The Best Campgrounds
For Tents And Car Campers!
This is a guide for tent camping in Southern California and a list of the best campgrounds for tents and car campers.
Pleasant tent camping can be found on the Southern California coast year round. For winter and early spring camping, head for the desert to take in the breathtaking desert wild flowers in full bloom.
A little planning will make your tent camping in Southern California trip great. Decide where and when you want to camp, and make out a Tent Camping Checklist.
Then call that district’s Ranger Headquarters to make sure the campground is still open and that it has water.
Reserve ahead if possible. All National Forest Campgrounds must be reserved at least three to seven days in advance.
You can also reserve through www.reserveamerica.com for a fee of $7.50.
Malibu Creek State Park Campground
This is a good base camp from which to explore Los Angeles, with easy hiking and bicycling. It’s also a great campground for kids.
Malibu Creek State Park campground is spectacular! It is also a great place for tent camping in Southern California year round.
Address: Malibu Creek State Park, 1925 Las Virgenes Road, Calabasas, Ca 91302. For information call (818) 880-0367, or www.parks.ca.gov. The park is open all year and it has 63 tent sites, and 4 RV sites. Picnic tables, fire pits. No hook-ups.
First come, first served. Reservation is recommended during summer and holidays.
Doheny State Beach Campground
Located in Dana Point, Orange County, Doheny State Beach is one of Southern California’s top surfing destinations.
There is a lot to do at this 63 acre beach campground area. Volleyball courts, and a pier for fishing. There are no hook-ups, as tent camping is the most popular here. It’s located at the south end of Dana Point along Pacific Coast Highway.
For information call (949) 496-6171. For water quality call (714) 433-6400. It can be a problem at some times, but signs are posted if that’s the case.
Point Mugu State Park:
Big Sycamore Canyon Campground
Located just outside Los Angeles, Point Mugu State Park is a jewel for tent camping in Southern California. The beach is a gorgeous, a beautiful white sandy place to picnic, sunbathe, swim on an uspoiled strech of coastline.
It’s a heavely used campground. Still, the pristine beaches, rolling hills, meadows of wildflowers and a stunning canyon, so close to the Los Angeles area, make Big Sycamore Canyon a must visit campground.
Try to visit during the off season. Or, reserve ahead and hit the beach in the summer. Address: Point Mugu State Park, 1925 Las Virgenes Road, Calabasas, Ca 91302. For information call (818) 488-5223, or www.parks.ca.gov.
El Capitan State Beach Campground
Many Southern California locals believe that El Capitan is the ultimate campground in Southern California, or the entire state.
It’s a huge campground located on a bluff above the beach. Easy climbing stairways take you down to the beach.
Beach goers can sunbathe, swim, fish, windsurf, and even fly kites. There is a great selection of campsites, so you can find privacy.
After seeing this place you’ll understand why this is the best campground in California. Period.
Address: El Capitan State Beach, 10 Refugio Beach Road, Goleta, Ca 93117. For information call (805) 968-1033, or www.parks.ca.gov. Open all your round.
Leo Carrillo State Beach Campground
After one visit to Leo Carrillo, you will be hooked on tent camping in Southern California! Leo Carillo State Beach is the ultimate destination for everything aquatic, such as surfing, windsurfing, kite-surfing, scuba-diving, sportfishing and kayaking.
The rocky obstructions block the open ocean surge, and provide safer water for casual swimmers at the main beach.
It’s a beautiful beach with easy access to sea caves. At low tide, there is an amazing number of tide pols to explore, giving the kids something to do.
Adress: 35000 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, Ca 90265. For information call (818) 880-0363, or www.parks.ca.gov.
McGrath State Beach Campground
In late summer and early fall, there are few better places for tent camping in Southern California on the beach. The beach is long, and the water is clean and refreshing.
McGrath State Beach offers a beach camping experience unlike any others. The campsites are right on the beach.
Although the sand has been replaced with grassy knolls for tent camping. It’s a total beach utopia!
McGrath State Beach is a fantastic place to swim and bodysurf. The sea bottom doesn’t drop off quickly, making McGrath a great place for kids to play in the water.
This beach is not well known, so a there are a lot less people and crowds. There is no alcohol restriction on the beach and the campsites.
The address: 2111 Harbor Boulevard, Oxnard, Ca 93035. For information call (805) 654-4744, or www.parks.ca.gov. For reservations call (800) 444-7275.
Thornhill Broome Beach Campground
Thornhill Broome Beach
Thornhill Broome Beach campgrounds are the only ones in Southern California that permit tent camping right down to the water line. Which means you can set up your tent anywhere on the beach.
The beach is rocky and the surf is usually very rough and exposed to open ocean swells, so swimming is advisable for experienced swimmers only, on all but the calmest days.
Hikers will like the fact that they have access to many miles of hiking trails accessable via La Jolla Canyon.
There are 68 tent campsites. If you like to swim, pick a site between 1 and 10, as they are the closest to the lifeguard tower.
If you want to have easy access to La Jolla Canyon for hiking, selecting a higher numbered campsite is the best.
All in all, Thornhill Broome may be the most genuine beach camping experience for tent camping in Southern California.
Address: 9000 West Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, Ca 90265. For reservations call (800) 444-7275, or www.parks.ca.gov.