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Dinosaur Caves Park

Updated: Aug 31, 2020

Dinosaur Caves Park is a beautiful 11-acre parcel of land on the bluffs of Shell Beach. It offers breathtaking views of the ocean, rocks and wildlife. The park gets it’s name from the caves below the bluff edge created by centuries of water crashing against the rock. The park offers fun Jurassic and ocean-themed play structures for children to let their imaginations run wild – from giant dinosaur eggs, a small concrete brontosaurus, some playful dolphins and whales and a boat called the USS Imagination. There are picnic tables to enjoy those fresh ocean breezes, a public restroom and a Rotary Club of Pismo Beach Amphitheater for musical and theatrical performances -- all maintained by the City of Pismo Beach.

This space can be rented out for events. In addition, the Pismo Beach Chamber of Commerce puts on the sell-out Taste of Pismo each April at the Park -- where local restaurants, wineries and breweries bring their delicious tastes for guests to try to the tunes of local bands – such as The Molly Ringwald Project. A Mother’s Day concert typically kicks off the Summer Concert Series held at the amphitheatre. And for several months in the Summer/Fall local artists display their Art in the Park one Sunday of each month. Additionally the city has sponsored outdoor family movies in the Fall. It is a breathtaking and versatile venue enjoyed by all.

Have you ever wondered why this space is called Dinosaur caves park? I had asked my parents that question when I was younger, and they told me that dinosaur bones were excavated there. I remember thinking, those were some really smart dinosaurs because they picked such a pretty spot to roam in. Turns out there is a much more whimsical explanation that does not involve actual dinosaurs. Back in the early 1940’s a man by the name of H. Douglas Brown had a small bluff top gift shop at that spot. The area had been a local attraction since the early 1900’s for the “Caverns of Mystery” to explore. He would charge .25 cents admission for people to explore the caves. As a marketing draw to pull people in from the two-lane Hwy 1 he wanted to build a 50 tall Brontosaurus. The residents of Pismo did not like his plan and fought against its construction. There are varying accounts of what happened to the poor animal’s head -- either construction was halted prior to completion or it was beheaded in an attempt to be removed. Nevertheless, it was a giant concrete headless dinosaur for years until it was bulldozed away in the 1960’s. At one point the area was even known as an unsafe garbage dump. My how things have changed to what it is today.

In the late 80’s early 90’s the Hilton Corporation had a plan to build a property there. It was during the time of the recession and things fell through. The City of Pismo Beach had the opportunity to purchase the property for 1.6M in 1992. It is a pristine spot of never-ending ocean views that the public can enjoy. We are so fortunate to have this beautiful space and thank the City of Pismo for maintaining it. For more information on Dinosaur Caves Park

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