weeks, and even two months. With 63 spacious one and two bedroom villas featuring full gourmet kitchens, Lido Restaurant, La Bonne Vie Spa, and an array of activities, guests have all the comforts of home amidst the elegance of a resort. Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa, 2727 Shell Beach Road, Shell Beach. (800) 516-0112, www.thedolphinbay.com


Where to Eat


Founded over 20 years ago, the Splash Cafe in Pismo is an excellent place for homey atmosphere and great food. Their clam chowder has been rated the best in California for the past 10 years. All the food is awesome and patrons are constantly hanging out the door. The walls are painted with colorful murals depicting what else, clams! And the chowder is so good that people often go there and order it for breakfast! The Splash Cafe has two locations, one in Pismo and one in San Luis Obispo, and bread is baked fresh everyday at the San Luis Obispo location and then trucked over to the Pismo restaurant. Yummy is this restaurant's name. Last year alone they produced over 300,000 bread bowls and served more than 18,000 gallons of clam chowder. The Splash Cafe, 197 Pomeroy, Pismo Beach. (805) 773-4653, www.splashcafe.com.


Steamers in Pismo is a beautiful restaurant with stunning ocean views. An upscale atmosphere, punctuated by soothing music makes this restaurant a wondrous romantic destination. Specializing in California Coastal cuisine, the menu features seafood, pasta, fresh salads, and steaks. Fresh seasonal fish, steamed clams, mussels and awarding winning clam chowder. Lovers of the seas catch of the day will be especially pleased by the kitchen's abundant selections of daily lunch and dinner specials. Try the delicious King crab, which is big enough for two, or the succulent lobster. Happy Hour is offered from 3:30-6pm, which includes daily drink and appetizer specials. Steamers of Pismo, 1601 Price St., 
(807) 773-4711, www.steamerspismobeach.com.


Escape to a slice of Europe with Old Vienna restaurant. In the Old Town Shell Beach, area of Pismo Beach, Old Vienna Restaurant, and Beer Garden has been a gathering spot for locals and tourists for over 35 years. Enjoy a quiet family dinner or a rambunctious night out with friends, a visit to Old Vienna is a happening you won't soon forget. Traditional German and Austrian cuisine with a cold German beer or a glass of wine will hit the spot. Celebrate or unwind with the band on Friday nights. Satsfy your taste buds with a crisp salad or warm bowl of soup, followed by a plate brimming with schnitzel, bratwurst or braten, potatoes and fresh vegetables. And don't forget the potato pancakes. They are homemade and delicious! Old Vienna, 1527 Shell Beach Road, Pismo Beach, (805) 773 - 4521, www.old-vienna.com.


Things to do:


A half hour up the coast sits the majestic Hearst Castle. Take a tour, and you will see many parts of the home. First, the Esplanade and Gardens, which features marble sculptures and flowers in season. Next is Casa Del Sol, which is an 18-room guesthouse facing the majestic Pacific Coastline. This guesthouse is bigger than most homes! The pools are stunning. The Neptune Pool is a magnificent Greco-Roman style pool that features coastline views from the hilltop. The Roman Pool is an indoor pool decorated from ceiling to floor with 1" square mosaic tiles. And finally, the main house itself, Casa Grande. Five rooms are shown including: the Assembly Room which is the largest of the four sitting rooms and was once a gathering place for guests, the Refectory, the single dining room, the Morning Room, a magnificent sitting room filled with Spanish antiques and Flemish tapestries, the Billiard Room which features two 1920's billiard tables and a Gothic "millle fleurs" tapestry, and the private Theater. There also used to be a zoo on the property, so look out for cows...and (can you believe it?) zebras! 750 Hearst Castle Road, San Simeon, (800) 444-4445, www.hearstcastle.org


Ocean Dune State Vehicular Recreation Area has 1,500 acres, featuring beach and sand dune riding. Thousands of off-highway vehicle enthusiasts enjoy the beach dunes of this SVRA most weekends during the summer. It is a motorcycle, four-wheel drive, all-terrain vehicle, and dune buggy use area. Camping is allowed on the beach and in the open dune area. Oceano Dunes District Office, 340 James Way, Ste. 270, Pismo Beach. (805) 773-7170, http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=1207


The Pismo Pier, provides good fishing without the need for a license. Pismo Beach is the most heavily fished (an estimated million and a half people visit the pier per year) and second most productive of all Central Coast piers. Schooling species make up much of the summer catch and if the schools move in, steady action can be enjoyed. The Pier is 1,370 feet long and has several cantilevered fishing decks. It is built over one of the finest sand beaches in the state. . Some other activities are horseback riding along the dunes, playing a fantastic round of golf, kite surfing and paragliding and singing karaoke at Harry's Nightclub (try their otter pop shot!). Visit Pismo and enjoy all aspects of this surf style paradise.

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