Pismo Beach, California

Go get some sand in between your toes at this oceanfront playground.

EAT

The saying goes: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Well, in this case, when by the sea, eat seafood. For the most authentic, fun and a bit messy seafood experience just short of being out there on the boat yourself to catch the goods, pop into the Cracked Crab (crackedcrab.com). With butcher paper as the table covering and a sassy (albeit fun) hostess, you know you’re in for a good time. Ordering the house specialty of your choice of edible sea critters means they’ll get dumped from a steaming bucket right onto your table. Weapons of choice include nut crackers, mallets and your own hands. Take them up on the offer to don you with one of their bibs. You’re going to need it.

SLEEP

Home base needs to be where you can hear the crash of the surf as you lay down to sleep. For this the Cottage Inn by the Sea (pacificahotels.com/cottageinn) lives up to its name situated atop the sea side cliffs. Granted, not every room faces the ocean, but every room can hear it. The English Cottage style architecture is a welcome change from the other styles of buildings and the beach is easy to access where an easy walk takes you into downtown or stroll beyond until the sun sets. The included breakfast provides more options than most and is served in a quaint dining room where it’s easy to welcome the day. Fuel up because there’s lots to do. Read on.

PLAY

This is where choices are going to challenge you. Naturally, there’s plenty of lounging by the beach or up on the cliffs by the pool and hot tub looking out over the ocean. The more adventurous need to find Bill Bookout at the Pismo Beach Surf Shop (pismobeachsurfshop.com) for a sea cave kayaking tour. Caves come and go depending on the tide and Bill knows all the ins and outs. Motorheads can rent dune buggies for hours on end and blaze up, over and across the dunes at Sun Buggy Fun Rentals (sunbuggy.com) just down they way in Oceano. High flyers and winos can combine their interests at the Zip and Sip zip line course flying over the Margarita Vineyard (margarita-adventures.com). Finish the day with some fun and satirical live theater at the Great American Melodrama & Vaudeville (americanmelodrama.com). Whew.

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