California Coastal Car Camping with Epic Views
Coastal campsites are some of California’s most coveted, and they often book up months in advance, especially in the warmer months. That being said, it should be on your bucket list every summer to do at least one coastal camping trip. Here are some of our favorite sites that are suitable for car camping with your Luno gear!
11 Places • 12 Saves • ago
Free
Prewitt Ridge
@luno.life
This dispersed campground is located up Prewitt Ridge Rd, which starts just past Plaskett Creek Campground (southbound) in Big Sur. The general Big Sur campgrounds tend to get booked up months in advance, and can be pretty pricy, so if you don’t mind dispersed camping, this ridge is a great option. It is highly recommended for only 4x4 or AWD vehicles because the road is not paved and can get a little rough, especially as you get higher up it. Camping is allowed on any pull off from the road, unless otherwise specified. Be sure to practice Leave No Trace when camping here, in respect to the locals who live on the road, and for the general public. This campsite will offer you access to Big Sur, but also will give you easy access to some of the hilltop trails above Big Sur, plus incredible views over the ocean, and if you’re lucky, some insane cloud inversions. There are no amenities available on the ridge, so bring everything you need (and pack everything out). This includes water, food, fuel, etc. Big Sur is also not an easy place to find things you might have forgotten, but if you do, you can drive to Monterrey, or down to San Simeon, or check out one of the small stores or restaurants connected to any of the hotels in Big Sur.
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Morro Strand Campground
@luno.life
This campground is located on the northern edge of Morro Strand State Beach. The campground itself is essentially a parking lot, but if you can grab one of the sites that are on the beach side of the parking lot, you’ll be camping almost right on the beach. This campground is optimal for car camping with your Luno gear because it is paved. Back into your site, and you’ll have your trunk opened right up to the water. There are little trails that will take you out to the beach from the campground, the rest of the area between the campsites and the beach are roped off for protection of the seabirds which reside in the area. The beach offers fun surfing waves directly in front of the campground, and the north end of the beach is usually uncrowded, making it optimal for a family beach day. You’ll also be a short 10 minute drive to downtown Morro Bay, which will give you access to delicious restaurants, coffee shops, and shopping for any amenities you may need. Some other highlights in the area are; Morro Rock, Montana de Oro State Park, San Simeon, Camarillo, San Luis Obisbo, the Santa Ynez Wine Region, and more! This campground has picnic tables and fire pits at each campsite. There are also potable water and flush toilets. Pets are allowed on leash. Sites must be reserved ahead of time on Reserve California.
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San Onofre Bluffs Campground
@luno.life
Located near San Clemente, this campground is a haven for surfers. The campsites themselves are not much to write home about, situated next to parking spaces, but it’s perfect for car camping with your Luno gear! Each campsite has a picnic table and fire pit, and easy access down one of the trails to the beach. Site must be reserved ahead of time on Reserve California (link provided). Most of the campground is located above the surf break called “Trails”, which is a bit of a heavier wave than regular San O, but tends to be less crowded. Pit toilets are available at this campground, as well as cold showers.
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South Carlsbad State Beach Campground
@luno.life
Located in San Diego County, South Carlsbad State Beach is another campground that doubles as a surfer’s paradise with easy access to one of the best surfing beaches in the area. The campsites themselves are mostly just off the parking lot, and mostly exposed, but they’re optimal for car camping with your Luno gear. You can back up into them, and have the trunk of your car open up to the water. Dogs are allowed in the campground, but not on the beach. There are also a number of bike trails nearby that make for an adventure aside from just having beach days. The campground has restrooms, showers, and drinking water, as well as picnic tables and fire rings at each campsite. Reservations can be made on Reserve California.
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Moro Campground
@luno.life
Located at Crystal Cove State Park in Laguna Beach, Moro Campground offers unaparalleled access to Crystal Cove Beach, and gorgeous coastal views. Sites are all drive up, which makes them perfect for car camping with your Luno gear. If possible, try to get one of the sites that are right on the water, for the best coastal views. Campgrounds can be reserved at Reserve California (link provided). Campsites each have picnic tables. Restrooms and token-operated showers are available. Campfires are not allowed anywhere in the campground unless they are compressed gas fires for stoves. Dogs are allowed on leash in the campground.
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Leo Carrillo State Park Campground
@luno.life
This Malibu campground isn’t right on the beach. Campsites are set back in a bit of a more woodsy setting, but you’ll be a short minute walk to one of the prettier beaches in Malibu. This beach is a popular surf spot, as well as the perfect beach for a family beach day. This is one of the only dog friendly beaches in the area. They’re allowed at the campsite, in day use areas, and on the beach north of Lifeguard Tower 3. This site is optimal for car camping with your Luno gear because all sites are drive up. All sites have a picnic table and fire ring. Fires are permitted unless otherwise specified during fire season. Bathrooms, showers, and water are available.
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Refugio State Beach
@luno.life
This campground sits on the mile and a half long stretch of beach, just 22 miles north of Santa Barbara. The campground has all the amenities you could need including fire rings, picnic tables, restrooms, and pay showers. Each campsite is drive up, making it perfect for car camping with your Luno gear. You’ll be just steps from the beach, which is optimal for swimming, fishing, kayaking, beach time, and there’s even a beginner-friendly surf break. There are nearby trails that offer mellow hiking as well.
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Kirk Creek Campground
@luno.life
This campground might be one of the most scenic campgrounds in California. Perched at the top of the bluffs overlooking the Big Sur coastline, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more idyllic coastal campground anywhere. There are 40 reservable sites available, as well as 7 first-come-first-serve sites. This campground is incredibly popular, so it’s a good idea to book as far in advance as you can. Reservations can be made at Recreation.gov (link provided). Most sites are drive-up, making them optimal for car camping with your Luno gear. There are also pit toilets available. There is no water or cell service, so make sure that you come prepared. Each site has its own picnic table and fire ring. This campground is located in a pretty central area, giving you easy access to most of what Big Sur has to offer, such as McWay Falls, San Vicente Flat Trail, Sand Dollar Beach, and more.
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Usal Beach Campground
@luno.life
This campground is located at the southern end of the 60 mile stretch of coast known as Northern California’s Lost Coast. 4x4 or AWD is necessary to access it due to the long dirt road, as well as driving onto the beach to camp. Once you make it though, it will be like no other place you’ve camped. Since you can drive your vehicle onto the beach, it’s perfect for car camping with your Luno gear. The campground is first come first serve, and tends to not get super crowded, due to it’s remoteness and rough road during the week. During the weekend, you can expect to encounter a crowd. The road is only about 5 miles long, but will probably take you about 45 minutes to drive. Toilets are available for campers. Pets and fires are also allowed.
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Surfwood Campground
@luno.life
MacKerricher State Park, near Fort Bragg has a couple of campgrounds. They’re all great, but we especially love Surfwood because of its smaller size, and forested campsites. All of the sites are drive up, making it optimal for car camping with your Luno gear. Most of the campsites are reservable on ReserveCalifornia and there are 10 first-come-first-serve sites. The campground is fully developed with food lockers, grills, fire pits, picnic tables, restrooms, and showers. There are a few short trails that offer beach access, directly from the campground. Here you’ll be able to find lots of different kinds of seabirds. The area is optimal for beach time, fishing in the trout-stocked nearby Lake Cleone, hiking, cycling, and more. Fort Bragg is also worth checking out, it’s one of California’s cutest coastal towns.
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Steep Ravine
@luno.life
Just across the Golden Gate Bridge, from San Francisco, you’ll find this beautiful campground located on the coastal side of the Marin Headlands. This campground has cabins that you can rent, but since you have your Luno gear to camp with, you’ll want to reserve one of the drive-up campsites instead. Most of the sites are overlooking the ocean, with views of Mt. Tamalpais behind you. Fire pits, food lockers, and picnic tables are at each site. There are primitive toilets and faucets with drinking water available for campers as well. There is a lot to do in the area, especially hiking in the state park. These sites are incredibly popular, and fill up fast, so try to book as early as you can. Reservations can be made on ReserveCalifornia.
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California Coastal Car Camping with Epic Views
Coastal campsites are some of California’s most coveted, and they often book up months in advance, especially in the warmer months. That being said, it should be on your bucket list every summer to do at least one coastal camping trip. Here are some of our favorite sites that are suitable for car camping with your Luno gear!
11 Places • 12 Saves • ago
Free
Prewitt Ridge
@luno.life
This dispersed campground is located up Prewitt Ridge Rd, which starts just past Plaskett Creek Campground (southbound) in Big Sur. The general Big Sur campgrounds tend to get booked up months in advance, and can be pretty pricy, so if you don’t mind dispersed camping, this ridge is a great option. It is highly recommended for only 4x4 or AWD vehicles because the road is not paved and can get a little rough, especially as you get higher up it. Camping is allowed on any pull off from the road, unless otherwise specified. Be sure to practice Leave No Trace when camping here, in respect to the locals who live on the road, and for the general public. This campsite will offer you access to Big Sur, but also will give you easy access to some of the hilltop trails above Big Sur, plus incredible views over the ocean, and if you’re lucky, some insane cloud inversions. There are no amenities available on the ridge, so bring everything you need (and pack everything out). This includes water, food, fuel, etc. Big Sur is also not an easy place to find things you might have forgotten, but if you do, you can drive to Monterrey, or down to San Simeon, or check out one of the small stores or restaurants connected to any of the hotels in Big Sur.
Add to
Details
Morro Strand Campground
@luno.life
This campground is located on the northern edge of Morro Strand State Beach. The campground itself is essentially a parking lot, but if you can grab one of the sites that are on the beach side of the parking lot, you’ll be camping almost right on the beach. This campground is optimal for car camping with your Luno gear because it is paved. Back into your site, and you’ll have your trunk opened right up to the water. There are little trails that will take you out to the beach from the campground, the rest of the area between the campsites and the beach are roped off for protection of the seabirds which reside in the area. The beach offers fun surfing waves directly in front of the campground, and the north end of the beach is usually uncrowded, making it optimal for a family beach day. You’ll also be a short 10 minute drive to downtown Morro Bay, which will give you access to delicious restaurants, coffee shops, and shopping for any amenities you may need. Some other highlights in the area are; Morro Rock, Montana de Oro State Park, San Simeon, Camarillo, San Luis Obisbo, the Santa Ynez Wine Region, and more! This campground has picnic tables and fire pits at each campsite. There are also potable water and flush toilets. Pets are allowed on leash. Sites must be reserved ahead of time on Reserve California.
Add to
Details
San Onofre Bluffs Campground
@luno.life
Located near San Clemente, this campground is a haven for surfers. The campsites themselves are not much to write home about, situated next to parking spaces, but it’s perfect for car camping with your Luno gear! Each campsite has a picnic table and fire pit, and easy access down one of the trails to the beach. Site must be reserved ahead of time on Reserve California (link provided). Most of the campground is located above the surf break called “Trails”, which is a bit of a heavier wave than regular San O, but tends to be less crowded. Pit toilets are available at this campground, as well as cold showers.
Add to
Details
South Carlsbad State Beach Campground
@luno.life
Located in San Diego County, South Carlsbad State Beach is another campground that doubles as a surfer’s paradise with easy access to one of the best surfing beaches in the area. The campsites themselves are mostly just off the parking lot, and mostly exposed, but they’re optimal for car camping with your Luno gear. You can back up into them, and have the trunk of your car open up to the water. Dogs are allowed in the campground, but not on the beach. There are also a number of bike trails nearby that make for an adventure aside from just having beach days. The campground has restrooms, showers, and drinking water, as well as picnic tables and fire rings at each campsite. Reservations can be made on Reserve California.
Add to
Details
Moro Campground
@luno.life
Located at Crystal Cove State Park in Laguna Beach, Moro Campground offers unaparalleled access to Crystal Cove Beach, and gorgeous coastal views. Sites are all drive up, which makes them perfect for car camping with your Luno gear. If possible, try to get one of the sites that are right on the water, for the best coastal views. Campgrounds can be reserved at Reserve California (link provided). Campsites each have picnic tables. Restrooms and token-operated showers are available. Campfires are not allowed anywhere in the campground unless they are compressed gas fires for stoves. Dogs are allowed on leash in the campground.
Add to
Details
Leo Carrillo State Park Campground
@luno.life
This Malibu campground isn’t right on the beach. Campsites are set back in a bit of a more woodsy setting, but you’ll be a short minute walk to one of the prettier beaches in Malibu. This beach is a popular surf spot, as well as the perfect beach for a family beach day. This is one of the only dog friendly beaches in the area. They’re allowed at the campsite, in day use areas, and on the beach north of Lifeguard Tower 3. This site is optimal for car camping with your Luno gear because all sites are drive up. All sites have a picnic table and fire ring. Fires are permitted unless otherwise specified during fire season. Bathrooms, showers, and water are available.
Add to
Details
Refugio State Beach
@luno.life
This campground sits on the mile and a half long stretch of beach, just 22 miles north of Santa Barbara. The campground has all the amenities you could need including fire rings, picnic tables, restrooms, and pay showers. Each campsite is drive up, making it perfect for car camping with your Luno gear. You’ll be just steps from the beach, which is optimal for swimming, fishing, kayaking, beach time, and there’s even a beginner-friendly surf break. There are nearby trails that offer mellow hiking as well.
Add to
Details
Kirk Creek Campground
@luno.life
This campground might be one of the most scenic campgrounds in California. Perched at the top of the bluffs overlooking the Big Sur coastline, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more idyllic coastal campground anywhere. There are 40 reservable sites available, as well as 7 first-come-first-serve sites. This campground is incredibly popular, so it’s a good idea to book as far in advance as you can. Reservations can be made at Recreation.gov (link provided). Most sites are drive-up, making them optimal for car camping with your Luno gear. There are also pit toilets available. There is no water or cell service, so make sure that you come prepared. Each site has its own picnic table and fire ring. This campground is located in a pretty central area, giving you easy access to most of what Big Sur has to offer, such as McWay Falls, San Vicente Flat Trail, Sand Dollar Beach, and more.
Add to
Details
Usal Beach Campground
@luno.life
This campground is located at the southern end of the 60 mile stretch of coast known as Northern California’s Lost Coast. 4x4 or AWD is necessary to access it due to the long dirt road, as well as driving onto the beach to camp. Once you make it though, it will be like no other place you’ve camped. Since you can drive your vehicle onto the beach, it’s perfect for car camping with your Luno gear. The campground is first come first serve, and tends to not get super crowded, due to it’s remoteness and rough road during the week. During the weekend, you can expect to encounter a crowd. The road is only about 5 miles long, but will probably take you about 45 minutes to drive. Toilets are available for campers. Pets and fires are also allowed.
Add to
Details
Surfwood Campground
@luno.life
MacKerricher State Park, near Fort Bragg has a couple of campgrounds. They’re all great, but we especially love Surfwood because of its smaller size, and forested campsites. All of the sites are drive up, making it optimal for car camping with your Luno gear. Most of the campsites are reservable on ReserveCalifornia and there are 10 first-come-first-serve sites. The campground is fully developed with food lockers, grills, fire pits, picnic tables, restrooms, and showers. There are a few short trails that offer beach access, directly from the campground. Here you’ll be able to find lots of different kinds of seabirds. The area is optimal for beach time, fishing in the trout-stocked nearby Lake Cleone, hiking, cycling, and more. Fort Bragg is also worth checking out, it’s one of California’s cutest coastal towns.
Add to
Details
Steep Ravine
@luno.life
Just across the Golden Gate Bridge, from San Francisco, you’ll find this beautiful campground located on the coastal side of the Marin Headlands. This campground has cabins that you can rent, but since you have your Luno gear to camp with, you’ll want to reserve one of the drive-up campsites instead. Most of the sites are overlooking the ocean, with views of Mt. Tamalpais behind you. Fire pits, food lockers, and picnic tables are at each site. There are primitive toilets and faucets with drinking water available for campers as well. There is a lot to do in the area, especially hiking in the state park. These sites are incredibly popular, and fill up fast, so try to book as early as you can. Reservations can be made on ReserveCalifornia.
Add to
Details
* * *
CURATED BY
Trusted Leader for Car Camping Gear.
Send A Tip
Support Luno Life’s work.
Select your tip amount
$5
$10
$20
$50
Or type in other amount
Powered by Thatch
The home for unique & authentic travel
Powered by Thatch: Where great trips are made.
© Luno Life Privacy Terms