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10 Popular California Beach Campgrounds

10 Popular California Beach Campgrounds

Hey Campers! Whether you live in California, or if you’re planning to visit, there are some great beach campsites to discover along the state’s coast – some we’re willing to bet you didn’t know existed. Most of the time you’ll enjoy sunny skies, blue water and a variety of activities like surfing, swimming, sunbathing, diving, kayaking, hiking, beach combing and biking.  And although getting a campsite at these 10 popular California beach campgrounds is extremely difficult, you can always try our Campsite Assist to get notified when a site becomes available on the dates you want to camp!

10 Popular California Beach Campgrounds

1.  Sunset Beach State Beach

Sunset Beach Campground features pine trees, mountainous sand dunes and picnic spots along the Pacific Ocean. The park is located between the cities of Santa Cruz and Monterey; making this a great getaway for families year-round. The campground has 91 campsites and is located on a bluff above the beach overlooking Monterey Bay. Amenities include water, flush toilets and showers. Firewood is also available for purchase from the camp host.

Sunset State Beach View

10 Popular California Beach Campgrounds - Sunset State Beach

Sunset State Beach Campsite #25

10 Popular California Beach Campgrounds

2.  Refugio State Beach

Complete with palm trees, Refugio State Beach offers great swimming, fishing, hiking and biking along the west side of California State Route 1 (Highway 1). Santa Barbara also is just 20 miles away. There are 66 campsites and all are just a short stroll to the beach. Most sites also have ocean views. Amenities include water, flush toilets, hot showers and a camp store.
Refugio State Beach View
10 Popular California Beach Campgrounds
Refugio State Beach Picnic Area
10 Popular California Beach Campgrounds

3. McGrath State Beach

Bordering the Santa Clara River Estuary Natural Preserve, McGrath State Beach offers lush streamside woodlands, coastal dunes and a wide, beautiful beach during cool summers and mild, wet winters. There is also a surprising diversity of plants and animals, including more than 245 bird species. The campground has 174 campsites that are about 1/4 mile from the beach. Amenities include water, flush toilets, hot showers, a campfire center and dump station.
McGrath State Beach
10 Popular California Beach Campgrounds
McGrath State Beach Campsite #52
10 Popular California Beach Campgrounds - McGrath State Beach

4.  Leo Carrillo State Park

Leo Carrillo State Park offers a beautiful 1.5 mile long beach for surfing, wind-surfing, surf fishing and beachcombing; plus tide pools, coastal caves and reefs for exploring back-country hiking. After a fun day in the sun, visitors can retire to 135 sycamore-shaded campsites that accommodate tents, trailers and RVs. Amenities include water, flush toilets, showers and a camp store. Firewood is also available for sale at the store.

Leo Carrillo State Beach

10 Popular California Beach Campgrounds - Leo Carrillo

Leo Carrillo State Park – Creek View

10 Popular California Beach Campgrounds - Leo Carrillo Creek View

5. Bolsa Chica State Beach

Bolsa Chica State Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Southern California. It also has some mellow surf, which is perfect for swimmers and beginning surfers. Huntington Beach is just to the south and Newport Beach is also just 6 miles away. The campground is right next to the beach and has 60 campsites with water & electric hookups. The campground is for “self-contained” trailers and RVs. Tent camping is not allowed. Sites 1-59 are beach front! Amenities include water, flush toilets, showers and an RV dump station.

Bolsa Chica State Beach

10 Popular California Beach Campgrounds

Typical Bolsa Chica State Beach Campsite

10 Popular California Beach Campgrounds - Bolsa Chica

6. Crystal Cove Cottages State Park

Known to be one of the last remaining examples of early 20th century Southern California coastal development, Crystal Cove Cottages State Park offers a piece of history in its 46 vintage rustic coastal cottages. There are about 19 available for overnight use, but they are very difficult to reserve. You can also try Campsite Assist to receive alerts if a cottage becomes available. The park and cottages are located just north of Laguna Beach.  Crystal Cove State Park also has Moro Campground (59 campsites / 29 with hookups), and three primitive (backcountry) campgrounds including Deer Canyon, Upper Moro and Lower Moro.

Some of the cottages at Crystal Cove State Park

10 Popular California Beach Campgrounds - Crystal Cove Cottages

Moro Campsite #9

10 Popular California Beach Campgrounds - Moro

7. Doheny State Beach

Doheny State Beach Campground has 121 campsites sites and is located right on the beach in one of the premier Southern California coastal areas. There are 33 premium beachfront sites and all can accommodate tents, trailers or RVs (up to 35 feet). Campground amenities include drinking water, flush toilets, hot showers ($) and a dump station.  There’s also an amphitheater, beautiful 5-acre picnic area (with pavilions, tables and BBQs), volleyball court and walking trails. The camp host also sells firewood.

A View of Doheny State Beach Looking North

10 Popular California Beach Campgrounds

Doheny State Beach Campground

10 Popular California Beach Campgrounds

Campsite #62 at Doheny State Beach

10 Popular California Beach Campgrounds - Doheny State Beach

8. San Clemente State Beach

San Clemente State Beach has been one of the most popular beaches in California since 1937 – and for good reason! World-famous surf and sugary sand can be found along this picturesque mile of beach.  It is located on the south end of Orange County and the campground has 160 campsites (72 with full hookups). Amenities include water, flush toilets, hot showers and a dump station. Firewood is also available for purchase at the campground.

A View of San Clemente State Beach

10 Popular California Beach Campgrounds - San Clemente State Beach

San Clemente State Beach View

10 Popular California Beach Campgrounds - San Clemente

The Campground at San Clemente State Beach

10 Popular California Beach Campgrounds

9. San Elijo State Beach

Swimming, surfing, camping and picnicking are just a few of the activities you can enjoy at San Elijo State Beach in Northern San Diego County. You can also visit shops and restaurants at the nearby Cardiff-by-the-Sea and Encinitas. The campground offers easy access to a large and beautify sandy beach. About 1/3 of the 165 campsites are on the bluff with unobstructed ocean views. There are also 26 campsites with full hookups. Amenities include water, flush toilets, showers, a camp store and a dump station. There’s also a “doggie beach” at the southern end of the campground.

Cardiff Kook – San Elijo State Beach

10 Popular California Beach Campgrounds - San Elijo

San Elijo State Beach Campground

10 Popular California Beach Campgrounds - San Elijo State Beach

San Elijo State Beach Campsite #39

10 Popular California Beach Campgrounds - San Elijo Site 39

10. South Carlsbad State Beach

Fantastic beaches with swimming, surfing, fishing and famous evening jogs make South Carlsbad State Beach a very popular San Diego County destination. There are 223 single-family campsites on a bluff above the beach and 138 are “ocean front’. Thirteen of the campsites have full hookups. Campground amenities include water, flush toilets, showers, a camp store and an RV dump station. Group camping is also available.

Sunset at South Carlsbad State Beach

10 Popular California Beach Campgrounds - South Carlsbad

South Carlsbad State Beach Campground

10 Popular California Beach Campgrounds - South Carlsbad

South Carlsbad State Beach Campsite #49
10 Popular California Beach Campgrounds - Carlsbad State Beach #49
And one more for good measure!

11. Silver Strand State Beach

Silver Strand State Beach is a 7-mile isthmus that connects the city of Coronado and Imperial Beach. It is located between the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay – making this one of the most unique campgrounds in the state. The beach gets its name from all of the silvery oyster shells that cover the sand. The campground has 129 RV campsites for “self contained” vehicles and all sites have water & electric hookups. Campsites 101-137 are beachfront. Amenities include drinking water, flush toilets, showers and a dump station. There’s also a concession stand, equipment rentals, aquatic center and day use are.
Aerial View of Silver Strand State Beach Campground
10 Popular California Beach Campgrounds - Silver Strand
Silver Strand State Beach Campsites
10 Popular California Beach Campgrounds - Silver Strand

How to get a campsite reservation at one of the 10 Popular California Beach Campgrounds

As you can imagine, most beach campgrounds are very busy during peak times (spring through fall).  Reserving a campsite through ReserveCalifornia.com is not the easiest thing to do, but it is a must as these campgrounds will sell out quickly. If you don’t get a site, give Campsite Assist a try and get notified when a campsite becomes available for the dates you want to camp.

You can also read more about these campgrounds at https://outdoorish.com/discover/camping-california/

Did we miss your favorite California beach campground? Let us know in the comments!

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