Posted

August 10, 2012

When you think of Orange County, camping probably isn'€™t the first thing that comes to mind. However, OC has some of the most amazing sites in California to park your RV or set up your tent and escape the chaos of everyday life." 

I love camping. I love being outdoors, the fresh smell of trees and campfire, and the sense of adventure that it brings. I could do without the bugs and the dirt, but I was a good Girl Scout and have mastered the art of tent camping without the need for an RV." 

Speaking from experience, it'€™s always nice to know if you'€™ll have to truly be '€œone'€ with nature (or at least look and smell like you are), or if you'€™ll enjoy the simple comforts of civilization like running water. When booking a campsite, make sure to check if the campground has these key elements, so you can pack and plan accordingly:

  • Restrooms
  • Showers
  • Sinks
  • Picnic tables
  • Barbecues

Here are some my picks of the best spots in OC for tent '€“ and RV '€“ camping." 

Doheny State Beach" - Dana Point" 

25300 Dana Point Harbor Drive" 
(949) 496-6172 or (800) 444-7275" 

Voted Orange County'€™s '€œBest Camping Site'€ for 18 consecutive years by readers of the Orange County Register, this campground is my number one pick. There are 122 campsites, including 33 beachfront sites with fire rings, picnic tables and hot showers. Another great attribute of this site is that it'€™s walking distance to restaurants, shopping and hiking, in case you crave more than campfire concoctions. " 

It'€™s actually two parks in one: the north end is reserved for day use and surfing (with access to protected tide pools) and the south end is for camping." 

Reservation tip: This campground is known for selling out up to seven months in advance for the summer season, so make your reservations early!

Can'€™t go the entire weekend '€œunplugged'€? There'€™s wireless Internet at the snack bar.

Campground features:

  • Beach" 
  • Bike Trails" 
  • Exhibits and Programs" 
  • Family Campsites" 
  • Fishing" 
  • Hike or Bike Campsites" 
  • Surfing" 
  • Swimming" 
  • Food Service" 
  • Parking" 
  • Picnic Areas" 
  • Restrooms" 
  • RV Dump Station" 
  • Supplies" 

Bolsa Chica State Beach" - Huntington Beach

17851 Pacific Coast Highway

Huntington Beach

(714) 846-3460

This wheelchair-accessible beach (call ahead to use the beach wheelchairs) is a popular place for surf fishing, bike riding, skating, surfing and California grunion hunting. The bike trail along the campground makes for a great ride (if you have the energy!) to the Huntington Beach Pier where you can reward yourself with a pineapple shake from Ruby'€™s Diner, located at the end of the pier. After the bike ride, start a camp fire at one of the fire rings and enjoy beachside s'€™mores. Across the street from the beach is the 1,000-acre Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, with plenty of wildlife watching opportunities." 

Note: No tent camping." 

Facilities & Activities

  • Beach Wheelchair" 
  • Bike Trails" 
  • Fishing
  • Hiking Trails" 
  • Surfing" 
  • Swimming" 
  • Campers" 
  • Food Service" 
  • Picnic Areas" 
  • Restrooms" 
  • RV Dump Station" 
  • RV Hookups" 

Crystal Cove State Park, Moro Campground" - Laguna Beach

8471 Pacific Coast Highway

Laguna Beach" 

(949) 494-3539 or (949) 492-0802

Th Moro Campground is another site you'€™ll have to book at least six months in advance (for the cottages, mainly), but it'€™s worth it! Located just north of Laguna Beach, this beautiful stretch of land features rustic, overnight campsites, a stretch of coastal cliffs and a beach front cove sandwiched between Pacific Coast Highway and the Pacific Ocean." Crystal Cove is great for water related activities, such as swimming, surfing, sunbathing, scuba and skin diving, in addition to fishing, mountain biking and hiking.

Don'€™t want to '€œrough it'€? Cottages" available for overnight rental include studios, one- and two-bedroom houses, and hostel-style dormitories." 

Facilities & Activities

  • Bike Trails" 
  • Environmental Campsites
  • Exhibits and Programs" 
  • Fishing" 
  • Hiking Trails" 
  • Horseback Trails" 
  • Scuba Diving Surfing" 
  • Swimming" 
  • Wildlife Viewing" 
  • Food Service
  • Picnic Areas" 
  • Restrooms" 
  • Visitor Center
  • No Pets Allowed." 

If you'€™re a hardcore camper," try the backcountry hike-in campsites. After you park your car in the El Moro parking lot, hike inland about three miles (it's mostly uphill). Bring anything you think you'€™ll need because there'€™s no water available, though a picnic table and pit toilet are." Not recommended for anyone looking for an easy spot!

San Clemente

3030 Avenida Del Presidente

San Clemente

(800) 444-7275

The mile-long beach attracts water sports enthusiasts and those seeking respite from the inland heat or an escape from nearby metropolitan areas. The beach has a landscaped bluff top with picnic areas, and hiking trails leading down to the beach. There are 160 sites, each with a fire ring, picnic table and shade cover. There'€™s also an RV area and group campsites than accommodate large parties. It'€™s a great opportunity to enjoy an outdoor camping experience overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Facilities & Activities

  • Beach Wheelchair" 
  • Exhibits and Programs" 
  • Family Campsites" 
  • Fishing" 
  • Group Campsites" 
  • Hike or Bike Campsites" 
  • Nature Trails" 
  • Swimming" '
  • Picnic Areas" 
  • Restrooms
  • RV Dump Station" 
  • RV Hookups" 
  • Showers" 

Caspers Wilderness Park" - San Juan Capistrano" 

33401 Ortega Highway

San Juan Capistrano

(949) 923-2210

Caspers Wilderness Park is Orange County'€™s largest, with 8,000 acres of protected wilderness preserve. Open for both camping and day use, you can enjoy a number of recreational activities, such as hiking, bike and equestrian trails, special programs and playgrounds. Unfortunately, you'll have to leave Fido at home if you camp here because there are no domestic pets allowed onsite, however they do have an equestrian facility for riding and camping." 

Hiking Tip: Take a walk through Cathedral Grove on the Nature Trail. You can stroll under a beautiful, shady canopy provided by the Sycamores and Live Oaks." 

Tent Camping Tip:" The Live Oak campground is where you want to be. Best spots, in my opinion, for camping with shade are #10 and #30." 

Facilities & Activities

  • Amphitheater" 
  • Barbeques/Fire Rings" 
  • Bicycling/Bike Trails" 
  • Camping-Family Group" 
  • Dump Station" 
  • Equestrian Camping" 
  • Equestrian Trails" 
  • Hiking Trails" 
  • Interpretive Programs" 
  • Playground/Tot Lot" 
  • Restrooms" 
  • Scenic Overlook" 
  • Showers" 
  • Tables" 
  • Family Picnic Area" 

O'€™Neill Regional Park" - Trabuco Canyon

30892 Trabuco Canyon Rd.

Trabuco Canyon

(949) 923-2260

O'€™Neill Regional Park campsites feature a ground stove, barbecue and one concrete picnic table that seats eight '€” no more than eight campers are allowed per campsite. The site offers a camping experience without completely roughing it. Restrooms offer free hot showers and flushing toilets, and fill and dump stations are available inside the campground. The picnic area houses picnic tables, barbecues, a large grass area, horseshoe pits and playground equipment.

The biggest downfall: no alcohol is permitted.

Anaheim RV Village

333 W. Ball Rd.
Anaheim
(714) 991-0100 or" (866) 991-0103

Want to head to the Disneyland Resort but don'€™t want to pay resort prices? Head over to the Anaheim RV Village (walking distance to Disneyland) where the perks are plenty and the price is right. From tent campers to RVs (up to 60 feet), this newly renovated RV park is perfect for family vacations.

  • Free Shuttle to Disneyland!" 
  • Heated Pool and Jacuzzi" 
  • 150 Landscaped Sites" 
  • Full RV Hookups" 
  • Big Rig Friendly" 
  • 20, 30, and 50 AMP Service" 
  • Cable TV at every site" 
  • Wireless Internet" 
  • Picnic Tables
  • Handicapped Accessible" 
  • Restrooms and" Hot Showers" 
  • Coin Laundry" 
  • Public Phones" 
  • RV Supplies" 
  • Dump Station" 
  • Close to all Area Attractions" 
  • Guided Tours Available

A New Twist on an Old Favorite: S'€™mores

Try using a Reese'€™s Peanut Butter Cup instead of a plain chocolate bar. This is my new favorite campfire treat! (You can also use any other favorite chocolate candy bars, and it works well! Best trick '€“ roast the marshmallow a little bit first, then put it together with the graham cracker and the candy bar, wrap it in tin foil and put on the campfire for a minute or two to help melt the chocolate).

Camping Tip

Put powdered laundry detergent around your tent to repel bugs." 

What are your tips and tricks for camping?" Please share any tips or tricks of your own in the comment section below!"