Waterside camping near Carlsbad

Wicked surfing and oceanside camping sum up adventures near Carlsbad, California.

91% (2246 reviews)
91% (2246 reviews)

Popular camping styles for Carlsbad

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Waterside camping near Carlsbad guide


Lined by the Pacific Ocean, camping near Carlsbad offers opportunities to surf, swim, and dive. Agua Hedionda Lagoon has kayaking, paddleboarding, and hiking trails, while both South Carlsbad State Beach and San Elijo State Beach offer RV sites with full hookups with urban amenities nearby, in case something didn’t make it in the suitcase. For lovers of wildlife-watching, the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center invites visitors to explore a 1,000-acre wetland ecological reserve, too. Whether you prefer glamping or setting up camp at an oceanside RV park, Carlsbad in San Diego County is a sunny destination for Hipcampers.

Where to go

South Carlsbad State Beach

Drive about three miles south, past LEGOLAND California, to arrive at (the appropriately named) South Carlsbad State Beach campground. Choose between tent camping or reveling in an oceanside RV park, including RV sites with full hookups—over 200 campsites dot the coastal bluffs. Offering some of the best beach camping in California, South Carlsbad State Beach is a hot spot for swimming, surfing, skin diving, bodyboarding, scuba diving, and other watersports. Near the entrance to the site is the camp store for basic supplies, plus a pizza restaurant.

San Elijo State Beach

Soak in that California sunshine and hang ten—Encinitas in San Diego County, particularly Cardiff-by-the-Sea, is renowned for its gnarly surfing scene. And San Elijo State Beach is right in the heart of it all. One of the most popular breaks is Pipes, particularly great for longboarding. Hit the waves during low to mid-tide for the best experience. Stairs from the cliffside RV park, which allows trailers and motorhomes up to 35 feet, lead straight to the beach. The beach camping site offers showers, bathrooms, electricity, and water but no wifi.

Palomar Mountain State Park

For Hipcampers who prefer tent camping in the woods over beachfront camping by the Pacific Ocean, Palomar Mountain State Park boasts nearly 2,000 acres of hiking trails and mountain vistas surrounded by white fir, canyon live oak, and ponderosa pine trees. The higher elevations average 5,000 feet above sea level, making for a Sierra Nevada-like atmosphere in San Diego County. Family-friendly campsites and RV sites include access to bathrooms and showers.

When to go

The best time of year to visit Carlsbad for camping is during the spring and fall months when the weather is mild and crowds are smaller. The summer months can be quite hot and crowded, while winter can be rainy and chilly. Fall, when the crowds thin out, is also a great time to go surfing. September and October mix the southwest, west, and northwest swells for a variety of beach breaks. That said, the weather near Carlsbad is generally mild year-round, so camping is possible at any time of the year.

Nearby attractions

Escape to Guajome Regional Park for a delightful camping adventure. Set up camp amidst picturesque landscapes, hike scenic trails, and enjoy peaceful moments by the lake. Engage in birdwatching, explore historic sites, and create lasting memories in this serene park.

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