Southern San Diego County Surf & Camp Vacation

Did we whet your appetite with ideas for surfing and RV camping your way through Northern San Diego County? Well hold on, because we’re just getting started. This week, we’re going to keep moving south and talk about the places where the breaks bring big waves and camping keeps you near the beach.

Where to Camp Near San Diego Surfing

As we move down the shoreline into San Diego surf territory, the prime surf spots stretch to the Mexican border. Before we highlight the best surf beaches in San Diego, let’s talk about where to camp in your RV. Coming from the north in San Diego County, your next opportunity to camp where there’s surfing nearby is San Elijo State Beach near Encinitas. There’s a large campground with standard electric campsites and views to blow you away at sunset.

Farther south, on a spit of sand extending out into San Diego Harbor, Silver Strand State Beach is another option for RV campers who love to surf. Surrounded by both San Diego Harbor and the Pacific Ocean, you can’t beat the scenery and with more than one hundred campsites, the chances of getting a campsite are good.

One more possibility for camping near San Diego surf beaches is to stay at Campland on the Bay, a huge private campground on Mission Bay. It has every amenity you can imagine, so if you’re not able to book or find a site near a state beach, consider camping here instead.

Where to Surf Near San Diego

There’s no shortage of good surfing near San Diego,san_diego_shutterstock_380691118 with natural features like reefs and beachbreaks and several piers to keep things interesting. You’ll remember in our last post that we ended the ride at South Carlsbad State Park. If we pick up our journey to find great surfing by heading south on I-5, our first stop will be the surf beaches near Encinitas.

If you’re camping at San Elijo State Beach (see above) you’ll be just north of Pipes, an area popular with beginning to advanced surfers, depending on which breaks they choose. Continuing south, the twin breaks at Cardiff State Beach, near the iconic SoCal surf town of Cardiff-by-the-Sea, combine with the endless waves at Cardiff Reef to make this town a spot where you’ll want to stay awhile.

When you’re ready to continue south in search of San Diego surfing, plan a stop at Del Mar Beach. With reef and beachbreaks, swells and tricky river mouth currents to add a challenge, this is another SoCal beach worth spending more than one day surfing. Just south of Del Mar, the wicked beachbreaks at Blacks are best left for highly-experienced surfers.

And that brings us south to Scripps Pier at La Jolla, a good place to test your skills on the ledges formed on the pier’s south side. Farther south, La Jolla Shores promises consistent waves that can be conquered by less-experienced surfers, making it popular with local surf schools. A less predictable surf beach can be found at La Jolla Cove, but the waves aren’t always breaking there. If you have the time to wait, you might find yourself in the ride of your life off this beach.

When you finally reach the city of San Diego, you haven’t run out of good surfing. Ocean Beach, out on the point on San Diego Harbor, has all those features that keep the surfing consistent. A reef, pier and two beaches produce breaks in both directions for waves that will keep all levels of surfers busy.

Our final destination, just five miles north of the border with Mexico, is Imperial Beach, a city where surfing is a treasured pastime. Spend time on the south side of Imperial Beach Pier for a lineup to challenge your best moves. Not as busy as other surfing hot spots near San Diego, Imperial Beach is worth making a stop as you near the end of your camping and surfing vacation.

There you have it, our best tips for camping and surfing your way through San Diego County from Encinitas to Imperial Beach. Keep it easy by picking up a San Diego RV rental, booking campsites ahead where you can and planning lots of time to get to know the beachbreaks, reefs and other secrets that make Southern California surfing so exciting.

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Northern San Diego County Surf & Camp Vacation

San Diego County, California, stretches along I-5 from the border with Mexico north to the Orange County line at San Clemente. All along the way are legendary surf beaches, waiting to be explored by RV travelers. There are also exceptional places to camp by RV along the entire route.

We’ve broken up our itinerary into northern and southern San Diego County surf and camp destinations. This week, we’ll be talking about the northern beaches, from Trestles at San Onofre State Beach down to Carlsbad State Beach. As you read, use this handy surf cam/surf report link to see how the waves are breaking at each point.

Surf & Camp Stop 1: San Onofre State Beach

san_clemente_ca_shutterstock_258434750

San Clemente, CA

Two surfing beaches worth a visit, no matter when you come to San Diego County, can be found at San Onofre State Beach, just south of San Clemente   and adjacent to Camp Pendleton North. Reserve a campsite before you come at San Mateo Campground, about a mile and a half inland from Trestles Beach.

Make your way along the trail that crosses under I-5 to Trestles and Old Man Beach just to the south, where you’ll find distinctly different surfing conditions, both courtesy of the break at San Mateo Point. (Hint: “Old Man” refers to the long board surfers who once flocked to the rollers here. Trestles offers three areas—Uppers, Middles and Lowers—each with its own signature brand of swells.)

Non-surfers in your camping crew will appreciate the windswept trails along the bluffs and three-plus-miles of beaches to enjoy.

Surf & Camp Stop 2: Oceanside Harbor

The natural and manmade breaks found in the harbor at Oceanside, CA make for consistently good surfing year-round. Situated to receive desirable southwest swells, Oceanside offers challenges for beginning to advanced surfers.

Come RV camping and surfing to Oceanside to experience such hotspots as the jetties on the harbor’s north side, as well as the waves on both sides of the pier. Surfers will also appreciate the steady break action caused by sandbars throughout the harbor.

Where to camp while in Oceanside? There are two beachside parking lots that allow overnight RV parking (no hook-ups, but couldn’t be closer to the water). If you miss those parking spots, there are numerous private RV parks near Oceanside, or you can head for our next Northern San Diego County Surf & Camp Spot—South Carlsbad State Beach.

Surf & Camp Spot 3: South Carlsbad State Beach

South Carlsbad State Beach offers spectacular views from its bluff-top campground, where you can relax each night after a long day of surfing. The continuous break of waves rolling toward Tamarack Surf Beach attracts surfing enthusiasts year-round. An added bonus: you’re a short drive from surfing action at Oceanside as well as the challenges farther south at Cardiff, Del Mar and La Jolla (more about those in the next post).

While at Carlsbad/Tamarack Beach, take the time to walk the four-mile seawall for views of the beach, the ocean and sunsets that will take their place in your top vacation memories.

Whether you decide to RV camp and surf your way through northern San Diego County in the golden days of summer or when winter’s Santa Ana winds kick up a whole new breed of waves, there’s no time like the present to start planning. Pick your next surfing challenge. Rent the RV that suits your style, reserve your campsites and pack your wetsuits and board shorts. That’s really all you need; San Diego County is ready to supply the rest of your epic surf and camp vacation.

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5 Popular Tourist Attractions to Visit in Orange County on Your Next RV Trip

Orange County is one of the most popular tourist areas in California, and for good reason. Orange County offers the best of both worlds with sprawling natural landscapes, ever-growing cities, year-round festivities, and great places to eat. Taking an RV trip to Orange County is a no-brainer, but the real question is what should you do once you get there?

Unless you have a lot of time and money on your hands, there’s no way you will be able to see everything Orange County has to offer in one trip.  Of course, you could make the leap and move there, but not many people have the luxury of uprooting just to get a full experience. Assuming you only have a few days to tour Orange County, here are some of the top tourist attractions to check out.

  1. Disneyland Park
Disneyland Park - Anaheim, CA

Disneyland Park – Anaheim, CA

Orange County is most recognizable as the home of Disneyland. Thousands of people flood to this famed park each year, providing Orange County with the publicity it needs to draw tourists. Disneyland’s attractions continue to grow and evolve even today. Long-time staples like Mickey’s Toontown, Adventureland, and Tomorrowland are enough to bring people from all over to Orange County’s top theme park but newer classics such as Fantasy Faire work to draw even more tourism to the area.

Be sure to check out the RV parking situation before you arrive or plan to make camp at one of the nearby campgrounds.

  1. Mission San Juan Capistrano

This 200-year-old mission is now a monument to Orange County’s diverse past and present. Built by Spanish Catholic priests and Native Americans, the mission was once the center of a self-sufficient community involving agriculture, religion, education, and industry. The mission now offers a number of exhibits, some permanent and some temporary, to go alongside the building’s own historic attributes.

  1. Crystal Cove State Park

For a more natural destination, Crystal Cove has been designated a nature reserve where it fosters the growth of natural plants and animals in its forested canyons, stretches of beach, and tidal pools. It is popular for swimming, surfing, and tidal pool exploration. There are also a number of coves frequently used for after-dark bonfires. Spending a relaxing day at the beach can be a good way to unwind and recuperate from your trip to Disneyland. Just be sure to reserve a spot at the campground for your RV ahead of time!

  1. Huntington Beach Pier

If the ocean is your draw to California, Huntington Beach Pier is a must-visit. The surrounding city of Huntington is known as “Surf City” for the sheer number of surf-driven tourists. People come from all corners of the U.S. to catch a wave and enjoy some of the nation’s best surfing. The website for the famous pier is even updated three times a day for visitors to track the surfing conditions. If you do not surf but want to visit Orange County, now may be the time to learn. RVs are definitely welcome just be sure to check for parking restrictions.

  1. Downtown Disney

Downtown Disney is a part of the enormous theme park that does not require tickets. You can stroll the pristine walkways and peruse the rows of shops, many containing Disney-related merchandise. It also offers the colors and flashiness of Disney without the theme park atmosphere. Entertainment such as night clubs, movie theaters, and live, outdoor shows can all be found in the Downtown Disney district.

Visiting or even moving to Orange County can be an extraordinarily rewarding experience. The area is rich with local culture, diversity, and events while still appealing to the tourist industry with its theme parks and beaches. Regardless of the time you spend in Orange County, it will be worth your while.

Catherine Workman grew up in a small town where she yearned to stretch her wings. Now that she’s left the nest, she spends every available weekend exploring different cities across the country and someday, across the world. She started WellnessVoyager.com with her friends to share her travels and experiences and hopes to inspire others to embrace the hidden gems of the world.

Image via Pixabay by Manic_Sylph

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RV Camping on California’s Highway 99

Looking for a new way to spend a weekend in the Sacramento area? RV camping fans will find two Northern California towns, each with its own vintage charm, along historic Hwy 99E. The towns of Chico and Red Bluff are connected by this scenic byway that parallels the Sacramento River, and is also conveniently close to Mendocino and Plumas National Forests.

Chico – Art for Everyone

You’ll find plenty to keep you busy on our first stop along Historic Hwy 99. While RV camping near Chico, CA, here are five things you won’t want to miss in this friendly town with an artistic flair.

  • SoPo and The Junction, a vibrant, vintage district where the distinct blend of art, music, eateries and special events make the area a favorite of Chico State students.
  • Thursday Night Market on Broadway, held weekly April through September, is a special treat for Chico visitors hoping to experience artists, artisans, food truck chefs and the town’s eclectic music scene, all in one event.
  • Chico’s Public Art offerings include stunning sculptures, murals and mosaics throughout Downtown Chico. Plan time to see each one on your trip.
  • Bidwell Park, more than three thousand acres on the banks of Big Chico Creek, is one of the largest municipal parks in the country. Whether you’re hiking the more rugged trails of the Upper Park or strolling the serene pathways of the Lower Park, it’s the best way to explore Chico outdoors. Scenic bonus—you can enter the park trail system through Chico’s beautiful City Plaza.
  • Eighth & Main Antique Center in Downtown Chico offers antiques and collectibles hunters nearly thirty thousand square feet of shopping. Come early and be prepared to be amazed at what you’ll find in hundreds of booths over two floors.

Hwy 99E – Chico to Red Bluff

When you’re ready to pack up the RV and head down the road to Red Bluff, it’s an easy hour’s drive north, IF you don’t stop to take advantage of seasonal fresh fruit and vegetable offerings along the way.

Once in Red Bluff, you’ll soon see why Northern California RV travelers mark the town as a favorite stop. Not only is it known for its Western history and a great selection of antique stores, it’s also adjacent to Lassen Volcanic National Park. In other words, camping in Red Bluff always promises fantastic views as well as plenty of entertainment!

Once you’ve made a driving circuit of Red Bluff, built high above the Sacramento River, here are four more ideas for spending time while you’re there:

  • Shop and stroll in the Victorian charm of Downtown Red Bluff to find antiques, local arts and crafts and an impressive array of Western wear. Tip for RV camping rodeo fans: if you happen to be in town the third weekend of April, don’t miss the Red Bluff Round-Up, the country’s biggest two-day rodeo
  • Take a walking tour of the town’s gorgeous Victorian homes and be sure to tour the Kelly-Griggs House Museum (open Sundays only) to learn even more about the area’s early settlers.
  • Camp at Lassen Volcanic National Park, just north of town,  Ciff Lake, Lassen Volcanic National Park and surrender to the wilderness beauty of the region. Whether your idea of outdoor recreation is a quiet walk on a forest trail or fishing an untamed waterway, you’ll find a place to do it in the shadow of Lassen Peak.
  • Visit Gaumer’s Jewelry & Museum: In business for decades, Gaumer’s offers shoppers the chance to learn about local mining history while exploring displays and exhibits featuring gems, minerals and custom-made jewelry.

The Route

How to get to Chico, our first destination on Hwy 99E? You actually have two choices,

  1. Follow I-5 (formerly known as Hwy 99W) north from Sacramento until you reach Hwy 32 and follow it east to Chico.
  2. Follow CA70/Hwy 99E north from Sacramento to Marysville and then continue north thru farmland and orchards on CA70 to Oroville, swinging west on CA149 to Chico.

A trip along Northern California’s Historic Hwy 99E promises plenty for art lovers, antiques hunters and history buffs. Make the whole trip in a weekend, or slow things down and branch out to the magnificent national forests and parks surrounding Chico and Red Bluff for a big dose of natural wonder.

Don’t own an RV? No problem—nothing could be easier than picking up your reserved motorhome rental in Sacramento, or if you’re planning to extend your trip to enjoy the Bay Area, our San Francisco location is waiting to help. We hope you’ll add your trip report to the Comments below!

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RV Traveler’s Guide to California Underground

California’s natural beauty is no secret to anyone who’s visited, but did you know the Golden State is just as beautiful below the surface? California is home to an impressive number of caverns, with tours that will appeal to any level cave explorer. As you’re planning this year’s RV travel, consider discovering the wonders of California underground.

To start our tour of California caves, we’re headed for Lake Shasta, near Redding, CA. That’s where you’ll find Lake Shasta Caverns National Natural Landmark and a cave tour that begins with a boat ride! Cross the McCloud Arm of Shasta Lake on your tour boat, ride the special bus to the cave’s remote entrance and then watch, listen and learn on a 45-minute guided tour through the cavern.

Tip for RV travelers hoping to visit: this cave tour isn’t suited for small children or anyone not able to climb multiple flights of stairs. If you’re up for it, you’re in for a treat and the surrounding scenery is spectacular, too. Numerous private RV campgrounds are located nearby to allow you to stay in comfort.

Another outstanding underground adventure is available in California Gold Country. This is your chance to visit not one but three caverns within three hours’ drive. To reach the northern-most cavern, travel US-50/CA-16 east from Sacramento to Sutter Creek, then CA-88 to Pine Grove’s Volcano Road to find Black Chasm National Natural Landmark. Whether you choose the walking cave tour or the Labyrinth Rock Scramble through an abandoned gold mine, it’ll be a fascinating trip.

You can then follow CA-88/CA-49 to California Cavern State Historic Landmark near San Andreas. This cavern offers three levels of exploration in a family-friendly atmosphere. Just down CA-49 to the south is Moaning Cavern Adventure Park, where you can rappel down the largest vertical chamber in the state, take a walking cave tour or combine rappelling with spelunking on the Adventure Tour.

For travelers hoping to add a magnificent national park into their caving adventures, why not visit Crystal Cave in Sequoia National Park?  Crystal Cave, Sequoia National Park, CA  Travel CA-99 north from Bakersfield to Three Rivers and then on to the cave entrance within the national park. A half-mile hike will bring you to a marble wonderland below the surface of one of the nation’s prettiest preserves.

Round out your trip with hikes through groves of giant sequoias and a stay at a Three Rivers or Visalia campground.

For a truly unique caving experience, consider a trip to the La Jolla Underwater Park and Ecological Reserve, where you can explore the Seven Caves of La Jolla by kayak. You can visit one of these limestone sea caves on land, but don’t miss the chance to see the wonders of the other six by kayak tour. It’s a quick drive from San Diego to La Jolla, and San Diego area RV campgrounds make an overnight stay easy.

These are just six of the ways to discover the beauty of California underground by RV. Plan to visit all six, or pick one for each long weekend this summer. With California RV rentals plentiful and campgrounds up and down the Golden State just waiting to play host, what better way to learn something new about California this year?

Image attribution:  Vgane at en.wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], from Wikimedia Commons

 

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How to Get Away from the Crowd While RV Camping

Traveling by RV is always comfortable, no matter whether you’re parked in a luxury RV resort or deep within a national forest. For campers who enjoy solitude, seeking campsites beyond developed campgrounds can be your best choice, if you’re willing to plan ahead.

One of the easiest ways to get away from the crowd while RV camping is to take advantage of campsites at state and national forests. Here are just a few spots to consider as you plan your adventures:

  • If you’re planning a Virginia RV camping adventure, consider a visit to Shenandoah National Forest. The campgrounds there, set among woodlands, waterfalls and trails with panoramic views, offer dump stations, drinking water and large campsites.
  • Travelers planning a Pennsylvania RV vacation should take a look at the less-developed campgrounds in Allegheny National Forest. This vast greenspace is a fishing and hiking paradise and some campgrounds offer both electric or primitive campsites.
  • Visitors to California will want to take a look at Lassen National Forest, where several campgrounds accommodate your need for no-hookups privacy (and the views are simply breathtaking!)
  • Florida RV campers hoping for a less crowded environment can check out Osceola National Forest west of Jacksonville, especially the Ocean Pond campground. Three levels of camping allow you to pick how isolated you’d like to be while exploring the trails and waterways in this lush, green environment.

But you may be saying, “Wait a minute! What exactly do you mean by “camping outside of developed campgrounds”? What we’re talking about is a camping area where you’ll find a water supply, dump station and shower/restroom facilities close by, but perhaps without electric or water hookups at each campsite. You may not be able to use your electronic appliances and devices unless generator use is allowed, but the trade-off is in uncluttered views and uncrowded camping.

To take advantage of the beauty many of these campgrounds have to offer, you’ll have to plan ahead and make some adjustments to expectations. Here are some suggestions as you prepare to camp in a state or national forest campground.

  • Check ahead for rules about generator use, and plan for essentials accordingly.
  • Fill water tanks and empty waste water tanks before arriving.
  • Plan to cook on a gas stove or grill or plan menus that don’t require cooking.
  • Take care to only dispose of waste water at campground or park dump stations.
  • During the warmest hours of the day, plan activities like swimming or hiking in the deep woods to stay cool.
  • Plan ahead for safe food storage.
  • For ‘dispersed camping’ spots, where parking the RV is allowed in areas without amenities, you’ll need to pack out your own trash.

Being able to embrace the beauty of natural areas is possible even while enjoying RV comfort. Don’t own an RV? No problem—we’re always here to help with an RV rental.

With a little planning, camping in less crowded campgrounds might just become your favorite way to vacation. Why not start planning your get-away-from-it-all adventure now?

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RV Camping to California Winter Beer Fests

As if you needed another reason to come to California in February, here’s some news for beer aficionados who enjoy RV camping: the Golden State hosts some of the best beer fests and expos while most other states are still shoveling snow.

It’s time to book your campsite in California, because fans of craft beers and microbreweries won’t want to miss these festivals.

  • Bock Fest Olympic Collection Convention CenterWest LA – Feb. 6, 2016

Spend an afternoon tasting beers from around the world while raising money for charity. Indulge your love of beer pong or watch the best brews take home the gold as judging takes place on-site. If visiting the area for the first time, plan an extra day to visit the beautiful city of Santa Monica nearby, as well as taking a drive north on Hwy 1 along Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Unforgettable!

Looking for yet another way to sample brews from dozens of microbreweries while donating to a great cause? This February fest is just the ticket! Get in on the festival fun, learn how this annual fest raises money for breast cancer education and enjoy the beauty of an Oceanside or San Diego RV campground. If your honey loves beer, too, it’s the perfect Valentine’s Day camping excursion.

Bands, brews and a whole lot more at a legendary venue. Come Friday or Saturday evening to sample an amazing variety of craft brews while enjoying live music, food and the company of fellow beer fans.  Plan to extend your San Diego RV camping vacation with a visit to Cabrillo National Monument, Belmont Park or the San Diego Zoo.

With this awesome combination, how could a festival go wrong? Spend the afternoon or evening session sampling brews from more than two dozen breweries. You’ll also be treated to the bacon-themed stylings of numerous local restaurants. Check out the event details on their website and then reserve a site at a campground near the action.

If you’ve never been to beautiful “SLO”, there’s no better time than while visiting the Craft Beer Fest.  Sample delicious food and brew pairings, attend seminars on the art of craft brewing and rub shoulders with those who share your passion.  Camp close by and take the time to experience Oceano Dunes, Pismo State Beach and Morro Bay.

There you have it—five fantastic reasons for beer loving travelers to come to California in February!  Order tickets for your favorite events, bring along your designated driver and be sure to book your campsites early.

We can also help with a California RV rental, no matter which beer fest you plan to attend.  The beers are brewed and the festivals are firing up!  Don’t miss your chance to take an exciting California RV camping vacation to attend these winter beer fests.

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Seven Day Southern California RV Camping Itinerary

The kids are out of school for the holidays, and many companies are on virtual shutdown. What to do with all that time on your hands? Head to sunny Southern California, where the camping’s fine and there are hundreds of ways to amuse, educate and entertain the family. Here’s a seven-day Southern California RV camping itinerary that’s sure to be a hit.

Days One and Two: Newport Beach

Pick up your RV rental and then set up camp at this beautiful Orange County city by the sea. Rent bikes or kayaks at a local outfitter and then head for Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve, where a thousand acres of coastal wetlands invite paddlers, hikers, bikers and birdwatchers to discover the ‘Back Bay’ and its abundance of wildlife.

On your second day of camping in Newport Beach, treat the family to a short, scenic cruise from Balboa Peninsula to Balboa Island. While on the island, take the time to enjoy one-of-a-kind, locally owned shops and cafes and don’t miss the picturesque vacation cottages before heading back to Balboa Fun Zone on the Peninsula.

Tip: if you happen to come between Christmas and New Year’s Day, be sure to enjoy one of the Christmas Lights Cruises between Newport and Balboa Island. 

Days Three and Four: San Diego

An hour and a half south of Newport Beach, you’ll find a world of activities to keep your family entertained. Once you’re settled in your San Diego RV campground, make your way to the San Diego Zoo, where the annual Jungle Bells extravaganza turns this already fascinating place into a holiday wonderland.cabrillo_natl_monument_shutterstock_168668990

You’ll also want to save time to visit Cabrillo National Monument. It’s a wonderfully scenic history lesson for kids and adults alike, featuring a visitors’ center, a restored lighthouse, nature trails and a monument to the first European to set foot on our country’s West Coast. Round out your trip by visiting at least one of the city’s iconic beaches—Mission Beach, La Jolla Shores and Coronado Beach are local favorites.

Days Five and Six: Joshua Tree National Park

Take the three hour drive northeast from San Diego to find a completely different SoCal landscape. Joshua Tree National Park, a desert wilderness that’s a haven for birds, wildlife and unspoiled scenery, also features several campgrounds that accommodate RVs. Arrive early on Day Five to ensure you’ll find a campsite and then take off into the wilderness on a scenic drive, a nature hike or a photography safari. The ranger led tour of Keys Ranch gives a glimpse into California’s ranching history, and there’s nothing quite like camping in the peace and quiet of the desert.

Day Seven: Travel Day to Newport Beach

As you journey back to Newport Beach to return your RV rental, don’t miss the sights along the way. Palm Springs, fabled home to the rich and famous, is just outside Joshua Tree National Park. Down the road in Riverside, CA, challenge your fellow campers to complete the hike up Mt. Robidoux for an awesome view of the city. Continue another hour west on CA-91 and south on CA-55 to Newport Beach to complete your journey. 

Are you ready to spend a week soaking up the beauty and excitement of Southern California? Here’s a listing of excellent California campgrounds to help you plan. Hoping for a couple more days RV camping in SoCal? No worries! Our Happy Holidays RV Rental Special offers nine days’ RV rental for the price of seven during the month of December, so call us now to book your RV. See you in SoCal!

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Slip Away to Santa Cruz for an Early Winter RV Trip

When the Thanksgiving crowd goes home and winter is settling in, wouldn’t it be fun to slip away to Santa Cruz, California for an early winter RV trip? If you’ve never been to this city on the north shore of Monterey Bay, it’s time you did. Mild winter temperatures, beautiful natural attractions and exciting wintertime events make it the perfect place for winter RV travelers to relax and regroup.

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Natural Bridges State Park

The beauty of nature in the Santa Cruz area welcomes visitors to come enjoy. Natural Bridges State Beach,   for example, holds a wonderful surprise for winter travelers, in the form of thousands of Monarch butterflies migrating to its eucalyptus groves. Stroll the boardwalk and photograph these fluttering beauties to your heart’s content. What a peaceful way to spend an afternoon!

To truly let go of your stress and strain, take a day to hike the beaches and shoreline along the California Coastal National Monument. Created to preserve the diverse ecosystems both on and offshore, CCNM encourages wildlife watching, nature photography and simply soaking in the wonder of the coast as it unfolds along Hwy 1.

Man-made beauty, in the form of boats bedecked with Christmas lights and decorations, will be the star attraction for families, if you’re in town the first Saturday in December. The Lighted Boat Parade in Santa Cruz Harbor kicks off the holiday season with a splash. The kids will love it!

If you’re still having trouble getting into the holiday spirit, there’s a train for that! The Santa Cruz Holiday Lights Christmas Train departs from and returns to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk for an hour long journey through the city. Sing along with carolers, sip a little cocoa and allow yourself to believe in Santa for an hour!

And what’s a trip to Santa Cruz without exploring Monterey Bay? Whale watching tours abound, with particular interest to December visitors as thousands of Grey Whales migrate south along the Bay. Back on shore, be sure to visit the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Interpretive Center adjacent to Santa Cruz Wharf.

Doesn’t a trip like this sound like the perfect antidote to early winter doldrums? It’s easy to plan, thanks to Santa Cruz RV rentals and an abundance of RV campgrounds in the Santa Cruz and Monterey area.

So, why not do yourself the favor of slipping away to a stunning city by the sea, where whale and butterfly watching are the most stressful things you’ll do? Santa Cruz, with miles and miles of pristine coastline to wander and plenty of tempting winter events, can become your refuge from holiday stress and the grey days of winter elsewhere.

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It’s Time to Come RV Camping at El Capitan State Beach!

Think warm summer months are the only time to go beach camping? Think again! El Capitan State Beach, just seventeen miles west of Santa Barbara, California, is fabulous year-round, with attractive winter temps in the 60s.  el_capitan_sb_parks.ca.gov

That means perfect beach-hiking weather, plus access to a whole range of other outdoor activities. El Capitan’s oak-covered bluffs, rocky beach and on-site RV campground are just three more reasons to come here this winter.

Need a little more incentive? Here’s a suggested itinerary for camping at El Capitan State Beach, adjustable for your family’s level of activity.

  • Reserve your El Capitan SB campsite as far in advance as possible. It’s a popular spot! Most campsites have awesome ocean views and are a short walk from the beach.
  • Pick up your Van Nuys RV rental and head up US-101 two hours (through Oxnard and Ventura) to El Capitan SB. Alternately, you could pick up your El Monte CA RV rental and drive just a bit longer on the same highway. Either location is close to LAX.
  • Once you’ve set up camp, walk the steps down to the beach (if its low tide) and experience the splendor of California’s Gaviota Coast first hand. Watch for sea life in the tide pools formed by rocky outcroppings and keep an eye out to sea—you just might see dolphins and grey whales close to shore!
  • From the seaside RV campground, watch the sunset with your family. The bluffs are magnificent at sundown!
  • Camping with youngsters? Take the short nature trail through giant sycamores and along the beach for even more stunning views of the shoreline.
  • Book a kayak tour from Refugio State Beach (just down the road) to El Capitan SB for on-the-water exploration of sea life and coastal ecology.
  • Here’s another idea—bring your own kayak and go surf fishing for surfperch and other species while exploring the protected shoreline just past the campground.
  • Don’t miss the chance to visit Channel Islands National Park, just off the coast, by taking a boat tour to one of the islands. Click here for more information. Tip—the whale watching tour in winter is awesome!

Need just a little more incentive to come our way? The town of Santa Barbara is a great place for a day trip, an evening out or some well-deserved shopping. Save some time to get to know this lovely spot, famous for its Spanish architecture. There’s a reason so many people spend the winter here!

Winter beach camping at El Capitan State Beach is a fantastic way to unwind, so why not make it a priority this year? The windswept beauty, convenient oceanside campground, proximity to other state and national parks and abundant outdoor activities will bring you, like so many other seasoned RV travelers, back to El Capitan winter after winter.

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