Beach Camping in State Parks in California

Beach Camping in State Parks in California
California is home to Hollywood, movie stars, the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco. Beyond the city delights and celebrity bling, there are hundreds of miles of sandy beaches in California. There is surfing, snorkeling, scuba-diving, swimming, boogie-boarding, sea-kayaking and kite-boarding to be found throughout the beaches of the Golden State. Many of California's state beaches have campsites where visitors can pitch tents.

San Elijo State Beach

San Elijo State Beach is to the north of San Diego. There are primitive tent camping sites at the state beach. Glass bottles and containers are allowed in the campground area, but not on the beaches. Pets are allowed in the campground but may not be brought to the beach. There are showers, bathrooms and picnicking facilities at the campground. Reservations are strongly recommended and can be made at Surfing, swimming, fishing, snorkeling and boogie-boarding can be enjoyed right from the campground. Hikers can drive to nearby Torrey Pines State Reserve, where there are several nature and hiking trails.

San Elijo State Beach
Coast Highway 101
San Diego, CA
(760) 753-5091


Leo Carrillo State Park

Leo Carrillo State Park is further up the coast, north of Malibu and south of Camarillo on the Pacific Coast Highway. There are tent camping sites at Leo Carrillo. Tent sites are primitive but do have picnic tables, fire rings and grills. There are showers, toilets and barbecue areas at Leo Carrillo. Pets are allowed in the campground if leashed but are not allowed on the beaches. Kite-surfers frequent the beaches at Leo Carrillo due to the strong winds that blow in from the waters during the day. Surfers can ride the waves at the break on the northern end of the park. Hiking trails can be found in the Santa Monica Mountains along the coast. Road bicyclists use the Pacific Coast Highway for training and touring. Wild dolphin are frequently spotted swimming in the waters off Leo Carrillo State Park. Reservations during the summer months are recommended and can be made online at

Leo Carrillo State Park
35000 W. Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90265
(818) 880-0363

Patrick's Point State Park

Going further north and up the California Coast is Patrick's Point State Park, just north of Eureka. Patrick's Point has long stretches of sandy beaches as well as rocky cliffs and big surf. There are primitive tent camping sites at the park. Pets are allowed in the camping areas if leashed. Visitors can look for elephant seals and California sea-lions on the rocks and in the waters around the park. There are opportunities for sea-kayaking and surfing at Patrick's Point. Surfers should be aware of the potential for rogue waves. The campground has showers and toilets. Glass bottles are not allowed on the beaches. Reservations are recommended and can be made online at

Patrick's Point State Park
4150 Patrick's Point Drive
Trinidad, CA 95570
(707) 677-3570


Article Written By Eric Cedric

A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.

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