Best Southern California Beach Camping Spots

  • 01 of 04

    Where to Camp in Southern California

    A young man with a guitar sits near his tent while camping on the beach waiting for surf.
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    Southern California is famous for its sandy beaches, warm sunshine and ocean breezes, which makes it a great destination to pitch a tent and go camping in the Golden State. The best beach camping in California is just steps from the ocean. 

    If you want to go camping in Southern California, there are a lot of state parks and campgrounds to consider. From San Diego camping to Los Angeles and Orange County, the summer months are most popular for beach camping, and reservations should be made in advance for the best beachfront campsites. But Southern California’s moderate weather makes it a top spot for year-round camping, so don't rule out the winter months for a quiet and peaceful getaway in Southern California. 

    This Southern California beach camping guide is divided into three regions: Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego. We have all the information you need to plan your California vacation. Now all you need to do is pack your camping gear, beach chair, a few good books, and...MORE head one of the top Southern California campgrounds.

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  • 02 of 04

    Beach Camping in Los Angeles

    Point Mugu Beach of California State in USA
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    At the northern point of the Santa Monica Bay, Point Mugu State Beach is one of the most scenic beach camping areas in Los Angeles County. It isn’t far from the hustle and bustle of LA, but it still feels quiet, secluded and relaxing. Point Mugu State Park is located 15 miles south of Oxnard in the Santa Monica Mountains. The park features 5 miles of shoreline and more than 70-miles of hiking trails. There are two campgrounds with more than 100 campsites available at Point Mugu. The Sycamore Canyon campground is just inland from the coast in the canyon, and Thornhill Broome is a beachfront campground where you can pitch your tent in the sand. The wide sandy beach is perfect for beach combing and relaxing. The campground has bathrooms with pay showers.Point Mugu SP Campground reservations can be made online through Reserve California.

    Just south of Point Mugu and 28 miles north of Santa Monica is Leo Carrillo State Park. The campground is close to Malibu and nestled in a canyon on the...MORE east side of Pacific Coast Highway. There are a few hiking trails that depart from the campground and it’s just a few minutes walk to the beach along a path that heads through a tunnel and under the freeway. The campground has 130 campsites that can accommodate trailers up to 31-feet. There is a small store, bathrooms with pay showers, and also a group camp. Large oak and sycamore trees offer nice shade; the campsites are spacious and grassy. Leo Carrillo SP Campground reservations can be made online through Reserve California.

    Malibu Creek State Park is located just 25 miles from downtown Los Angeles. It is not a beachfront campground, but it is only 7 miles from the beach in the coastal Santa Monica Mountains on Malibu Creek. The park features hiking, fishing, bird watching and horseback riding opportunities. The campground has more than 50 campsites with bathrooms and pay showers. Malibu Creek SP Campground reservations can be made online through Reserve California.

    In the heart of Los Angeles close to the Los Angeles International Airport is Dockweiler State Beach. This campground offers beachfront sites with full hookups, picnic tables, and barbecues. The 22-mile Marvin Braude Bicycle Trail traverses past the camp and the park is located close to highways, which makes it accessible to LA’s most popular attractions like the Santa Monica Pier, the Getty Museum, Universal Studios, and Disneyland. Reservations for Dockweiler can be online through LA County.

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  • 03 of 04

    Orange County Beach Camping

    Doheny State Beach Hiker/Biker Campsite
    ••• Bjorn/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

    The Bolsa Chica State Beach Campground is located in Huntington Beach, California near the pier and Seal Beach. The state beach is three miles long and is a popular spot for surfing, fishing and beach combing. A seven-mile bike trail passes through the campground and connects to Huntington State Beach. There are just 55 campsites ($65) at Bolsa Chica and no tent camping is allowed. All RVs must be self-contained including running water and toilet. There are electric and water hookups and a dump station. Bolsa Chica SB Campground reservations can be made online through Reserve California.

    Located near Dana Point and San Juan Capistrano, Doheny State Beach offers over night camping at the southern end of the park. There are more than 100 campsites for RV and tent camping. The park is popular for surfing, which is allowed only at the north end of the beach, and surf fishing. Doheny SB Campground reservations can be made online through Reserve California.

    San Clemente State Beach is another...MORE great beachfront campground located on the south end of San Clemente. The mile long beach is popular among surfers. Campsites are on the bluff just overlooking the ocean. There are 144 campsites for tent and RVs, nature trails, bathrooms and pay showers. San Clemente SB Campground reservations can be made online through Reserve California.

    The San Mateo Campground at San Onofre State Beach lies just a short distance inland from the 3.5-miles of sandy beaches. There are 120 campsites, some located a mile inland and others on the bluffs overlooking the ocean. A 1.5-mile Nature Trail connects the campground to Trestles Beach, a world class surfing spot. All campsites include a fire pit and picnic table. Hookup sites are available with electricity and water. Other amenities include a dump-station, hot indoor showers, and flush toilets. Camping is available year-round at San Onofre and reservations can be made online through Reserve California.

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  • 04 of 04

    San Diego Camping

    A view of Moonlight Beach, San Diego North County, California, taken from the south
    ••• Invertzoo/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA-3.0

    Located near the city of Carlsbad on a bluff overlooking the ocean, South Carlsbad State Beach is one of the most popular camping destinations in San Diego. Stairs from a number of locations lead from the campgrounds down to the beach. The area is popular for surfing, swimming and relaxing on the sand. There are more than 200 campsites for tent and RV camping, with bathrooms and pay showers available. Though the campground is big, it is very busy in the summer months and reservations are highly recommended. You can reserve campsites for South Carlsbad SB Campground online through Reserve California.

    Another very popular San Diego beach campground is located at San Elijo State Beach near Cardiff by the Sea. The campground has more than 200 campsites located on the bluff overlooking the ocean with bathrooms and pay showers. Other amenities include a snack bar and camp store that sells RV supplies, boogie boards, and firewood. There is a surf camp, located near the entrance of the...MORE campground, which provides lessons and surfboard rentals. San Elijo camping is popular and campsites should be reserved well in advance. Reservations may be made online through Reserve California.

    The Mission Bay RV Resort is located on the water in Mission Bay near downtown San Diego, La Jolla, Pacific Beach and Ocean Beach. The RV Park is close to popular attractions like Mission Bay Park, Torrey Pines Golf Course, the San Diego Zoo, Old Town San Diego and Sea World. There are more than 250 RV sites available with full hookups.

    Silver Strand State Beach offers a true beach camping experience. The park is located on the sand-spit that forms the outer edge of San Diego Bay between Coronado and Imperial Beach. The park has 2 ½ miles of ocean beach and ½ mile on the San Diego Bay. Expansive beaches provide endless opportunities for ocean recreation. The campground does not allow tent camping and all RVs must be self-contained with running water and toilets. The campground is expected to have electricity and water by summer of 2013. Silver Strand camping reservations may be made online through Reserve California.