Explore the Great Outdoors in and around Santa Maria Valley

Santa Maria Valley is the perfect home base for your next Central Coast getaway to Pismo, Avila and more. 

California’s temperate Central Coast provides an abundance of outdoor activities year-round, from hiking to cycling to birdwatching, and everything in between. The valley is home to 24 hiking trails, 15 beaches and endless miles of cycling trails within a 30-minute drive. Santa Maria Valley is located 20 minutes from Pismo State Beach, an hour and a half north of Santa Barbara, four hours north of Los Angeles, and four hours south of the Bay Area. Here are three ways to explore the Central Coast’s great outdoors when you make Santa Maria Valley your home base:

Hit the beach (or two, or three!)

Take a deep breath of crisp, ocean air. No trip to the coast is complete without visiting the beach! The Central Coast contains 350 miles of some of the most beautiful beaches and coastlines in America. Visitors to Santa Maria Valley can access 15 stunning beaches within a 30-minute drive (or less!). Head north to visit Pismo State Beach, the Pismo Beach Pier, Avila Beach and more. Head south to visit Point Sal State Beach. Swim, surf, fish, birdwatch or simply take a stroll and feel the sand between your toes. Check out the full list of beaches near Santa Maria Valley.

Take it all in on the trails

Valley vistas and coastal panoramic views await at several hiking trails in and around SMV. Los Flores Ranch Park is home to several hiking trails and offers stunning views of the surrounding Tepusquet mountains and a peek at several nearby towns. The Pismo Preserve near Pismo Beach offers 11 miles of trails surrounded by lush greenery and the promise of panoramic ocean views on some trails. Oso Flaco Lake guides visitors along a 1.7-mile boardwalk across a lake and wildlife preserve, leading directly to the beach. Explore all 24 hiking trails here.

Get to know the wildlife

Make friends with the local flora and fauna at parks and nature preserves throughout the region. Santa Maria Valley is a birder’s paradise and birdwatching enthusiasts may spot more than 130 species of birds at hotspots like the Rancho-Guadalupe Dunes Preserve and Oso Flaco Lake. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of a rare western snowy plover! These same parks provide the opportunity to see wildflowers in the spring and summer seasons (which also photograph beautifully, if that’s your thing!). The Pacific Ocean and several lakes throughout the region are also perfect for catch-and-release fishing. Both freshwater and saltwater habitats offer fishermen double the chance to catch a big one. Read more about birdwatching and fishing before you visit, and you’ll really be living like a local!

There’s no doubt that Santa Maria Valley is the perfect home base for your next Central Coast trip. Browse more things to do, take a look at our trip itineraries, check out our Visitor Guide, and start dreaming of your next Santa Maria Valley getaway today.

In Santa Maria Valley, there’s so much to do from here. Hit the road and explore it all with our 24 hiking trails, 34 tasting rooms, seven unique AVAs, 13 beaches, and a growing selection of local breweries, all within a beautiful 30-minute drive. There is no need to venture far if you are looking for sand dunes, cycling and authentic Santa Maria Style dining. You’ll find it’s the perfect home base, where you can eat, drink and do more for less.