Best Summer Spots for Camping Near San Diego

As summer kicks off and the weather warms up, it’s time to dust off your camping gear! Pitch a tent in the great outdoors for an active and fun weekend getaway. Here are some of our favorite camping spots near San Diego.


South Carlsbad State Beach

Nothing says summer like some time at the beach! Go beach camping at South Carlsbad State Beach, which has a campsite on a bluff that overlooks the ocean. Steps lead right down to the water, where you can swim, fish, and surf all day before you head back to the campsite for a toasty fire before bed. After a day in the sun and sand, you’ll be so ready for a full night of sleep that you won’t even miss your bed.


Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

With more than 100 miles of trails, Cuyamaca Rancho State Park is the best choice for campers looking to get a lot of hiking in. There are actually two different camping areas: Green Valley, which has a creek running through it; and Paso Picacho, the starting point for a lot of the best hikes. Take the Stonewall Peak or Cuyamaca Peak trail to get awesome views of the coast and Lake Cuyamaca. You can also bring your dogs along!


Palomar Mountain State Park

If you’re craving some time in the woods, choose Palomar Mountain State Park for your trip camping near San Diego. You’ll be surrounded by serene views and fresh scents of pine, fir, and cedar trees. You can camp at the Doane Valley Campground, which was rated as one of the best campsites in California by Sunset Magazine, or the Observatory Campground, a short hike from the Palomar Observatory, where you can take a tour and learn a thing or two about astronomy while you’re camping near San Diego.


San Elijo State Beach

San Elijo State Beach in Encinitas is another great site for beach camping, especially for campers who don’t want to be totally secluded. These campsites are just a short walk from a collection of restaurants and shops! You’ll get the best of both worlds – spend the day soaking up the sun, breathing in fresh ocean air, and enjoying nature, and then enjoy a nice meal out. No “roughing it” necessary!


Staying healthy while you camp

  • Be conscious of what foods you bring along. For the sake of convenience, you may be tempted to bring packaged, processed foods like potato chips, bread, cookies, and crackers. Try to pack healthier foods for you and your family to eat that are still camping-friendly. Healthy granola bars, nuts, dried fruits, apples, peanut butter, turkey jerky, and veggie chips are just a few options.
  • Don’t skip the s’mores—just make them a little healthier! See the recipe here.
  • Bring lots of water and keep an eye on your family to make sure no one gets dehydrated.
  • Bring sunscreen (and apply it regularly!). You’ll probably be in the sun more than you’re used to, so combat skin cancer and painful burns with some SPF.
  • Exercise! Camping in the woods is the perfect opportunity to take lots of walks and hikes, while beach camping gives you a good chance to swim.


Make your health a priority even when you’re off the grid. Download the Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups Mobile Health App before your camping trip so that you can stay connected no matter where you are.


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