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San Diego Beach Camping
In the slide show above, you're viewing pictures of several popular San Diego beach campgrounds that are well-loved by camping enthusiasts. On this page, you'll discover info for planning your getaway to some of SoCal's most scenic havens.
San Diego Beach Camping--OverviewDo you like beach camping? On this page, you'll see photos and descriptions of San Diego County, California beach campgrounds for RV's and tents.
Southern California beach camping is both a blessing and a curse. On the "plus" side, you'll be able to enjoy the clean golden sands and brisk blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. On the "minus" side of the coin, there's only enough beach camping spots to serve a town of about 15 thousand...while the population actually being served by these few campgrounds is closer to 15 MILLION! You'll need the persistence and preparation of an American Idol hopeful if you actually want to be one of the few people who actually get to enjoy these campgrounds during the busy summer season!
On the other hand, all of these campgrounds stay open year-round, thanks to Southern California's good weather. So, if you can schedule your beach camping trip for some time other than the summer months, you'll stand a good chance of being able to get the campsite of your dreams. (If, however, you DO want to camp during the summer months, be sure to make reservations for these campgrounds well in advance.)
Silver Strand State Beach RV CampgroundThe Silver Strand State Beach has an RV-only campground. As you can see from the picture to your left, Silver Strand doesn't allow tents because the campground is simply a paved parking lot. Van campers and pickup truck-shell campers are excluded from camping at Silver Strand State Beach as well---and that's because there's a requirement that all campers be fully self-contained.
There's a legal reason for making these exclusions. While it seems ridiculous to have a rule that all campers must be self-contained when there are restrooms sitting on either side of the campground, there's more to this rule than meets the eye. Service reductions (caused by the state budget crisis) have caused restrooms to close. Some will always stay closed for the time being, while others will be open "weekends only." Since Silver Strand would be liable for providing toilets and water to the campers without toilets & running water in their rigs, a "self-contained units only" rule must apply. That way, the park is not responsible for meeting your hygenic needs, and they don't have to provide alternatives.
Silver Strand Campground's Beach Activities
In the photo to your right, you can see that the Silver Strand State Beach RV campsites sit right on the beach. All you have to do is take a few steps and you're there in the sand! The campground, as you can see, is level with the sand....and not up on a bluff, as are some camping spots we'll talk about later on this page.
Obviously, then, "going to the beach" will top your list of "things to do" if you camp at Silver Strand. What else can you do there? One thing is to build a bonfire. There are a FEW fire rings on the beach.
Rules for using the bonfire rings include NOT bringing any wood which contains nails (such as shipping pallets) and making sure that your fire is thoroughly OUT before you leave. Some people think that simply leaving a layer of sand over the fire area is enough; but it's not. Douse with water. Both the "anti-nail" rule and the "douse thoroughly" rule protect children who may run through the firepit area after you leave...as well as making sure the fire doesn't re-kindle on its own. There is no reservation system for the bonfire pits, so if you want a fire ring at Silver Strand State Beach for a particular date, you'll need to send a member of your party to stake out a fire ring earlier in the day.
Bayside activities at Silver Strand Campground
In the photo to your left (below), you can see the San Diego Bay side of Silver Strand. There's a marshy area for wildlife viewing and bird-watching. There's a miles-long jogging, strolling, and biking path on which you can exercise. (This picture was taken from one of the path's rest areas, where you may stop to relax on wooden benches and take in the view.)
Heading southwards along the paved Silver Strand trail will take you to the town of Imperial Beach; heading northward takes you to the town of Coronado.
At Imperial Beach, you'll find shopping centers and all the services you might need on your trip---as well as more beaches, and a grassy beachside park with playground equipment and basketball courts.
On the Coronodo end of the bike trail, you'll reach a beautiful lawn-covered, tree-shaded park with full restroom facilities. You can rest and relax before returning to the Silver Strand Campground, or you can explore the cute town of Coronado, whose main street is lined with interesting and unique little shops, restaurants and snack stops. From Coronado, you can even take a ferry ride across the bay to San Diego's lively Embarcadero area!
Silver Strand SB Campground's address, map, directions and phone numberThe Silver Strand State Beach address is: 5000 Highway 75, Coronado, CA 92118.
The Silver Strand State Beach phone number is: 619/435-5184 (park information.) For telephone reservations, the number is 1-800-444-PARK (7275).
Directions to Silver Strand State Beach: from the north, take the Coronado Bay Bridge from downtown San Diego to Coronado. Follow State Hwy 75 southward until you reach Silver Strand State Beach.
Directions to Silver Strand SB from the south: Take the Interstate 5 exit to Imperial Beach (which also is labeled "Hwy 75.) Head west into Imperial Beach, and follow the road signs for Highway 75. The road will turn northward, and you'll leave Imperial Beach. Keep heading north until you reach Silver Strand State Beach. (This is quite a scenic drive!)
Map to Silver Strand State Beach and its camping ground: To get a better mental picture of where you need to go, use the following link to view a Google map of the Silver Strand State Beach of metro San Diego, California.
Silver Strand camping prices: As of Spring, 2019, campsites at Silver Strand State Beach cost $50 to $65/night, which includes your water and electrical hookups. This fee includes one passenger vehicle. Seniors get a $2 discount, and with a Parks Pass both disabled individuals and veterans get a more substantial price reduction. Extra Fees: An extra charge is made for more vehicles. You may also choose to pay the extra vehicle fee for your 1st car if you'd prefer to set up an awning and patio furniture in your allotted car-parking space. Extra spaces are in a different parking lot, just to the south side of the campground. Recently, the park began charging a $10 fee for each use of the RV dump station. (It was formerly included in the price of your camping space.)
While you're looking over the campsites, why not go ahead and make your reservations for a spot if you find openings for your preferred dates? Reservations aren't always needed...but that situation is limited to weekdays in the off season, for the most part. Every year, more and more campers are enjoying the park in the off-season as well. Your camping plans will flow MUCH smoother if you've got firm reservations! Yes, this campground DOES fill to capacity frequently during the popular summer camping season!
Silver Strand State Beach Website: For further information about planning a fun camping trip to Silver Strand State Beach in southern San Diego County, use the following link to view the
Silver Strand State Beach official website.
San Diego Beach Camping -- Campland on the Bay
If you like to go camping and just sit around in a chair outside your rig...well, you can do that at Campland on the Bay. BUT, it's much more likely that you'll want to get up and moving, because Campland on the Bay is a lively campground with a full choice of activities and plenty of things to do for all ages in your family. This is a true resort, and will keep your family members busy all day and evening, if you wish! (Note: if the slide show has stopped running, you may "refresh" this page to get it started going again.)
Campground on the Bay's Activities and Amenities
Sandy beach area
2 Swimming Pools plus swimming in the bay, with 1/8 mile of beachfront
2 Whirlpool spas
Off-leash dog park
Free recreational activities for everyone of all ages (Including games, crafts, bands, contests and more
Swim platform in the bay (seasonally)
Boat launch, slips and RV and boat storage
Full-service boat and bike rental
8 Restroom & shower buildings
2 Large grassy playing fields, plus horseshoe pits, Basketball court & sand volleyball court
Indoor activities such as table tennis and video arcade games
Shuttle bus to major attractions.
Both RV's and tent camping welcome! Campland on the Bay is very large, and offers camping enthusiasts a choice of 597 spots, including 400 with full hookups. Primitive sites and partial hookups are also available.
Campland on the Bay address: 2211 Pacific Beach Dr, San Diego, CA 92109. Here's a Google map to Campland on the Bay's camping entrance. Also, for your convenience, here's a route map from Campland on the Bay to SeaWorld San Diego. And another route map going from the popular Fashion Valley Mall to Campland on the Bay. And for those of you with kids, here's a route map from the whimsical Legoland Theme Park to Campland on the Bay.
Campland on the Bay prices and reservations: Camping spaces begin at $55/night for primitive tent sites (winter rates; $60 in summer)....but most sites cost more. (And beachfront or "supersites?" They cost MUCH more, up to several hundred dollars per night.) There are many different space sizes, amenities and locations, not to mention seasonal differences...and so there's quite a range of prices at Campland. For current camping prices and to discover weekly or monthly discounts, please visit the www.Campland.com website. The weekly discounts bring down the listed prices quite a bit...and besides, you will absolutely NOT be able to see and do everything here in just one day.
San Diego Beach Camping -- Mission Bay RV ParkDo you like camping on a quiet bay rather than directly on the ocean? If so, you might enjoy a stay at the Mission Bay RV Resort along the shores of San Diego's Mission Bay.
The Mission Bay RV Park is a private campground which has many rules and regulations. Before you begin to read about this RV Park's amenities, you should know that it only accepts certain camping vehicles. You must have Class A, B or C motorhome, travel trailer or 5th wheel that's no older than 15 years. Or, you may have a truck camper that is 1998 or newer. Toy haulers are accepted on a limited basis; see the park's website for details (see link below.) Tents, pop-up tent trailers, van conversions and converted buses are not permitted.In addition, despite following all these rules, your rig may be turned away if it isn't in good repair. No rust, no chipped paint, no leaks, etc.
You should read the complete list of the Mission Bay RV Park's rules before you register (to be sure you wish to comply with the stipulations which regulate everything from skateboarding, smoking, pets, and many other details. (See the link to the Mission Bay campground's website, below.)
As you can see in the picture to your left, each campspot at the Mission Bay RV Park is separated from the next by a large shade tree. Each spot also has its own picnic table. The Mission Bay RV resort is gated; when you check in, you'll receive the code to the gate.
Mission Bay RV Park's amenities & activities
What activities can you enjoy while staying at the Mission Bay RV campground? For one thing, you'll have a waveless beach to enjoy...perfect for families with babies, toddlers and preschoolers. (You can see the beach by the RV park in the photos on this page.)
Naturally, you'll be able to enjoy the facilities of huge Mission Bay park. As you can see in the image below, Mission Bay's park is grassy and tree-shaded. Mission Bay Park has a boat launch not far from the RV campsites, where you can take your boat or wave runner out for some fun.
You'll be able to enjoy the park's kiddie playgrounds, basketball court, picnic facilities and beautiful strolling/jogging paths. Mission Bay Park also has a California tourist information center, where you can pick up brochures about San Diego's many family activities.
Mission Bay RV Park address, map, and contact information
The Mission Bay RV Resort phone number is 877/219-6900.
Mission Bay RV Campground's website: You may use the upcoming link to view the
Mission Bay RV Resort official website,
which is www.MissionBayRVresort.com.
San Diego Beach Camping
San Elijo State Beach & South Carlsbad State Beach
Are you a tent-camping enthusiast? Well then, here are 2 Southern California state beaches which excel in tent and van camping! These two beaches are the San Elijo State Beach and the South Carlsbad State Beach. Both of these camping beaches are located in northern San Diego county, only a few miles apart from one another. San Elijo is located just south of Encinitas (near Cardiff-by-the-Sea), while South Carlsbad is just north of Encinitas (near Carlsbad, California. In addition to tenting, both of these California state beaches allow RV camping, as well.
You can see a photo of the campsites in the picture to your left. In both campgrounds, the campsites feature level dirt areas separated from the next campsite by hedges. Each site gets its own picnic table plus grill. The camping sites are high above the Pacific Ocean on a bluff...providing a magnificent view of the water below.
What can you do if you get tired of swimming and sunning? There's plenty to do near the San Elijo and South Carlsbad campgrounds! Families will certainly want to visit nearby Legoland California, where kids don't get just their own SECTION of a theme park...they get the WHOLE amusement park devoted to rides and activities they can enjoy!
Shopping enthusiasts won't want to miss the Premium Outlets at Carlsbad, one of the hottest outlet malls in the state of California. This large, new, and attractive outdoor mall features clothing for everyone in the family, plus restaurants and snack shops.
Nostalgia lovers will want to visit the little village of Encinitas, which remains reminiscent of a 1960's surfing town. You'll also find cute shops and dining opportunities in Encinitas village. And, OF COURSE, surfers will want to head to Swami's State Beach, one of Southern California's premier surfing beaches (also in Encinitas...located near the Self Realization shrine and Sea Cliff Park.)
Directions to Swami's Beach Here's a Google Map to Swami's State Beach.
San Elijo SB Campground address, directions, map & phoneThe San Elijo State Beach street address is: 2050 S. Highway 101, Cardiff by the Sea, CA 92007.
The San Elijo State Beach phone number is: 760/753-5091.
San Elijo Campground Website: For further information about the San Elijo campground, you may use the following link to view the San Elijo State Beach official website, which is actually a section of the California State Parks website.
Directions to the San Elijo State Beach: Not every interstate exit has a road that leads to the campground. (Only selected streets cross the coastal railway track.) The state park website recommends that you take the Encinitas Blvd exit, then head west. You'll reach a stoplight that's in view of the Pacific Ocean...and that will be Highway 101. Turn left onto Hwy 101, travel through the little village of Encinitas, going about 2 miles until you reach the San Elijo State Beach and Campgrounds. If you're coming from the south, the Manchester Exit does end up at a cut-through road (Chesterfield,) but once you turn right on Hwy 101 to reach the campground, you'll have some trouble. There is no left turn lane into the camping area. This is why the park recommends that you go north to Encinitas Blvd before making your freeway exit: you'll be entering the park from the north, which is the only way you can do it!
Map to the San Elijo State Beach: You may use the upcoming link to look over a Google map to the San Elijo SB Campground entrance. (Note: The Cardiff Seaside Market, marked on this map, is the closest grocery store.)
San Elijo State Beach Campground map and reservations: Here's a link to the www.ReserveCalifornia.com website. From Home Page, type "San Elijo SB" and your camping dates, and you will be served a calendar showing the open campsites during that time frame. Dates with campsites still available will be marked GREEN on the park's calendar. Those dates marked with RED signify that all spaces have already been reserved for that day. If you'd like to take a look at a campground map before you make a reservation, here's a printable San Elijo SB camping map which also includes a list of campground rules.
South Carlsbad SB Campground address, directions, map & phoneThe South Carlsbad State Beach address is: 7201 Carlsbad Blvd, Carlsbad, CA 92008.(Carlsbad Boulevard is just another name for Highway 101.)
The South Carlsbad State Beach phone number is: 760/438-3143.
Directions to South Carlsbad State Beach: The entrance to the campground at South Carlsbad State Beach is located at the intersection of Poinsettia Ave and Carlsbad Blvd/Hwy 101. However, the entrance to the campground is blocked by an artificial barrier to traffic coming from I-5 via Poinsettia Ave. and also from the town of Encinitas (to the south of the camp.) The only way to get into the campground's driveway is by arriving from the north. There are 2 ways of doing this. If your RV turns easily enough to make a U-turn (or if you're a tent camper arriving in a car), then you may simply take the Poinsettia Ave. exit off of Interstate 5. When you reach the beach, the campground will be directly in front of you when you reach the stoplight at Carlsbad Blvd. You will see the artificial barricade that keeps you from entering the campground! Grrr! At this point, simply turn right onto Carlsbad Blvd, and you'll find a spot to make a U-turn back to the campground within 1/2 mile.
Large vehicle directions: If you prefer not having to make a U-turn in your rig when there's an easier way, then you'll need to exit Interstate 5 at the Palomar Airport Blvd exit. (This is also where you'd exit to visit the Carlsbad Premium Outlets or Legoland Park, by the way.) From I-5, head west towards the beach, then take Carlsbad Blvd. (Hwy 101) southward about 2 miles until you reach the state beach campground entrance. (You will "turn right to go left" here, via a deluxe cloverleaf designed to accommodate RV's easily.)
Once you're on Hwy 101, merge from the left lane into the right hand lane next to the bike path. Take care not to pass the campground entrance, or you'll be in trouble! After all, since the camp's entrance is blocked to traffic coming from the south, you can't just turn around and get into the campgrounds. How do you keep from passing the entrance? It's not easy, since it's not well-marked. You will see the RV's in the campground's North Section on your right as you get close. Soon, you will see a right-turn lane open up (from the bicycle lane.) The new lane will have a sign that says "Right Turn Only." That's the one to take! In our opinion, the sign should say "campground" or the roadway should be marked with the picture of a tent.
Map to the South Carlsbad State Beach: Here's a Google map to the South Carlsbad SB Campgrounds.
South Carlsbad SB Campground Map and Reservations: In 2019, the campground fees begin at $35/night. If you'd like to take a look at a campground map before you make a reservation, here's a printable San Elijo SB camping map which also includes a list of campground rules. Next, here's a link to the www.ReserveCalifornia.com website. From Home Page, type "South Carlsbad SB" into the search box---plus your camping dates---and you will be served a calendar showing the open campsites during that time frame. Dates with campsites still available will be marked GREEN on the park's calendar. Those dates marked with RED signify that all spaces have already been reserved for that day. This campground grows more popular with every passing year, and these days, it is advisable to reserve your campsite well in advance---even for weekdays in the off-season.