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California's Top Destinations for Camping in The Summer

California's Top Destinations for Camping in The Summer

What are you waiting for? Pack up your camping essentials and head over to the best campgrounds California has to offer. Team


7 min read

April 22, 2021

The best memories are made when camping in the summer. Luckily, California has no shortage of natural wonders worth exploring during an overnight stay. Imagine pitching your tent by the pine-studded riverside. Or, picture going summer camping at a SoCal beach right by the Pacific. Sounds pretty cool, right?

Camping in the summer is always an adventure in the Golden State—you have more than enough options to choose where you’ll be lighting your campfire. What are you waiting for? Pack up your camping essentials and head over to the best camps California has to offer.

The summer camping destinations you won't want to miss

Camping at Crystal Cove State Park is a one-of-a-kind experience. The stunning coastal nature simply takes your breath away.

Moro Campground

Location: 8471 North Coast Highway, Laguna Beach

Amenities: Beach access, restrooms, showers, shade ramadas, picnic tables, water

Activities: Hiking, swimming, surfing, biking, fishing, wildlife viewing, horseback riding, paddle boarding, boating

Fee: $55–$75 depending on campsite 

Number of sites: 57

Dogs allowed: Yes

Reservation required: Yes

If you’re looking to go camping near Los Angeles, Moro Campground is less than an hour away. Located in Crystal Cove State Park, this campground is the perfect hideaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. Swoon over coastal nature, fascinating wildlife, and a variety of watersports.  

There’s so much to see and do at this campground’s location. The rolling waves are perfect for surfing. The trails are ideal for horseback riding. Look for all kinds of critters roaming the tide pools and along the bluffs. Whether you’re hiking or inhaling the crisp ocean air, Moro Campground is the ultimate destination for coastal fun. 

Where to camp in San Diego

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Camping in San Elijo State Beach Campground offers you the best of camping and water sports all during one stay.

San Elijo State Beach Campground

Location: 2050 South Coast Highway 101, Cardiff

Amenities: Beach access, restrooms, showers, water, picnic tables, campfires

Activities: Biking, boating, fishing, swimming, surfing

Fee: $35–$75 depending on campsite 

Number of sites: 156

Dogs allowed: Yes

Reservation required: Yes

Want to go camping in San Diego with the whole family? San Elijo State Beach Campground is your best pick. If you’re not a fan of rough camping, this is your go-to outdoor summer camp. The campground features an on-site store and much-needed hot showers. Coffee shops are within walking distance. The stairs by the campground lead you to San Elijo State Beach.

Whenever you find yourself strolling on the beach, you’ll see surfers riding the waves and beachcombers looking for seashells. Many campers enjoy fishing here, as well as snorkeling and diving. For awesome surf breaks, check out Pipes, one of the best surf spots along the coast. And if you need a break from the ocean, put on your rollerblades and skate along the path. 

Big Sur camping

Not everyone can say they've camped on the magnificent Big Sur coastline. Head to the Central Coast for the best camping adventures.

Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground

Location: Pfeiffer Big Sur Road, Big Sur

Amenities: Beach access, water, showers, restrooms, picnic tables

Activities: Fishing, biking, hiking, swimming, wildlife viewing

Fee: $35–$150 depending on campsite 

Number of sites: 174

Dogs allowed: Yes

Reservation required: Yes

Located among redwoods and sycamores, Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground is popular for good reason. This wonderful location offers a great balance of comfort and an authentic Big Sur camping experience. While there are many campsites, you’ll still manage to find privacy at this campground.  

It goes without saying that swimming here is a must. But for a one-of-a-kind experience, check out the underrated Big Sur River Gorge. Massive conifers, colossal oaks, and towering redwoods invite you to explore the many trails. Get lost in the woods, only to find yourself at Sykes Hot Springs—a must-visit in California. Once the last bits of light start to dim, head back to the California summer camp roast marshmallows around the crackling campfire. 

Pismo Beach camping

Waves crashing against the rocks is one of the best things you'll see at the North Beach Campground in Pismo Beach.

North Beach Campground

Location: 399 South Dolliver Street, Pismo Beach

Amenities: Beach access, fire rings, BBQ grills, restrooms, picnic tables

Activities: Hiking, swimming, biking, fishing, wildlife viewing, horseback riding, paddle boarding, boating

Fee: $35

Number of sites: 103

Dogs allowed: Yes

Reservation required: Yes

You know your Pismo Beach camping experience is going to be awesome at North Beach Campground. Only steps away from the ocean, this campground is California beach camping at its best. Whether you’re fishing, kayaking, or hiking, exciting adventures are always guaranteed. 

One of the reasons why this campground is awesome is because it’s home to the largest overwintering colony of monarch butterflies in the nation. The Monarch Butterfly Grove houses over 100,000 butterflies fluttering among eucalyptus trees. When you’re not admiring these beauties, sink your toes in the warm sand and soak in the majestic sunset views at the beach

Kern River camping

Want to see nature at its best? Make your way to Rivernook Campground, Kernville's finest summer camp facility.

Rivernook Campground

Location: 14001 Sierra Way, Kernville

Amenities: Wi-Fi, hot showers, full and partial hookup sites, on-site store

Activities: Rafting, kayaking, tubing, mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking, fishing

Fee: $40–$60 depending on campsite 

Number of sites: 285

Dogs allowed: Yes

Reservation required: Yes

Wondering where to go RV camping this summer? Rivernook Campground is Kern River camping at its finest. Conveniently located between Kernville and Sequoia National Forest, this campground offers the best of river camping in California. From tubing to whitewater rafting, you’ll never get bored here. Park your RV right on the river bank or among the trees, and admire the Kern River’s glory by the crackling campfire. 

Big Bear camping

The best family memories are created while camping at Big Bear. Spend quality time with your loved ones and make the most of your camping trip.

Serrano Campground

Location: 40800 North Shore Drive, Fawnskin

Amenities: Restrooms, showers, picnic tables, fire rings, BBQ grills, dump station

Activities: Swimming, climbing, hiking, biking, boating, fishing

Fees: $37–$47 depending on campsite 

Number of sites: 109

Dogs allowed: Yes

Reservation required: Yes

Blast your camping playlist on full volume and head over to Serrano Campground—the best summer camping destination in Big Bear. The scenic and modern campground is just a few steps away from the lake, making it the ideal basecamp for Big Bear adventures. 

Each campsite is equipped with picnic tables, drinking water, and fire rings. Miles of hiking trails are at your disposal—outdoor activities are a stone's throw away. If you’re a first-time camper here, you know it won’t be your last visit.  

June Lake camping

Imagine this gorgeous view being the first thing you see when you wake up. Make that happen at the local-favorite June Lake Campground.

June Lake Campground

Location: 2470 Boulder Drive, June Lake

Amenities: Restrooms, picnic tables, bear locker, drinking water, BBQ grills, fire rings

Activities: Swimming, climbing, hiking, horseback riding, biking, boating, fishing

Fee: $23 per night

Number of sites: 28

Dogs allowed: Yes

Reservation required: Yes

What makes June Lake an amazing lake camping destination? Is it the picturesque views or the stunning beaches? Whatever it is, we can’t get enough. Head over to June Lake Campground for your next family summer camp—fun times are just around the corner. 

Hiking enthusiasts will love trekking the many trails at this outdoor summer camp. Explore the Ansel Adams Wilderness, then make your way to the Upper Owens River for excellent fly fishing. There’s also a marina at June Lake Campground—don’t forget to go boating with the whole gang.  

Idyllwild camping

The crisp mountain air at Idyllwild Campground is as exhilarating and rejuvenating as it gets.

Idyllwild Campground

Location: 25905 Highway 243, Idyllwild-Pine Cove

Amenities:  Restrooms, coin-operated showers, picnic tables, campfires, BBQ grills, fire rings

Activities: Climbing, hiking, snow sports, wildlife viewing 

Fee: $25–$45 depending on campsite 

Number of sites: 28

Dogs allowed: Yes

Reservation required: Yes

The sweet smell of pine trees and the mighty Mount San Jacinto make Idyllwild one of the best places to go camping in the summer. So, why not make it the best experience ever by staying the night at Idyllwild Campground? 

Featuring amenities like electric campsites, picnic tables, and fire rings, this Idyllwild camping location allows you to escape the city and connect with nature. Embark on outdoor adventures on day-long hikes, pitch your tent under the stellar night sky, and enjoy solitude among the towering trees. 

Mammoth Lakes camping

Admire the crystal clear waters while embarking on camping adventures at Mammoth Lakes.

Twin Lakes Campground

Location: 518 Twin Lakes Road, Mammoth Lakes

Amenities: Restrooms, locker, fire ring, picnic tables, on-site store

Activities: Fishing, hiking, biking, horse riding

Fee: $25 per night

Number of sites: 92

Dogs allowed: Yes

Reservation required: Yes

One of the most idyllic summer camps in California, Twin Lakes Campground offers its visitors the best of Mammoth Lakes attractions. The nearby John Muir Wilderness is the perfect backdrop for camping in the summer. A delightful lakeside ambiance follows you whether you’re boating, biking, or enjoying a picnic.

Take advantage of the incredible fishing sites all over the area. Easy access to hiking trails makes for exciting day adventures. With a fire ring at your disposal, this cozy lakeside campground is the best place to prepare camping recipes

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