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Camping in San Diego is not like camping in the Midwest. You won’t be getting away with $7 a night camping spots near the beach. It’s more like $40, on the cheaper end. If you’re going for a budget vacation, though, camping in San Diego is a much cheaper alternative to staying in a hotel! Also, if you have any type of disability, you can have your doctor sign this form to get 1/2 off your camping rate at many spots.
Camping in San Diego
First thing’s first…
Do your research. Which camping spot is best for you? That depends on what you’re looking for, what you enjoy, and how far outside of San Diego you’re willing to drive. Some camp sites offer electricity, and some don’t. Figure out what it is you want to get out of your camping experience and go from there.
Lake Cuyamaca has you covered for tent and RV camping, with a hot shower in Chambers Park. Less than an hour from San Diego, you can experience this 110-acre lake, which is regularly stocked with rainbow trout. It’s the spot for fishing. You’ll also find largemouth bass, channel catfish, crappie, and bluegill. There are also basic sleeper cabins, and even fully furnished condos, as well as a restaurant on the lake.
You’ll appreciate the beautiful meadows and mountain hikes at Lake Cuyamaca, and the views after you take the 3.5 mile hike up Cuyamaca Peak.
Campland is for those looking for a lively camping atmosphere! You’ll pay upwards of $100 for a Bay View, or as little as $40 for the “Dry” area. Campland is a family favorite because there are dozens of activities for kids and adults alike! You can rent a boat, work out in the fitness center, check out the skateboard park, or even attend a concert. Plus, there’s free wi-fi in case you are more interested in “glamping” than camping. Check out their calendar of events before you go!
San Diego KOA Resort offers more of the “glamping” style vacation and is located near Downtown San Diego. Tent spots are available, but cabins include TV with surround sound, air conditioning, and even a kitchen! They have a rock climbing wall, crafts and games, bike rentals, and more.
Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve has fishing, biking, and more – with seven lakes created from recycled water. They even have floating cabins! No, I’m not kidding. Again, more with the “glamping”, but how can you pass up a full kitchen, flat screen TVs, and more?! There are 6 playgrounds, and you can even rent a rowboat. With over 5 miles of trails for walking and biking, you won’t ever be board! The facilities at Santee Lakes are 50% powered by the sun, too, which is totally awesome!
Before leaving for your camping trip…
Check the weather. San Diego weather can get pretty chilly, fast (depending on the area you decide to camp in).
Pack the essentials. Obviously, you’ll need your tent and the equipment that goes with it. Also:
camp stove and cooking essentials
trash bags (leave no trace)
First aid kit
sleeping bags or mat, pillows, blankets
beach umbrella, bathing suits, hat, towels, life jackets
personal hygiene items
Some people pack more, some pack less, so if you’ve gone camping before you probably know what to bring! Going with primitive beach camping? Check this list for beach camping before you head out.
Once you get there…
Have fun! Don’t sweat the small stuff, and just enjoy the beautiful weather and sights San Diego has to offer.