Latest Best of LA

Best Beach Camping Spots Near Los Angeles

August 1, 2011 8:36 AM

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credit: www.parks.ca.gov

Refugio State Beach (near SB)

10 Refugio Beach Road
Goleta
parks.ca.gov

Located 20 miles west of Santa Barbara on Highway 101, Refugio State Beach is one of the finest coastal camping spots around. A clump of palm trees planted near the creek make you feel as though you’ve been shipwrecked on a desert island. Kids will love swimming in the ocean and playing in the sand and surf all day. The facilities are clean and include showers—a must from all that sandy play. Be sure and make your reservation on a moonless night for prime stargazing—millions of stars shine in the black sky. Don’t forget the s-mores (there’s a camp store in case you do). In the morning, take a walk along the beach, south around a little cove, or hop on the bike trail along the bluff.

Thornhill Broome Beach

At Point Mugu SP
9000 W. Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90265
parks.ca.gov

Located 15 miles south of Oxnard, Point Mugu State Park, features five miles of ocean shoreline, rocky bluffs, beaches and sandy dunes. There’s plenty of hiking here, with more than 70 miles of trails. The campsite at Thornhill Broome Beach is right ON the beach and it’s rocky, but my kids loved it! They built rock houses for hours and have since begged to return. Warning: there’s no shade at this beach and it can get hot. Kids will have a blast tumbling down the sand dunes across the road. Hint: remove your keys and other valuables from your pockets before you slide down. We learned the hard way!

San Elijo State Beach

2050 South Coast Hwy 101
Cardiff by the Sea, CA 92007
(760) 753-5091
parks.ca.gov

OK, I admit this isn’t exactly LA territory, but as one of my favorite beach camping spots, I couldn’t leave it off the list. Located near the town of Cardiff-by-the-Sea, this campground has it all: spacious campsites, a large camp store, hot showers, a taco stand and, even an espresso cart! The campground is set on a bluff, which offers amazing ocean views—a stairwell leads down to the narrow beach. You’ll see plenty of kids riding their bikes throughout the campground, so don’t forget yours (kids that is). You certainly won’t be “roughing it” here, but if you do forget something, you can pop across the street to the market or drive into town. In the morning, don’t miss out on a great breakfast at Pipe’s Cafe across the street. Good food and good fun.

- Liz Laing is a writer, Web designer and photographer who lives in Los Angeles. Her latest projects may be followed on LizLaing.com.
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