• Spann & Associates

The Absolute Best Camping Spots in Santa Barbara

As summer continues to give us long days and warm nights, we are stepping outdoors - We'll explore some of the best camp spots in the Santa Barbara area along with what buyers love in homes they tour!

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Camping in Santa Barbara - El Capitan

So you can experience world-class camping in Santa Barbara, this guide will give you everything you need to know for camping on the beach in Santa Barbara, rv camping in Santa Barbara, and what you need to know about the many different options for camping in Santa Barbara County.

We all know Santa Barbara is world-famous for its wining, dining, and reclining, but that's just the start. This central coast gem boasts some of the best nature on the California coastline, and it's not just the beaches. So in the spirit of the summer heat, here are some of our favorite camping spots for day trips, weekends, and more!

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Camping in Santa Barbara: El Capitan State Beach

Camping in Santa Barbara - El Capitan

The beach may be the most iconic aspect of Santa Barbara living, but where can you go to wake up on these gorgeous shores? Enter El Capitan State Beach: a beautiful beachside campground nestled on a quiet bluff off Highway 101. A 20-minute drive from downtown Santa Barbara, this state beach has more than one-hundred campsites for all camping levels, from the solo traveler to the RV family. For a detailed map of the El Capitan State Beach Campground Map,


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Camping in Santa Barbara El Capitan - the best camping in Santa Barbara

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!

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Camping in Santa Barbara at el capitan and refugio state beach

Camping in Santa Barbara - Gaviota State Beach


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Camping in Santa Barbara, Gaviota Beach

Keeping on the coast, we travel an additional 10 minutes north to Gaviota State Park. It combines 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! Gaviota state beach camping is iconically unique, and we highly recommend taking pictures of the sunsets!

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Camping in Santa Barbara - Gaviota

Camping in Santa Barbara - Lake Cachuma

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Camping in Santa Barbara - Lake Cachuma

Camping on the beach in Santa Barbara is serious fun, but maybe you want something a little more inland, away from the bustling city of Santa Barbara. For a more traditional camping experience, we give you 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 in Santa Barbara County. The only things missing are s'mores!

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Camping in Santa Barbara - Lake Cachuma

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.

Camping in Santa Barbara - Los Padres National Forest


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Camping in Santa Barbara - 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:

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Camping in Santa Barbara - Los Padres National Forest

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Camping in Santa Barbara - Los Padres National Forest

Camping in Santa Barbara - Ojai

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Camping in Santa Barbara - Ojai

We couldn't possibly end our 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.


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Camping in Santa Barbara - Ojai

Camping in Santa Barbara - What to pack In these hot summer months, sunscreen and warm weather clothing are a must. No one wants a sunburn ruining a camping trip! But for any camping supply needs, we recommend 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!


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Camping in Santa Barbara


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