Perched on a bluff along Big Sur's south coast, Kirk Creek Campground is arguably one of the most beautiful coastal campgrounds in California. It’s run by Humboldt County Parks department. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, it has spots for tent and RV camping. Located just north of Point Conception, near Lompoc, Jalama Beach Park is a county-maintained park that has a store and restaurant area. Answer 1 of 12: Hi, planning an epic mommy/kid trip in about 2 months. The hike or bike sites are on a first … 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. It is now a national historic landmark whose impeccably decorated rooms and manicured grounds are toured daily. 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. Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest adventures, workouts, destinations, and more. 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. Please check the following parks and their websites … The campsites at Plaskett Creek are spacious and many have ocean vista views. ... Central Coast. Campsites are open to year-round reservations. Perfect for a day trip near San Francisco, Point Reyes is an amazing place to hike, camp, backpack and comb the beaches. PROS: One of coastal California… One of the region's most famous historical landmarks is Hearst Castle, located in San Simeon about 40 miles north of San Luis Obispo. Don’t forget your sunscreen! Here are seven California camping spots worth the work — and one that’s entirely effortless. Also located in the Los Padres National Forest, the campground is situated on a bluff overlooking the ocean. Call ahead when planning your camping locations to make reservations whenever possible. Further north are state park campgrounds and a few private campgrounds located on the Big Sur River and in the Santa Lucia Mountains. 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. Adventurers who love hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding shouldn't skip the trails at Montaña de Oro State Park. 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. 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. Men’s Journal has affiliate partnerships so we may receive compensation for some links to products and services. Camp … Directly across the highway from the campground is the Vicente Flats Trailhead, which leads into the Ventana Wilderness. 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. 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. “You feel secluded even if the campground … Campers rave about this pretty park just outside of Santa Barbara. Pismo Beach, near San Luis Obispo at the midpoint of the Central Coast, provides plenty of adventure options. Whether you’re traveling through the area or are planning a weekend at the beach, Gerstle Cove should be on your radar. Campsite types: Tent, RVs, trailers, car camping; RV hookups: No; Gerstle Cove Campground is a gem nestled along the Northern California coast. 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. California Free Camping: Campendium has 1747 reviews of 531 places to camp for free in California In order to view the gallery, please allow Manage Cookies. 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. It's a playground for Hollywoodites, but a major camping destination, too. 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 … Kirk Creek Campground, CA. Each campsite in the first loop, sites 1 through 22, has spectacular ocean views. Then, there's the Point Sur Lighthouse in Big Sur. The Golden State boasts more than 1,100 miles of breathtaking coastline ideal for you to enjoy camping on the California sand. Alternative Camping. 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. "If you're looking for an alternative to the parking lot style of RV beach … The latter is better situated for RVs and trailers. Regarding check-in times for the campgrounds, they may very from park to park. A drive through the Central Coast wouldn't be complete without a stop at one of the region's famed wineries. Islay Creek Campground is Montaña de Oro's main camping area. The former features grassy lawns for tent pitching, hot showers, and easy beach access. 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. Located south of Carmel and north of Cambria, this region puts California's most stunning bit of coastline on display. Big Sur is perhaps the centerpiece of the Central Coast. 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. Really, most state park campgrounds throughout the U.S. West are open year-round. The campground, which includes 42 sites, 13 canvas tent structures, and three group camping … Just 12 miles south of Santa Barbara is Carpinteria State Beach Campground, a mile-long sandy beach that offers tent camping and RV sites. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, it has spots for tent and RV … 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. Below are favorite coastal campgrounds from San Diego northwards to beyond San Francisco. 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… 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. One of the best features of camping in California is the RV parks situated along the Golden State's coastline. Read More. San Luis Obispo is a region defined by academics, sparkling ocean scenery, and an old, Spanish-style Mission. If you’d rather opt for a more traditional outdoor experience in Big Sur, Kirk Creek Campground is your car camping destination. The first is the Castle Rock Trail Camp which is a 2.6 mile … The Pacific Coast Highway's roadside attractions include pristine beaches, lush forest, wineries, charming towns, and the best oceanfront camping California has to offer. 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. There are 76 standard campsites and restroom facilities, but no showers or hookups. 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 … There are 28 RV sites with electricity hookups and a total of 126 campsites with restrooms and showers. California’s Best Car Camping Getaways for Winter Road Trips The area's most prominent feature, Morro Rock, is visible from most areas of the campground. 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. The largest of the Big Sur … Site 21 has the best ocean view and the closest beach access while sites 35 and 23 are the most private and shaded. There are 8 miles of hiking trails within the park and 200 miles in the bordering Ventana Wilderness.​. 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. With its adrenaline-pumping zipline tour, Ancient Peaks Winery's Margarita Adventures combines wine tasting with thrills. Hiking the Lost Coast … There's one campground here and reservations can be made seven months in advance. 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. The coastal area is known mostly for its pinot noirs and chardonnays. 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. 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 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. Where to Camp: El Capitan Beach State Park. From the San Francisco Bay Area up the coast to the Oregon border, there are many campgrounds and even … 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. El Capitan State Beach Campground offers 133 campsites, but it's one of the first ones to sell out. The camping is primitive with flush toilets and water spigots. 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. For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube! It's perfect for last-minute planners seeing as it offers first-come-first-served sites, too. 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. California State Parks also has alternative camping, such as rustic cabins, cottages, lodging, tent cabins, floating campsites, and yurts. This is a more exposed area, so prepare for wind. 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. 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 … You'll also find some … 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. Monica Prelle is an award-winning outdoor travel writer and backcountry snowboarder who has contributed to numerous adventure publications, including Afar and Backcountry. Erected on a chunk of volcanic rock in 1889, this landmark rises 361 feet above the Pacific. Learn More About Camping … 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. 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. Way County Park, a short distance from the mouth of the Mattole River, where the north end of the Lost Coast trail begins. McWay Falls—an 80-foot waterfall that drops into a small, remote beach—is one of the most famous landmarks here. 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. Kirk Creek … If you're feeling generous with your funds, you can also opt for a helicopter ride, leaving out of Long … It spans from Pismo State Beach to Morro Bay, offering much in the way of entertainment and overnight accommodation for the coastal road tripper. 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. Beach Camping in Northern California Northern California has beach camping options galore. There are also yurts and cabins for rent and an RV dump station. Hate car camping? The Los Padres National Forest spans a large portion of the area, lending to nine state parks. 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. Highlights include the Bluffs Trail, the Valencia Peak Trail, and the Hazard Mountain Trail. Dogs are not allowed at environmental sites or on any trails within the state park, but they are allowed at the five horse camps. Sales: 1-888-526-3978 Service: 1-866-205-2621 An island camping escape is a mere 50 minute boat ride away from the southern California coast. 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