All the Best Camping in San Diego

Dec 31, 2019 |

All the Best Camping in San Diego

By Sara Sheehy

It’s true what they say, San Diego has perfect weather almost 365. 70 degrees and sunny every day, that’s a groundhog day I can get behind.

But “America’s Finest City” isn’t just sunshine. This major metropolitan area is full of culture, nightlife, and delicious food and drinks. Don’t forget the world-class San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, Balboa Park, and the USS Midway Exhibit. There’s enough to fill your itinerary for weeks in San Diego. That’s why it’s best to put down some roots at one of the nearby campgrounds and start exploring. Here are all the best San Diego camping spots for taking in the city.

The Best RV and Tent Camping Near the Coast

If you’re looking for the sound of crashing waves, breezes blowing in through the open windows of your camper, and unbelievable sunsets over the mighty Pacific Ocean, there are a few options near San Diego. Being right on the water in SoCal is tough to do. That’s some prime real estate, and you aren’t the only one who wants to be there.

Silver Strand State Beach is located across San Diego Bay from downtown on a slender strip of land surrounded by water. Here you’ll have the ocean at your doorstep and all the big attractions only a short drive away. Just be aware that it can be crowded and the gates to the park close early.

For access to the beach with a little less chaos, you’ll need to venture further from the city. In North San Diego County, San Elijo State Beach offers oceanside camping and access to the beach. For those who don’t mind swapping the ocean for the bay, check out Campland by the Bay, located on the shore of Mission Bay. 

The Best RV and Tent Camping Around San Diego

San Diego is a densely populated city. Between all the sunseekers and navy sailors, the areas close to town have all been utilized. Finding the best camping experience here means looking a bit outside of town. The good news is that within a 30-minute drive, there are plenty of campgrounds that offer some of the comforts of home without breaking the bank.

Up the hill from town, Sweetwater Summit Regional Park offers a lookout view of the ocean and Coronado Beach. The park boasts 112 sites. Campendium users report that the best RV sites are in the upper loop, where you’ll find full hookups and level pads. 

After eating your way through town and sampling beers at any of the over 150 breweries in San Diego County, you’ll be looking for a little exercise. Sweetwater Summit Regional Park has 15 miles of trails open to hikers and bikers, plus a 13 station exercise course for some calisthenics.

If you are car camping and looking for great tent sites, try out Lake Jennings Park. You’ll get find well-spaced sites with trees and brush offering a natural barrier between you and your neighbors. A walk around the park offers up some fantastic views of the lake and surrounding mountains. Even with all its mountain escape feel, Lake Jennings Park is only a 30-minute drive to downtown.

The Best Out of the Way RV and Tent Camping Near San Diego

So, you’re not a city person, but Southern California is still calling your name. Don’t worry, there are plenty of campgrounds in San Diego County where you’ll get the SoCal vibe, but keep the craziness of San Diego at arm’s length. 

Out in the mountains above 4,000 feet, you’ll find William Heise County Park. This park is nestled in the trees with ample shade. Every spot has a fire pit, picnic table, and it’s own water spigot. Campendium users report that in the summer, this is a great family camping area, with a good selection of hiking and biking trails. All of this nature and it’s only a one hour drive from San Diego.

Camping around San Diego is a bit spread out. When you’re planning a trip to the sunshine, take a minute to think about how you want to experience the city. For the ultimate access to attractions, dining, and nightlife, stay in a campground or resort close to town. Otherwise, seek out a park or resort outside of town for a nice mix of nature and city life.

And, if all those options are a little tame, try sleeping with the lions. San Diego Safari Park offers Roar and Snore Packages that include wall tent accommodations and after-hours looks at the park’s wildlife. Have fun!