Sites 9 and 10 are the most popular, but all campsites have views and are in close proximity to hiking trails. The largest of the Big Sur area campgrounds is at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, which has 158 riverfront campsites situated on the Big Sur River, surrounded by redwood, chaparral, and oak trees. The campground at Morro Bay State Park is located between the lagoon and golf course and is within walking distance of Morro Bay's Embarcadero. Coast to Coast RV Resorts from Good Sam - the largest network of RV resorts and campgrounds across North America offering full service camping facilities and planned activities for families of all ages. Pismo Beach, near San Luis Obispo at the midpoint of the Central Coast, provides plenty of adventure options. For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube! Call ahead when planning your camping locations to make reservations whenever possible. Regarding check-in times for the campgrounds, they may very from park to park. Hiking the Lost Coast … If you’d rather opt for a more traditional outdoor experience in Big Sur, Kirk Creek Campground is your car camping destination. Big Sur Coast – When it comes to car camping along what is arguably the most scenic stretch of coastline in California, there’s lots to choose from above the sheer, wave-battered cliffs along this … Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window), Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window), Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window), How to Build (and Appreciate) a Better Trail, Nepali Climbers Make Historic Winter Ascent of K2, Watch: Epic Short Film Captures Mountaineer's Summit of 'The Peak of Evil', This Is What Skiing 8 Feet of Snow in Two Weeks Looks Like, Waterfalls, Wagons, and Wild Ales: The Four-Day Weekend in Western Montana. Kirk Creek Campground, CA. Site 21 has the best ocean view and the closest beach access while sites 35 and 23 are the most private and shaded. The largest of the Big Sur … Reached via a 1.5-hour ferry ride, the five islands encompassing this offshore national park offer a glimpse of what the California coast looked like hundreds of years ago. Central Coast California Beach Camping: Between Santa Barbara and Big Sur, you'll find the only place in California where you can set up your RV right on the sand - that's in Pismo Beach. It's perfect for last-minute planners seeing as it offers first-come-first-served sites, too. California State Parks also has alternative camping, such as rustic cabins, cottages, lodging, tent cabins, floating campsites, and yurts. It's rustic, offering only pit toilets, water faucets, and standard sites, but what the campground lacks in amenities it makes up for in solitude and natural surroundings. When you’re looking for free California camping or boondocking, it doesn’t get much better than Glass Creek Campground, just outside of Mammoth Lakes. The Los Padres National Forest spans a large portion of the area, lending to nine state parks. The 6 Best Winter Thru-Hiking Trails in the U.S. We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Men's Journal and its partners. PROS: One of coastal California… Nestled in a Monterrey pine forest and situated just east of Highway 1, Plaskett Creek Campground is a short walk away from the nearby Sand Dollar Beach and Jade Cove. Really, most state park campgrounds throughout the U.S. West are open year-round. Campsites are open to year-round reservations. Stop by and taste the wines or buy a bottle to take back to your campsite at Talley Vineyards in Arroyo Grande or Cayucos Cellars in Cayucos. Further north are state park campgrounds and a few private campgrounds located on the Big Sur River and in the Santa Lucia Mountains. It's the quintessential California road trip: Following Highway 1 along the rugged coastline, stopping at campgrounds each night for bonfires against a backdrop of Monterey pines and redwoods. It’s called car camping, and there’s no better spot for it on the Lost Coast than the A.W. “You feel secluded even if the campground … If you're trying to plan your next camping adventure, check out our list of the best camping in Northern California to help guide you where to go. North of Morro Bay and south of Cayucos is Morro Strand State Beach Campground, offering classic beachfront camping with 3 miles of state beach and waterfront campsites. From the deserts in the east of the state to the beaches in the west and everything in between, we’ve put together a representative sample of California’s best camping grounds for those who prefer either tent or car camping… Campers rave about this pretty park just outside of Santa Barbara. It spans from Pismo State Beach to Morro Bay, offering much in the way of entertainment and overnight accommodation for the coastal road tripper. Santa Barbara is 95 miles by road from Los Angeles and it's the first major attraction on a south-to-north Central California road trip. Way County Park, a short distance from the mouth of the Mattole River, where the north end of the Lost Coast trail begins. Here's a list of some of the best campgrounds in Northern California: Lassen Volcanic National Park 50 miles east of Redding, ... or to simply watch the summer fog roll in and out of the craggy coast. Located just north of Point Conception, near Lompoc, Jalama Beach Park is a county-maintained park that has a store and restaurant area. Your winter road trip awaits. As such it would be best to check with the park for specific check-in and check-out times. Montaña de Oro State Park is a favorite among outdoors enthusiasts, as it offers hike-in sites that require 10 to 20 minutes of walking to reach. One of the region's most famous historical landmarks is Hearst Castle, located in San Simeon about 40 miles north of San Luis Obispo. Julia Pfeiffer Burns and Andrew Molera State Parks both have walk-in and environmental campsites, but no car camping or dogs are allowed at either. For more information please read our, Gear Items for a Cozy Car Camping Experience, VR Fitness Is a Serious Workout, Seriously, This At-Home Lower Ab Workout Will Crush Your Core, Drink A Fairlife Protein Shake To Improve The New You This New Year, Enjoy The Wonderful Taste Of Chef’s Cut Real Jerky With No Sugar, The 5 Best Workout Floor Mats For The Home. One of the best features of camping in California is the RV parks situated along the Golden State's coastline. It is now a national historic landmark whose impeccably decorated rooms and manicured grounds are toured daily. Learn More About Camping … Men’s Journal has affiliate partnerships so we may receive compensation for some links to products and services. The best ocean-view camping in Big Sur is located at Kirk Creek Campground. San Luis Obispo is a region defined by academics, sparkling ocean scenery, and an old, Spanish-style Mission. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, it has spots for tent and RV camping. Located south of Carmel and north of Cambria, this region puts California's most stunning bit of coastline on display. An island camping escape is a mere 50 minute boat ride away from the southern California coast. "If you're looking for an alternative to the parking lot style of RV beach … Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, it has spots for tent and RV … Just 12 miles south of Santa Barbara is Carpinteria State Beach Campground, a mile-long sandy beach that offers tent camping and RV sites. The first is the Castle Rock Trail Camp which is a 2.6 mile … California’s Best Car Camping Getaways for Winter Road Trips There are just 24 campsites at Limekiln State Park, which is nestled in the Limekiln River canyon on the east side of the Pacific Coast Highway. El Capitan is a surfer-centric beach that also has a 6-mile roundtrip walking path that connects it to Refugio State Beach and offers scenic vistas and wildlife viewing. The area's most prominent feature, Morro Rock, is visible from most areas of the campground. Here are seven California camping spots worth the work — and one that’s entirely effortless. Adventurers who love hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding shouldn't skip the trails at Montaña de Oro State Park. Where to Camp: El Capitan Beach State Park. If you do manage to get a spot, aim for sites 34, 35, 36, which offer the best ocean views. El Capitan State Beach Campground offers 133 campsites, but it's one of the first ones to sell out. The hike or bike sites are on a first … All you need is for happenstance to deliver; when you put yourself out there in the unknown, expect the unexpected and enjoy the ride while soaking in the many surprises at some of California’s best car camping locales. Dogs are not allowed at environmental sites or on any trails within the state park, but they are allowed at the five horse camps. The mansion—a colossal Spanish Revival palace with gardens, fountains, charming cottages, and free-roaming zebras on the property—was designed for the American newspaper publisher, William Randolph Hearst, and donated to the California State Park system in 1957. Jalama is popular with windsurfers, surfers, beachcombers, and dogs. ... Central Coast. California's Central Coast: The Complete Guide, The 12 Best Destinations on California's Central Coast, The Best Time to Visit California’s Central Coast, How to Plan the Perfect Camping Weekend in Big Sur, San Simeon Camping: Near Hearst Castle and Morro Bay, Oceanfront Camping Spots on the California Central Coast, Los Angeles to San Francisco on the Pacific Coast Highway, Where to Camp at the Beach Near Santa Barbara, Try One of These 10 Great Camping Spots in California, California Beach Campsites That Are Actually on the Sand, The must-see attractions and activities of San Luis Obispo County, Camping Road Trip: California's Central Coast. Directly across the highway from the campground is the Vicente Flats Trailhead, which leads into the Ventana Wilderness. The latter is better situated for RVs and trailers. Pismo State Beach has two popular campgrounds that are connected by a nature trail: North Beach and Oceano. There's one campground here and reservations can be made seven months in advance. The campsites at Plaskett Creek are spacious and many have ocean vista views. You'll also find some … California’s Mendocino Coast is one of the Pacific Coast Highway’s greatest hidden treasures, and Manchester Beach KOA is located right on the coast of Manchester, Califonia, along a marine tural … Big Sur is perhaps the centerpiece of the Central Coast. Islay Creek Campground is Montaña de Oro's main camping area. Campsite types: Tent, RVs, trailers, car camping; RV hookups: No; Gerstle Cove Campground is a gem nestled along the Northern California coast. The camping is primitive with flush toilets and water spigots. Each campsite in the first loop, sites 1 through 22, has spectacular ocean views. Beach Camping in Northern California Northern California has beach camping options galore. Camp … Whether you’re traveling through the area or are planning a weekend at the beach, Gerstle Cove should be on your radar. This region is also known for its hot springs, commercialized by the likes of Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort in Avila Beach, whose in-room hot tubs are filled with natural spring water, and Esalen Institute, which has a communal, cliffside hot pool with an ocean view. The campground, which includes 42 sites, 13 canvas tent structures, and three group camping … Your vehicle is the perfect mobile basecamp to transport you to hidden natural wonders, where time slows down and the only set schedule moves along on its own course. The Hearst San Simeon State Park and nature preserve is one of the oldest units in the California State Parks System. If you're feeling generous with your funds, you can also opt for a helicopter ride, leaving out of Long … Hate car camping? It's known for its idealistic location between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the sea and its recognizable Mediterranean-style buildings with red-tile roofs. Don’t forget your sunscreen! It’s run by Humboldt County Parks department. Answer 1 of 12: Hi, planning an epic mommy/kid trip in about 2 months. It includes two campgrounds: San Simeon Creek Campground, located near the San Simeon Nature Trail (which has ranger-led interpretive walks during busy summer months) and Washburn Campground, located a mile inland on a bluff overlooking the Santa Lucia Mountains. Beyond the campgrounds we've selected above, each state has a myriad other campgrounds that feature yurts and cabins - plus tent sites for the warmer regions of California… Below are favorite coastal campgrounds from San Diego northwards to beyond San Francisco. Flying into lax and renting a van and plan on cruising up and down the coast for 6 days exploring and camping on the beach, or pretty … McWay Falls—an 80-foot waterfall that drops into a small, remote beach—is one of the most famous landmarks here. There are 28 RV sites with electricity hookups and a total of 126 campsites with restrooms and showers. Also located in the Los Padres National Forest, the campground is situated on a bluff overlooking the ocean. Julia Pfeiffer Burns and Andrew Molera State Parks both have walk-in and environmental campsites, but no car camping or dogs are allowed at either. There are 76 standard campsites and restroom facilities, but no showers or hookups. Erected on a chunk of volcanic rock in 1889, this landmark rises 361 feet above the Pacific. You can reserve the campgrounds at the California … To get one of the coveted beachfront sites, 53 through 64, you'll have to arrive midweek or patiently wait for a site to vacate; only group sites are available by reservation. Read More. Perfect for a day trip near San Francisco, Point Reyes is an amazing place to hike, camp, backpack and comb the beaches. Take a one-hour express ferry from Long Beach, San Pedro, Newport Beach, or Dana Point to reach this Southern California island 22 miles off the coast. It's a playground for Hollywoodites, but a major camping destination, too. Monica Prelle is an award-winning outdoor travel writer and backcountry snowboarder who has contributed to numerous adventure publications, including Afar and Backcountry. In order to view the gallery, please allow Manage Cookies. Please check the following parks and their websites … Highlights include the Bluffs Trail, the Valencia Peak Trail, and the Hazard Mountain Trail. There are 8 miles of hiking trails within the park and 200 miles in the bordering Ventana Wilderness.​. A drive through the Central Coast wouldn't be complete without a stop at one of the region's famed wineries. The Golden State boasts more than 1,100 miles of breathtaking coastline ideal for you to enjoy camping on the California sand. Alternative Camping. You’re just along for the ride because you chose to be there, making the drive with enough provisions to see you through on your car-based camp excursion. The campground sits 100 feet above the ocean, and this perspective offers stunning views of the Santa Lucia mountains as they run toward the Pacific. Nestled high up in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Castle Rock State Park has two campgrounds located deep in the redwoods. For a more primitive experience, though, visit Sykes Hot Springs, a backcountry pool that sits at the end of the 10-mile Pine Ridge Trail in the 234,000-acre Ventana Wilderness. There are also yurts and cabins for rent and an RV dump station. The Pacific Coast Highway's roadside attractions include pristine beaches, lush forest, wineries, charming towns, and the best oceanfront camping California has to offer. The 66-site Refugio Campground also sells out early, but you can still enjoy day-use picnic areas, kayaking, fishing, and the tide pools while you're in the area. Then, there's the Point Sur Lighthouse in Big Sur. This is a more exposed area, so prepare for wind. Perched on a bluff along Big Sur's south coast, Kirk Creek Campground is arguably one of the most beautiful coastal campgrounds in California. The former features grassy lawns for tent pitching, hot showers, and easy beach access. There are few places as scenic as the Central Coast. From the San Francisco Bay Area up the coast to the Oregon border, there are many campgrounds and even … With its adrenaline-pumping zipline tour, Ancient Peaks Winery's Margarita Adventures combines wine tasting with thrills. Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest adventures, workouts, destinations, and more. Try to make reservations at these campgrounds ahead of time, particularly if you plan on driving during the peak season summer months. The coastal area is known mostly for its pinot noirs and chardonnays. Kirk Creek … Sales: 1-888-526-3978 Service: 1-866-205-2621 California Free Camping: Campendium has 1747 reviews of 531 places to camp for free in California With 66 spacious campsites, you can easily pull through a 45’ motorhome or trailer for a three-week stay near Mammoth and the June Lakes … It still operates from the rocky headland today and visitors can climb to the top to see the light and the sweeping ocean views below by a walking tour. 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