Share:

Guide to Camping on the Southern California Coast

06.01.18

Start Exploring
Guide to Camping on the Southern California Coast

Share:

Advertisement
  • San Clemente State Beach.- Guide to Camping on the Southern California Coast
  • Day use area adjacent to the campground at San Clemente State Beach.- Guide to Camping on the Southern California Coast
  • Ocean bluff camping at San Clemente State Beach Campground.- Guide to Camping on the Southern California Coast
  • The campground is part of San Onofre State Beach.- Guide to Camping on the Southern California Coast
  • Surfing is popular at San Onofre.- Guide to Camping on the Southern California Coast
  • Typical campsite at San Mateo Campground.- Guide to Camping on the Southern California Coast
  • Stairs lead from the campground to the beach.- Guide to Camping on the Southern California Coast
  • Looking north up the beach at San Elijo.- Guide to Camping on the Southern California Coast
  • San Elijo State Beach.- Guide to Camping on the Southern California Coast
  • Typical campsite at Leo Carrillo State Park Campground.- Guide to Camping on the Southern California Coast
  • View of Leo Carrillo State Park Campground from Nicholas Flat Trail.- Guide to Camping on the Southern California Coast
  • Leo Carrillo State Park Campground.- Guide to Camping on the Southern California Coast
  • Looking east from the top of the point at El Capitan State Beach. Fog is beginning to clear.- Guide to Camping on the Southern California Coast
  • El Capitan Beach Store, open Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m to 5 p.m.- Guide to Camping on the Southern California Coast
  • A campsite on A Loop (1-28).- Guide to Camping on the Southern California Coast
  • California sycamore (Platanus racemosa) at Sycamore Canyon Campground.- Guide to Camping on the Southern California Coast
  • Sycamore Canyon Campground.- Guide to Camping on the Southern California Coast
  • View southeast on Sycamore Cove Beach.- Guide to Camping on the Southern California Coast
  • Picnic and barbecue area at Sycamore Cove Beach.- Guide to Camping on the Southern California Coast
  • Sycamore Cove Beach.- Guide to Camping on the Southern California Coast
Article
Contributor

The beaches of Southern California have long drawn crowds to their shores, and for those who visit for the golden sand and the sun and the carefree atmosphere, there’s little better than the notion that you don’t really have to leave. Fortunately, there are plenty of camping options along California’s southern coast, whether you’re pitching a tent or parking an RV. Spend your days riding the waves, lay out in the sun, toss a frisbee or smack a volleyball around—there’s so much to do on the beach—and when you’re done, build a campfire above the Pacific and fall asleep to the exhalations of the ocean.

Two coastal corridors along the southern coast of California are nestled between the sprawling metropolises of Los Angeles and San Diego, from San Clemente to Encinitas and Malibu to the Gaviota Coast. Each has its own character, but both have a standard of comfort (showers! camp stores!) that you’d only find in the dappled spotlight near the City of Angels. Likewise, camping on the Southern California coast can be expensive—but think of the amenities you'd otherwise find in a hotel.

San Clemente-Oceanside-Encinitas

When you think of a beach, you likely think of a place like San Onofre, where wide white sands are licked by tongues of bright blue waters. World-renowned surfing conditions characterize the beaches between L.A. and San Diego, and they are a must-visit destination along the Southern California coast.

  • To the north of Trestles Beach, San Clemente State Beach Campground is ideally located for surfers looking to ride the world-class waves. The campground boasts showers, easy access to nearby San Clemente, and is positioned atop the sandstone bluffs at the foot of the Santa Anas for beautiful views over the Pacific.
  • A few miles from San Onofre State Beach, still another break famous for its longboard surfing, San Mateo Campground has hot showers that are well worth the long walk at the end of the day. Like San Clemente, the fee is pretty high, and there’s an associated day use fee you’ll have to pay. San Onofre State Beach also has a lengthy row of campsites called San Onofre Bluffs Campground within the park, located adjacent to the Old Pacfic Coast Highway. 
  • Farther south, San Elijo State Beach Campground brings you close to San Elijo State Beach, Swamis Beach and Cardiff-by-the-Sea and its eclectic collecton of shops, restaurants, and food carts.

Malibu-Gaviota Coast

The beaches west of L.A. offer a different vibe than those found farther to the south, nestled beneath the wilderness of the Santa Monica mountains. Whereas the focus is firmly set on the water in the south, camping here gives visitors the option of turning inland toward the mountains and the hiking and climbing opportunities they offer. Still, you can’t beat a night near the waves—and these campgrounds have the amenities to make it more than worthwhile.

Here are some great camping options if you're spending more of your time on the Northern California coast

Advertisement
Comments

Comments

Published By

Published by

Contributor
118 Adventures Explored
116 Adventures Published

Newsletter Signup

Join the Outdoor Project Community

Get access to essential planning materials and information for your next adventure. Take a few seconds to join the community. It’s FREE!

Free Field Guides + Maps

Post Updates, Tips + Comments

Organize + Track Your Adventures

Insider Detailed Info, News + Benefits

Custom Driving Directions

Recommended Campsites, Photos + Reservation Info