In Shell Beach, scenic Ocean Boulevard provides access to pebbled coves beneath steep rocky bluffs. Further south is Pismo Beach, home of the famous Pismo Clam, wide-open beaches, classic car shows, and migrating butterflies. Ride horseback along the beach, scout the nearby dunes for unusual shorebirds and vegetation, or marvel at the sight of migrating monarch butterflies clustering in the nearby eucalyptus trees.
For more action, head south to Grover Beach, gateway to the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area – the only drive-on beach in California. The state park designates protected areas to safeguard fragile plant and wildlife, but allows vehicular access to miles of beach, so visitors can experience the thrill of riding All-Terrain Vehicles, dune buggies, and motorcycles along the coastline and in the dunes.
Inland, country roads travel past fruit orchards, pastoral farmlands, and hundreds of acres of premium wine grapes. Cool coastal air and warm dry days help produce some of California’s best wines (especially Chardonnay and Pinot Noir varietals) in the Edna Valley and Arroyo Grande Valley wine regions. Tasting rooms are located throughout the South County.
Pismo Beach weather is being used to globally indicate conditions as it is the largest beach area and centrally located in reference to the other beaches. Inland weather is being represented by Arroyo Grande for the same reasons; centrally located and very large.
Pismo Beach Farmers’ Market
Held May through October, Tuesdays, 4pm to dusk
Dolliver and Main Streets, Pismo Beach
13 miles east of the town of Arroyo Grande is Lopez Lake, featuring great windsurfing, boating, water-skiing, fishing and camping. After a day of fun, stay for a cook-out and watch the wild deer and turkey.
Arroyo Grande Farmers’ Market
Arroyo Grande Farmers’ Market
Saturdays, 12 – 4pm
Short Street behind City Hall, Arroyo Grande
Avila Beach, Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach, Pismo Beach
|»||Winter :: Sunny days, cool nights
High 64, low 39
|»||Spring :: Breezy days, cool nights
High 71, low 46
|»||Summer :: Foggy mornings, sunny afternoons
High 76, low 55
|»||Fall :: Sunny days, cool nights
High 77, low 48
The earliest inhabitants of the Five Cities valley and coastal area were Chumash Indians, who conducted extensive trade with other Native American tribes at considerable distance.
The first Europeans to see this stretch of coast were the crew of Portuguese explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, working in the service of Spain. The Spanish Portolà expedition was the first European visit by land, passing through the area on September 4, 1769. When Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa was established nearby, the Portolà trail became part of the road connecting the 21 Spanish missions (today called El Camino Real). Later, agricultural activities expanded into the area. The Arroyo Grande valley was found to have particularly fertile ground, and was given the name meaning “wide riverbed” in Spanish.
Francis Ziba Branch, originally from New York, saw the area on a hunting expedition during the period when California was part of Mexico. Branch married María Manuela Carlón, and this marriage entitled Branch to file claim for a Mexican land grant. In 1836 he and his wife and baby son moved onto Rancho Santa Manuela. They were managing a successful cattle ranching operation when California became a U.S. territory, and then a U.S. State. But some years later they suffered financial difficulties during a drought when many cattle died. They sold off smaller parcels of land to settlers.
In 1862, the San Luis Obispo Board of Supervisors established the township of Arroyo Grande. Businesses developed along a road called Branch Street to serve local agriculture. A railroad depot was built in 1882. The city of Arroyo Grande was incorporated on July 10, 1911.
The Five Cities area experienced rapid growth in the 1970s and 1980s, partially due to the expansion of the wastewater treatment plant, under an EPA Clean Water Grant, that removed a growth constraint.