As you head south approximately 5 miles on Highway 101 from San Luis Obispo, the expansive Pacific Ocean comes into full view and takes your breath away. Shell Beach is the first of many charming coastal towns you will encounter along this panoramic feast for the eyes.
As an unincorporated city within Pismo Beach, Shell Beach is small and quaint with the sparkling ocean always within walking distance. Entire neighborhoods are known to congregate, with their wine glasses in hand, and stroll down to Ocean Boulevard to enjoy some of the most spectacular sunsets imaginable.
There is a Shell Beach Elementary School with a middle school and high schools nearby in Pismo Beach and Arroyo Grande. Shell Beach has its own Vets Hall and hosts a number of ongoing meetings and events including the Shell Beach Improvement Group. As a non-profit community group of residents and business owners interested in organizing community events, Shell Beach also has its own library here in town.
Art in the Park is a popular venue one the first Sunday of each month from May to November. With over 100 local artists and craftsmen on hand, this takes place at the Dinosaur Caves Park overlooking the Pacific. Driving along Cliff Road offers views of the Pismo Beach and Shell Beach vistas yet below the Dinosaur Caves Park lives another world. Tidepool Treasures A series of caves and caverns are below the bluffs and at low tide, it becomes a tide pool paradise. Wildlife is abundant here with pelicans, sea lions and sea otters often spotted offshore or nesting on the rock formations just offshore. Shell Beach is a popular place for kayakers to launch since the ocean here is slightly protected by the natural curve of the coast from Avila Beach just to the north. Central Coast Kayaks has been the friendly, full service kayak shop since 1993. Rentals, lessons and guided tours are available and the ocean is merely a block away. Cliff Dwellers On a crystal clear Sunday in July, you can find residents and visitors alike dancing to the sounds of one of the area's many local bands at The Cliffs Resort, which offers its own expansive lawn area looking out over the mighty Pacific. This is a popular resort for many of the area's special events.
Next door you'll find another newer resort, the world-renowned Dolphin Bay Hotel. The Lido Restaurant is one of the most popular in the county with its California Coastal Cuisine which collaborates with local farmers and ranchers for the freshest possible dining experience. Both resorts have sets of stairs that lead you down to the Shell Beach beaches just a few minutes away. Spyglass Inn and Restaurant is another Shell Beach destination with views looking out over the Ocean. The nearby Spyglass Deli offers some of the best deli sandwiches around and is popular with locals and tourists alike during lunch hours.
The Village of Shell Beach boast a variety of shops and restaurants, all walking distance for the locals who are fortunate enough to live there. Alex’s BBQ, a well known destination has been in continuous operation at the same location since 1941. Zorro’s Cafe and Cantina offers tasty Mexican dishes and the new Shell Beach Brew House has quickly become a popular place for food and drinks. Up on a hill nearby lies the popular F. McLintocks Saloon and Dining House offers authentic ranch style cooking and atmosphere to match, teamed up with a true sense of western hospitality.
Whether it's the finest dining, kayaking, sunset watching or art viewing, Shell Beach has something for everyone while maintaining its small town charm. Its community mindedness and natural beauty bring many to the area year round while keeping its residents happy with its simple pleasures and natural wonders.