Lakes, ranches, and rocky foothills—easygoing Escondido is a camper's dream.
You find an outdoor paradise hidden in the rolling foothills of North County—literally. Escondido (meaning "hidden" in Spanish) is a historic city 30 miles north of San Diego, California. Get ready to explore three lakes, 20 miles of hiking trails at Daley Ranch, and dozens of nearby beaches. With its historic farmsteads and vast open spaces, camping near Escondido is never an issue. The area hosts a trove of RV parks, many with extra comforts such as pet-friendly areas, free WiFi, hot tubs, and swimming pools. If you'd rather sleep under the stars, discover Dixon Lake, a charming reservoir in the rocky foothills. The lake-view campground offers RV and tent camping. When the sun rises, rent a boat to enjoy some fishing (no state license needed) or hike the easy shore trail. You might want to leave your bathing suit at home—swimming here is a no-go. Drive due west from Escondido, and you hit the Pacific Ocean. Beautiful California state beaches line the coast, the perfect place for camping, surfing, or just soaking in that SoCal sun. A 30-mile drive east brings you to Cleveland National Forest, a sprawling mountain wilderness. Set up camp in the backcountry, or hike a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. Nearby Palomar Mountain State Park is a local treasure. At a 5,000-foot elevation, this park draws visitors with its fishing pond, hiking trails, and pleasantly cool evenings. If you don't want to venture too far, there are plenty of things to do right in Escondido. Visit the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, meander through the historic downtown, or go wine tasting at a local winery. Kit Carson Park is a family favorite in southern Escondido. The 285-acre space features hiking trails, ponds, picnic tables, and a disc golf course. The area's Mediterranean climate makes for great camping weather year round. For summer travel, don't forget to bring a reusable water bottle—you don't want to get parched on the trails.