Sunset State Beach Campground
Sunset State Beach Campground is super accessible from anywhere in the Bay Area, at under 100 miles from San Francisco. Located in South Santa Cruz, there are many landmarks nearby and activities to enjoy. Go hiking in Point Lobos State Park. Try out pier fishing in Santa Cruz. In the winter, check out whale watching from the bluffs. Try out surfing with the rolling waves. Or just relax on the beach. Theres something for everyone at Sunset Beach.
Address: Sunset State Beach, Watsonville, CA
Cost: From $35 per night
Distance to SF/Bay Area: 90 miles
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Lassen Volcanic National Park makes for a wonderful camping destination. All around the park are interesting sites from caves to volcanoes, from lakes to steaming mud flats.
- Manzanita Lake – The best campground in the park with a great lake for kayaking, hiking trails, and abundant facilities.
- Remote and beautiful. Very good campground with scenic views of the lake and distant Lassen Peak.
Campgrounds Near Me: Portola Redwoods State Park
The parks cool redwood forest grows densely beneath a steep ridgetop. Nearly 3,000 acres of woodland hosts 18 miles of hiking trails, bubbling creeks, mossy banks, huckleberries, and ferns. Refreshing waterfalls cascade down into Pescadero Creek and Fall Creek scenic locations to stop for a rest. The park houses 55 family campsites and four tent-only group campsites. There are no RV hookups, but there are pay showers. Visitors may purchase firewood and water on-site. Families will want to make sure to pack in plenty of supplies, as the nearest gas station is 14 miles away. Activities include hiking, swimming, geocaching, and checking out the exhibits located within the visitors center. There is no cell reception in the park.
9000 Portola State Park Road, La Honda, CA, Phone: 650-948-9098
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Two Harbors And Parsons Landing Campgrounds
- Location: Catalina Island
- Type: Hike-in tent camping
Tucked away just off the beach at the resort town of Two Harbors in Catalina Island sits the Two Harbors Campground. With views of the harbor and Pacific Ocean, its an idyllic beachside campground but also close enough to town and the ferry from San Pedro for easy accessibility, even on an island that prohibits visitors from driving cars. Campers can choose between renting a basic campsite and setting up their own equipment or reserving one of Two Harbors 12 tent cabins, which come equipped with cots, a two-burner stove, and fully charged lanterns.
For a more adventurous experience, campers can head to Parsons Landing Campground, a secluded, on-the-beach campground on the northeast side of Catalina that you can only access by hiking or kayaking. Shade and water are not provided, but you can preorder a locker with firewood and water for $20 and spare your back the extra weight.
San Bruno Mountain State & County Park
Location: 555 Guadalupe Canyon Parkway, Brisbane
Hours: 8 a.m.8 p.m.
Amenities: Hiking trails, picnic facilities, and picnic table areas
Dogs allowed: No
Located in San Mateo County, San Bruno Mountain State & County Park is a landmark of local and regional significanceits a unique open space tucked away in the midst of the peninsulas urban jungle. This 2.4-acre park is a great way to see the South Bays well-preserved flora and fauna.
Enjoy a lovely picnic and unwind while taking in the views and observing the rare butterflies flying high in the sky. You can also trek up one of many trails ranging from 250 to 1,314 feet in elevation. The paths arent super shady, so pack your California-made products and stay hydrated.
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Best Camping Within Two Hours Of San Francisco
When youre trying to plan a weekend camping trip, and half your friends work until 5:00 p.m. on Friday, you can be sure youre not getting to Yosemite or Big Sur before nightfall. Nobody likes setting up a tent in the dark, and leaving Saturday morning cuts out valuable outside time. Fortunately, San Francisco happens to be a stones throw away from a few dozen parks, beaches and recreation areas, many of which have campgrounds that can hold their own against most national parks.
All campsites on my favorites list can be reserved online here. Also, keep in mind that exact mileage will depend on where youre driving from. Some of the websites governing these campgrounds give confusing or misleading information about exactly where theyre located, so Ive included a KMZ file for use in Google Earth with the actual locations of each site.
If you know of spots not mentioned here, be sure to share your favorites in the comments section below.
Distance from SF: 67 miles
Dogs: Allowed only on campgrounds and paved roads and in picnic areas
Dont forget to pack: A good set of cookware. Ive never seen campground grills as fancy as the ones here, so be sure to try out some new camping recipes at Big Basin
Check this out nearby:Castle Rock State Park has some of the best outdoor climbing anywhere on the north coast
Distance from SF: 31 miles
Dogs: Allowed only in campsites and picnic areas and on the Cross Marin Trail
Distance from SF: 44 miles + a 2-mile hike
The 11 Best Hikes Near San Francisco California
Cable cars and sourdough bread may be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about San Francisco, but the city has a secret. It has some exceptional hiking trails nearby.
Miles of coastline, rolling fog, and numerous expansive vistas are only a few of the highlights youll discover hiking San Francisco and the surrounding area.
You can journey along the Pacific Ocean, walk through a towering forest in the middle of the city, or retreat to an island to trek your way up to a rewarding view point.
The point here being the San Francisco area has some worthy trails to travel along for all ages and skill levels who are willing.
To showcase what this area has to offer, we rounded up our top picks for the best hikes near San Francisco. All of which are within a 30 mile radius of the city.
Interested in camping near the City? Check out our guide to the best campgrounds near San Francisco.
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China Camp State Park Campground
Location: San Rafael
Amenities: 10 campsites, 31 walk-in tent campsites, BBQ, grill/fire ring, boat launch/ramp, campsite tables, picnic tables, fire pit, equestrian trail, toilets, showers, and visitor center
Activities: Hiking, biking, boating, kayaking, horseback riding, fishing, picnicking, wild viewing, and historical sightseeing
Dogs allowed: Dogs are allowed in the developed areas but not allowed on trails, dirt roads, in backcountry areas, historic buildings, and historic gardens.
China Camp State Park offers visitors charming campsites. All the campgrounds are hike-in, making them ideal for isolated tent-camping in nature. Back Ranch Meadows Campground is especially perfect for your next enviable escape into the woods. This well-shaded hike-in campgroundspecial thanks to the oak and pine treesis home to bobcats and black-tailed deer.
There is a stellar 23-mile trail along the hillside that begins at the campground. Featuring splendid views of the Santa Lucia mountain range, China Camp is great for mountain biking and hiking. China Camp has historical significance, too its the original home of the Coastal Miwok and later became home to several thriving Chinese fishing villages. To learn more about the area’s fascinating past, check out the small museum.
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is one of the most beautiful state parks in California. Many of the walking trails at Point Lobos State Park hug the ocean, and offer fabulous views plus the opportunity to spot marine mammals in the water and on the rocks by the shore.
Along the popular Bird Island Trail, you can photograph jade-green China Cove, look down at sandy Gibson Beach and enjoy the sea birds on Bird Island. In season, you will see breeding harbor seals at China Cove.
Other than walking the scenic trails, you can picnic in the park, relax and enjoy the views , or go tidepooling, snorkeling or scuba diving. Visit the small Whalers Cabin Museum to learn about the parks history, and enjoy tons of wildflowers in season.
Camping: Point Lobos is day use only, but Saddle Mountain Ranch RV and Campground in Carmel is only 8 miles away. The campground offers cabins, RV hookups, and tent camping. You can reserve online in advance.
Driving distance from San Francisco
124 miles, 1 hour and 57 minutes
You mightalso want to check out nearby Garrapata State Park, with its beautiful views and exciting hikes!Its just about three miles south of Point Lobos State Park, along Highway 1.
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The 12 Best Camping Spots Near San Francisco California
The San Francisco Bay Area is a densely populated metropolis surrounded by miles of coastline, thousands of wetland acres, and rolling hills as far as the eye can see.
NorCals cultural and economic hub was built upon a richly diverse ecosystem. Thanks to conservation efforts and thoughtful city planning, there are plenty of wild spaces within and around the city set aside for nature to blossom and humans to explore.
You dont have to travel far from the skyscrapers of downtown San Francisco to find excellent camping opportunities. There are a couple of great camping spots within the city itself, and its possible to reserve several remote campsites that are less than a 30-minute drive from Fishermans Wharf without traffic, of course.
Lush coastal forest campgrounds, lakeside retreats, dry mountain prairie tent sites, and rustic beachside cabins are but a few of the great camping options near San Francisco, California. Weve got the scoop on the best camping in the Bay Area.
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Kirby Cove Campground Marin Headlands
In the Marin Headlands at historic Battery Kirby, on the immediate north side of the Golden Gate Bridge, this tucked-away campground isn’t even known by some locals of the city. Part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the five available sites at Kirby Cove are accessed by a service road leading straight down from the north side of the bridge. From Kirby Cove, the view of San Francisco Bay including the Golden Gate Bridge is nothing short of special.
The five sites at Kirby Cove can be reserved ahead of time, which is necessary throughout the weekends between March and November. Each site accommodates up to 10 people, and each group needs to pack in their own water and supplies. It’s a short walk from the parking area to the campsites, and three cars are allowed per campsite. An additional day-use picnic area at Kirby Cove can host up to 35 people and needs to be reserved ahead of time.
To the west of Battery Kirby and the Kirby Cove Campground, closer to the Point Bonita Lighthouse, the Bicentennial Campground offers three additional sites with similar accommodations. Both Kirby Cove and Bicentennial Campground only facilitate tent camping.
Address: 948 Fort Barry, Sausalito, California
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A Few Essential Items For Camping
Remember to include the following as you pack for camping:
- Insect repellent
- Hiking shoes
- Water bottle or hiking reservoir
- A hat or sunglasses
- Trail map. Most maps are offered digitally now download them on your phone because you may not have a signal in many parks. Paper maps are usually located at park entrances or visitor centers.
- First aid kit
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Learn more about our selection criteria and vetting process.
Location: 15451 CA-35, Los Gatos
Hours: 8 a.m.sunset
Amenities: Benches, picnic tables, campgrounds, museums, visitor center, and the Kirkwood amphitheater.
Dogs allowed: No
Castle Rock State Park, nestled along the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains, offers lush forests and stellar panoramas thatll take your breath away. The 5,242-acre park stretches almost to Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. In addition to the sweeping views and rich vegetation, the park offers an impressive range of activities, so pack your lunch and spend the day here. Whether youre up for hiking rugged trails, horseback riding, or exploring mysterious caves, Castle Rock has something for everyoneespecially rock climbers. Known for its unusual rock formations and steep canyons, this state park is a hot spot for rock climbing.
Castle Rock is also a hikers haven. Whether you trek along Castle Rock Trail or Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail, you can savor the beauty of your surroundings. As you explore the forested paths, youll discover coast redwoods, Douglas-fir, and Pacific madrone. When youre ready to take a break from the hot summer sun, cool off by the enchanting Castle Rock Falls while enjoying picturesque views. The waterfall is also a renowned climbing area, offering an observation platform with stunning vistas of the park and beyond.
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Golden Gate National Recreation Area Campgrounds
Why you should camp here: Small and secluded tent-only campgrounds in the Marin Headlands.
- Reservations accepted: Yes
- Best season: Spring, summer, fall
- Campsite type: Tents
- RV hookups: No
Want to get away from it all without leaving the Bay Area? The Marin Headlands is one of your best bets, and the minute campgrounds of Hawk, Haypress, and Bicentennial are the best places to sleep under the stars within a 20-minute drive from SF.
Each of the three campgrounds has five or fewer tent sites to choose from, they all must be hiked into, and they all must be reserved ahead of time. For how close they are to the most densely populated city on the west coast, these three campsites are remarkably remote and primitive.
Water is not available at these locations, so make sure to pack some in, and ground fires are not allowed, so be prepared to bring a gas stove if you want to cook. This is about as roughing it as you can get without leaving the Bay Area.
Why you should camp here: Spend some time in Big Basin Redwoods State Park.
- Reservations accepted: Yes
- Best season: Spring, summer, fall
- Campsite type: Tents, RVs, cabins
- RV hookups: Dump Station
It would be remiss of us not to mention Big Basin Redwoods State Park when discussing camping near San Francisco, and Huckleberry Campground is one of our favorites in this grandiose park. The campgrounds collection of tent cabins turns glamping primitive again, in a fun way.
Campgrounds In The Bay Area: Pantoll Campground
The Pantoll Campground is a first come, first serve campground located within the Mount Tamalpais State Park. There are only sixteen campsites, so campers will want to plan ahead to secure a spot. Visitors can either drive-in or hike in, although there are no sites for RVs and no hookups. Vans are a great option, however. Campsites are set among towering trees and gorgeous wood views. Campfires are permitted and there are picnic tables at each site. Campers have access to flush toilets, firewood for purchase, and potable water. There are no showers. Pets are happily welcomed.
3801 Panoramic Highway, Mill Valley, CA, Phone: 415-388-2070
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Lake Del Valle Family Campground
Reservations accepted: YesBest season: Spring, summer, fall, winterCampsite type: Tents, RVs, cabin, equestrianRV hookups: Yes
Why you should camp here: An abundance of outdoor recreation opportunities awaits!
Lake Del Valle Family Campground is a hub of outdoor fun in the East Bay Regional Park District. Hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, and an array of watersports are popular activities in the area, and there are enough amenities to keep your family fueled for the duration of your stay.
Located in the wilderness south of the city of Livermore, Lake Del Valle stretches five miles in length and is encircled with access points and resort-like amenities. A marina, store, watercraft rental service, vineyard, and golf course can be a part of your civilized getaway, or you can use the camp as a staging area for a remote backpacking trip into the Ohlone Wilderness.
This family campground is one of several camping areas around the lake. Here you will have large, well-groomed campsites with access to flowing water, restrooms, an amphitheater, and a store with camping gear, snacks, and fishing equipment.
A post shared by LyfsArt on Nov 12, 2019 at 11:46am PST
Why you should camp here: Explore the expansive beaches and coastal cliffs of Point Reyes National Seashore.
Reservations accepted: YesBest season: Spring, summer, fall, winterCampsite type: Tents, RVsRV hookups: Yes
A post shared by Linda | Cuppiecake on Jun 26, 2019 at 6:48am PDT
Pitch A Tent At These 18 Bay Area Camping Spots
Why Caring About the Earth Really Matters
Summer is here and our gorgeous weather makes camping a breeze. Whether you snag a spot by the beach or head to the redwoods, the kids will come home dirty and full of stories for years to come. Check out some of our favorite spots below for family camping!
Portola Redwoods State ParkLocated in the Santa Cruz mountains between Saratoga to the east and Pescadero to the west is Portola Redwoods State Park. This lesser-known stepsister to nearby Big Basin offers 55 great camping spots that are perfect for getting a number of families together for a weekend of fun. Many of the campsites have downed redwoods, guaranteed to provide hours of entertainment for the shorter set. Head over to the visitors center to learn about the areas history and set off from there on a hike in search of Tiptoe Falls and the famous Shell Tree.
9000 Portola State Park RoadLa Honda, CAReservations: parks.ca.gov
Plaskett Creek CampgroundWith the road to Big Sur open, Plaskett Creek is the spot to be. The campground is small and draws surfers, families and those with a chill vibe. Walk 10 minutes and down some stairs and you can spend the day at the pristine Sand Dollar Beach. Head to the bluffs at sunset for some gorgeous sunset views. Bonus: because this is a National Park site, you can book up to a year in advance.
69345 CA-1Online: recreation.gov
10840 Coyote Reservoir RoadReservations: gooutsideandplay.org
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