This small lakeside resort town offers easy access to the coast and mountains.
In the foothills of northern San Diego County, the lakeside resort community of Lake San Marcos surrounds its namesake Lake San Marcos Reservoir. Boating, kayaking, paddleboarding, and fishing are all popular, while the town of San Marcos features numerous parks for hiking and biking. The area is also just a short distance away from the Pacific Ocean and its coastal beaches and towns. Campers looking for overnight stays have plenty of options around San Marcos, and can stay in a tent, cabin, cottage, or yurt—just choose from ocean, lake, forest, and mountain views.
Near Escondido, Dixon Lake Recreation Area offers bass, catfish, and trout fishing, boat rentals, and a campground with tent and RV sites, plus a cabin. For sun, sand, and surf, head west to the coast and find camping options near the ocean at San Elijo State Beach, South Carlsbad State Beach, San Onofre State Beach, and San Clemente State Beach.
Head south to Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve to stay in a floating cabin or a lakeside tent or RV. Closer to San Diego, Silver Strand State Beach offers RV camping near Coronado, while private campgrounds can be found around Mission Bay and San Diego Bay, often with plenty of amenities. Closer to the border, Tijuana Valley Regional Park offers yurts and a campground.
Inland at the Cleveland National Forest, campers can find scenic drives, waterfalls, and mountain peaks. Several campgrounds with tent and RV sites sit near the base and on Palomar Mountain, also home to the Palomar Observatory. Palomar Mountain State Park, meanwhile, has one campground for tents and RVs.
Lake San Marcos is a year-round destination, though lake activities are the most popular over the summer, which is also the busiest time at the beaches and coastal campgrounds. Visit in spring and fall to escape the crowds, and know that some higher-elevation campgrounds in the Cleveland National Forest are only open seasonally.