Nipomo Visitor Guide
Nipomo is home to three world-class golf courses, the historic Dana Adobe home, flower-filled greenhouses, orchards laden with citrus and avocados, and fields of strawberries. As the first town in San Luis Obispo County for those traveling from Southern to Northern California on Highway 101, locals proudly proclaim “The Central Coast Starts Here!” Nipomo offers a quaint old town featuring the world-famous Jocko’s Steak House.
Oso Flaco Natural Area – Let your senses come alive at one of the most scenic natural areas along California’s coast, Oso Flaco Lake, located just southwest of Nipomo. Join a docent led hike or explore on your own. Guadalupe – Nipomo Dune Center – Be a Stewardship Traveler by learning about one of the most ecologically significant and largest intact coastal dune ecosystems on earth, and by joining a docent led hike and/or donating to help maintain the restoration programs throughout The Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Complex, comprised of 18 miles of coastline. Monarch Butterfly Grove – From late October to February, thousands of black and gold Monarch Butterflies cluster in the limbs of the Nipomo Eucayptus groves at Trilogy Monarch Dunes. Rancho Nipomo Dana Adobe – This 13 room adobe residence built by Captain William Dana in 1840 has recently been restored to much of its original splendor. Open to the public on weekends.
Average daily temps in this sunny inland valley are 70 – 80 in the summer, 50 – 65 in winter. Rainfall is distributed fairly evenly throughout the year, with winter months being wetter than summer ones.
This is a true Mediterranean climate, so bring comfortable light layers with one warm jacket, just in case. Comfortable shoes, well-worn jeans, shorts and sandals will be just fine in this casual neck of the woods. Need we remind you to bring your golf clubs?
Perhaps most famous as the locale for a poignant photograph of the Great Depression, Nipomo is where Dorothea Lange shot “Migrant Mother,” a haunting black-and-white photo of a hungry young mother with two of her seven children. Today, Nipomo – a name derived from the Chumash Indian word meaning “the foot of the hills” – is still a place where lush farms provide work for many, but it is as far from the bleak austerity of that time as it’s possible to get.
Consistently sunny, delightfully quaint, Nipomo is where both horses and golf carts are welcomed equally. Nipomo is the southernmost city in the county, and is one of our fastest-growing areas – with good reason. Nestled in the foothills, Nipomo is not densely populated (12,600 at last count), and features acres of lemon and avocado orchards, rolling sand dunes, and thousands of fragrant blue gum eucalyptus trees. Nearby Oso Flaco Lake is contained inside an 18,000-acre, 18-mile shoreline designated as a national natural landmark. A broad, wooden, one-mile boardwalk is perfect for strolling, with more than 50 species of birds for company.
Like most areas of the Central Coast, Nipomo’s original inhabitants were the Chumash. But the town of Nipomo didn’t come together until a Mexican land grant was deeded to sea captain William G. Dana of Boston. Nipomo grew up around the grand (and now historic landmark) Dana Adobe, built in 1839. Dana’s descendants built homes on the rancho and laid out streets to form the town. Soon it became an important stop along what was then El Camino Real, the main route to Los Angeles.
Today, Nipomo is known for its acres of flowers, lush golf courses, peaceful dunes, and perfect climate. In fact, Nipomo has made many national “best climate” lists, receiving perfect 100 scores repeatedly. Cypress Ridge Golf Course is ranked second in the state (only Pebble Beach ranks higher) by golf magazines and professionals. Nipomo is also the home of one of the best swap meets – think “Swap Meet, the Event!” – in the world; and Jocko’s Steakhouse, where sizzling steaks with all the trimmings have been serving hungry guests, Western style, for 84 years!
With its wide open spaces, wonderful dunes, and ideal weather, this is very much a family-friendly place. So bring your kids and your golf clubs, but leave your worries behind.
Getaway to ‘Ah-Ha’ Moments!
As you plan your rural road trip, add an hour or two of fun volunteer time to your day, or schedule a travel adventure to a natural, cultural or historic site. Whether you are an active doer, learner or donor there are plenty of dynamic opportunities to choose from:
Active Doers: Get involved, create unique memories, and engage with locals through beach cleanups that protect wildlife, and trail restoration to preserve natural habitats.
Active Learners: Expand your knowledge about eco systems, natural preserves, wildlife and the local heritage through citizen science programs, docent led hikes and historic tours.
Active Donors: Make a difference on vacation through charitable donation opportunities that protect wildlife, habitats, and cultural heritage sites.
Check out these Stewardship Travel Activities in Nipomo and Oceano:
Oceano Dunes Clean-Up
Oceano Historic Train Depot Visit
Rancho Nipomo Historical Dana Adobe Visits
Oso Flaco Lake
Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Natural History Center
Volunteer at Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Natural History Center
Nipomo Native Garden
Nipomo Native Garden Volunteer Days