campfire on the beach
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5 Most beautiful beach camping spots in California

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California is deservedly known as a paradise with its gorgeous beaches and pleasant weather year-round. If camping outdoors is your thing and beaches are your preferred campgrounds, you are in luck. We have gathered info on the best campgrounds on California beaches from seasoned campers who also happen to be travel bloggers.

These camping spots are on some of the most gorgeous beaches in California. All of these spots can be booked through Recreation.Gov website. Come on, dig in that stake now!

1. Kirby Cove Beach

Location: Marin County, Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Distance from San Francisco Airport: 25 miles North

Kirby Cove Campground is near Sausalito in Marin County. It has only 5 campgrounds and has high-demand. Plan early, like months-ahead, to get a spot at this gorgeous campground with amazing views of Golden Gate Bridge.

Photo by Priyadarshini Rajendran

Do not miss visiting the Point Bonita Lighthouse when you are here. You can actually see the trail to reach Kirby Cove when you park at the Battery Spencer Golden Gate Viewpoint parking area.

It can be foggy in the summer months and it is better to be prepared for cold weather or dress in layers if you plan to camp here as the Pacific Coast brings in cooler temperatures here compared to the rest of the Bay Area.

2. Big Sur

Location: Monterey County

Distance from San Francisco Airport: 130 miles South

Noel from Travel Photo Discovery says: One of the most scenic areas to visit in California’s Central Coast is the Big Sur region in Monterey County. One of the best places to camp close to the coastline areas is the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and campground.

One of the cheapest places to stay in expensive Big Sur, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is a great option staying in the park and visiting popular coastline areas, wooded forests and waterfalls and iconic McWay Waterfalls which is the most well known waterfall falling directly from the cliffs and into the beach area and into the Ocean.

Photo by Priyadarshini Rajendran

Camping is a great option to enjoy the outdoors and really connect with nature in the area around Julia Pfeiffer state park with easy access to the park grounds and surrounding areas of Big Sur. You can easily do a road trip around the iconic attractions, hiking outdoors or find the most scenic spots around the area to photograph and admire in the stunning beauty this region is so well known for.

A fun road trip through the area and exploring the main attractions is one of the best ways to enjoy the Big Sur region and experience the stunning coastlines, beautiful beaches and coastline hikes that you can explore and experience the natural beauty in the area.

Camping at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is one of the best camping options with a wonderful campground area to relax in and away from the traffic and noise from the Pacific Highway.

3. Salt Point State Park

Location: Sonoma County

Distance from San Francisco Airport: 110 miles North

Carol from California Crossings says: Salt Point State Park in northern Sonoma County is one of California’s best beach camping spots. It’s a perfect retreat if you are interested in exploring the wild northern reaches of the state.

Photo by Carol Guttery

The state park is 94 miles north of SF along a winding, narrow stretch of Highway 1. It has three campgrounds, two are in the woods and the third is on the bluff above the coast. Key things to do in the area are a hike through the Pygmy Coast Oak Forest, taking a looooong hike along the coastal trail, visiting the Kruse Rhododendron Nature Reserve or visiting nearby Fort Ross.

Also read: 5 Scenic Free campgrounds in USA

4. Gold Bluffs Beach

Location: Humboldt County

Distance from San Francisco Airport: 340 miles North

Rasika, Bae Area & Beyond says: Camp out at the Gold Bluffs Beach & Campground to be among the giant redwood trees and on a beach! This beach is located inside Redwood National and State Park in Orick, CA.

Photo by Priyadarshini Rajendran

It’s a 6-hour scenic drive from San Francisco. The campground is close to an internationally recognized attraction, Fern Canyon; a canyon with 50-foot walls covered with fern!

Before camping here, look up the road conditions to make sure there are no closures. To enter the Gold Bluffs Beach and Fern Canyon, you’ll need to pay an $8 fee but if you’ve got America the Beautiful pass, it’s free!

5. Half Moon Bay State Beach

Location: San Mateo County

Distance from San Francisco Airport: 20 miles South

Trijit from Budget Travel Buff says: Although there are several pros and cons of living in California, still many adventure-loving people are moving to the Golden State to enjoy its scenic hiking trails, stunning beaches, and amazing campgrounds.

Photo by Trijit Mallick

Located just 30 miles(40 minutes) away from San Francisco, Half Moon Bay State Park Campground is a beautiful coastal campground with a fantastic view of the ocean.

It has 52 campsites and all are well-maintained. Each campsite offers a picnic table and a fire ring. The campground is suitable for tent camping as well as RV camping.

There is a campsite available for hikers and bicyclists for single-night stays. Visitors can enjoy the ocean views and the bike trail that goes right by the campground.

The restrooms of the campground are much cleaner than many other California campgrounds. Some campsites have electrical hookups. Water and sewer hookups are not available but hot showers are available for the campers.

Also read: Top 7 places to explore in California next summer!

Now you know your next vacation site!

As much as a beautiful camping spot is important, you will need good camping equipment to make your camping trip the best one ever.

If you are new to camping, here is a list of essential things you need to make camping and life much easier and enjoyable.

  • Camping Tent. Buying an instant set up tent saves you a lot of trouble and saves time to relax on your trip, especially if it is a first-time camping. Don’t forget to carry a tent floor tarp to put under the tent to protect it from moisture.
  • HeadLamp. A good-quality headlamp like Vont’s Spark Led Headlamp comes in very handy to find your way in the dark, when you go out to use the restrooms etc. Vont’s Spark LED Headlamp is lightweight, adjustable, waterproof and comfortable to wear. It has three settings for light, low-light, high and flashing.
Also read: Fun games to pass time when you are out and about!

Douse all fires/campfires properly. Don’t leave any fires unattended. Extinguish them fully, we do not want to cause any wildfires, be very careful. Recreate responsibly and enjoy the golden state of California.

Also read: Fun games to pass time when you are outdoors

Have fun!

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Also read: Essential camping gear when you camp with kids

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About Priyadarshini Rajendran 188 Articles
Priyadarshini Rajendran is a travel enthusiast, avid reader and a passionate writer. She has a few of her books published and is writing more books. Before becoming a full-time writer, she worked as a software consultant taking breaks for her travels. Her blog is her passion and she writes about travel, books and food on the blog. She offers customized itineraries for South Indian destinations.

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