Updated for 2021
Many families would like to go camping but aren’t quite sure where to go or how to get started. And that’s where this list can help! We’ve compiled the Best Family Campgrounds in and Around Los Angeles that will get kids excited about being outside.
Some of the camp spots are first-come, first-served while others are very popular and require booking far in advance. Make sure and check the websites for weather conditions and availability before you go, especially at this time. And check the websites for the most up-to-date information regarding health and safety protocols.
Campgrounds Near Los Angeles
Many State parks have opened for camping recently, so check out their list and reservation deadlines and rules.
Green Valley Family Campground
Green Valley Lake, CA
Green Valley Family Campground is located slightly north of Arrowbear, “the midway point between Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear.” 37 camping sites are available, with 11 being available on a first-come, first-served basis. Amenities include picnic tables and flush toilets. Family activities include hiking, trout fishing, kayaking, and more. The busiest season tends to be summer.
Doheny State Beach
25300 Dana Point Harbor, Dana Point, CA 92629
If you’re looking to combine a camping experience with time by the ocean, then Doheny State Beach is the place. There are 122 campsites, including 33 beach front sites. Families can enjoy water activities such as surfing, fishing, kayaking, and swimming. Amenities include showers, fire rings, and picnic areas.
Black Rock Campground
Joshua Tree National Park
Yucca Valley, CA
You’ll find Black Rock Campground in the northwestern corner of Joshua Tree National Park. It is described as a “quiet, family campground” and is a “good introduction for first-time campers.” Each of the 99 sites features a picnic table and fire ring with water and restrooms located nearby. Campsites differ in size and can accommodate both RVs and tents. Fees and reservation information are available online. Families can hike and look for wildlife including jackrabbits, ground squirrels, roadrunners, and much more. Check the website for reservation information.
Chilao Campground, Manzanita Loop
Angeles Crest National Forest
If you’re looking to go camping but don’t want to spend a lot of time in the car to get there, then Chilao Campground may be the ideal place for you. The campground features 84 campsites and is first-come, first-served. You’ll find picnic tables and vault toilets. Families will enjoy panoramic views and multiple hiking options.
Malibu Creek State Park
1925 Las Virgenes Rd., Calabasas, CA 91302
You won’t have to drive too far to get to Malibu Creek State Park. Families can enjoy horseback riding, swimming, hiking, fishing, and more. Camping amenities include fire rings and showers. Malibu Creek State Park has also served as the filming location for television shows over the years including M*A*S*H and Planet of the Apes..
Looking for something off the beaten path? Try Hipcamp for places to set up a tent on private property around California. This “Air BnB” for Camping is a relatively new Startup and can offer some unique locations for sleeping outdoors.
Crystal Cove State Park Moro Campground
8471 N. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
At Crystal Cove State Park Moro Campground your family will enjoy camping along the Pacific coastline. Enjoy “3.2 miles of Pacific coastline, plus wooded canyons, open bluffs, and offshore waters designated as an underwater park.” There are 57 family campsites with picnic tables. Restrooms and showers are also available. This spot provides families with the opportunity to swim, bike, hike, walk, surf, sunbathe, and more. Crystal Cove State Park is considered to be “one of Orange County’s largest remaining examples of open space and natural seashore.” Reservation information is available online.
56750 California 74, Mountain Center, CA 92561
You’ll find a variety of camping options available at Lake Hemet. Whether you consider yourself an expert or a novice, Lake Hemet offers a family-friendly camping site for you. In addition, “Lake Hemet is proud to now offer a new type of camping adventure with clamping tent accommodations built by Shelter Co.” Tents sleep up to 4 and feature two full-size beds, linens, access to full indoor bathroom and showers, and more. Once you’re at Lake Hemet, you won’t run out of things to do including fishing, kayaking, swimming, and more. And if you’re really missing city life, you may feel more comfortable knowing there is a Cafe and store nearby.
five different campsites
Catalina Island is only a boat-ride away so it’s easy to give your family a very unique camping experience without venturing too far from home or spending too much time in the car. You’ll find five different campgrounds on the island, each with different features, including some being more rugged and secluded than others. Check the website for descriptions and information about fees.
Borrego Palm Canyon Campground
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
200 Palm Canyon Dr., Borrego Springs, CA 92004
Families will find a beautiful spot to enjoy the outdoors at the Borrego Palm Canyon Campground. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in California so you certainly won’t run out of things to see and do. Go for a hike, star gaze at night, and more.
part of Angeles National Forest
near Wrightwood, CA
Not that far from busy Los Angeles, you’ll find Table Mountain within the Angeles National Forest. Families will camp within a “hilly, oak and pine forest” that also offer incredible scenic views. Hike, mountain bike, bird-watch, and more here. Campsites have fire pits and are located “reasonably close” to vault toilets.
Carpinteria State Beach
5361 6th St., Carpinteria, CA 93013
Carpinteria State Beach is located twelve miles south of Santa Barbara. Camping here offers families the chance to hike, swim, bike, fish, and more. There are “more than 200 family campsites, each with a table and fire ring; drinking water is available nearby.” Amenities include showers and picnic tables. Be prepared that you may find tar on the beach. The Chumash had a large “carpentry shop” here because of the naturally occurring tar which they used to seal canoes and other boats.
Camp Williams Resort
24210 E. Fork Rd., Azusa, CA 91702
You’ll find a little bit of everything at the Camp Williams Resort. Families can camp on the banks of the San Gabriel River East Fork. (There is also a mobile home park and a camping cabin called Hobbit House here). You’ll find restrooms, showers, a cafe, and a general store. Outdoor activities include bird watching, hiking, fishing, and more.
Stone Creek Campground
Mount San Jacinto State Park
Highway 243, Idyllwild, CA
Stone Creek Campground offers 50 sites to choose from and “the campground has water and toilet facilities, fire rings, with a trailer limit of 24 feet.” Families will also find adjacent hiking trails and feel comfortable knowing that town is a short distance away. The elevation is 5700 feet.
Mid Hills Campground and Hole-in-the-Wall Campground
Mojave National Preserve
Mojave National Preserve is described as being a “camper’s paradise.” It is the “largest unit of the National Park System in the contiguous United States.” Families will find two “family” campgrounds, the Mid Hills Campground and Hole-in-the-Wall Campground. Both sites are available year-round and include fire rings, picnic tables, and pit toilets. Keep in mind that reservations are not accepted; campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
El Capitán State Beach
Off of Highway 101, 17 Miles West of Santa Barbara, CA 93117
El Capitán State Beach near Santa Barbara offers visitors a sandy beach, rocky tidepools, and stands of sycamore and oaks along El Capitán Creek. This popular campground has group, single tent, RV and camper sites. Campers can walk to the beach from the campground, ride bikes on the trail or play ball in the grassy area near the camp/beach store.
If you’re looking for “glamping,” head across the road to El Capitan Canyon resort lodging. Families may choose to spend the night in cedar cabins or safari tents. A variety of family-friendly activities are available including biking (complimentary adult-size beach cruisers are available), live entertainment (on Saturday nights, May through September), hiking, and much more.
Note – El Capitán State Beach will be closed for about one year beginning on September 1st, 2021.
San Bernardino National Forest, CA
Serrano Campground is located within walking distance of Big Bear Lake which means your family will not run out of things to do. Get ready for some active days with fishing, boating, water sports, hiking, bird watching, and more. The campground offers more than 100 sites for both tent and RV camping, each equipped with tables and campfire rings with grills. The site also has flush toilets and showers.
Lake Casitas Recreation Area
11311 Santa Ana Rd., Ventura, CA 93001
Lake Casitas offers over 400 sites with camping options ranging from Basic Hookup Sites on dirt pads to Executive Hookup Sites featuring a 40’ concrete pad with water, electric, and sewer hookups. Families will also appreciate the on-site playgrounds though the nearby Casitas Water Adventure remains closed for the summer 2021 season. Reservations are available online.
Wheeler Gorge Campground
17017 Maricopa Hwy, Ojai, CA
Wheeler Gorge Campground offers 69 family campsites and 5 handicap accessible sites. Each site contains a table, barbecue, and fire ring. Enjoy the Natural Trail for a half-mile hike along the stream. And it’s nice knowing that Wheeler Gorge is only about 8 miles away from the town of Ojai. Reservations are available online.
Hesperia Lake Park
7500 Arrowhead Lake Rd., Hesperia, CA 92345
Families will find a variety of sites at Hesperia Lake for both RVs and tent camping. All sites have a picnic table and fire ring as well as electricity. Families will also enjoy the opportunity to fish while there. You’ll also find a store on-site supplied with camping essentials, drinks, snacks, and fishing gear. Reservations must be made by phone only (not online). 760-244-5951
Leo Carrillo Campground
35000 W. Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265
Leo Carrillo State Park offers “1.5 miles of beach for swimming, surfing, windsurfing, surf fishing, and beachcombing. The beach also has tide pools, coastal caves and reefs for exploring.” And it’s not too far, about 28 miles northwest of Santa Monica. The campground has 135 family sites, each with a table and fire ring. Restrooms and coin-operated showers are located nearby. Reservations may be made online.
Wendy Kennar is a mother, writer, and former teacher who has lived her entire life in the same Los Angeles zip code. You can read more from Wendy at her website WendyKennar.com where she writes about books, boys, and bodies (living with an invisible disability).
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