From the fog-encased redwoods to the sandy shores along the Pacific Ocean, Bay Area camping has something special waiting for every camping enthusiast.
The San Francisco Bay Area may seem like an urban hub but don't be fooled. Beyond the Golden Gate Bridge, you find Pacific beaches, foggy shorelines, and dense redwood groves. While many campers are making the long drive to Yosemite, savvy travelers explore a trove of Bay Area state parks. Just an hour's drive south of the city, Big Basin Redwoods State Park is a hidden gem in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Pitch your tent among towering California redwood groves. Don't forget your cookware—the park has some nifty campground grills. Want to see the Golden Gate Bridge from your tent? Kirby Cove is the park for you. Nestled right on the bay, it's one of the most popular parks in the region. It tends to book out months in advance, so get yourself on that guest list early. If you're looking for beach camping, head to Point Reyes National Seashore. The hike-in and boat-in camping spots are secluded, and you can't beat catching the morning surf. While hiking the shore, keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, elephant seals, and sea lions. If you're traveling with kids, head to Samuel P. Taylor State Park, one of the oldest campgrounds in the country. The hiking trails are fairly easy, offering views of Lagunitas Creek, redwood forests, and rolling hills with wild turkeys. For more fun, bike the paved cycling path, or take your four-legged buddy on the Cross Marin trail. On the continental side of San Francisco Bay, you come to East Bay, an outdoor haven at San Francisco's doorstep. Boat Lake Chabot, hike Wildcat Canyon, or camp at Redwood Regional Park for a taste of adventure. From state parks with hike-in and bike-in sites to private campgrounds, Bay Area camping helps you connect with the great outdoors. If glamping is more your style, don't worry. You find plenty of seaside cottages, mountain yurts, and wilderness cabins in the region. The mild climate of the Bay Area makes for great year-round camping. However, scoring a site during summer can be tough. To beat the crowds, pack your rain gear and travel during the winter wet season. Pro tip: If you're camping on the bay in any season, bring a rain jacket. The damp fog rolls in when you least expect it.