Summer time means much-anticipated warm weather beckoning outdoors lovers into the wild. With rising gas prices, SoCal families might be more inclined to vacation locally, especially at the area’s best campgrounds. Rev up those summer plans with a good, old campout at sites that boast a little something special for everyone.
Bolsa Chica State Beach
17851 Pacific Coast Highway
Huntington Beach, CA 92646
Price: $65 front row, beach front/$50 back row per night, year round/$2 off per night, seniors 62 and older
Bolsa Chica State Beach runs three miles from Huntington Beach City Pier to Seal Beach and offers more than your typical camping experience. Bring a fishing pole for surf fishing for species including croaker, cabezon, corbina, perch and sand shark, or ready your hands for the grunion run this summer. Lifeguard towers are typically staffed from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. Bolsa Chica is a camper/trailer site only, and keep ’em less than 40 feet here folks.
Caspers Wilderness Park
33401 Ortega Highway
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
Price: $20 per night
Caspers Wilderness Park is Orange County’s largest, boasting 8,000 acres of protected wilderness preserve. Open for both camping and day use, visitors enjoy a number of recreational activities, such as hiking, bike and equestrian trails, special programs and playgrounds. Caspers offers restrooms, showers, barbecues, fire rings, a dump station and a family picnic area. Domestic pets are not allowed in Caspers Wilderness Park.
4621 Santiago Canyon Rd.
Silverado, CA 92676
Price: $25 per night plus fishing fees.
Located just minutes from main Orange County freeways, Lake Irvine’s private fishing lake spans more than 750 acres. Mountains surround the lake, making it an ideal place to camp and fish. It offers hot showers, restrooms and water outlets in addition to a tackle shop, café and boat rentals. A children’s play area and a picnic area are also available, but no campfires are allowed during the summer season. Dogs are allowed, but must be on a leash at all times and incur a $5 fee per day.
Related: Best Hiking Trails in Orange County
San Onofre State Beach
830 Cristianitos Rd.
San Clemente, CA 92673
Price: $60.00 per night/$420 per week
One of the five most-visited state parks in California, San Onofre State Beach’s 3,000-acre coastal-canyon park boasts two camping areas: San Onofre Bluffs and San Mateo Campground. San Onofre Bluffs campsites include picnic table and fire pit, and the campground itself offers basic accommodations in chemical toilets and cold outdoor showers. Although it does have a dump station, no hookups are available here. San Mateo offers flush toilets and hot indoor showers, water and electricity hookup sites, and a dump station.
O’Neill Regional Park
30892 Trabuco Canyon Rd.
Trabuco Canyon, CA 92678
Price: $20 per night/$5 nightly fee for second car
O’Neill Regional Park campsites feature a ground stove, barbecue and one concrete picnic table that seats eight — no more than eight campers are allowed per campsite. Only one trailer or two tents and two vehicles are allowed per campsite. Restrooms offer free hot showers and flushing toilets, and fill and dump stations are available inside the campground. The picnic area houses picnic tables, barbecues, a large grass area, horseshoe pits and playground equipment. Dogs are allowed except on wilderness trails, and must be leashed at all times. No alcohol is permitted.
Related: Best Surf Spots in Orange County
Born and raised in San Diego, Chrystal Johnson currently resides in Big Bear with her husband and two children where they enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, snowboarding and everything the mountain has to offer. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.