Camping and drinking are as inseparable as Morrissey is from looking wistful. You simply can’t enjoy the starry-skied nights and exploratory days of backpacking, tenting, or even RVing it without at least one (or several) koozie-wrapped brewskis in between granola bars and fire-charred brats.
Since California—most especially Southern California—has undergone a massive craft beer revolution over the past few years, your run-of-the-mill, macro-brewed lite beer will no longer suffice for your weekends communing with nature. Slowly but surely, bitter IPAs and thickly viscous stouts have invaded coolers from Eureka to Tijuana, and it’s easier than ever to sojourn out of your campsite to check out the local craft breweries sprinkled across the region.
If there’s just one other element that takes beer-soaked camping trips to eleven, it’s adding a bike to the mix. Of course, you should always stagger it “bike, drink, camp”, but if you find that your stash is running low and you need to make a run to the nearest craft brewery to sample their tastiest offerings, here’s the best collection of craft breweries within bikeable distance from awesome campsites across Southern California.
Bolsa Chica Campground, Bolsa Chica State Beach, Photo by Hipcamp Staff
There’s no shortage of world-class beach camping—as well as nearby craft breweries and beer shops—in the heart of Orange County. Bolsa Chica Campground (RV only) gives campers unobstructed views of every epic Pacific sunset, and luckily for those vacation-weary parents who’ve had just a little too much in the sun, it’s also less than 4 miles from Huntington Beach Beer Co. An easy 19 minute ride on mostly flat terrain will bring you from the shores of the beach to a barstool that’s still on the beach. It simply can’t be beat.
Anacapa Campground, Carpinteria State Beach, Photo by Hipcamp Staff
Whether you’re on your way to Santa Barbara or you’ve just discovered the local secret of Carpinteria’s beauty, you’re in luck when you pull into Anacapa Campground at Carpinteria State Beach. Not only is this private campground easily located along a beautiful, nature-dotted beach trail, it’s a laughably close 2 minute bike ride from the family-owned Island Brewing Co.microbrewery. Honestly, it’s so close you don’t even need to hop on two wheels, but why not enjoy your bike and beer excursion to the fullest?
San Elijo Campground, San Elijo State Beach, Photo by Corina Barnick
Port Brewing, Wipeout IPA, Photo by Edwin
As the unarguable capital of American craft beer, San Diego now boasts over a hundred craft breweries and counting. Add that to the bike-friendly beach towns and plethora of camping that stretches from the sands of La Jolla to the mountains of San Jacinto and you’ve got yourself an absolutely unbeatable bike-drink-camp destination.
For the best of San Diego camping, you can’t beat San Elijo State Campground. This sprawling beachside campground is known for lively nights and surf-filled days, so if you seek crafty refreshment after your sesh, head to local favorite Pizza Port Solana Beach. Pedal down the 101 for an easy 9 minute ride (totaling 1.6 miles) and shake the sand out of your hair while scarfing down some of the best pizza and craft beer in SoCal.
McGrath State Beach Campground, McGrath State Beach, Photo by Hipcamp Staff
While neighboring Los Angeles has plenty to offer in the craft beer department, it’s woefully lacking in camping getaways and bike-friendly streets. However, nearby Venture is home to Surf Brewery, a quintessential craft-beer-meets-California-lifestyle experience that just happens to be just over 4 miles away from McGrath State Beach Campground. With group campsites available and a tasting room filled with plenty of pints for everyone, it’s hard to think of an excuse not to hop on your bike and check it out for yourself with a gang of your closest friends.
Pismo Beach State Beach, Photo by Hipcamp Staff
Stone India Pale Ale, Photo by Ruben
Pismo Beach has not just one, but two amazing bike & beer options for thirsty campers! Pismo Brewing clearly had Hipcampers in mind when they opened their doors a mere mile away from North Beach Campground and 3 miles from Oceano Campground. While North Beach is slightly closer than Oceano (and also a bit more on the “traditional” beach camping side of things), both campgrounds straddle the Pacific and give every visitor the opportunity to soak in the beautiful California sun. Get your kickstands up and your IDs ready!
Now that you’ve got the scope of the south, what’s happening up north? Stay tuned for our Guide to Beers & Bikes: Northern California edition! Title photo by: Quinn Dombrowski
Beth Demmon is a craft beer enthusiast based out of San Diego, which explains her bias against all other craft beer capital city contenders. Her (current) favorite place in SoCal to camp is Idyllwild, but don’t tell anyone. Check her out on Instagram at @thedelightedbite.
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