A Novice's Take on Travel Food & Adventure

Best Camping in San Diego

Best Camping in San Diego

Campgrounds in San Diego are few and far between! Below I have highlighted what I believe are the best sites for camping in San Diego.

South Carlsbad State Beach Campground

Situated right on the Pacific Coast, the beautiful South Carlsbad State Beach is the closest you will get to sleeping next to the waves! Located off of Poinsettia avenue, Carlsbad State Beach offers RV or Tent camping. This is actually the best beach in the area in my opinion. Parking can be tough but it makes for a better experience with lighter crowds.

The campground is on top of a bluff next to the ocean with beach access directly from the campground via a large set of stairs. They squeeze a lot of reservations along this strip, upwards of 200 reservable sites. Out of these, there are only a handful of sites capable of hook up. Each site has a picnic table and small fire pit. The campground has multiple bathrooms and tap water faucets.

credit: San Diego Coast Life

Activities at South Carlsbad State Beach

There isn’t much to do in the way of hiking or exploring but if you are beach camping what else do you need besides the ocean? Add to that a beautiful sunset and great company and you’re set.

About South Carlsbad State Beach Campground

Group sites: Yes, 1 site
Fire: Yes within designated fire pits
Pets: Yes, must be on leash. Dogs are not permitted on the beach.
Store: Yes, March-October
Accessible Sites: Yes
Occupancy: 8 ppl, 3 cars/site

The price to camp per night is $35 for inland sites (the sites that are facing the highway) and $50 for ocean view sites. The fee includes parking for 1 vehicle, additional vehicles are $15. Check availability here.


Cuyamaca State Park

Cuyamaca is probably my favorite! It’s located close to Alpine/ Julian. It feels like you’re in a forest with tall pines and oak trees! This is a great reprieve from the desert and palm tree landscape of San Diego. It is pretty high up in elevation so expect it to be pretty cool at night. It’s my favorite camping spot for lots of hiking.

There are two campgrounds in the state park, Paso Picacho and Green Valley. I have stayed at Green Valley so I will be reviewing that campground. The sites are well maintained with a picnic table and fire pit. They have 60 tent sites (here’s a little secret between you and me, site 33 is the best). Clean restrooms and large trash receptacles are available.

Activities at Green Valley Campground

The state park has over 100 miles of biking and hiking trails. There are 2 small hikes you can take from the campground itself, most other hikes require a little drive. There is a small creek that runs through the side of the campground and is worth checking out and it is only about 15 minutes to get to Julian to grab lunch or pie(s)!

About Green Valley Campground

Group Sites: Yes
Fire: Yes within designated fire pits
Pets: Yes, restricted to campgrounds and paved roads
Store: No, closest store will be by lake cuyamaca
Accessible Sites: No
Occupancy: 8 ppl, 2 cars

The price to camp per night is $30. The price includes 1 car. Additional cars are $10. Check availability here.


La Jolla Indian Reservation

The name ‘La Jolla Indian reservation’ is a little misleading as it is not in La Jolla but is actually near Pala Indian Casino. It is a lush green valley in the middle of Valley Center, you will be surprised to see it. ┬áThe La Jolla band of Luiseno Indians manages this campground.

The campground is decently maintained. On busy weekends and holidays it seems like they aren’t able to manage the trash/bathrooms. The campground draws crowds from all facets of life and is more of a party campground during the weekends and holidays. You can inner tube which is super fun! I have not explored any trails in the area as when I have gone it was more for eating, drinking, and having fun with family and friends.

Activities at La Jolla Indian Reservation

NUMBER ONE: Inner tubing. I think I am done here.

About La Jolla Indian Reservation

Group Sites: Yes
Fire: Yes within designated fire pits
Pets: NO
Store: Yes, there is a store and a bar at the entrance of the campground
Accessible Sites: No
Occupancy: 8 ppl, 2 cars

The price to camp is $35 per vehicle and $2 extra for any additional guests over 4 per car. Contact them directly to make a reservation.