Recommendations: Family Car Camping Day Drive from San Francisco

Newb here! I am an East Coaster who moved to San Francisco 2 years ago. I used to be an active hiker and camper but haven’t been camping since my wife and I had kids. Now that they are 5 and 3 they are well past due for their first camping experience. Being a bit rusty and unfamiliar with the area could anyone recommend some good car camping spots within a days drive of San Francisco?

Thanks for reading!

@agameofyou We haven’t lived in the Bay Area for almost 20 years but while we lived there, we did enjoy camping with our young daughters. Top choice is Big Basin near Santa Cruz. I recall there are several campgrounds within this large park and we probably camped in more than one but since it’s been so long, I don’t remember the specific campgrounds or sites. Great walks with lots of redwoods. Also in the area was Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, near Roaring Camp and Big Trees Railroad - lots of fun for kids although I don’t know if it is currently operating. A bit further from the Bay area but still within a day’s drive is Calaveras Big Trees, Burney Falls (near Lassen NP), and Castle Crags SP and we enjoyed camping at all of these places. We also went to Rollins Lake, near Sacramento - there is a lake where you can swim or fish. A few years ago during a visit to the Bay Area, we camped at Pinnacles NP but although the hikes are great and the cave was fun to explore, the campground left a little to be desired. Have fun - we have lots of fun memories of camping with our kids and cousins when we lived there! Big Basin hike|607x500 Castle Crags|690x460


Thank you so much for the detailed response! I greatly appreciate it!

Depends on how much driving vs camping… the PointReyes area is neat to see, they have a place right along the beach for cars. South or north coast is neat. Muir Beach, but I do not know if camping is allowed.

Bbvanlife hit on a lot of our favorites. One that’s close to home for you would be Samuel P. Taylor SP. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy nature.

1 Like

There’s camping in Point Reyes! I’ve stayed here before and loved it!

So becasue of fires, if you are still lokking -
Samuel P. Taylor. The creek is great for kids and there are short nature hikes. Get one of the sites along the creek for the kids. Lots of old stumps to climb. But check current air quality - it has been bad. A little farther noth hit Sonoma State beaches - Wright’s Beach. A great beach for kids (but not to swim) and sites are on teh beach (for the most part). Air was clear all last week. Also do not forget the east bay some great local stuff there kids love - Black Diamond Mines and many of the East Bay regional parks are good.