Oceano Visitor Guide
Located on the southwest portion of the Discovery Route, the classic and historic beach town of Oceano is known for it’s majestic dunes, beautiful parks, fertile farm fields, and remains the only beach in California you can drive on. Established in 1893 as a railroad town, Oceano still retains most of the original flavor of the past. The 1904 Southern Pacific train depot museum and the Great American Melodrama live theater are just two attractions visitors enjoy. Once known for it’s abundance of clams, a variety of recipes were featured in local restaurants. When the tide was out, the table was set!
Oceano came into being as a railroad town. By 1895, the Southern Pacific Railroad had laid tracks that reached south to Oceano and a depot was built here that year. Now open to the public, the current historic depot was built in 1904 (when the original burned down) and now serves as a classic Type 22 railroad depot with many authentic railroad artifacts of an earlier time period, and also serves as a museum for the community of Oceano.
Oceano is a very family-friendly place. The Oceano lagoon with its abundant wildlife is one of the crown jewels of the central coast. The Guiton lagoon trail encircles the north side of the lagoon and provides excellent bird watching, exploring, and photo opportunities. Some of the best live stage entertainment in the area is at the Great American Melodrama, where the audience can participate in cheering and booing the heros and villains portray by a cast of very talented performers.
During the 1930s and ’40s, a bohemian community of creative depression-era refuges from society lived in cabins and in a colony called “Moy Mell” on what was then a wilderness of sand dunes just south of Oceano. Known as the “Dunites,” they believed the Oceano Dunes were a sort of global center of creative energy, a sentiment felt by many non-Dunites who’ve spent time in their solitary beauty. In time there were over 30 books written by or about the Dunites and several are available in local book stores. The area of the dunes is recognized today as being the finest, most extensive coastal dunes left in the entire state.
In addition to the usual beach activities which include horseback-riding and kite-flying, off-road and ATV enthusiasts are attracted to the Oceano Dunes SVRA, where 1,500 acres of natural sand dunes comprise the only park in California where visitors may legally drive vehicles on the beach.
The warmest month of the year is September with average temps from mid-50s to high 70s. February is typically the “wettest” month, when 4 of the 18 inches of annual rain falls. Winter months will be in the chilly 43 to 67 degree range. Summer months will be in the 53 to 78 degree range. Humidity along the coast is generally between 45% and 65%.
Morning fog and cool evenings suggest lots of layers for these typical beach towns that are mostly sunny and warm during the day. Tank tops, sandals, and shorts will help you feel right at home during the summer months; but for midnight strolls on the beach or if you plan to come at Christmas-time, you’ll need a warm jacket and socks. Binoculars will give you a better look at the butterflies, and if you like off-road fun, don’t forget your helmet!