The Monarch Butterfly Grove in Pismo Beach, CA is fun frugal family activity located on the Central California coastline. Thousands of butterflies stop here on their way to Mexico during their yearly butterfly migration. This is a magical stop for any animal lover and a perfect pit stop on your way up to see the Elephant Seals at Point Piedras Blancas
Located just inside of Pismo Beach on highway 1 it is easily accessible from the 101 and is also located just a few minutes away from good food, the pier, and the beach. However, there is no parking lot so you will need to park on the highway and walk into the butterfly grove.
At the grove, tens of thousands of butterflies rest in the trees all clumped together looking like leaves on the branches. In the picture below the big clumps of what looks like dried leaves are actually the butterflies grouped together to have protection from the wind and cold!
Although not very large, there is plenty to keep you occupied here for a time. There is a path to walk around the trees and see the various groups of butterflies. Also accessible from the grove is a walking path that leads to the beach.
I would recommend going on a warmer day or at least going later in the day after it has warmed up a bit. The butterflies were just starting to come down and fly around when we were getting ready to leave. They do have several telescopes available to view the resting butterflies and docents available to answer questions.
I thought for sure my nature loving daughter would be ecstatic about seeing the butterflies. Boy was I wrong! I don’t know what was going on that day but the picture at the bottom of the post just about sums it up. There was no joy and no interest in seeing the butterflies.
She didn’t perk up until we went to the pier to look around. I guess some days you win some days you lose when it comes to kids. Hopefully, you’ll have a more successful visit when you go! My son had a blast and was in awe of everything. Plus he thoroughly enjoyed kicking the dirt just as much as seeing the butterflies.
You can learn more about the Monarch Butterfly Grove here. I hope you get a chance to visit before the butterflies leave in February. I think we will try to visit again this year and hope to get more encounters with the butterflies.
The pier has some gorgeous views and is a really short walk from all of the restaurants listed below. Pismo can get very crowded on the weekends so consider going mid-week if you can.
Being on the central coast it also can be chilly even mid-summer especially in the morning until the fog burns off. The extensive beach line is perfect for a stroll and many hotels are located right along the water line.
Pismo Beach resturants that we have enjoyed:
Cool Cats– We have gone to Cool Cats restaurant in Pismo several times and have enjoyed the burgers and sandwiches they have there.
Mo’s Authentic Southern Barbeque– having lived in the South we are often let down by the not-so-authentic Southern BBQ. This place is the real deal and they have done their research. You can buy their BBQ sauces to take home and the baked beans are amazing.
Scorpian Bay Coffee- this place is located a few blocks away from the beach but it’s worth the walk. It had great ambiance and some darn good hot chocolate. Judging by the smells the coffee would be good too.
Pizmo Cafe- just up the street from the beach this pizza, pasta, and sandwich joint is a place you’ll enjoy sitting to eat. The calzones were stuffed to the brim with amazing toppings.
Hot Lix Candy- they make some of their candy on site and they have lots of different varieties. There’s sure to be something for everyone no matter how varied their tastes.
Mon Ami- this little crepe place invites you under it’s beautiful archway for some amazing filled crepes and tasty drinks. We got the pesto chicken and ratatouille crepes which were incredible and I walked away with a new favorite drink- Yerba Mate Latte.
You can see some pictures from our getaway trip to Pismo Beach on my Instagram highlights under travel.