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Nothing tops drifting off to sleep near the ocean after a day spent exploring the California coastline… unless you can drift off to sleep under the stars. Spring marks the official start of camping season in California, and our beautiful coastline is full of perfect places to camp. Here are a few of our favorite coastal campgrounds in Northern California.

Anchor Bay Campground, Gualala

Fish Rock Beach Anchor Bay Campground B June2015 (15)

Located on the coast in Mendocino County, this campground is a local favorite. While the campground itself isn’t impressive, if you manage to get one of the spots directly on the beach, you’ll be in heaven. The kayaking, spear diving, fishing and crabbing in this area are some of the best in Northern California, and elephant seals are occasionally spotted in the water.

Gerstle Cove Campground

You’ll find this campground at Salt Point State Park on the Sonoma Coast. It’s adjacent to Gerstle Cove Beach, a State Marine Reserve that is home to a healthy underwater kelp forest. A lot of divers stay at this campground, but even if you’re not one, you’ll love it here.

Bodega Dunes Campground

Bodega Dunes Beach Bryce Sept2015 (17)

Bodega Dunes Campground is another Sonoma Coast gem, and it’s a must-see for anyone who wants to fall asleep to the sound of the crashing surf. The campground is just a couple of dunes away from South Salmon Creek Beach, a picturesque setting for beachcombing, kite flying and picnics. Also, the campground is dog-friendly, so you can bring your pups along.

Sykes Hot Springs


Big Sur is known for its beautiful campsites, and this one is no exception. Imagine relaxing in a soothing hot spring after a day spent hiking through nature. Sykes Hot Springs became popular during the 1960s, and it’s still a favorite destination for locals and backpackers.

Kirk Creek Campground


Perched on a bluff along Big Sur’s south coast, Kirk Creek Campground is one of the most picturesque coastal campgrounds in the entire state. It sits just 100 feet above the ocean which is why it has such amazing views of the Pacific and the Santa Lucia Mountains.

Plaskett Creek Campground


Plaskett Creek Campground is another Big Sur gem, set within a grassy meadow shaded by Monterey pine trees. This comfortable campground sits across the highway from Sand Dollar Beach, so it’s a popular place for surfers and beachcombers to stay.

Wright’s Beach Campground


Located north of Bodega Bay, Wright’s Beach Campground is a quiet and relaxing space for those who prefer to do their camping right on the sand. If you enjoy a no-frills experience with ocean views, the sound of crashing waves and long seaside walks at your disposal, you’ll love it here. Needless to say, reservations fill months in advance, so if you’re hoping to camp here this summer, visit ReserveCalifornia as soon as possible.

Reservation rules and fees for these beautiful spots vary, so do your research before your journey begins. Happy camping!