Best Camping in San Diego | Adventuress Luxury Catamaran

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Where You Need to Go Camping in San Diego

Where You Need to Go Camping in San Diego

Nov 14, 2018

Mother Nature has a lot to offer in San Diego, making it a scenic destination for campers. Below are some of the best places for camping in San Diego for all tastes. These destinations include the best ocean views, mountain scenes, and desert landscapes.

1. San Elijo State Beach

If it’s family-friendly camping in San Diego you’re after, San Elijo is a great choice. The beach campground is super popular for kids who love playing and riding their bikes. There’s a wooden staircase that leads down to the beach where they can enjoy making sand castles or other water activities. There’s a seaside market across the street so necessities are never out of reach.

camping san diego

2. Silver Strand State Beach

Silver Strand is one of the state’s best recreation and camping destinations. Enjoy swimming, surfing, water-skiing, and boating in the Pacific Ocean or San Diego Bay. If you long for the thrill of deep sea fishing, this is your chance to angle for perch, grunion, corbina, and yellow-fin croaker.  The campground on the side of the San Diego Bay offers views of the Bay. Unlike some other campgrounds, this one only allows campers in self-contained recreational vehicles, motorhomes, or trailers.

3. South Carlsbad State Beach Campground

This is another great place to go camping in San Diego that’s right beside the beach! There are also lots of activities including surfing, skin diving, swimming, and fishing. There are picnic tables and fire pits at the campsites for the traditional feel of ‘camping out.’ The on-site camp store means you don’t have to ‘rough it’ if you don’t want to. This is a low-key campsite that is only thirty miles from San Diego. It’s a great way to beach camp for anyone who doesn’t want to travel too far from home.

4. Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

This state park takes you away from the beach and 5,000 feet up and into the mountains. It’s especially appealing to hikers who appreciate somewhat challenging and scenic trails. The park boasts more than 100 miles of trails for hikers, bikers, and equestrians. There are two family camps, including Paso Picacho and Green Valley.  Nearby Lake Cuyamaca also offers fishing and boating. You can even rent your tent instead of bringing your own. Another option is to rent a cabin and sleep in full-size bunk beds.

5. The Ranch at Bandy Canyon

The Ranch at Bandy Canyon is the ultimate destination for anyone who needs a luxurious setting to go camping in San Diego. The Ranch is 144 acres in San Pasqual Valley, compete with rustic cabins designed with comfort in mind. Each cabin has a different design, some with a loft or wraparound porch. Others feature brick and lantern decorations, and other unique designs. It’s easy to forget you’re camping when you swim in the beautiful on-site swimming pool featuring a poolside bar. Other activities include a petting zoo and horseback-riding lessons.

The Ranch is a popular wedding venue and the campground is often booked up on the weekends during summer months. They also take reservations for Holiday parties and retreats. Book your reservation early or visit during the week when reservations are easier to get.  

6. Vallecito County Park

Vallecito, or “little valley”, is a 71-acre county park that was built around the historic Butterfield Stage Station. There are 44 primitive campsites, along with eight equestrian campsites with corrals. There’s also a youth area with additional camping options. A large covered picnic area gives you room to socialize in the middle of a secluded campground area. Vallecito allows dogs, making it a welcome campground for families who want to take their four-legged family members along. Always check out the policy for pets before bringing yours along on your camping trips. Some campgrounds include leash rules, dog fees, or have limits on the size of pets they allow.

Agua Caliente Regional Park is just four miles to the south, while Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is also nearby. The site is used as a venue for weddings, special events, fitness, recreation, and corporate events. There’s also a historic stage station to add authenticity to the rustic feel of the campground.

7. Mount Laguna

There aren’t a lot of features that qualify Mount Laguna as a retreat. However, the beauty of the Laguna Mountain region and the peaceful atmosphere are all some campers need. It does have some unique features including the natural areas, cooler temperatures, and an extensive trail system. Create your personal hiking trail through Noble Canyon, Wildhorse, Pine Mountain, or Cutca.

The natural areas that are unique to Mount Laguna include a fenced-off area used to protect the habitat of the Laguna Skipper butterfly. In addition, the area is home to many species of birds. Laguna Lake sits near the campground, giving hikers even more opportunities to see and photograph some unique natural sights.

8. Bow Willow Campground

Camping in the desert is an incomparable experience. Camping at Bow Willow Campground only amplifies the feelings of seclusion and openness that the desert can provide. Bow Willow only offers 16 campsites which include picnic tables and ramadas. There is no running water, so make sure you come prepared. The open landscape is the perfect setting for stargazing that is out-of-this-world. If you want to feel alone in the universe, this is the best place to go camping in San Diego for you.

Bow Willow encompasses 85,000 acres, with elevations that range from 300 to 4,500 feet. During the day, hike the Emigrant Trail which passes through the region. The trail’s terrain is highly diverse and incredibly scenic. The Volcanic Hills area offers accessible lava flow. If you visit during a wet year, you can see the eruption of yellow-flowered Brittlebush in the area.

9. Lazy Sky Boutique Retreat

This campground resides in Yucca Valley and it features five tepees and canvas tents. The tents include bed frames with fresh sheets and towels. Each unit includes a shared bathroom with two toilets and an outdoor shower. There’s also a fully equipped kitchen, barbecue grill, and a patio dining area. If you don’t think camping in San Diego should be a rustic occasion, head over to Pappy & Harriet’s to listen to the live music. It’s also close to Pioneertown, where visitors can take a ‘sound bath’ at Integratron, the big white dome that attracts many tourists, even after 60 years. The sound bath is a healing experience that takes place in the acoustically perfect building designed for time travel and to communicate with extraterrestrials.

10. Indian Cove Campground

The otherworldly feel of Indian Cove is due to nature’s boulders and rock formations, rather than a manmade structure. Like many of the other campgrounds in San Diego, this one includes the basics of fire pits, outhouses, and picnic tables. What it doesn’t include is water or a camp store. There aren’t a lot of amenities, but it is a photographer’s dream. The experience of sleeping within the rock formation and viewing the sky at night make it an incomparable camping experience. You can also explore Joshua Tree during the day, just 13 miles away.

One place to visit is Lost Horse Mine. Lost Horse Road leads to an old relic from the gold rush days. It’s a moderate trail that includes a lot of scenery. The Joshua trees are the ones that inspired Dr. Seuss in his series of kids’ books.

Planning Your San Diego Camping Trip

Several factors determine which of these destinations is the right one for your camping trip. For some campers, it’s all about roughing it. They long to feel at one with nature. For others, the more luxury they can add to their accommodations, the better.

Camping with the family might seem to leave you with fewer options. Kids might not be on-board with sleeping outdoors or hiking long trails. The first step in planning your hiking trip is o think about what aspects are important to you. Do you want family-friendly entertainment? Is it the chance to take stunning photographs? Or just your annual outing to get away from work and de-stress? Even the most similar sounding campsites offer different amenities that set them apart. Some are also more likely to be filled up than others.

Camping is a different experience in an RV than in a tent. Electric hookups and running water are all located inside the enclosure. You have to decide if these factors are important to you, or if you want a minimalist experience.

Once you have a destination, make your reservation. If your first choice isn’t available, you may have to go back to the drawing board. When you make a reservation, ask what is supplied and what you must bring.

Finally, think about the activities you want. Most campers aren’t content to spend an entire week hiking along trails. Would you be happier close to a beach where there are more options to enjoy? If you’re bringing the kids, be prepared with ways to keep them entertained. If they aren’t happy, you probably won’t be either.

San Diego: By Land and By Sea!

Even if camping in San Diego is your idea of a perfect vacation, you aren’t limited from enjoying other activities. The number of campgrounds by the beach put you in the perfect situation to charter a catamaran. These multi-hull sailboats are extra steady for a more relaxing time on the water. That makes them safe and fun for kids and adults. You also have the option to customize your charter to enjoy the activities at the top of your list. Whale watching, swimming, and Anchor & Play activities are just some of the options you have with a San Diego charter.

Contact Adventuress Luxury Catamaran to learn more about our charters or to book yours. Whether you want to add a few hours or a few days on the water to your San Diego adventure, we’re here to provide the details that will make your sailing experience memorable. It’s a great way to see some of the natural beauty of San Diego and to relax and unwind. Let us help you plan the luxurious adventure to complement your time camping in San Diego perfectly!