The DANA Adobe & Cultural Center  or “Casa de
Dana” lies about 25 miles south of San Luis Obispo. It
was one of the earliest adobe dwellings built-in
San Luis Obispo County and became the
celebrated home of William Goodwin Dana, his
wife Maria Josefa Carrillo Dana and their very
large family. 

In 1999 the nonprofit Dana Adobe Nipomo Amigos began with the initial focus to save the crumbling historic Dana Adobe and continues today to rebuild the Rancho.

Open daily from 11 am to 3pm, Adobe tours are by appointment or on Weekends from 11 am to 3pm.


The mission of the DANA Adobe & Cultural Center is to engage visitors with the stories of California’s Rancho Era History, connecting them with the peoples, the land and its resources to foster environmental stewardship and cultural understanding. 

Dana Adobe

The Natural History of Nipomo  

Rancho Nipomo once encompassed the vast land between today’s Arroyo Grande and the Santa Maria River – an area blessed by rich soil and natural resources allowing for an economy based on agriculture and natural resource extraction. The original Mexican land grant was awarded in 1837 to William G. Dana and his his wife Maria Josefa Carrillo included nearly 50,000 acres. The area’s history is significant not merely because of the events that took place within its boundaries, but also because of its unique environment. 

Most of the area is ancient sand dunes, The Dana Adobe along Nipomo Creek marks the transition from the ancient dunes to the clay washing down from the Tematate Ridge to the east.  The Rancho is blessed with unique geology, native plants, many birds and animals.

DANA Cultural Center

The DANA Cultural Center was funded by a California Nature Education grant in 2014.  Construction was completed in 2016 The Cultural Center consists of exhibit space, a gift shop, DANA’s office, and a commercial kitchen.

Check our Education & Exhibit page to read about the current exhibit!


With the addition of the Bird and Railroad Trails, the trail system spans just over one mile. Portions of the Heritage Trail follows the path of the historic stagecoach route; meeting up with the Railroad Trail before looping back to the Dana Adobe. The Railroad Trail follows the path of the historic Pacific Coast Railway that connected Port San Luis in Avila to Los Olivos. You will walk along the old trackbed where the narrow gauged railroad once travelled. The south end of the Railroad Trail connects to the Bird Trail that runs along Nipomo Creek. Look for the many birds and animals of all types on the Rancho property; the tree cover on this trail provides a better opportunity to see birds in their habitat.

The Pollinator Garden

The Pollinator Garden

The Pollinator Garden is 100% ADA approved with a hard path leading from the parking lot to and throughout the garden. It features raised garden beds filled with California native plants including manzanita, buckwheat, milkweed, a number of different sages, and much more. Benches are provided to encourage you to sit, relax, and watch the wildlife.

The garden was developed to teach aboutthe importance of pollination and encourage pollinators of all kinds to create food for themselves and others, while enjoying a beautiful landscape.

Pollination is the key to survival for plants, and the success of plant life is the key to survival for all of us. Honey bees are the most well-known pollinators; however helpful they are; honeybees push out native pollinators. With the construction of the garden we welcome natural pollinators like butterflies, hummingbirds, ants, and wasps.

Chumash Garden

Coastal Live Oak Acorns - used to make food, bark for fire, and wood for bowls.
Toyon berries - toast for food, wood for tools and weaving.
Elderberries - used for food, medicine, and musical instruments.

Sponsored By Nancy Moure

Welcome to nipumu? Meaning ” Foot of the Hills”. The yak titu titu yak tithini, the Northern Chumash people, used their vast knowledge of the different local habitats for hunting, fishing and cultivating the landscape to obtain food, to make tools and medicine.  This garden reflects some of the plants they used.

Kitchen Garden

Sponsored by the Franciscan Friar’s

The kitchen garden was completed in 2021 thanks! to the Franciscan Friars at St. Francis of Assisi Novitiate Conventual Franciscans in Nipomo. They both sponsored the garden and donated their time to build it. Originally located along Nipomo Creek for its accessibility to water and rich clay soil. To make the garden more accessible, it is currently located just south and east of the Dana adobe. While the garden includes some modern features, the plants and planting method remain authentic to the mid-1800s. 

The planting method is called the Three Sisters. It is a traditional Native-American style of planting corn, beans, and squash together. The spiny branches on squash protect the plants from small critters. Corn produces a stalk for the beans to climb, while beans produce nitrogen that enriches the soil naturally. Everything grown is edible and some could be used as tools.  For instance, squash/gourds were hollowed out and dried to be used as cups, bowls, containers, or musical instruments.