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The view from a camp spot in South Carlsbad State Beach

Beach camping in San Diego is limited to just a few options. Luckily two of the best campgrounds are large and right above the beach. Both are open to tent campers in addition to RVs. Another privately-owned campground is on the shore of Mission Bay with loads of toys and activities for kids and families. Reservations are suggested any time of year, but certainly in the summer months.

If you plan to camp near San Diego, these are your only options on the salt water.

South Carlsbad State Beach, Carlsbad

(Tent & RV Camping) This linear campground is on the bluff in North County about 30 minutes from downtown San Diego. With 223 camp spots South Carlsbad is your best best for getting space if you didn’t reserve one. The beach here is narrow and might be all wet in some places at high tide. At both ends of the campground there is more sand at North Ponto and South Ponto beaches.

San Elijo State Beach, Encinitas

(Tent & RV Camping) This large campground is on the bluff in the Cardiff area of Encinitas. It has 171 camp spots that are all just steps away from stairways leading to the beach. Just north of San Elijo State Beach is Swami’s a popular surf spot and to the south is Cardiff State Beach which has several excellent restaurants.

Silver Strand State Beach, Coronado

(RV Camping Only) Sorry, tent campers Silver Strand Campground is just for RVs. You wouldn’t want to pitch a tent on the hot asphalt anyway. Too bad they don’t allow tents right on the sand, but that’s a no-no pretty much anywhere in Southern California. Those that do have an RV will get a huge sandy beach on the ocean and the fun stuff on San Diego Bay at Crown Cove Aquatic Center too.

Campland on Mission Bay in San Diego

(Tent & RV Camping) Campland is a privately-owned campground on the northern shore of Mission Bay in San Diego. It’s great for families as the kids can play in the water without fear of big waves and rip currents. It also means there are more water-based activities for everyone to enjoy.

Camp spots at Silver Strand (RV only)

Other beach camping options are available in Orange County and the rest of Southern California.

If the campgrounds are full and you still want to enjoy an outdoor setting, consider glamping in California.