Dog-friendly and waterside camping in Ventura

Adventure in Ventura starts with sunny beaches, island campgrounds, and stretches of coastline prime for surfing and swimming.

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Dog-friendly and waterside camping in Ventura guide

Overview

A short jaunt north of Los Angeles, Ventura County acts as the de-facto gateway to California’s Central Coast region. Here you’ll find some of the best beaches in California—many of which have county-run campgrounds—along with wooded forests, sandstone rock formations, hot springs, lakes, undeveloped islands, and cozy, laid-back communities. It's a fantastic spot no matter the time of year, with many area campgrounds open year-round. For beach camping near the waves, you can't beat Ventura's county parks. While summertime brings the masses down to area beaches to swim, sunbathe, and frolic in the surf, winters tend to be quiet—and offer the best waves for surfing.

Where to go

The Ventura County Coast

If beachfront camping is what you're after, Ventura County is the place to be. Hobson Beach Park and Faria Beach Park both have tent and RV sites with full hook-ups, while Rincon Parkway Beach and Emma Wood State Beach offer RV-only camping close to the sea. Nature-lovers won't want to miss the Ventura River Estuary, one of the top spots in the region for bird-watching.

The Ojai Valley

Centering on the town of Ojai, a bohemian-chic community in inland Ventura County, the Ojai Valley offers easy access to a number of natural hot springs, many of which are situated in Los Padres National Forest. Massive Lake Casitas is a highlight, with around 400 campsites and ample opportunities for boating and fishing. Foster Park is another great option, with tent, RV, and group camping and direct access to the nine-mile Ojai Valley Trail, which links the park to Ojai.

The Channel Islands

To really get away from it all, head out to the Channel Islands (accessible by boat from Ventura or Oxnard). This chain of eight islands (five of which are a national park) is home to all sorts of endemic plants, mammals, and birds—meaning you won't see them anywhere else on earth. Sea kayaking, seal watching, scuba diving, and backcountry camping are just the beginning. Camping is available year-round at the islands; Anacapa Island (which is part of Ventura County) has particularly great views from its campground.

The Simi Valley

In southeastern Ventura County, the Simi Valley—and the adjacent Simi Hills—are characterized by a mix of vast, rugged landscapes and modern development. Tapo Canyon and Oak Park both have tent and RV camping, while the day-use-only Santa Susana Pass State Park offers miles of multi-use trails and fantastic views.

When to go

Thanks to Ventura's mild climate, most beach campgrounds and state parks are open year-round. Dry summer weather poses a fire hazard, so it's best to be on the safe side—follow all campground fire rules, and check the news for ongoing wildfires before you hit the road.

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