10 Awesome Camping Spots Near San Diego (2023)
Sometimes, all someone wants to do is pack their bags and take a camping trip somewhere near. If you are feeling that way as well, why not actually take this trip to one of the many excellent campsites near San Diego? Just like the city, the camping spots near San Diego have a lot to offer as well.
10 Awesome Camping Spots Near San Diego
Check out this list of the best campsites near San Diego. All of these places are pretty close to the city, and hence, you will not have any issue in trying to reach the place.
1. Mount Laguna
In the Cleveland National Forest Region, Mount Laguna is a wonderful option for camping. This site occurs both the beauty of nature and the basic necessities of modern life, which makes it the perfect location to spend a weekend. The camping grounds also have several spots from where you can choose the one you like to camp in.
Most of the camping sites here are on the basis of first come and first serve. Some of the famous spots which get booked out pretty fast are Boulder Oak, Tibet Flats, and Burnt Rancheria. It would be best if you decide to book these places beforehand. The area also offers fun activities like mountain biking, hiking, and rock climbing. You will be able to have a whole fun day out when in Mount Laguna.
Distance from San Diego: 55 miles
2. Crystal Cove State Park
For beach lovers, Crystal Cove State Park can be the perfect getaway to rejuvenate themselves. This location is right in the middle of Laguna Beach and Newport Beach, and hence, people don’t have to travel long distances, or all the way to Catalina, to experience the beauty of a beach.Image Source
The camping ground has several sites that are open for camping. These sites offer easy access to the beach. However, you will have to walk quite a long distance to get there, which means many exercises. You will not be able to camp on the beach. The camping ground is a 3-mile trek up the hill. Some fun activities which are included here are mountain biking, hiking, lounging, and tide pools. This truly is one of the trendiest camping grounds near San Diego.
Distance from San Diego: 86 miles
3. Mount Palomar
Mount Palomar is a special camping ground as it has something very unique to offer. In the area, you will be able to find the Observatory Campground, which lets you get an insight into the world of astronomy. Hence, this campsite has garnered a lot of attention from the locals as well as the tourists.
The forest surrounding this mountain can also be explored with a mountain bike or hike. That feeling in itself is pretty aesthetic. From the observatory, the campsite is two miles away, and you can hike your way there. During the summer, the authorities also host various astronomy events on the weekends. The site has several grounds to offer for camping, and you can choose whichever you like and do your own stargazing. Visiting this camping site once will forever leave a mark on your soul.
Distance from San Diego: Nearly 65 miles
4. Catalina Island
Most people who have visited Catalina have only experienced Avalon. However, this place has a lot more to offer than just that. You can find camping grounds near San Diego in Catalina, which are both on the beach and inland. These locations are pretty exclusive, and you will get to experience the allure of the place without being stuck in a crowd.
There are many locations on the island that can be booked even a year in advance. It is vital to make your bookings before you go down there as these camping sites get occupied pretty quickly. The campsites also offer the necessary equipment for camping. This makes it easier for those who are traveling from a long distance away, as they don’t have to carry their own. You will be able to choose from tent cabins to campsites which are primitive. There is also boat-in camping available.
Distance from San Diego: 86 miles
5. Lake Arrowhead
Close to the San Bernardino National Forest, the Lake Arrowhead is a beautiful site for camping on a weekend or vacation. Visitors indeed enjoy the scenic beauty this place has to offer. The campsite is surrounded by pine trees and provides a different kind of aesthetic experience altogether. Two of the campgrounds by the name North Shore and Dogwood are nearby and have plenty of sites for camping. They also come packed with all the basic amenities.
If you have the proper permits, you will also be able to remote camp in the forest. You can also head to the lake to take a refreshing dip during the summer months. Some other activities offered on the lake are water skiing, boating, and swimming. There are also a number of hiking trails that end in the forest. These can be explored as well.
Distance from San Diego: Nearly 130 miles
6. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Camping in a desert might be rugged for some, but if you are up for it, then the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park has a lot to offer for you to explore. It is one of the most lovely camping grounds near San Diego that is undoubtedly worth the visit. This camping ground has so much to offer that you will surely have to spend more than one day there to check out all that is available.
In total, the park has four camping grounds. Apart from that, you can also choose to occupy any of the primitive camping spots. But these do not come with flushing toilets or picnic tables. Some people also like to camp on the roadside to get the authentic feeling of the desert. The Hellhole Canyon in the area has a 5.5 miles long trail that ends at the Maidenhair Falls, which is genuinely one of the most beautiful sights you will ever see.
Distance from San Diego: 88 miles
7. Mission Springs PCT Trail Camp
If you are looking to entirely cut away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, what better place than Mission Springs PCT Trail Camp for you? There is only one way to reach this camping ground, and that is through hiking there using the Pacific Coast Trail. This trail can be accessed through the Fish Creek Trail.
The camping ground has two remote campsites. These campsites have nothing apart from a picnic table and fire spring. But the breath of fresh air, peace, and serenity surely makes up for that. The main highlight of this location is surely the hiking that is required to get here. You might come across plenty of adventurous hikers as well.
Distance from San Diego: Nearly 134 miles
8. Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park can be experienced in two ways. The first way is to book a hotel in the nearby town and then drive a car to the location while admiring the aesthetics of the place from the comfort of the vehicle. The other way is to camp in the desert itself and have the experience of a lifetime. Spending some time under the starry night of the desert will surely give you a new perspective on life.
The National Park has a total of nine camping grounds to offer. During the summer months, hardly anyone camps here, so you might be able to book a site on a first-come and first-served basis. However, if you are planning to visit during fall or spring, make sure to reserve your campsite way in advance.
Distance from San Diego: 164 miles
9. La Jolla Indian Campground
La Jolla Indian Campground is located a very short distance away from San Diego and is the perfect and quick getaway to spend some quality time with nature. The site offers tranquility, unlike many other places in the city. The camping grounds are also very well kept and perfect for spending a weekend or short vacation.
Apart from building campfires and enjoying eating s’more, you can also opt for tubing in the San Luis Rey River. That forms the highlight of the camping site. This camping ground requires online reservations beforehand, so make sure to fulfill that process. Another thing to keep in mind here is that outside firewood is not allowed. But you can easily buy some from the general store located near the camp.
Distance from San Diego: 57 miles
10. Tram Camping
For an experience that you will never forget, all you have to do is get on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. This ride covers a distance of 2.5 miles and goes up the mountain. This is one of the largest rotating tram cars in the world.
Once you reach the top, you can easily hike to any one of the six camping grounds. These grounds are located within 7 miles from where the tram stops. To get a permit for camping, you will only need to spend $5. You can also hike up to the San Jacinto Peak while camping here. This is the second-highest peak in Southern California.
Distance from San Diego: 141 miles till the tram, plus hiking
So, these are some of the best camping grounds near San Diego. Make sure to check all of them out, and you will be able to have some of the most aesthetic experiences of your life that will forever be etched in your memories.