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28 Family-Friendly Campgrounds in Southern California

Updated for 2024

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.

The best family campgrounds near Los Angeles. (photos by Yvonne Condes)
(clockwise from the top) Joshua Tree National Park, Mt. San Jacinto State Park, El Capitan State Beach, Malibu Creek State Park, El Capitan State Beach (photos by Yvonne Condes)

Family-Friendly Campgrounds Near Los Angeles

California State Parks

California State Parks are wonderful options for family camping. Family campsites can accommodate up to eight people, with amenities (such as showers, fire pits, picnic tables) that may vary from location to location. Be sure to check the website for the most current information including reservation deadlines.

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 available on a first-come, first-served basis, and other 26 set aside for online reservations. 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. (And a bit of trivia — did you know Doheny was California’s first state beach?)

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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. While you’re there, families can hike and look for wildlife including jackrabbits, ground squirrels, roadrunners, and much more. Check the website for reservation information. 

Related: 10 Reasons to take the kids Camping

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 which are available on a first-come, first-served basis.  You’ll find picnic tables and vault toilets. Families will enjoy panoramic views and multiple hiking options. (Note – as of August 17th, 2023, this campground is temporarily closed.)

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; it’s located just 25 miles from downtown LA. Families can enjoy horseback riding, swimming, hiking, fishing, and more. Camping amenities include fire rings and showers. For centuries, this area was the center of Chumash Native American life. Fun fact – 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.

Multiple Locations

Looking for something off the beaten path? Try Hipcamp for places to set up a tent on private property around California. Hipcamp “works with landowners  to offer tent camping, RV parks, cabins, treehouses, and glamping.” Hipcamp covers “all National, State, Regional and Army Corps Parks in all 52 states, which comes out to 26,952 parks, 79,565 campgrounds, and 399,578 campsites across the USA.” Details are available online. 

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.

Joshua Tree National Park is one of the great spots to go camping in Southern California. (photo by Yvonne Condes)

Lake Hemet
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. Families may choose from a lake view site or interior site (not as close to the water, but still with great views of the lake). In addition, “Lake Hemet is proud to now offer a new type of camping adventure with glamping tent accommodations built by White Duck Outdoors.” Tents sleep up to 4 and feature two queen-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. Plus, knowing the Lake Hemet Cafe and Lake Hemet Market are nearby might provide you with some additional peace of mind.  

Catalina Island
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.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
200 Palm Canyon Dr., Borrego Springs, CA 92004

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, with “500 miles of dirt roads, twelve wilderness areas, and miles of hiking trails.” Campsite reservations are available from October 1st through April 30th, and may be booked six months in advance from the booking date. Keep in mind seasonal closures (June 1st through September 30th) do impact different campground sites including Tamarisk Grove Campground and some Borrego Palm Canyon Tent Sites. 

Table Mountain Campground
part of Angeles National Forest
near Wrightwood, CA

Not that far from busy Los Angeles, you’ll find Table Mountain Campground within the Angeles National Forest. “Campsites range from level meadow locations to shaded, hilly sites.” Families will camp within a “hilly, oak and pine forest” that also offers incredible scenic views. Campsites have fire pits and are located “reasonably close” to vault toilets. Hike, mountain bike, bird-watch, and more here. (Keep in mind – this site is closed during winter months.) 


Carpinteria State Beach
5361 6th St., Carpinteria, CA 93013

Carpinteria State Beach is located relatively close to Santa Barbara and Ventura. Families will find “terraced bluffs, dune areas and a mile of beach for swimming, surf fishing, tide pool exploring and camping.” You’ll find four campground loops which are open year-round. Camp site amenities do vary. All the details, including reservation information, are available online. 

Camp Williams Resort
24210 E. Fork Rd., Azusa, CA 91702

You’ll find a little bit of everything at the Camp Williams Resort. Tent sites are all directly on the riverfront, with picnic tables at each site. The location also has RV Sites, a Mobile Home Park, and a “Hobbit House.” You’ll also 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

There are several camping spots available in Idyllwild, which offer multiple camping options. One such spot is Stone Creek Campground which offers 50 sites to choose from and is located about 6 miles above Idyllwild. You’ll find trails that range from 1.5 miles to 3 miles, so hikers of all experience levels and stamina levels can participate. Camping sites offer water and toilet facilities and fire rings. The elevation is 5700 feet. Details about other camping locations are available online. 

Mojave National Preserve
Kelso, CA

“Mojave preserves a diverse mosaic of ecological habitats and a 10,000 year history of human connection with the desert.” Camping options include the Mid Hills Campground, Hole-in-the-Wall Campground, and Black Canyon. You’ll find Hole-in-the-Wall at 4,400 feet in elevation and with thirty-five campsites which accommodate RVs and tents. Mid Hills is located at 5,600 feet in elevation and is cooler than the desert floor below. Water is also not available at Mid Hills. Black Canyon is best suited for larger groups. Keep in mind camping is first-come, first-served at both Hole-in-the-Wall and Mid Hills Campgrounds. Details are available online. 

El Capitan State Beach near Santa Barbara is one of the great places to go camping for Southern California families. (photo by Yvonne Condes)

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. (Note – As of August 17th, 2023, El Capitan State Beach is closed to camping due to severe storm damage.)

El Capitan Canyon Resort
11560 Calle Real, Santa Barbara, CA 93117

If you’re looking for “glamping,”consider El Capitan Canyon Resort Lodging — “Nestled by the coast in historic groves of 350 acres of oak and sycamore trees along seasonal El Capitan Creek.” Families may choose to spend the night in cedar cabins or adventure yurts. 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, a children’s playground, and much more.

Serrano Family Campground
San Bernardino National Forest, CA

Serrano Campground is located on the north side 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. Plus, reservations can be placed as late as 24 hours in advance, based on availability.  

Lake Casitas Recreation Area
11311 Santa Ana Rd., Ventura, CA 93001

Families will find four camping areas — Angler, Bass, Creekside, Egret — within Lake Casitas Recreation Area. Different areas have different amenities available. Options range 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, and boat, kayak, canoe rentals are available at the lake as well. 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. (Note – As of August 17th, this campground is closed.)

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 over 100 campsites, each with a table and fire ring. Restrooms and coin-operated showers are located nearby. Reservations may be made online. 

La Jolla Indian Campground
22000 CA-76, Pauma Valley, CA

The La Jolla Indian campground is located at the base of Palomar Mountain, in northern San Diego County. “Most of the land is undisturbed wilderness and is covered with many native plants and trees such as sage, chia, berries and many oak trees for making wiiwish (acorn pudding).” This is the only campground in Sand Diego with river access and river tubing. Both tent camping and RV camping sites are available. (Note: Due to a harmful Algae Bloom at Lake Henshaw, you’ll find low levels of water in the river.)

Sycamore Canyon Campground
Point Mugu State Park
9000 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA

Point Mugu is another great spot for a first camping experience. Point Mugu features “five miles of ocean shoreline with rocky bluffs, sandy beaches, sand dunes, rugged hills and uplands, two major river canyons and wide grassy valleys dotted with sycamore, oaks, and a few native walnuts.” In addition, you’ll find more than 70 miles of hiking trails! All campsites have a fire ring and picnic table. 

Campland on the Bay
2211 Pacific Beach Dr., San Diego, CA 92109

Campland on the Bay has offered waterfront RV and tent camping for over 50 years. You’ll find something for everyone here, much more than simply camping, including a skate park, swimming pools, beach volleyball court, bike rentals, and more. There are over 500 campsites, offering a range of camping options. 

Dogwood Family Campground
San Bernardino National Forest
26898 Rim of the World Hwy, Rimforest, CA

Dogwood Family Campground offers 87 reservable camping sites, most for tent camping. You’ll also find special activities such as Interpretive Programs on Friday and Saturday nights, hiking trails, and more. Additionally, Lake Arrowhead Village is only 5 minutes away. 

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 where she writes about books, boys, and bodies (living with an invisible disability).

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