Finding the best campground in and around Los Angeles isn't as easy as locating a trendy new restaurant or day spa. After all, it is one of the largest cities in the world; that's not exactly synonymous with the leisure and solitude that we associate with camping. My family and I love to spend time exploring the country in our RV, so I have learned the ins and outs of finding campgrounds in even the most urban areas. I'm going to help you find the best spots when you're ready to hit the road in the Los Angeles area.
Things to consider when choosing a campground in Los Angeles
The challenge isn’t only finding a campground in and around Los Angeles, it's also a matter of finding the right campground. There are plenty of places to spend the night in your RV, but not all will meet the specific needs of your family. Hikers don't have any interest in being near the beach. Conversely, if taking in local attractions or doing some shopping are on your list of priorities, you don't want to set up camp in a pine forest.
A few questions you need to ask when considering a campground include:
- Are shuttle services available?
- Do I need reservations?
- What sort of amenities does the campground offer?
- What am I looking for from my camping trip?
Once you can answer these questions, you’ll have an easier time selecting a campground that gives you the right mix of fun, comfort, and relaxation. We'll talk more about these and some other things you need to know later on.
The following RV campgrounds are either located in or within a half-hour or so of Los Angeles. Keep in mind that every campground is different. They may also have restrictions on the RV sizes or require reservations. Some may have full hooks while others will only provide electrical. A little planning will help you avoid disappointment.
- Things to consider when choosing a campground in Los Angeles
- RV Campgrounds in Los Angeles You Should Check Out
- RV Campgrounds Near Los Angeles
- How to choose the best campground for your family
- Camping in LA can be fun!
RV Campgrounds in Los Angeles You Should Check Out
First, we've found these options within the greater city of LA.
1. Walnut RV Park - north Los Angeles
Does camping right in the heart of Los Angeles sound as implausible as finding a sushi place in the woods? It's possible at Walnut RV Park. This is a long-standing campground, within walking distance of dining, shopping, and recreation. You don't get the full camping experience (no outside fires and there isn't much natural beauty to take in), but it's still more rustic than a hotel.
In the summer, there are activities to keep the kids occupied after a long day on the road. Walnut is dog-friendly, offering both a dog playground and dog sitter/walker services. If you are flexible in your definition of camping, this could be a fun destination for you and your family. There is no shuttle service but there are mass transit options if need to go further than you are willing to travel on foot.
2. Dockweiller State Beach - near Los Angeles International Airport
Nothing says California like a day at the beach. Dockweiller State Beach gives you the option of spending even more time enjoying the surf. This is the county's only RV park on the beach. That's right: you can camp with a matter of yards of the ocean. Along with the usual beachside fun (swimming, fishing, beachcombing), you can also enjoy picnics and campfires. The campground's proximity to LAX can make it a little noisy at times but the crash of the waves more than offsets that sound of approaching and departing planes. Shuttle service is also available to the campground from the airport.
3. Hollywood RV Park - Van Nuys Boulevard
This is another "in the city" campground well suited to people traveling through the Los Angeles area. Hollywood RV Park is a stone's throw from Hollywood landmarks and downtown Los Angeles, which means you don't get much in the way of tranquility. Yet, you are far enough removed from the formidable local traffic that noise isn't much of a distraction.
Modern conveniences abound including full RV hook-ups, wi-fi, a gym, and the Hollywood Playhouse, an on-grounds theater that features live entertainment. No shuttle service but there are plenty of options for getting around the area. You'll want to make reservations as this is a popular stop for RV aficionados.
4. Los Angeles/Pomona/Fairplex KOA- east side of Los Angeles
You don't have to seek out a state park or a beach to enjoy the experience of camping. The Los Angeles/Pomona/Fairplex KOA is an RV and tent friendly campground that is loaded with amenities such as a swimming pool and hot tub, Shuttle service is available when you're ready to check out shopping and recreational venues including Mountain Meadows Golf Course, Raging Waters, and Ontario Mills, or take a day trip to one of the many beaches in the area. At night, you can gaze up at the stars as you relish 'smores hot off the campfire.
RV Campgrounds Near Los Angeles
5. Chilao Campground
About 5 minutes from Los Angeles.
Chilao Campground is a top choice for visitors to the Angeles National Forest. Depending on how much you want to rough it, the campground provides separate loops for tents and RVs. It's a superb starting point if you are looking to get up close and personal with the San Gabriel mountains. A couple of attractions worth checking out are Vetter Lookout and Big Tujunga Canyon, both of which are nearby and offer breathtaking views. This is a first-come, first-served campground, so it is best to get there early. None of the Angeles National Forest campgrounds on our list offer shuttle service.
6. Sycamore Canyon Campground
Around 22 minutes from Los Angeles
A short jaunt from the shoreline, Sycamore Canyon Campground, in Point Mugu State Park, boasts several miles of hiking trails and picturesque peaks to explore. It also near notable trails and wonders such as La Jolla Canyo Loop, Scenic and Overlook Trails Loop, the Grotto, and Mugu Peak. When you need a break from hiking, the beach is close at hand. Horseback riding, surfing, boating, mountain biking, and scuba diving are some of the family activities you'll find at Sycamore Canyon Campground. But, if you're looking to do some shopping or sightseeing in Oxnard or Malibu, be aware there is no shuttle service.
7. Buckhorn Campground
About 24 minutes from Los Angeles
Buckhorn Campground is also located in the Angeles National Forest. At an elevation of 6,300, Buckhorn provides amazing vistas and cooler temperature, which can be a blessing if you want to escape the dog days of summer. This is a popular no-reservations campground so weekend warriors will want to arrive early to get a good spot. There are restrictions on RVs, with a maximum allowable length of 18 feet. This is an ideal choice for hikers. You can take in several gorgeous waterfalls or spend the day on one of the many trails, including the Burkhart Trail.
8. Golden Shore RV Resort
29 minutes from Los Angeles
Long Beach is home to Golden Shore RV Resort, a full hookup campground situated close to several of the area's most famous attractions. In addition to the quaint shops and an array of restaurants, you are also a short drive from The Queen Mary, Shoreline Village, and Aquarium of the Pacific. Longer forays to Disneyland or Catalina Island are also possible. There is plenty to do on grounds, too. Besides the heated pool and spa, there is a bike path, a recreation room, dog run, and a picnic area. You can save money getting around town by taking advantage of the free shuttle service. Reservations are a must, especially during the fall and winter season.
9. Malibu Creek State Park Campground
About 30 minutes from Los Angeles
Malibu Creek State Park Campground is a fun option for families looking for outdoor adventure close to Los Angeles. There are ample opportunities for horseback riding, mountain biking, rock climbing or hiking within the natural confines of this 8,000-acre treasure.
However, there are reminders that you are less than 25 miles from the entertainment capital of the world. The television series M*A*S*H was one of many productions to use the park as a backdrop. Today, visitors can take in some of the locales where the beloved show was filmed and even spy a few props along the way. Natural attractions are plentiful, with Las Virgenes Valley and Malibu Canyon just two of the well-known must-sees. The campground does not offer shuttle service.
How to choose the best campground for your family
You may have a list of campgrounds in and around Los Angeles but that doesn't mean you don't have to do any additional homework. There are important things to consider before you head out for your next RV trip. It could mean the difference between an unforgettable experience and a misadventure you'll try hard to forget.
Is the campground even open?
Don't assume a campground is open year-round. Some campgrounds are seasonal and may close up during certain times of the year. Just because you camped there in the summer doesn't mean your favorite campground will be open for business in the fall or winter months. There may be other reasons a campground closes, including high fire danger or if work is being done to the site. Again, it always a good idea, even if reservations aren't' required, to call ahead before showing up with the family in tow.
Are there available sites?
While all the campgrounds we've talked about have campsites for RVs, that isn't the case with every campground in or near Los Angeles. Even the ones that do will only have a limited number of sites. Make reservations if possible. It's a simple matter of going to the campground's website and reserving a spot for as long you intend to stay. Hauling an RV is no easy task, particularly in LA traffic. The last thing you want is to get to your destination and find out to have to find a different campground or worse yet, turn around and head home.
How primitive do you want to go?
An RV offers more comfort than a tent but you still need a few things to take advantage of all the benefits of your home on wheels. All some people need is an electrical hook-up and potable water. Others may be looking for sewer hook-up, wi-fi, a camp store or shuttle service to and from town. Whether you want to go totally off the grid or you need a few extra comforts to make your trip complete, don't assume your campground has what you need. Most campgrounds have a website or at least a phone number and will be able to answer all of your questions.
Camping in LA can be fun!
Despite being one of the most populous areas in the world, Los Angeles has abundant outdoor recreational opportunities to offer. Even when the campground experience doesn't include natural wonders and wildlife, you can still make memories with your family.
The trick is finding a campground that offers everything you are looking for. Nothing ruins an excursion quicker than discovering that your campground doesn't offer the natural beauty, recreational opportunities or amenities that you expected. A camping trip requires as much, if not more, planning as a conventional vacation. Hopefully, I've helped point you in the right direction the next time you take your RV on a trip to Los Angeles or the surrounding area.
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