Best beach camping near LA

As most of you folks know, you can’t really get a mountain/sea view by driving 3 hours out of Toronto. So when I am in LA, I try to maximize my time to see as much as possible by doing road trips. What I love about LA is that you can get into totally different scenery by driving a couple of hours. This past weekend we decided to make our way up north to Santa Barbara, which is also known as the American Riviera… after my visit I can see why. Imagine the most picturesque white houses with red Spanish roofs, beautiful vegetation and flowers, and the dramatic backdrop of the mountains lined with palm trees. It’s such a cool, hip, and artsy town that makes you not want to leave.

As much as I did not want to leave this ‘Instagram worthy’ town, we finally had to leave and get on our way to our camping adventure that we had planned.

Jalama Beach is approximately an hour drive from Santa Barbara,and about 3 hours from LA, tucked in a little beach along the rugged coastline of California.


First, let me start off by saying that Jalama is probably my favorite campground I have ever visited. Here is why:

  1. Beautiful views of the rugged coastline
  2. It has camp sites right on the beach
  3. You can have camp fires right on the beach!
  4. It has hot showers and actual flushing toilets
  5. It even had ‘campground guest’ Wi-Fi during my stay! (Handy since there is no phone service)
  6. Half the drive in comparison to driving to Big Sur (from LA) but still pretty awesome views of the mountains meeting the ocean
  7. It has a little convenience store on site that has everything you need, including hot meals!
  8. There is a rail road that passes by this campground and you will see a train go by once in a while. So unique!

We ended up going up with no reservation booked, and we got lucky and found the perfect site right on the beach.

However, I recommend booking a site especially if you’re going during summer months. Camping on the beach is $45/night all year around. For a basic campground its $25/night during off season of fall and winter months, and $30/night through spring and summer. If you want to make a reservation online, just click here.

We decided to hike up the mountain so we followed a little unofficial trail to get up there. The views up there were definitely worth the hike.

While on the trail, we had to cross the rail road. We actually saw a few trains pass by during our one night stay in this campground. It was both passenger and commercial trains that passed by. This railroad went on and on along the coast as long as my eyes could see. Given the beautiful views this train passes, I wonder why you don’t hear of doing a “train trip” along California’s coastline? If you know why it’s not so popular, comment and let me know too please! I’d love to do one!

In case you’re wondering what we eat to stay alive on these trips, here it is.

I’m a huge breakfast person so obviously breakfast burritos in the morning are my favorite thing while camping. How can you go wrong with all that deliciousness and the view.

And for a late night snack, we got some herbal tea and Nutella/peanut butter/honey toast…mmmmm…

If this post was useful to you or if you enjoyed reading it, please leave a comment below and let me know if I should do more of them.

Thank you for reading 🙂

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