9 Best Campgrounds for Beach Camping in California
From The Beach Boys to palm trees and sandy boardwalks, the California coast is one of the most iconic places in the U.S. Every year, millions of people from all over the world visit the Golden State to see its famous landmarks, catch a wave, eat California cuisine, and soak in the sunshine. And with 840 miles of coastline, there’s a lot of camping options to choose from.
The Golden State’s two most popular coastal camping areas are southern California, with its abundant sunshine and dry climate, and northern California, with its moody redwood forests and wild shoreline.
No matter which you choose, you’ll never tire of the endless views, stunning sunsets, and distinctly California vibes.
Wright’s Beach Campground is located within Sonoma Coast State Park, about an hour and a half north of San Francisco. This quiet gem is the top-rated camping area on California’s coast.
The campground offers beachfront and inland camping spots, with plenty of nearby trails to explore. The Campendium community reports that the coastline is gorgeous, but don’t forget to bring a jacket, even in the summer, as it can be a little cool right on the water.
Another piece of advice from other Campendium users: book early. Campers often need to snag reservations months in advance to stay at this popular park.
Doran Regional Park
Just south of Sonoma Coast State Park is Bodega Bay and Doran Regional Park. This county park offers camping on both the ocean and the bayside, so everyone gets a shot at a great view.
Campendium users say the park is perfect for long beach walks and observing the moody, heavy fog that can roll in along the coast.
This park does not have any hookups for RVs, but several water stations and other simple amenities are available.
Morro Strand State Beach
Morro Strand State Beach is located north of San Luis Obispo, near the town of Morro Bay. This campground is a mix of tent sites and RV sites with hookups. Campendium users love this spot for its great price and views of the beach and Morro Rock—a now-defunct volcano that sits right on the coast.
From Morro Strand State Beach, it’s a quick drive or bike into Morro Bay, filled with cute shops, tasty eateries, and a harbor that is perfect for spotting seals, sea otters, and sea lions.
New Brighton State Beach
Another California State Park, New Brighton State Beach, offers campsites right near the ocean while being conveniently located next to the surfer’s paradise of Santa Cruz.
Campendium users rave about the park’s campsites, which include a fire pit, picnic tables, and nearby clean bathrooms with running showers.
The proximity to Santa Cruz plus the nearby Bay Area makes this a very popular destination. Getting a campsite can be tricky, so be sure to make a reservation beforehand.
Rincon Parkway Campground in Ventura is one of the most popular coastal camping areas in California. The Campendium community loves the easy access to Highway 101, the panoramic views, and sleeping just feet away from the water.
The amenities at this campground are fairly minimal, but its proximity to the highway is a major bonus for most. Even with traffic going to and from Los Angeles, campers report that the sound of crashing waves drowns out the busy road noise.
North Beach Campground
Another popular spot in southern California is North Beach Campground, located in Pismo Beach. This campground provides large campsites set up in a loop, with grassy hills that provide some privacy. There is also tent camping available at this park.
Visitors will find clean bathrooms and showers to wash off the salt and sand from the nearby beach. For RVers, there are no hookups, but there is a dump station. If you stay between October and February, be sure to check out the park’s incredible Butterfly Grove, where thousands of monarch butterflies cluster on the grove’s eucalyptus trees.
South of the busy Los Angeles Metro Area is Doheny State Beach. The quiet area is a popular spot for anyone who wants great ocean views and easy access to the beach.
Campendium users say the campsites are fairly close together, but there are bushes between to help add some privacy. While there are limited amenities for RVs, most campers report that the location makes it worth the visit.
Though it has a fairly steep price tag for spots, many say Mission Bay RV Resort, a private campground, is still worth a visit due to the location alone. Located right on San Diego’s Mission Bay, visitors can easily access the beach or take a short drive to the city’s historic Gaslamp Quarter or the world-famous San Diego Zoo.
The Campendium community says that the sites are more like a parking lot than a traditional campground but that the layout makes it easy to come and go, especially for those who are planning to make frequent trips to the city. The park offers RV hookups as well as a laundry facility for guests.
Visitors looking to stay right in the Los Angeles area will want to snag a spot at Dockweiler RV Park. Located on the beach near LAX airport and just south of Venice Beach and Santa Monica, campers who stay here are a short drive to everything Los Angeles offers.
The campground offers full RV hookups with water and electricity, plus sites have a charcoal grill and a picnic table to enjoy a meal around.
Like many city RV parks, this site is all about location, location, location. But light sleepers, be warned—there’s some decent noise from planes flying in and out of LAX airport.