Camping in San Diego

Learn about when the best times to go camping in San Diego and where to find the best local campsites on the eastside and along the beaches.
Camping in San Diego
A Local’s Guide
Perfect Time to Camp
Featured Activity
Campsites
Best Places to Camp
Save on Tours
Camping Tips
Where to Stay

A Local’s Guide to Camping in San Diego

Camping in San Diego is the perfect activity for family and friends of all ages who want to spend more time outdoors. In addition, it is a unique way to create memories that will last a lifetime. There are several benefits that come along with venturing out into the great outdoors and becoming one with the nature that surrounds you.

For one, being out in nature is a great mood booster and San Diego has beautiful beach camping and traditional camping opportunities. It allows you to really unplug and forget about the everyday distractions or stresses going on in life. Not to mention it gives everyone the opportunity to exercise and burn some calories.

Another benefit of camping is that it helps to strengthen and build relationships. It gives family members and friends the opportunity to really talk and open up to each other. It also helps everyone develop new skills and work together by doing things like: setting up the tent, cooking food and starting a fire.

If you’re searching for a more “modern day” camping experience, there’s the option to stay at one of San Diego’s campgrounds. Campgrounds offer a combination of being outdoors while also having access to amenities that help make things a bit smoother. These amenities often include items like showers, restrooms and a grill.

There are campgrounds everywhere in the United States. So, choosing where to travel for your camping excursion can be difficult. But if you’re searching for a place with a little bit of everything, it’s time to head to San Diego.

San Diego, California is commonly referred to as “America’s Finest City.” It is filled with some of the most beautiful scenery and has a wide variety of attractions for all ages. Needless to say, there’s plenty of family-friendly fun to be had while camping in San Diego.

In addition, there are the usual camping activities the whole family can join in on. You can spend the nights telling stories, making dinner around a fire and spending time with loved ones.

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The Perfect Time to Go Camping in San Diego

San Diego is widely known for its year-round perfect weather. The average temperature is 72 degrees, so it’s easy to say that the outdoors can be enjoyed at any time.

While you can camp any month in San Diego, fall is a popular time of year amongst most campers because of its cool weather and lack of insects. Plus, the fall months tend to be less crowded than the spring and summer.

There are also benefits to camping in the spring and summer in San Diego. For those looking for more attractions and events, despite the additional crowds, this may be the perfect time for you. In addition, this is a great time of year for families to experience San Diego’s beach scene.

Unlike other areas of the United States, winter in San Diego is filled with moderate temperatures that make the outdoors easy to enjoy. The average high temperature is 65 degrees and the average low temperature is between 50 and 55 degrees so camping is still an option during this time of year.

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Campsites in San Diego

San Diego has a variety of campsites that help visitors experience what the area has to offer. The right place to stay is up to each visitor's personal preference. Campland on the Bay, Lake Jennings Park and San Diego Zoo Safari Park are just a few popular camping locations.

San Elijo State Beach

San Elijo State Beach is located along the beautiful coastline of Cardiff by the Sea. This is a great spot to either tent camp or bring your RV to enjoy “living on the beach”. Demand is high at this beach camping location, make sure you book this early.

Carlsbad State Beach

With over 40 acres of oceanfront, Carlsbad State Beach gives plenty of access to San Diego’s ocean. Campers can have a truly family-oriented experience due to the campground’s “Wi-Fi free zone.” The spots go quickly here so be sure to book this early.

Campland on the Bay

Campland on the Bay is an award-winning campsite located on Mission Bay and is also in close proximity to Downtown San Diego. Campland is popular for their live events and activities like concerts, arts & crafts, organized sports and horseshoe tournaments. At Campland on the Bay there are tent camping sites as well as RV camping sites. Be sure to book this early as it does fill up quickly.

Lake Jennings Park

Lake Jennings is the perfect campsite for families who like to fish. The campsite has boat rentals available onsite and the lake is known for having some of the best freshwater fishing in the U.S.

Roar and Snooze

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park gives campers a once-in-a-lifetime encounter with the Roar and Snooze overnight adventure. Campers will sleep in tents that overlook the park’s giraffes, rhinos, elephants and more. To make it the ultimate experience, the Roar and Snooze stay includes up-close animal demonstrations.

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Best Places to Camp in San Diego

Camping options in San Diego are endless. There are paid campgrounds that have amenities and there are areas where you can camp for free. You also can choose between camping in the mountains or camping on the beach.

Mountain Camping in San Diego

If you’re searching for a free, remote camping location then Mount Laguna might be the right choice. Campers will have a breathtaking view of the San Diego mountains, including Cuyamaca Peak which is the second highest mountain peak in San Diego.

How to get there: Take Pine Creek Road which is located off the Sunrise Highway/S1. It can also be accessed from Old Highway 80 off of the 8 freeway.

Local Tips
RV Adventure
Since RV campgrounds in San Diego, California are close to some of the most beautiful tourist destinations in the state, this city is a great place to start.

Beach Camping in San Diego

Usually when camping comes to mind, so do thoughts of the mountains. In San Diego, visitors have the unique ability to camp on the beach. That’s right, there’s an option to pitch a tent on the sandy, white shores.

There are a number of campsites with beach camping that allow visitors to fall asleep to the sound of waves crashing and wake up to the view of a sunrise over the water.

San Elijo State Beach in Cardiff is a top San Diego choice for camping on the beach. There are restrooms, lifeguards and fire pits to round out your beach camping adventure.

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What activities does the Go Pass include?

There’s a variety of activities included with the Go San Diego Pass such as: The San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, LEGOLAND, SeaWorld, Hiking Tours, Whale Watching, Snorkel Rentals, Museum Tours, Speed Boat Adventures and more!

For the most popular attractions and water-sport rentals as well as the biggest discounts, consider the All-Inclusive Pass.

Useful Camping Tips

The entire experience of camping is exciting. To ensure a smooth trip, there’s a few tips to take into consideration.

Tent Camping and Pick a Campsite Before Arrival if Possible

If you’re taking a tent, practice setting it up at home to better utilize time once you arrive at the campground.

It’s also important to choose a campsite ahead of time. This will help ensure that your family has the best location to spend time together during your vacation in San Diego.

Plan Ahead with Food and Water

Camp-fire friendly meals are a must when camping. The food should be easy to prepare like oatmeal or hot dogs. There should also be plenty of water for everyone in the family.

Check the Weather in Advance

Be sure to check the forecast in advance and make sure everyone packs plenty of clothing for the trip. Keep in mind that while the weather in San Diego is mild year-round, having appropriate attire for the season is very important.

Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush

Personal hygiene is important while camping as you’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors. Make sure to pack toiletries like soap, shampoo and hand sanitizer for the trip.

Take a Hike

One common camping activity is hiking. Hiking is a great way to discover more of what surrounds you and get a view of the scenery. In addition, you’ll be able to witness some of the wildlife that can be found in San Diego like sea lions or migratory birds.

Enjoy the Beach

For campers looking to experience the beach, there are a number of outdoor activities to keep you busy. Visitors can go kayaking, surfing, stand up paddle boarding or just go for a swim in the ocean.

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