Best Family Vacation Campgrounds

Up and Down California

Wrights Lake

California's Best Family Vacation Campgrounds

A family sitting around a campfire

Browse our guide to the best family camping spots in California. Find campgrounds with activities and attractions that are favorites with children of all ages, from swimming to fishing, campfire programs to outdoor movies, horseback riding to hiking trails.

All of the campgrounds on our California's Best Camping website are good family destinations. Certainly nearly any of our lake and beach campgrounds would make excellent vacation destinations for families. On this list of Family Vacation Campgrounds we have highlighted the very best -- campgrounds with the most to offer families with children and teens.

Tuolumne County

Pinecrest Lake's Pinecrest Campground

Pinecrest Lake, CA

Pinecrest Lake's campground has an abundance of wonderful recreational attractions for children of all ages. The designated swim beach is great for wading and playing, outdoor movies or ranger programs are offered every night in the summer, bike rentals and easy cycling paths are nearby, the lake's marina has boat rentals for cruising and fishing, and horseback trail rides are only a short drive away. The local ranger station provides ranger-led outings and children's programs.

The forested campground is within easy walking distance of the lake. Nearby amenities include hot showers, a store, a snack bar, fish cleaning stations, and an around-the-lake trail.

Alpine County

Lake Alpine Campground

Lake Alpine, CA

Lake Alpine sparkles in the clear mountain air. The campground is adjacent to the lake, convenient for fishing, boating, and even swimming (for those who can brave the chilly water). Summer campfire programs and children's activities make the campground especially attractive for families. Nearby are a store, restaurant, boat launch ramp and dock where small boats can be rented. Lake Alpine has a 10 MPH speed limit. Hiking trails lead around the lake and up to view points. Within easy driving distance is the community of Bear Valley and other lakes.

The 25 campsites are set among the trees and are offered first-come, first served. Other nice campgrounds are found at the east end of the lake.

Calaveras County

Calaveras Big Trees State Park's
North Grove Campground

Giant Sequoia at Calaveras Big Trees State Park, CA

North Grove Campground is situated nearly in the center of Calaveras Big Trees State Park's main attractions. The famous North Grove of Giant Sequoias is within easy walking distance as are the Visitor Center, Jack Knight Hall and Big Stump. A short drive takes visitors to the South Grove and more giant trees as well as good fishing spots. The park has summer interpretive programs, children's activities, and guided nature walks. Children 7 to 12 can participate in Junior Rangers, while those 3-6 years old can join Junior Cubs (along with their families).

The campground has flush toilets and hot showers.

El Dorado County

Jenkinson Lake's Sly Park Campground

Jenkinson Lake Marina, Sly Park Campground, CA

Sly Park Campground, operated by the El Dorado Irrigation District, has a great location along the shore of Jenkinson Lake. A wide range of campsites can accommodate tents, RVs and trailers up to 40 feet. At the lake the marina has boat rentals. Waterskiing and wake boarding are permitted on the lake, but jet skis are not. Canoes and kayaks are popular on the still waters. Nine miles of trails are great for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking.

Some campsites have lake views, most are within easy walking distance of the swim beach.

Wrights Lake Campground

Wrights Lake, El Dorado County, CA

Wrights Lake is one of the most beautiful settings in the Sierra. Kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddleboards, and float tubes are popular on the lake where no motorized boats are permitted. Wading and swimming are also attractions. Fishing is great around the shore and out on the water. Hiking trails abound. OHV routes are nearby. Campfire programs are offered in the summer.

Campsites are within easy walking distance of the lake.

Nevada County

Donner Lake's
Donner Memorial State Park Campground

Donner Lake, CA

The campground at Donner Memorial State Park makes a wonderful place for families to enjoy all the attractions of the park and the adjacent lake. Considered one of the most beautiful lakes in the Sierra, Donner Lake offers boating, waterskiing, fishing, and swimming. A boat rental facility close to the campground has pedal boats, canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, and more. The new High Sierra Crossing Museum is a great facility. Nature hikes, interpretive programs, Junior Rangers, a swim beach, and Donner Party sites are just some of the amenities that make the park and lake so popular.

Campgrounds have flush toilets and hot showers. Truckee and Lake Tahoe are only short drives away.

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Manzanita Lake Campground

Manzanita Lake, Lassen Volcanic National Park, CA

Manzanita Lake Campground has both the lake and the entire volcanic park at its doorstep. Quiet and picturesque Manzanita Lake is popular for paddling around in rafts, paddleboards, and kayaks, as well as for swimming and fishing. Kayak rentals are available. A broad, flat campground with more than 175 campsites is a great place for children to ride their bikes and meet new friends. Short day drives within the park can include all the volcanic natural wonders and even a hike to the summit of Lassen Peak. In early August the 3-day Lassen Dark Sky Festival is popular. Ranger-led hikes and summer campfire programs are always interesting.

The campground has hot showers, along with a nearby store and gift shop.

Shasta County

McArthur-Burney Falls State Park Campground

Burney Falls, CA

McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park coupled with delightful Lake Britton makes a great vacation destination for families. Stunningly beautiful Burney Falls are an immediate attraction, but nearby Lake Britton is where many children will want to spend their days. Boating, fishing, and swimming are favorite activities. The marina there has boat rentals. Also, campers can join ranger-led canoe tours of the lake. Summer campfire programs include marshmallows. Junior Rangers and once a month Animal Rescue Saturdays are also big hits.

The campground has hot showers. The park Visitor Center is nearby.

Mendocino County

MacKerricher State Park Campgrounds

Burney Falls, CA

Although MacKerricher State Park beaches are usually not safe for wading or swimming, the park offers a host of activities to keep children engaged. Laguna Point, only a short walk from campsites, has observation points for watching seals and easy to access tide pools for exploration. The long, level Old Haul Road is great for hikes and bikes. Lake Cleone has fishing. Glass Beach is sprinkled with wave polished, smooth pieces of glass. Don't miss the visitor center and summer campfire programs. On the beaches build sand castles, play games, and keep an eye out for passing whales.

The campgrounds have flush toilets and hot showers.

Del Norte County

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park Campground

Smith River at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, CA

For children who love the outdoors, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park is a great place to explore. Miles of trails through the redwoods will keep even the most eager hikers busy. The Smith River in mid to late summer, when water levels are safe, becomes a wonderful place for kids to play. Other attractions include a visitor center, a nature store, fishing, summer campfire interpretive programs. Pick up a Junior Ranger Adventure Guide and check the program schedule for craft programs and nature hikes.

The campground has flush toilets and hot showers. Campsites have plenty of privacy among the trees and undergrowth.

San Bernardino County

Big Bear Lake's Serrano Campground

Big Bear Lake, CA

Serrano Campground is ¼ mile from the shore of popular Big Bear Lake. The lake has swimming, boating, boat rentals, stand-up paddleboarding, waterskiing, and fishing. Other nearby recreation ranges from parasailing and jet skiing to rides up Scenic Sky Chair to the top of Snow Summit, mountain biking, and hiking.

Campground amenities include hot showers, campfire interpretive programs, and the availability of full hook-up sites.

Ventura County

Lake Casitas Campgrounds

Lake Casitas, CA

Lake Casitas' Water Adventure will delight children for hours every day. Although no body contact is allowed with the lake's water, Water Adventure more than makes up for it. The water play park is open during the summer. It offers one area of waterfalls, slides, shallow pools and much more for younger children, while another area known as Lazy River is designed for the whole family. More fun is found around the lake at its bike rentals and bike trail, model airplane airstrip, and disc golf course. A marina rents an assortment of boats, including pedal boats. Fish for bass, trout, catfish and sunfish.

More than a dozen camping areas have a range of amenities from full hook-ups to tent sites. Some sites have cable TV. Naturally the campgrounds have flush toilets and hot showers.

Santa Barbara County

Cachuma Lake Campgrounds

Yurts at Cachuma Lake, CA

Cachuma Lake is loaded with activities and attractions that will engage children and teens alike. Although no body contact is allowed with the lake's water, a swimming pool there makes great place to cool off on hot days. Fishing is especially good for bass and rainbow trout, from boats, shore, or fishing piers. Hop aboard a naturalist-guided lake cruise on a 30-passenger boat. Take part in the Junior Ranger Program. Visit the Nature Center and the marina. Among the facilities are playgrounds, a fireside theater, general store, snack shop, and fun center.

The campground has flush toilets and hot showers; some sites have hook-ups.

Carpinteria State Beach Campground

Carpinteria Beach, CA

Carpinteria Beach has a nice mixture of attractions for families with children. The ocean is a good place for beginning to intermediate surfers and bodyboarders. Lifeguards are on duty in the summer. Smaller children enjoy digging in the sand and building sand castles. The Visitor Center has an indoor tide pool with live marine animals. Short walks lead to places such as Jellybowl Vista Point, tide pools, the Harbor Seal Preserve, and for younger children, the Tomol Interpretive Play Area. Summer interpretive programs are popular.

The campground has flush toilets and hot showers; some sites have hook-ups.

Sequoia National Park

Lodgepole Campground

Moro Rock, Sequoia National Park, CA

Lodgepole Campground is close to many interesting attractions within the park. Some can be reached by using the park's free shuttle; others are only a short drive away. Right in Lodgepole Village are a Visitor Center and stores. Nearby are destinations children enjoy, such as Moro Rock, the Tunnel Log, Tharp's Cabin (inside a hollow Giant Sequoia log), the General Sherman Tree, and Crystal Cave. Ranger and campfire programs are offered in the summer.

The campground has flush toilets. Showers and laundry are nearby at Lodgepole Village.

Kings Canyon National Park

Azalea Campground

Giant Sequoia at Grant Grove, Kings Canyon National Park, CA

Azalea Campground is one of several excellent campgrounds in the Grants Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park. The Grant Grove area features trails among the Giant Sequoias as well as a popular Visitor Center. During the summer ranger programs are offered along with trail rides at a nearby stable. Within driving distance for day trips from the campground are Boyden Cavern, Cedar Grove, and all of Sequoia National Park.

Campsites are within walking distance of the campfire circle and the stores, shops, restaurant, and visitor center.

Fresno County

Shaver Lake's Camp Edison

Camp Edison sign at Shave Lake, CA

Camp Edison at Shaver Lake has many popular attractions, especially for families that enjoy boating, waterskiing, and fishing. The beautiful mountain lake has two marinas with boat rentals and plenty of open water. Other attractions are swimming, kayaking, and hiking. With more than 250 campsites spread through the forest, children quickly make new friends. Facilities include volleyball and basketball courts, horseshoe pits, fish cleaning stations, hot showers, and a laundromat. Summer programs are available.

All campsites have electricity and cable TV. Some campsites have full hook-ups. WiFi is available across most of the campground.

San Luis Obispo County

Morro Bay State Beach Campground

Morro Bay, CA

Morro Bay State Beach Campground is located along the shore of the bay, close to a wide variety of recreational activities. Rent kayaks at the Kayak Shack adjacent to the campground and paddle around the bay. Visit the nearby Monarch butterfly roosting area. A short drive away are Morro Bay Beach, Morro Rock, and the Morro Bay Teen Center and Skate Park. Enjoy campfire programs in the summer. Take the whole family on a Sub Sea Tour of the bay. The Museum of Natural History is especially popular with younger children. Set off on day trips to Cuyucos State Beach and Montano de Oro State Park.

The campground has flush toilets, hot showers, and some sites with electric and water hook-ups.

Pismo State Beach Campgrounds

Pismo Beach, CA

Pismo State Beach is a long expanse of sand great for children and teens. Swimming, surfing, bodyboarding, clam digging, and fishing are all favorites at Pismo Beach. Stroll out the Pismo Beach Pier and try a little fishing. Play beach volleyball or turn the kids loose on the playground. Nearby is Oceano Dunes State Vehicle Recreation Area. Other attractions include a Monarch Butterfly Grove, a nature center, horseshoe pits, and evening campfire programs in the summer. Dinosaur Caves Park makes a good side trip for young children. Another excellent day trip is up to Avila Beach

The campground has flush toilets, hot showers, and some sites with electric and water hook-ups.

Lopez Lake Campgrounds

Lopez Lake Recreation Area, 13 miles east of Pismo Beach, is operated by San Luis Obispo County Parks. The lake offers all kinds of boating, waterskiing, fishing, and swimming. A wide range of camping areas are spread over an oak-studded hill near the lake. Campsites are available with electricity or with full hook-ups.

Adjacent to the campground are Mustang Water Park, Vista Lago Adventure Park (ropes and zip lines), and the Lopez Lake Marina with boat rental, paddleboards, and more. A dedicated swim beach is within a short walk of most campsites. Group, equestrian, and boat-in campsites are available.

Santa Cruz County

Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Big Basin Camping

Headquarters at Big Basin Redwoods State Park, CA

Miles of easy to hike trails among giant redwoods and along chattering creeks will keep younger children excited for days. Big Basin is the kind of place children enjoy to explore, poking under ferns and scrambling on logs. While all of the campgrounds in the park are very nice, Blooms Creek Campground is close enough to the center of the park to walk there easily. The park has Junior Rangers for ages 7-12 and a Nature Club for youngsters 3-6 with their families. Campfire talks, a Nature Center and Visitor Center, and guided nature walks are all worth enjoying.

The well-forested campgrounds have hot showers available; restrooms have flush toilets.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite Valley's Yosemite Campgrounds Map

Yosemite Valley campsite and Half Dome, CA

The three Pines Campgrounds (Upper, Lower, and North) in Yosemite Valley put families at the heart of the valley's attractions. Short, easy hikes or free shuttle rides carry visitors to Mirror Lake, Happy Isles and the trail to view Vernal and Nevada Falls, the park Visitor Center, Yosemite Falls, and the Merced River. Fishing, rafting, guided horseback rides, ranger-led hikes and children's programs, and summer campfire programs are all popular. Take day trips by car to Tuolumne Meadows or Glacier Point.

The forested campgrounds has easy access and connecting bike and walking trails. Some sites are along the Merced River.


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