As summer continues to give us long days and warm nights, it’s a great reason to step outdoors.

In this post, we share some of the best camping spots in the Santa Barbara area for day trips, weekends, and more. Enjoy!

The Best Camping Spots in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is world-famous for its wining, dining, and reclining, but that’s just the start. Santa Barbara County boasts some of the best nature on the California coastline, and it’s not just the beaches that please.

Best Camping Spots

El Capitan State State Beach

Beaches may be the most iconic aspects of Santa Barbara living, but where can you go to wake up on these gorgeous shores? El Capitan State Beach: a beautiful beachside campground nestled on a quiet bluff off Highway 101. It’s a 20-minute drive from downtown Santa Barbara, a state beach with more than one hundred campsites for all camping levels, from the solo traveler to the RV family.

El Capitan State Beach

Check out the rocky tidepools and natural shoreline to spot wildlife, go fishing, or enjoy the gorgeous sunset.

For the hikers and cyclists reading, Ansio Trail provides a great starting point to see the sights and hike/bike to Refugio State Beach!

Beach Sunset

Gaviota State Beach

Gaviota State Beach

Keeping on the coast, travel an additional 10 minutes north to Gaviota State Park for traditional camping with coastal access for a memorable weekend with your camping bag and sandals: the only divider being the iconic trestle separating the campsites from the beach!

Sunrise Bridge

Lake Cachuma

Lake Cachuma

Beachside camping is always a blast, but if you want something a little more inland, away from the bustling city of Santa Barbara. For a more traditional camping experience, visit Lake Cachuma. Still, only 30 minutes away from the city, this lake holds a special place in the hearts of locals that love summer camping. The lakeside view with firepits and hikes makes for a very classic camping style. The only things missing are s’mores!

Camping by Water

The area has some of the best views of the surrounding mountain ranges, making this spot perfect for sharing your Santa Barbara Adventures on social media. So if you are looking to unplug, classic camper style, Lake Cachuma is the place to be.

Los Padres National Forest

Los Padres National Forest

Ranging from Monterey to Ventura, Los Padres National Forest covers most of Central California. Many beloved outdoor icons like Point Inspiration, Figueroa Mountain, Lizard’s Mouth, and well-known hiking trails reside in our northern forest. Along with these great day trip spots, the park also has plenty of great camping spots, all within 40 minutes of downtown! Here are some options to try:
Upper Oso Campground
Paradise Campground
Fremont Campground

Hike Camping



We couldn’t possibly end our best camping spots in Santa Barbara list without mentioning one of the best all-encompassing camping spots on the central coast and even California! Ojai continues to be legendary among Angelinos and avid campers as one of the best weekend travel destinations within 100 miles of Downtown LA. Lucky for us, we are even closer! This area boasts cute boutique hotels, hiking for all experience levels, Old town charm, and plenty of campgrounds and BnBs, creating a unique experience every time.

For many, Ojai is a spiritual region: a prime place for meditation and relaxation. Events, such as “the pink moment”, create a true sense of calm that few other areas have.


What to pack for camping

In these hot summer months, sunscreen and warm weather clothing are a must. For camping supply needs, visit Mountain Air Sports, a well-known local sports shop. They are mostly known for providing the essential sporting needs, surfboards chief among them, but they do have a selection of camping materials you can utilize on your next adventure!

Only you…

We love this beautiful land and want others to enjoy the beauty of our wonderful city and surrounding area, but we are aware of the danger this time of year can bring. We wholeheartedly thank the firefighters and park staff who work tirelessly to make sure our parks and campgrounds are safe for anyone to use and love. Even so, please be safe out there and enjoy the natural beauty Santa Barbara has to offer!