BY Nick Bulanda
Published April 12, 2019
California is without a doubt one of the most beautiful states in the country. The huge state is full of breathtaking views of everything from the sea, to giant Redwood forests, to gorgeous mountains, all the way to the dry and arid deserts. That’s why California is one of the most magnificent states to plan a camping trip in, whether you’re lucky enough to live there or just plan on visiting. But it’s not always easy finding a campground that’s well-suited for kids.
We’ve got you covered. To help, we compiled a list of some of the best kid friendly campgrounds in California, perfect for you to pack up the family, grab your favorite camping chair and hit the road without thinking twice about whether or not you made the right decision in booking your destination.
1.) Yosemite Creek Campground
What better place to take your family camping than one of the most famously picturesque locales on the planet? Located in the legendary Yosemite National Park, Yosemite Creek Campground is the perfect destination to show your children the true beauty of nature. Though the site doesn’t take reservations, with 75 campsites on the premises you shouldn’t have a hard time reserving a space. The site allows as many tents as can fit on each plot, but it is recommended not to bring RVs or trailers, so if that sounds more like your style you may want to look into one of our other recommended locations. While we can’t recommend a visit to Yosemite enough, it is important to be aware that this is a fairly remote site, meaning you may be without amenities such as running water, requiring you to boil stream water instead. There are showers and bathrooms nearby, however, so no need to worry there!
2.) Crystal Cove State Park
Further down south in Laguna Beach is this absolute gem that you definitely won’t want to miss. Crystal Cove State Park’s Moro Campground is one of the most highly-rated camping destinations across the state. Featuring access to a beautiful beach, guided hiking tours given regularly by park staff, mountain biking trails, scuba opportunities and even a lovely historic district, your kids are guaranteed to have a blast, and they won’t run out of things to do here.
3.) Camp Edison
Few California campgrounds have the same glowing reviews as Camp Edison. Located northeast of Fresno, Camp Edison is known for having impeccable service, electricity access and loads to do for fun. With lake access and horseback riding available nearby, a trip to Camp Edison is a great way to escape to the outdoors without giving up all the amenities you might want to bring along. After all, roughing it definitely isn’t for everyone.
4.) Black Rock Canyon
Though its name and proximity to the desert might be a little intimidating for some, this campground is actually recommended as a perfect way to introduce young first-time campers to the experience! Located within Joshua Tree National Park, visitors to the campground will have access to the nature center onsite, gorgeous hiking trails, quiet campsites and more! On top of all that, the nearby town of Yucca Valley is only five miles away and features shopping amenities and more.
5.) Trinity Lake KOA
Back up to the north end of the state, nestled near Trinity Lake and the monumental Trinity Alps, you’ll find the feature-packed camping resort known as Trinity Lake KOA. By staying at Trinity Lake KOA, you’ll find no shortage of things to do. The grounds feature miles and miles of hiking trails, bike rentals, a pool, a snack bar and even a miniature golf course! The only trouble with this campground is that your kids might make you come back every summer. There’s no doubt Trinity Lake is one of the most kid friendly campgrounds in California.
6.) Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground
Located not too far outside of San Francisco, Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground has plenty of room to explore, with vast hiking trails, swimming available, a wonderful nature center and more. Visitors have noted that the area is full of wildlife, which should be an excellent treat for families who love animals. Plus, if you weren’t already convinced, the site features showers and even a place to do laundry!
7.) Kirk Creek Campground
If the idea of visiting Big Sur seems like a good idea but you want a spot with a little bit more “Cali” flair, check out Kirk Creek. Take a hike along some of the most breathtaking vistas on this side of the world, do some fishing and grilling, or even try your hand at surfing! In one place, you can spend a relaxing day at the beach before heading inland for an afternoon hike, finally capping off the evening beside the campfire. Hopefully you’ve brought along a toddler camping chair or two so your little ones have someplace to sit!
8.) Cachuma Lake Recreation Area
North of Santa Barbara, on the edge of the Los Padres National Forest, you’ll find the lovely Cachuma Lake along with this excellent campground. With an onsite laundromat, general store, playground, gas station and showers, Cachuma Lake could be your one-stop shop for some recreational fun, and it’s just a short drive from Los Angeles.
9.) Serrano Campground
Located on Big Bear Lake, Serrano Campground is a hidden gem among the California wilderness. With a reputation for clean facilities, friendly staff, fair prices and a quiet atmosphere, this little campground is the perfect spot for a family to enjoy a few days of relaxation and fun. If you happen to have a boat, Serrano is an excellent destination for some lake boating!
10.) Campland on the Bay
For families looking for a different take on camping, there is Campland on the Bay. If you mixed beachside camping with a dash of theme park, you’d get something like Campland. With a plethora of kids activities, including sports, live entertainment, a game room and more, it’s undeniable this is one of the best kid friendly campgrounds in California. That being said, it’s definitely not your traditional camping experience, which is why we’ve saved it for the end.
Final Thoughts on Kid Friendly Campgrounds in California
Finding kid friendly campgrounds in California can be a bit of a crap shoot when it comes to avoiding “party central” and finding a nice play to bring the family. In our list we made sure to try and include a variety of different environments to check out. Hopefully all the campgrounds on our list made sure there was something to find for everybody.
Do you have any other campground recommendations in California, or elsewhere? Please share them with us in the comments section down below!