In 10 things, Best Of..., Local Outdoors, local.beaches, local.camping, local.getaways

Top 10 Favorite Local Beach & Lake Campgrounds

There’s nothing like the warm, summer nights to make you crave a good camping trip, or two 🙂 Who doesn’t love waking up in a tent, beach-side, to the crackling sound of fire pits and the delicious smell of bacon?? Plus, it’s my 30th birthday this weekend- and I mean, what better way to celebrate than by camping at the lake!?

There are so many campgrounds to choose from (which is another reason why we love the 805!), so today we are highlighting our top 10 favorite camp spots.

Refugio State Beach {more info here}:

  • Located off the 101 North, 20 miles west of Santa Barbara — close to Solvang & Los Olivos for wine tasting day trips
  • Beachfront campground with RV (no hookups) & tent camp sites
  • Campground Store with everything you need (we especially love their candy selection!)
  • Dogs welcome (in campground only – not on beach)
  • Walking distance to Beach Point with tide pools & sea life
  • Biking trail loop to El Capitan Ranch & El Capitan Campground
  • Circle Bar & Restaurant within biking distance
  • LL805 Tip: Kayaking tours available Memorial Day weekend through August

Beach Camping - LL805 - refugio beachBike Trail Loop from Refugio State Beach to El Capitan State BeachCarpinteria State Beach {more info here}:

  • Located off the 101 between Ventura and Santa Barbara
  • Close to Summerland (take a little day trip! You can check out our Summerland Getaway post for more information)
  • Beachfront campground for tent & RV camping (with hookups)
  • Adorable town with shops (surf shop, antique shops, restaurants, bars and two local breweries! Check out our blog post highlighting this local beach town getaway here!)
  • Dogs welcome (in campgrounds only – not on beach)
  • LL805 Tip: you must eat at The Spot – it’s an iconic (and delicious) local burger shack

camp - bike trail - camping - carpinteria - campground - LL805 - locallove805

El Capitan State Beach {more info here}:

  • Located off the 101 North, 17 miles West of Santa Barbara
  • Campground is along the coast, but up on the bluffs (must take stairs down to the beach)
  • Large campsites with RV (hookups available) and tent camping
  • Campground Market Store with anything you could need, or forgot 😉
  • Hiking and Biking trails along the coast (Trail loop to Refugio Beach & walking distance to El Capitan Canyon)
  • Dogs welcome (in campgrounds only- not on beach)
  • LL805 Tip: you can easily bike over to El Capitan Canyon for the Summer Concert Series on Saturday nights and/or some freshly cooked food from the Canyon Market Cafe! {Find out more about El Capitan from our blog post here!}

cheers - weekend - camping - ocean mesa - santa barbara - el capitan - optoutside - LL805 - run - work it outLeo Carillo State Park {more info here}:

  • Located directly off of the PCH, 28 miles northwest of Santa Monica
  • Large RV (hookups available) and tent campsites – hike or bike campsites available too!
  • Campground is covered with giant sycamores (except apparently, site #50) – lots of shade & picnic areas which makes it great for privacy & camping parties
  • Lots of back country hiking trails (dogs are “not allowed” on the trails)
  • Camp Store on the grounds for anything you may have forgotten
  • 1.5 miles of beach within walking distance — tidepools are located directly across the PCH from the campground
  • LL805 Tip: Dogs welcome at campground and on the dog beach!

camp2Malibu State Creek {more info here}:

  • Located in the canyon of Santa Monica Mountains
  • Lots of wildlife- Fishing, Bird Watching & Horseback Riding options in the area
  • Tons of Hiking- you can visit the Rock Pool (made famous by the original Planet of the Apes), Century Lake, and even the former M*A*S*H TV series location. Super helpful Visitor Center on the premises with maps & info.
  • Quick drive down the PCH to the beach
  • Dogs welcome at the campground
  • LL805 Tip: Offers Campfire Programs on Saturday nights starting Memorial Day Weekend through August

Malibu State Creek CampingOcean Mesa at El Capitan {more info here}:

  • Located off the 101 North of Santa Barbara & Goleta (adjacent to El Captian Canyon – walking distance)
  • Full RV hook ups & tent campsites
  • Heated Pool & Spa for guests
  • Spa Massage Treatments (we told you it’s upscale😉
  • Campground Market Store & Snack Bar
  • 15 miles of hiking trails
  • WiFi for guests and cable hook ups
  • LL805 Tip: This is more “upscale” camping, perfect for a special occasion! 

ocean mesa - local camping - goleta - santa barbara - escape - camp - nature - LocalLove805ocean mesa - local camping - goleta - santa barbara - escape - camp - nature - LocalLove805El Capitan Canyon {more info here}:

  • “Glamping” tents & cabins {starting at $155/night}
  • Located off the 101 North of Santa Barbara & Goleta
  • Cute Market Store with luxurious camping supplies (picnic sets, wine, Patagonia & camping gear)
  • Canyon Market & Cafe serves freshly cooked food (breakfast, lunch & dinner)
  • Summer Concert Series live music on Saturday nights with a $10 entrance feed if you are not a guest
  • BBQ nights ($20/adult and $14/child)
  • 15 miles of hiking trails  & bike rentals for guests!
  • WiFi for guests
  • LL805 Tip: We love the breakfast burrito at the Canyon Market Cafe and you can even order BBQ kits which provide everything you need to make your own dinner over an open fire – S’mores included 🙂

El Capitan Canyon MarketGlamping at El Capitan CanyonPoint Mugu State Park / Sycamore Cove {more info here}:

  • Located off the PCH in the Santa Monica Mountains, Ventura County – 15 miles South of Oxnard
  • 70 miles of hiking around and through Sycamore Canyon!
  • 5 miles of beach within 3-4 minutes walking distance
  • Dogs welcome at both the campsite and the beach (winner!)
  • Heavily treed area — lots of shade for campsites and picnics
  • Picnic tables and grills are available on the beach as well

camping - camp - beach campground - locallove805 - beach - LL805Lake Nacimiento {more info here}:

  • Located off the 101 in Paso Robles (hello, wine country! Over 200 in the area! Annnd, you’re welcome:) — north San Luis Obispo County
  • This one may be more of a drive, but it’s worth it! Driving through the beautiful central coast allows for plenty of fun stops along the way — Santa Barbara, Avila Beach, Los Olivos, Los Alamos, San Luis Obispo and more!
  • Choice of over 7 campgrounds at Lake Nacimiento, as well as cabin rentals (some are pet friendly)
  • Lake toy rentals (paddle boards, wakeboards, kayaking, etc) , Swimming pool, Store, Restaurant, Coffee shack, Picnic/park areas and more on the premises
  • Over 100 miles of hiking trails surrounded by pine and oak groves as well as the scenic lake views
  • LL805 Tip: This is our favorite lake to go on trips because not only can you play on the lake, but there’s tons of scenic trails and wineries. It’s a win-win!

Little Dragon Coffee Express at Lake NacimientoCamping at Lake NacimientoCachuma Lake {more info here}:

  • Don’t have a tent?  Rent a yurt (cross between a tent and a teepee) for $60-85/night, which can accommodate up to 6 people
  • Great place for group camping – have sites that can hold up to 120 people
  • Dogs are welcome, and there’s even a dog park!
  • Fully-stocked general store, gas station, and hot showers
  • A playground for children, hiking trails, fishing piers, and a nature center keeps everyone happy 🙂
  • Note: This ‘lake’ is actually a reservoir, which means no swimming.  However, there is a pool available for a nominal fee.
  • LL805 Tip: If you camp here or are in the area, you absolutely must go to Cold Spring Tavern. We went there for dinner one night while camping (for our anniversary actually) – it’s fabulous!

Camping at Lake CachumaNote: Most of these campgrounds are not a “last-minute whim” kind of place. If you’re looking for a campground on a peak season weekend, you typically have to reserve up to six months in advance!  You can check out campsite availability at Reserve America; however, we also recommend calling the campgrounds individually because sometimes online it says they’re full, but they may have availability.

You can also search for “first-come, first-serve” as well as “hike and bike” campgrounds (some are listed in our top 10) – pack your camping gear, take a cruise up the PCH and check them out along the way. Make sure to leave bright & early so you can arrive when the gates are opening to ensure a spot!

What’s your favorite campground? Any camping tips to share?? If so, please let us know! We’d love to hear from you!

#spreadthelove #campingmakesmehappy #happycamper #localcamping


your team at LL805

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1 Comment

  1. Carpenteria Beach Town Getaway - This Week's Edition {eat. shop. play. explore} | Local Love 805
    4 years ago

    […] State Beach :: duh. beach front campground. enough said. {check it out on our top 10 local campgrounds […]


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