How to Camp With Kids in California

How to Camp With Kids in California
California is an ideal place for family camping trips, especially with children. Most people camp within the California State Parks. The key is to prepare properly and choose the right camping grounds. Make sure to check up on the weather before you leave for your trip, and any California regulations for campgrounds, as well as talk to your kids about wildlife and fire safety.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • First aid kit
  • Packing list
  • Campsite reservation
  • Proper food and equipment
Step 1
Pick your campground wisely, especially with children. You want to make sure they are family-friendly. It may make it easier if you pick a campground that has toilets, picnic tables, fire pits, showers and grills to make less work and worry for you. There are several children-friendly campgrounds in California; some of the best include Navarro River Redwoods State Park by Mendocino, Big Basin Redwoods State Park in Santa Cruz or Joseph D. Grant County Park near San Jose.
Step 2
Plan out and write down your packing list at least two weeks beforehand so you have time to make sure you remember everything, especially with children or infants. Since there are so many different parts of California to camp in, from north coast to the high sierras to the southern San Diego area; the varied weather and terrain dictate what you need to bring. For cooler California areas like northern California and along the coast, bring extra firewood (so you don't have to purchase it there) to keep the fire burning after food is cooked to provide extra heat. In rainy areas like the upper California coast and especially during rainy season everywhere, bring rain tarps and waterproof tents. In desert areas such as Mojave, bring shaded easy-up tents to block out the sun, and know the seasons you can have fires. In California mountain areas such as Big Bear, bring lots of tarps to place on the ground to protect yourself and children from sharp pine needles, and fishing poles to fish at the famous lake. Remember to bring a diaper bag for babies or infants with lots of extra supplies, and bring the favorite toys of your children and foods.This may cause you to have way more luggage then you wish, but keep in mind that there is no way to backpack with children, so it's better to be safe than sorry with extra supplies.
Step 3
Decide what clothing to bring camping with children. This all depends on where the campground is. In parts of northern California, even in the summer, weather can get cool and rainy. If you're by the ocean or in the California mountains, bring sweaters to keep away the chilly night breeze. Bring rain jackets and hats to protect your children just in case. Don't forget the first aid kit in case of bumps and bruises.
Step 4
Bring supplies to catch your own food. Many California campsites have lakes and streams you are welcome to fish in and prepare you dinner, while some of the campsites in the California State Parks actually have little general stores to purchase food, or snack stands. Pack your own food to save money and feel more like camping in the wild. Pack simple foods that are easy to eat such as individual bags of crackers or potato chips, juice boxes, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fresh fruit or fruit bars, string cheese, s'mores, hot dogs and hamburgers. If you are going to a wooded area known for wildlife such as the Sequoia forests or places inland in California, forgo any fresh meats or cheeses to avoid insects and wildlife approaching you. Stick to canned food and dried foods.
Step 5
Be prepared and know what fees or park reservations you need in California. This state is a major hot spot for camping, especially around the holidays and it is smart to make a reservation. At any California State Park, for families (a maximum of eight people) there is a small fee, dependent on whether the campground is developed or not. On top of that, California State Parks require a reservation fee. Cash is usually the only thing accepted, and there are usually additional small fees to use showers, sanitation and trails.

Article Written By Lauren Wise

Lauren Wise has more than eight years' experience as a writer, editor, copywriter and columnist. She specializes in food, wine, music and pop culture. Her writing has appeared in various magazines, including "Runway," "A2Z," "Scottsdale Luxury Living" and "True West." Wise holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Arizona State University.

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