Nipomo Travel Guide

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Things to do in Nipomo

Come visit Nipomo’s natural beauty

Nipomo is a small city on the mesa in the southern area of San Luis Obispo County that is known for its stands of eucalyptus trees, expansive golf courses, special outdoor and nature experiences and one of the largest swap meets anywhere.

Nipomo preserves a true frontier spirit even while modern life thrives. Standing on the wet sand of the shore of the Pacific Ocean, looking out over the sprawling Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes toward the rich, riparian woods, creeks, freshwater lakes and the Santa Maria River, one imagines seeing the same views that the original Chumash saw while going about their daily activities. The word “nipomo” means “base of the hills” in the Chumash language.

Fields of flowers, orchards and vineyards retain the agricultural traditions that arrived with the Spanish and have been a part of the Nipomo lifestyle ever since. This seemingly quiet ranch country town has a lot to offer besides being one of the Central Coast gateways to wine country and some of the best wines in the world. Visitors and locals looking for a relaxing getaway find lodging, dining, shopping, camping, hiking and a variety of other things to do that keep them coming back.


Dana Adobe Historical Landmark and Cultural Center

Bostonian sea captain, Captain William G. Dana acquired a land grant in 1837 and settled the 37,888-acre Rancho Nipomo. His adobe house still stands near the 101 Freeway. The property is maintained by the Dana Adobe Cultural Center and a visit to the Dana Adobe is well worth the time. Along with the historical tours and information, the grounds feature a number of specialized gardens including the Pollinator Garden featuring native California plants that feed pollinating birds and insects, the Chumash Garden focusing on local, native plants the Chumash used for food, medicine, tools and more. A more than one-mile system of intersecting trails, portions that are ADA-compliant, offer opportunities for birdwatching, wildlife sightings and enjoying the beauty of the land. A variety of events are held throughout the year as well.

The Dana Adobe and cultural center are located at 671 Oakglen Ave, Nipomo, CA. For more information visit or call (805) 929-5679.

Nipomo Native Gardens

The Nipomo Native Gardens Society maintains the Nipomo Native Gardens where visitors can explore twelve acres of California native plants that are endemic to the Nipomo Mesa and dunes complex. There are trails through established oak woodland and through the developing areas of the garden and a children’s area. Information kiosks inform visitors about the garden.  The garden is open every day from dawn to dusk.

The gardens are located between Pomeroy, Camino Caballo and Osage in the community of Nipomo. Parking is available off Osage Road. At the current time there are no restroom facilities available in the garden, so plan your visit accordingly. For more information visit

Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes

The 3,400-acre Guadalupe- Nipomo Dunes Preserve is one of the largest remaining coastal dune systems in the nation and is a must-see excursion for hikers, naturalists and bird-watchers. Catch glimpses of more than 200 varieties of birds and view more than 120 imperiled plants and animals within the preserve’s National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding dune habitat.

Oso Flaco Lake Natural Area

The Oso Flaco Natural Area is part of the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area and is a California State Park and is a favorite spot for bird watchers and nature lovers.  An easy, nearly level trail includes a boardwalk across the lake and sand dunes to a viewpoint overlooking the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes. The two-mile round trip hike offers sightings of a variety of birds in flight and ducks, pelicans double-crested cormorants, egrets and herons relaxing, feeding and drifting among the tules. Wildlife of all kinds live, feed, and travel along the creek and in and around the lake. Fish, frogs, and other amphibians are often easily spotted. Benches along the way provide resting spots. Keep binoculars and camera handy.

The area is legendary for how it got its  name and as the  “Lost City of Cecil B. DeMille.”

  • Legend has it that explorers with the Gaspar de Portola expedition in 1769 killed a skinny bear for their dinner, not knowing the bear was dying from eating poisoned food. After feasting on the bear meat, the men agreed to name the place Oso Flaco after the bear that fed them. By the next morning, several of the men had died from the tainted meat. The Chumash, who already lived in the area, sometimes left tainted meat out for predators to reduce competition for food. The toxins passed from the bear meat to the Spaniards.
  • The 1923 film, “The Ten Commandments,” directed by Cecil B. DeMille was filmed in the dunes. At the end of filming, the set was buried in the sand dunes. Artifacts from the set occasionally surface and are added to the collection of the film’s memorabilia housed in the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center.

The trailhead is from the parking lot on Oso Flaco Lake Road. To get to the site turn west onto Oso Flaco Lake Road from Highway 1. Oso Flaco Lake Road is located three miles north of Guadalupe and just south and west of Nipomo. The road dead ends and there may be a fee for parking. No pets are allowed on the trail.

shopping in Nipomo


The Luffa Farm

The Luffa Farm is one of the few growers remaining in the United States and is a must-visit. Experience the luffa in its various stages of growth during a tour that begins with a comparison of commercial luffas grown in other countries and those grown here. After a tour, stop by the gift shop for luffa products and a variety of aromatic and healing herbal products from herbs grown at the farm. Located at 1457 Willow Road, Nipomo. Visit for more information. 

Nipomo Swapmeet & Fleamarket

The largest swapmeet and fleamarket on the Central Coast combines great family entertainment with old school swap meet atmosphere. Free admission includes garage sales, food trucks, fresh local produce, and hundreds of retail vendors all in one place! Small fee for parking. No dogs. Open Sundays 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Located at 263 N. Frontage Road., Nipomo. More information at

Shabby Chic Boutique – This boutique brings you some of the finest antique, vintage and collectible items on the Central Coast. Open Sat-Sun 10am-4pm. 188 W. Tefft St.,, (805) 868-7951.

Dining & drink

Grover Station Grill

The Grover Station Grill is the perfect location for a hearty breakfast to start a day of exploring, for a lunch break during a day of shopping, or for dinner with friends at the end of a full day. A Grover Beach landmark, the restaurant is located close to shopping, the Pismo Dunes State Park, and close enough to the train station to experience the rumble and clanking of trains, adding extra adventure to the dining experience and some excitement for kids and kids-at-heart. Dogs welcome in the patio. The menu features wholesome, home-cooked food, local beer and wine. Located at 170 W. Grand Avenue, Grover Beach. More information at

Rancho Nipomo BBQ & Cantina

Barbeque and Cal-Mex cuisine, live music, dancing, family-friendly. Meats are smoked over red oak and served up in creations like smoked tri-tip burrito and more specialties. Happy hour Tue-Fri 2-5 p.m. Located at 108 Cuyama Lane, Nipomo. Visit or call (805) 925-3500.

Jocko’s Steakhouse

Steaks, chicken, Italian and more. Local wine. Open Mon-Fri 4-9 p.m. and Sat-Sun 1-9 p.m. Located at 125 N Thompson Ave., Nipomo. Visit or call (805) 929-3686.

Real Estate

Nipomo Properties – Whether you are looking for your dream home, an investment property or commercial real estate, Nipomo Properties is the full service agency to call. Contact Diane or Anita for all of their latest listings. 543 W Tefft St.,, (805) 929-4970.

If you are coming to visit here for a vacation or trip check out these Nipomo Travel Guide stories below. They offer interesting side trips and attractions to see. This tourist information will help enhance your stay.

Nipomo Travel Guide stories

Top things to do when visiting Nipomo



About the Author