The Best San Diego Area Campsites
Whether taking an RV or a tent, here are some in-the-know picks for nearby nature
Best Nearby Campsites
There was a point in time when the Walker family camped two weekends a month, year-round. They’ve since scaled back slightly, but with all that experience, they know which sites are the absolute best in and around San Diego County.
San Elijo State Beach
“It is by far our most favorite campground,” Brianne says of the coastal site just off Highway 101 in Cardiff. The family-friendly campground stays crowded March through November and offers campsites that are a short walk from the ocean and unmatched views of crashing waves and pink sunsets. Plus, you can walk or bike into Cardiff’s main area for restaurant dining or shopping. “Our kids adore this campground, and we never run out of things to do. We often walk to VG Donut & Bakery and Bump Coffee (in the same plaza), ride bikes up to Swami’s Café and Hansen Surfboards in Encinitas, surf, play at the beach, search for creatures in the tidepools and hike in the nearby San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve and Nature Center.” Note: You must book six months in advance—to the day. If you’re looking for a March 12 reservation, for instance, you need to book this September 12 through reservecalifornia.com.
2050 S. Coast Highway 101. Cardiff, 760-753-5091, parks.ca.gov
Set up for loads of fun, this campground in Temecula provides the perfect getaway for a family with little ones, Brianne explains. It has lots of amenities, including mini golf, a pump track for bikes, three pools (open through Nov. 1), horseshoe pits, a basketball court, a bloody mary happy hour every day, an adorable camp store stocked with snacks and treats and amazing hikes down to the lake (though access to the lake is closed until 2020). Book now to visit in October when, starting during the second week of the month, the campground transforms into a frightfully fun Halloween Trail party for the whole family.
38000 CA-79, Temecula, 951-303-0173, koa.com/campgrounds/temecula
The Springs at Borrego
This is an RV resort and golf course located an hour and half northeast of San Diego. “This is definitely a glamping experience,” Brianne explains. “The grounds are immaculate.” Play tennis, pickle ball or the nine-hole golf course; relax in the hot mineral baths or get a massage in the wellness center after a day off-roading on desert trails; or catch and release catfish, bass and tilapia in the on-site lake. “My kids go crazy when they catch a giant catfish with their hotdog bait. We love the quiet serenity at this campground and visit frequently December through May.”
2255 DiGiorgio Road, Borrego Springs, 760-767-0004, springsatborrego.com
Silver Strand State Beach
Nestled in between Imperial Beach and Coronado, you’ll find this RV-only site (no tent or car camping allowed) named for the silvery oyster shells that cover the beach and dunes here—perfect for little explorers and collectors. “We bring bikes and scooters to ride and also play on the beach all day here,” Brianne says, “then make the short drive into Coronado for a bite or treat.”
5000 CA-75, Coronado, 619-435-5184, parks.ca.gov
Lake Cuyamaca Recreation and Park District
“This is the place for families who love to fish,” Brianne enthuses. The oasis sits at an elevation of 4,600 feet in the oak and pine forests of Julian and is home to trout, bluegill, crappie, bass, catfish and sturgeon. In addition to fishing, Brianne recommends doing part—or all—of the Stonewall Mine/Lake Cuyamaca hike, an easy 3.3-mile loop.
15027 CA-79, Julian, 760-765-0515, lakecuyamaca.org
San Onofre Beach
Open to military families only, this oceanfront campsite accommodates, RV, trailer and tent camping and takes reservations three months in advance. “This is a gorgeous place to camp,” Brianne says. “The camper is right on the sand, and the views are captivating.”
The Most Stylish Campers (And You Can Rent Them)
Read more about the Walker family and the RVs they renovate for their family (and to rent out!) in our feature here. Plus, get their tips for designing an RV, camper, trailer or other small space for short-term rental guests.