Pismo beach camping is for locals, road trippers and international visitors. At Pismo beach, camping is low-cost and there are plenty of opportunities to hike around or just chill and watch the local surfers. If you go, take all the usual tents and coolers for a comfy overnight camp, but also toss a collapsible beach chair or one of your stadium chairs into the car.

How to Explore and Camp around Pismo Beach, California

Pismo beach with views of the town and people walking on the sand

Located in central California, Pismo Beach is within a half-day’s drive from both L.A. and San Francisco. California’s central coast, known for its wineries and stunning seaside cliffs, has temperate weather for most of the year. In winter, rains can come but even during December and January the beach is worth a visit.

Pismo beach camping requires planning ahead due to its popularity, but it’s open to anyone with a tent and beach chair. From a comfortable and affordable campsite, you can spend extra cash on one of the area’s many attractions, like the monarch butterfly sanctuary or one of several parks.

Pismo Beach Campgrounds

Board walk with people walking on sand below.

To camp at Pismo, check out the city’s official site which lists campgrounds, permit requirements and planning tips. The North Beach campground has 103 sites, which sounds like a lot until you consider how many tens of thousands of California families want to camp on a beach. All campsites include fire rings, allow pets on leashes and many sites include hook-ups.

Oceano Campground is also run by the state park, so rates are reasonable. Like North Beach, however, this affordable little slice of heaven fills up incredibly fast. To capture your own camp spot, you should plan at least six months in advance and master the intricacies of the reservation process by reading up on how the California State Parks system works.

The area also has private campgrounds, such as KOA, and the nearby Channel Islands National Park that includes camping. The Channel Islands, like the state parks, fill up fast due to reasonable rates and relative solitude. Although Pismo Beach is a small city with a population of around 8,000, this stretch of central California draws visitors every year and fills up beyond capacity in summer.

Both North Beach and Oceano have a few RV sites as well. The campgrounds offer hot showers and are well-kept and clean. Most campgrounds in this area provide space and amenities for tents and RVs but there are nearly a dozen RV-only campgrounds. If you are tent camping, be sure to check the campground maps for the best spot to stay away from the sound of RV generators.

The key to Pismo beach camping is planning way ahead of time, bringing the right gear, and taking advantage of the many recreational options in this small coastal town.