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Press Release

Cal Poly Pier Hosts First In-Person Open House in Two Years

Contact: Nick Wilson

805-756-7236, [email protected]

SAN LUIS OBISPO — Cal Poly’s Center for Coastal Marine Sciences cordially invites the community to tour the Cal Poly Pier in Avila Beach from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29.

The public event — open and enjoyable to those of all ages — is being held for the first time since 2019 after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. The event traditionally has hosted thousands of guests.

Kids interact with sea life at Cal Poly Pier
Students from Cal Poly's Center for Coastal Marine Sciences point out sea creatures in a touch tank to young visitors to a past Cal Poly Pier open house event

The Cal Poly Pier is just over a half-mile long (1.2 miles round trip). Event activities will be held at the end of the pier located on Avila Beach Drive, just west of the San Luis Creek Bridge. Visitors will enjoy 360-degree views of San Luis Bay and interact with touch tanks full of live marine creatures.

Guests will have the opportunity to view tiny marine species through microscopes and learn about whale migrations and the recent red tides. Interactive displays will offer insights into local marine environments and scientific studies conducted by Cal Poly researchers and students on protection of Morro Bay’s ecosystem, sustaining local fisheries, mapping ocean currents and much more. Cal Poly professors and students will be on hand to answer any questions.

Attendees may take the tour at their own pace, and they are encouraged to bring cameras to take photos of seals, pelicans, sea creatures and the incredible coastal views.

A view of activities on the pier
Students from Cal Poly’s Center for Coastal Marine Sciences staff tables of touch tanks filled with sea creatures at a past Cal Poly open house event. 

To best prepare, guests should be aware:

  • The event is a walking tour on a pier with grating — closed-toe walking shoes are required (safety rules prohibit flip-flops or heels).
  • Visitors should bring their own water bottles.
  • Pets must be left at home (only ADA service dogs will be permitted).
  • All visitors will be required to sign a safety waiver prior to entering the pier.

Parking is very limited near the pier. Tour attendees are encouraged to park in the public parking lots in Avila Beach and walk to the pier.

For more information, contact: or 805-756-6777 (recorded line). Rain will cancel event.

Related low resolutions images attached. High resolution images can be downloaded from this Dropbox folder. Video b-roll footage will be recorded and uploaded to this Dropbox folder on the day of the event.

About the Cal Poly Pier

Aerial view of Cal Poly pier
Built in 1984 by Unocal Corp. to facilitate oil transport on the U.S. West Coast, the corporation donated the pier to the university in 2001. Cal Poly Pier now operates as a marine research facility. At 3,000 feet long, it provides students, faculty and researchers with unrivaled access to the marine environment of the Central Coast. The pier boasts a classroom/dry lab facility, a second floor conference room with 360 degree views of San Luis Obispo Bay, a flowing seawater system with wet-lab and aquarium space, and many other resources.

The pier was donated to the university in 2001 by Unocal, now Chevron Corp., and supports field research for Cal Poly’s Center for Coastal Marine Sciences program within the College of Science and Mathematics. Nearly 3,000 students use the pier each year for classes and research activities.