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Beach town classics: check out vintage California style in the Central Coast's Pismo Beach and newly revived Avila Beach - Travel and Recreation
It's morning at Avila Beach, and the sounds of the sea provide the day's first impressions. In the silence between the rhythmic plunging of waves onto the beach, the calls of shorebirds and the barks of sea lions drift across San Luis Obispo Bay.

Farther south along the bay at Pismo Beach, the sands are busy with walkers and joggers. Foraging curlews and godwits take off at the beachgoers' approach and fly a few hundred feet downshore, only to be displaced again.

Such morning scenes are a reminder that, first and foremost, a beach town is about the beach. Pismo and Avila are communities that are dedicated to this simple proposition, even as change has come to both. Pismo is enhancing its waterfront and has added a new city park, while Avila, after essentially being closed down for several years during an oil-spill cleanup, is back in business with a new beachfront and an eye toward the future.

Timeless Pismo Beach

The city is upgrading lighting and paving, but downtown Pismo Beach is still a classic beach town. Hints of fish and chips and saltwater taffy drift through the air, and clam chowder is ubiquitous on local menus.

There's a bit of a feeling that this is where the Pacific Coast meets the Jersey Shore. A new beachfront boardwalk connects to the town's popular 1,250-foot-long pier. And the East Coast feel is further enhanced by the section of beach south of Grand Avenue in the hamlet of Grover Beach--the only beach on the California coast where you can drive a car.

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