From The Beach Boys to palm trees and sandy boardwalks, the California Coast is an iconic destination for a reason. Every year, millions of people from all over the world visit the Golden State to see its famous landmarks, catch a wave, and soak in the sunshine. And with 840 miles of coastline, there are a lot of camping options to choose from.
The coast can roughly be divided into two regions: Southern California, with its abundant sunshine and dry climate, and Northern California, with its redwood forests and wild shoreline. No matter which you choose, you’ll never tire of the endless views, sunsets, and distinctly California vibes.
1. Wright’s Beach Campground
Wright’s Beach Campground is located within Sonoma Coast State Park, about 1.5 hours north of San Francisco. This quiet gem is one of the top-rated camping areas on California’s coast.
The campground offers beachfront and inland camping spots, with plenty of nearby trails to see. Campendium users report that the coastline is gorgeous, but don’t forget to bring a jacket, even in the summer, as it can get chilly right on the water.
Another piece of advice: book early. Campers often need to snag reservations months in advance to stay at this popular park.
2. Bodega Bay and 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 all campsites have a great view.
Campendium users say the park is perfect for long beach walks and observing the heavy fog that can roll in along the coast. This park doesn’t have any hookups, but there are several water stations and other simple amenities available.
3. Morro Strand State Beach
Morro Strand State Beach is located north of San Luis Obispo, near the town of Morro Bay. This campground has 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 volcanic plug that sits right on the coast.
From Morro Strand State Beach, it’s a quick drive or bike ride into Morro Bay. Here you’ll find shops, eateries, and a harbor that’s perfect for spotting seals, sea otters, and sea lions.
4. New Brighton State Beach
Another 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 and the Bay Area makes this a very popular destination. Getting a campsite can be tricky, so be sure to make a reservation beforehand.
5. Rincon Parkway Campground
Rincon Parkway Campground in Ventura is one of the most popular coastal camping areas in California. Campendium users love 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.
6. 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’s also tent camping available at this park.
Visitors will find clean bathrooms and showers to wash off the salt and sand from the beach. For RVers, there are no hookups, but there’s 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.
7. Doheny State Beach
South of the busy Los Angeles Metro Area is Doheny State Beach. The quiet area is a popular spot for anyone who wants ocean views and easy access to the beach.
Campendium users say the campsites are fairly close together, but there are bushes between them to help add some privacy. While there are limited amenities for RVs, most campers report that the location makes it worth the visit.
8. Mission Bay RV Resort
Though it has a fairly steep price tag, many say that Mission Bay RV Resort, a private campground, is still worth a visit due to its location 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 San Diego Zoo.
Campendium users comment 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 plan to make frequent trips to the city. The park offers RV hookups as well as a laundry facility for guests.
9. Dockweiler RV Park
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, and sites have a charcoal grill and a picnic table. Like many urban 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.