In the misty past tribal members of the Chumash held a yearly gathering on the bluffs above the ocean in Central California. Here the males carried on tribal business while the women collected shells on beaches below. These meetings were possibly the first time people picnicked in Shell Beach. You too can enjoy a day’s outing by stopping at some of the parks perched atop these cliffs.
Drive down to Ocean Boulevard at Cliff Avenue and stop at Margo Dodd Park. Here you can enjoy the gazebo and gaze out to sea and search for passing whales or watch the brown pelicans, cormorants and gulls that use the cliff sides and sea stacks as resting places. There are barbecues and picnic tables here for your use also.
Continue on Ocean Boulevard and you will come to Eldwayen Park, a great place to watch the sunset. Here too, you can climb down the stairs to the beach and at low tide explore the tidepools. Picnic tables and benches are located along the cliffs.
Memory Park is a small patch of pleasant green with beautiful coastal views. Spyglass Park is next at Spyglass Road and Solano Road. This is a good spot to watch surfers who take advantage of the nice offshore swells.
In the Sunset Palisades residential area, Palisades Park has picnic tables, barbecues, and benches for you to enjoy the views of San Luis Bay.
The newest park in Shell Beach is Dinosaur Caves Park, an 11-acre site. This spot is popular with joggers, fishermen, and folks walking dogs. A great children’s play section is located here. Every first Sunday of the month an outdoor art show sets up in the park.
Kayakers love to carry their boats down the cliffs and launch here so they can explore the caves. Central Coast Kayaks or Pismo Beach Dive Shop can take you on a cave expedition where you will paddle through arches, caves, and rock gardens. Guides assist paddlers with instruction on basic strokes and will assist you with a surf entry. Sea lions, harbor seals and sea otters often swim around the caves.
After a nice day of kayaking or just enjoying the coastal views from the parks stop in and sample the western atmosphere of F. Mc Clintock’s while enjoying a steak or try ribs grilled over an oak-wood fire at Alex’s Bar-B-Q or maybe you’ll want to visit the beer garden at Old Vienna and dine on some schnitzel. Whatever your choice, you can’t miss by spending time at Shell Beach.
— Ruth Ann Angus