With mild weather and miles of scenic beaches, camping near Santa Barbara is popular all year-round. If you want to hit the road, set up tent or escape in the RV, the following campgrounds, all within an hour of Santa Barbara, are seriously worth checking out.
Ocean Mesa RV Park & Campground
Just fifteen minutes up the road from Santa Barbara is this scenic campground located right on the other side of Highway 101 from El Capitan State Beach. There are plenty of spaces for tent camping and a variety of RV accommodations.
For tent campers, spacious sites offer 20’ circular leveled pads for tent set-up and nearby parking. Every tent site can accommodate up to 6 individuals. Each site has its own picnic table and a half-moon grill fire pit.
For RV campers there are a variety of space options: there are Back-up sites that extend up to 50 feet and offer water, sewer, cable TV, and both 30/50 amp electricity hook ups. Each site has its own picnic table and a half-moon grill fire pit. There are also convenient Pull-Through sites, with level concrete pads extending 50 feet. Sites include: water, sewer, cable TV, and both 30/50 amp electricity hook ups. These sites also offer a picnic table and a grill fire pit.
The campground offers a host of great amenities such as a heated pool and spa, Wi-Fi, cable T.V., a large bathhouse and comfort stations, onsite laundry, an expansive grass lawn with horseshoe pits, playground and a friendly dog run. They also have a wonderful convenience store. For recreation there are 15 miles of hiking trails, and easy access to the beach, which provides an opportunity for surfing, kayaking swimming and more. Like all of the area beaches, you may encounter bits of tar in the water or on the sand, so stop in the Ocean Mesa Market at the campground and pick up a bottle of Oil Slick Beach Tar Remover. It can keep you from tracking sticky tar back into your car, tent or RV.
For more information or to reserve a spot visit oceanmesa.com or call 805-879-5751
Camping at Refugio State Beach
Located about a half-hour up the coast, Refugio State Beach’s 66 campsites offer gorgeous views. There are 63 standard campsites which can accommodate RVs, trailers, and tents. Campsites #34-36 and #60, due to their unobstructed ocean views, are designated as Premium sites and cost an extra $10 per night.
Each site is equipped with a picnic table and barbecue pit. There are hot showers, restrooms and water just a short walk away. Please be aware there are no RV hookups. It’s recommended that visitors reserve campsites well in advance through California Department of Parks and Recreation. A small general store and snack bar is located at the center of the campground, near the shoreline.
For recreation, there is outstanding fishing and kayaking thanks to Refugio’s usually calm waters. Keep an eye out for sea lions, seals and dolphins! For hiking and biking there is a paved 5.2 mile trail that runs between Refugio State Beach and El Capitan State Beach.
Gaviota State Park Camping
Gaviota State Park is about 35 miles from Santa Barbara. Campers often choose to stay at Gaviota when they plan on hiking to Gaviota Peak, a lofty 2,458-foot summit accessible via a 6-mile trail, which features unforgettable views of the coastline and the Channel Islands. To access the sand and ocean you actually walk under a scenic train trestle. The wind can get pretty strong along this stretch of the coast - this part of the coast is famous for it.
The 41 developed campsites accommodate tents, trailers up to 25 feet and RVs up to 27 feet. Visitors can reserve campsites and lodging six months in advance from the current date using reserveamerica.com. Bookings may extend from the arrival date to the desired departure date - based on availability and the park's maximum stay rules.
Camping at Jalama Beach
A little off the beaten path, Jalama Beach, about an hour from Santa Barbara, is the perfect place to fall asleep to the sound of crashing waves. All 107 campsites at Jalama Beach Campground overlook the ocean or beachfront and can be reserved online through Santa Barbara County Parks. Each site is equipped with a picnic table and barbecue pit. The campsite also offers hot showers, restrooms and water, just a short walk away. Electrical hookups are available at 31 of the campsites and dump stations are also available.
Jalama Beach offers a variety of activities including fishing, swimming, whale-watching, seaside picnics and expert level surfing. There’s also a playground for the kids. Jalama has a nice store and grill for groceries, souvenirs and a quick bite to eat.
It’s worth knowing Jalama can get quite windy and have rough surf. Please note that lifeguards are on duty during summer months; however, visitors swim and surf at their own risk.
No matter which Santa Barbara area beach you choose for camping, you will run the risk of getting tar on your feet, shoes, kayaks or surfboards so be sure to stop in at the campground store and pick up a bottle of all natural, non-toxic Oil Slick Beach Tar Remover and enjoy a mess-free getaway. Also available at oilslickonline.com