What beach can you camp at in southern California? ( with maps )


Generally, California is beautiful all year round–it is really not fair for those of us who don’t live there. So, if you want to camp, you are in luck at pretty much any time of the year. But this is true especially in Southern California, where you are closer to the sun, the surf, and actual beaches made for camping.

So, what beaches can you camp in southern California? There are 21 beaches that you can camp on in southern California and they are, Gaviota State Park, Santa Rosa Island, Catalina Island Camping, Dockweiler State Beach RV Park, Leo Carrillo State Park Campground, Sycamore Cove Beach Campground, Thornhill Broome Beach Campground, San Onofre State Beach–Bluffs Campground, San Onofre State Beach–San Mateo Campground, San Clemente State Beach Campground, Doheny State Beach Campground, Crystal Cove State Park, Bolsa Chica State Beach RV Campground, Waterfront RV Park in Huntington, Silver Strand State Beach Campground, Campland on Mission Bay, San Elijo State Beach Campground, South Carlsbad State Beach Campground andChula Vista RV Resort.

To find out more about each campground be sure to read about it below.

All the campgrounds listed below are wheelchair accessible, and there are usually annual passes available for purchase. Even though I’ll provide specific information below, you can always find super specific information by calling the campground or visiting its website.

In general, prices range from about $10-$30 depending on if you are tent camping or RV camping, but again, call for specifics. So, let’s get started:

Camping Beaches in Santa Barbara

 

  1. Gaviota State Park

This is the farthest north campground in this list of southern California campgrounds, so we’ll start here and work our way south. Gaviota hosts family campsites, hike or bike campsites, and also has RV access.

Activities include boating, fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, beaches, viewpoints, windsurfing, surfing, and picnic areas. You can also hike and horseback ride on the trails around the campground.

You will also find a camp store on the premises, parking, and drinking water. For comfort station options, you have restrooms and showers combined, separate restrooms, and outdoor showers. The park hours are 7am to sunset

Camping on Islands

 

  1. Santa Rosa Island

At Santa Rosa Island, every season is peak season. The campground on the island, Water Canyon Campground, is nestled in a canyon to avoid the strong wind. You will find interesting animals and archeological finds.

There are trails for hiking, anywhere from flat scenic trails, to rough mountain trails to Black Mountain. Activities like swimming, snorkeling, diving, and kayaking are available but depend on the weather. You can always access the beach, though! It’s just up to you to decide if you want to brave the wind or not.

You will find drinking water, picnic areas, seasonal flush toilets, and wind shelters. Overall, there is a lot to do on this island–definitely worth the trip.

  1. Catalina Island Camping

There are quite a few campgrounds on Catalina Island. The campgrounds on the West End and called Avalon and Two Harbors. You can also stay at Inland Camping if you want to explore the interior of the island as well as the beach.

Tents and cabins are available, and you can rent either one. You can also bring your own camping gear, of course. There are also boat-in camping sites available.

Camping on Catalina is a whole different, high class experience. At Avalon, you will find opportunities for ocean expeditions, the glass bottom boat, and the flying fish voyage. You will also find scenic drives and golf.

At Two Harbors, you can go diving, hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, boating, fishing, snorkeling, and scuba diving. You can also just relax at numerous different restaurants. Getting back and forth between Avalon and Two Harbors is quite easy with either bus or boat options.

Camping Beaches in Los Angeles

  1. Dockweiler State Beach RV Park

Dockweiler, while a state beach, is reserved through their own private system. The campground is a three-mile-long shoreline close to the Los Angeles International Airport between Marina Del Rey and Manhattan Beach.

The campground hosts RV access to en route campsites, family campsites, and RV hookups and pump-out stations. Parking is available, as well as restrooms, outdoor showers, laundry, and drinking water.

As for activities, boating is allowed. You can also scuba dive, snorkel, swim, windsurf, surf, and enjoy the beach. There are also volleyball courts nearby, and you are allowed to make a fire on the beach.

Park hours are Monday to Friday, from 9-5.

  1. Leo Carrillo State Park Campground

One of the busier campgrounds, at Leo Carrillo, you have a lot of options. You have 140 spots with en route campsites, family campsites, group campsites, hike or bike campsites, primitive camping options, RV access and dump stations.

You are allowed to boat, fish, scuba dive, snorkel, swim, windsurf, surf, and geocache. The campground also has environmental learning, a visitor’s center, exhibits and programs, interpretive exhibits, picnic areas, and family programs.

The campground also has a camp store, parking, combined restrooms and showers, separate restrooms, separate showers, and drinking water.

There is a lot offered here, but there are parking fees and the trailers and RVs are limited to 31 feet. So, while it is perfect for almost anything camping, make sure it’s perfect for you!

  1. Sycamore Cove Beach Campground

Inside Point Mugu State Beach, you will find Sycamore Cove Beach. The biggest draw to this campground is its hiking trail network. You can find a lot of trailheads along Sycamore Canyon Road, which starts across the street from the beach parking area.

The beach itself has tide pools, lifeguards, and picnic tables. Across the street by the hiking areas is the campground with 56 campsites for tents and RVs (up to 31 feet), a nature center, and maps for your convenience. There are restrooms, showers, barbeque areas, and dogs are allowed! You can also fish in this area. And for your information, there is a fee for parking.

Sycamore’s gates open at 8am and close at 10pm. No entry after 10pm.

  1. Thornhill Broome Beach Campground

Another campground inside Mugu State Park, Thornhill Broome offers 62 primitive campsites for tents or RV’s (up to 31 feet). The campsites include en route, family, group, hike or bike, and primitive. There is also RV access and dump stations.

There are bike trails and hiking trails and horseback riding is allowed. As for activities, fishing is allowed, and you can also scuba dive, snorkel, swim, windsurf, and surf. There is environmental learning, interpretive exhibits, family programs, and nature and wildlife viewing.

Parking is available as well as restrooms and showers, separate restrooms, and the campsite is wheelchair accessible. Thornhill also opens at 8am and close at 10pm. No entry after 10pm.

Camping Beaches in Orange County

 

  1. San Onofre State Beach–Bluffs Campground

With about 157 campsites, Bluffs Campground hosts tents, vans, trailers, or RVs. And for RVs, the campground has sewage hookups. There are several hikes that lead straight to the beach, and other trails leading onto the bluffs.

You will have access to picnic tables, fire pits, restrooms, showers, and the beautiful ocean views. This campground is known to fill up rather quickly, which says a lot about its quality. From reviews, it seems that the campsites are quite close to one another, so keep that in mind when booking.

San Onofre State Beach is great for biking, surfing, swimming, and wildlife watching. The campground comes highly recommended from almost everyone who visits.

  1. San Onofre State Beach–San Mateo Campground

San Mateo Campground, while quite similar to Bluffs Campground, has a couple details that differ the two enough that you’d want to pick one over the other. Here you will find a trail that leads to the smaller Trestles Beach, which is a world class surfing site.

The San Mateo Creek moves through the campground, so you have a couple different bodies of water to play in. All the campsites should have a fire pit and picnic table, and there are hookups for RVers. As for comfort stations, you can expect hot indoor showers and flushable toilets.

  1. San Clemente State Beach Campground

With 160 campsites–and 72 with full RV hookups, and two group campsites that host 50 people per site–San Clemente Campground sits right on a bluff that looks over the ocean.

Generally, the RV campsites accommodate RVs and trailers up to 42 feet long, though some are limited to 32 feet. There are some RV sites that don’t have hookups, so make sure you check before booking.

The campground has an amphitheater, flushable toilets, hot showers, a dump station, and a picnic area. There is a direct trail to the ocean, and the campground sells firewood as well.

As for the beach, you can camp there, as well as swim, surf, snorkel, hike, surf fish, and bike. There is a cute town nearby that you could also visit if you were in the mood. And best of all, pets are okay!

  1. Doheny State Beach Campground

Doheny was the first state beach in California, so you can expect some historical and cultural sites here. The campground offers family and group campsites, as well as RV access and dump stations. For RVs, the max length is 35 feet for both trailers and motorhomes.

On the southern end of the beach, you will find the campgrounds, where some of the sites are only steps from the beach. There are tide pools and aquariums and on the northern end, picnic facilities and volleyball courts.

At Doheny, fishing, swimming, and surfing is allowed. There is food service available, as well as parking, restrooms and showers combined, separate restrooms, separate showers, and drinking water.

  1. Crystal Cove State Park

With 3.2 miles of beach and 2,400 acres of backcountry, Crystal Cove attracts a lot of different camping styles. Whether you mountain bike or scuba dive, Crystal allows for it all. But since it has such a large amount of land, you feel like you’re really far away, even though you’re really in a great, bustling location.

You can rent beach cottages here, but there are also classic camping options. You’ve got environmental, family, and primitive campsites, as well as RV sites with hookups, and an RV dump station. There are restrooms, showers, food service, and drinking water available.

The town is working to get more cottages ready and to restore the town, so you’ll see historic and cultural sites, as well as environmental learning, exhibits, group tours, and family programs. You can also fish and surf.

  1. Bolsa Chica State Beach RV Campground

Here, you will find 50 RV sites with hookups and a dump station. RVs and trailers must by 40 feet or below. The beach is known for its perfectly curled waves. You will see people surfing, sunbathing, playing volleyball, and enjoying water sports.

It’s also a great place for surf fishing. The beach allows for some hand fishing on new and full moons during the summer, but you must have a fishing permit for this activity. This beach is also great for wildlife and bird watching.

You will also be able to look at interactive displays and exhibits. There are picnic tables, outdoor showers, and restrooms. You can have fires from 6am to 10pm only. And at this beach, no alcohol is allowed!

  1. Waterfront RV Park in Huntington

Check in anytime from 1pm to 10pm, and you will find RV sites that accommodate up to 45 feet RVs and trailers. Sites include full hookups, Wi-Fi, and Dish TV.

The RV park has a pool and a spa, and you can also walk to the beach. There are laundry facilities and a clubhouse with billiards. The RV Park is close to Huntington Beach Main Street, so you are close to dining, shopping, and entertainment options.

With so much to offer, this RV park works for any kind of camper.

Camping Beaches in San Diego

 

  1. Silver Strand State Beach Campground

At this RV park, you have views of the Pacific Ocean and the San Diego Bay. You can camp, swim, surf, boat, water-ski, play volleyball, angler-fish, and picnic in this area. There are parking lots, cold showers, and restrooms available.

As an RV specific park, there is a dump station and hookups. The RVs must be 40 feet or less, though occasionally oversized vehicles are allowed for an extra fee. You would just have to ask.

At this RV campground, check in is at 2pm, no exceptions! Make sure to call ahead to snag your spot.

  1. Campland on Mission Bay

This campground is known for its “staycation” qualities–it’s near Sea World, Legoland, and the San Diego Zoo. There is a 124-slip marina, Wi-Fi, and laundry available for campers. Tents and RVs are welcome, as well as your furry friends!

There are swimming pools and hot tubs, bicycle rentals, a game room, a skatepark, a basketball court, watercraft rentals, and campfires on the bay. You are also close to dining, shopping, and entertainment.

Often, there are live shows nearby, and the campground allows for group camping for these special events. There is also boat storage if you are bringing your own.

With so much to do, this campground works for different types of camping, but you should expect quite a bit of traffic!

  1. San Elijo State Beach Campground

An RV park that hosts RVs and trailers 35 feet or less, you will find a more private camping experience. There are hookups and a dump station.

On this narrow beach, you will find a nearby reef that’s popular to snorkelers and divers. The campground has a camp store and a snack bar and has supplies you might want, like boogie boards and firewood.

There are exhibits and programs for your entertainment, as well as picnic areas, fishing, surfing, and swimming. You will also find parking, restrooms, showers, and drinking water available to you. The beach is beautiful and quiet.

  1. South Carlsbad State Beach Campground

With a staircase that leads straight to the beach, you will find a bluff-top campground that is very popular, especially in the summer. This beach allows camping, swimming, surfing, diving, fishing and picnicking.

There are RV sites with hookups and a dump station. The max length is 35 feet for RVs and trailers. Parking is available, as well as restrooms, showers, and a camp store. Check in is 2pm each day, no exceptions.

There are inland campsites and premium bluff sites to choose from. Campsites are limited to three vehicles, which includes your trailer or RV.

  1. Chula Vista RV Resort

With 17 acres of beautiful land, you have access to the Chula Vista Marina and Bayside Park. As this is an RV park, you will find hookups and a dump station. The max length for RVs is 60 feet. The park also has a swimming pool and spa, clubhouse, and picnic areas.

You can go boating, swimming, fishing, kayaking, and paddle boarding in the ocean, and as for the land, you can bike and attend live music and concert events that occur pretty regularly.

At the campground, there is also access to cable TV, a fitness center, laundry facilities, a hot tub, an on-site store, and camping games like horseshoes.

As with the other San Diego campgrounds, you have access to the attractions the city has to offer–SeaWorld, the San Diego Zoo, and more.

With All These Options…

You are sure to have a wonderful time at any of the campgrounds listed. They say it’s all about location, and if that’s true, southern California is what it’s all about.

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Rickie Arms

Hi, I'm Rickie Arms, owner of Glampingorcamping.com. I am so invested in writing the best and most informative articles for you that I went out and bought a travel trailer just so I could write about it for you. I spend just about all of my off time both camping and glamping so I can share everything I have learned and will learn with you. I have spent my whole life camping and over the last 10 years, I have spent a large amount of time checking out glamping experiences with my wife and kids as well. Thank you for coming by and we hope to see you back here getting great information in the future. Rick Arms-

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