socal beach camping sm

Southern California beaches are a popular destination year round, so why not spend a few days at a beachfront campground?

“Southern California has some of the best ocean-front campgrounds and RV resorts in the nation,” says Debbie Sipe, executive director of the California Association of RV Resorts and Campgrounds, which hosts the travel website. Here are top picks for beach campgrounds between Santa Barbara and San Diego County.

Campland by the Bay, Mission Bay
This park, which recently added a new gymnasium, features RV sites as well as “supersites”—luxurious RV sites with private patios, grills and Jacuzzis and a view of a nearby wildlife sanctuary. Campland offers classes in arts and crafts, yoga and water aerobics as well as scavenger hunts, sandcastle contests, luaus, live music and sporting events. Ping Pong, horseshoes, a skateboard park and bike and watercraft rentals are also offered.

Chula Vista RV Resort and Marina, Chula Vista
This park is adjacent to a 552-slip marina. Onsite amenities include a casual dining restaurant (Galley at the Marina) and a fine dining restaurant (South Bay Fish and Grill). Both restaurants have patio decks, live music and dancing. Other amenities include a pool, Jacuzzi and fitness room.

Dockweiler Beach RV Park, El Segundo
This 117-site beachfront campground near LAX is located right next to the beach bike path. Campsites are paved and include water, sewer and electrical service. Bathrooms and showers are also available.

El Capitan Canyon Campground, Santa Barbara
El Capitan Canyon is located about 20 miles from downtown Santa Barbara in a hidden canyon filled with sycamores. It features luxurious park model cabins, furnished safari tents and yurts, which are modern versions of the ancient shelters used by Central Asian nomads. El Capitan Canyon has six fully furnished yurts, each sleeps four people. They complement the resort’s 109 park model cabins and 26 furnished safari tents. The resort’s amenities include a small onsite restaurant, evening star talks, a private hiking trail and a summer concert series featuring jazz, blues and bluegrass music.

Malibu Beach RV Park, Malibu
This oceanfront park includes both RV and tent sites. Campsite amenities include picnic tables and charcoal grills. Bathrooms and showers are available along with a convenience store that sells food and beverages.

Mission Bay RV Resort, San Diego
This big rig and pet-friendly park has super sites up to 80 feet long as well as cable TV and Wi-Fi service. Onsite activities include movie nights and sundae socials.

Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina, Newport Beach
This pet-friendly RV resort is located along a protected bay in the harbor at Newport Beach. The resort also has luxurious park model cottage rentals. Onsite amenities include a restaurant that offers lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Activities include movies on the beach and an inflatable floating structure for the kids. Sailboats, pedal boats, kayaks and electric boats are available for rent.

Ocean Mesa Campground, Santa Barbara
Ocean Mesa Campground is about 20 miles from Santa Barbara, right next door to El Capitan Canyon Campground. Perched on a hillside overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Ocean Mesa caters to RV and tent camping enthusiasts.

Paradise by the Sea RV Resort, Oceanside
This 91-site park, located 4 minutes on foot from the beach, has picnic tables at each campsite. Surfboard, boogie board and bike rentals are available. Other amenities include a heated pool and spa.

South Carlsbad State Beach, Carlsbad
A local top pick in our Best of Family Fun 2014 contest! This San Diego campground features 212 sites, many of which are on a bluff overlooking the ocean. Stairs lead to the beach, which offers swimming, surfing, skin diving, fishing and picnicking. Campground showers are token operated (tokens available on site).
The camp store operates March through October.

Ventura Beach RV Park, Ventura
This 144-site park is close to the beach and has bike rentals, arcade games as well as an outdoor swimming pool and Jacuzzi, showers and Wi-Fi service. The park also has 36 tent sites with water and electricity hookups as well as 34 additional sites without hookups.


For more information on places to camp in California visit Photo courtesy of Jeff Crider Photography.

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