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7 Best Places for Camping in Santa Barbara

7 Best Places for Camping in Santa Barbara

Camping in Santa Barbara is the perfect way to enjoy the Pacific coast. You get the best of both worlds with the mountains and beaches. No matter where you camp, you’re guaranteed fabulous views.

Keep reading to learn what options you have for Santa Barbara camping. Whether you’re staying in the area for a weekend or a couple of weeks, the experience will be unforgettable. 

Let’s dig in! 

There Are Plenty of Options for Camping in Santa Barbara

Camping in Santa Barbara runs from rustic options to an RV resort with full hookups. You’ll be close to the Pacific Ocean and mountains wherever you camp. You’re guaranteed an epic view in whichever campground you choose.

RV TRAVEL VIDEOS // Santa Barbara // FULL TIME RVING // Ep. 32

Can You Camp on the Beach in Santa Barbara?

There are campgrounds and fee-based campsites on the beach in Santa Barbara. However, you cannot boondock for free on the beach like in places like the Texas Gulf Coast. An excellent option for beach camping in Santa Barbara is Carpinteria State Beach. You can enjoy the views of the mountains to the east and the beach to the west. 

Friends posing on top of RV in Santa Barbara
Grab your friends and your RV and head to Santa Barbara for some beautiful camping spots.

7 Best Places for Camping in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara camping is the perfect way to explore the area on a budget. Let’s check out seven of the best campgrounds. 

1. Santa Barbara Sunrise RV Park

Address: 516 S Salinas St, Santa Barbara, CA 93103

About Santa Barbara Sunrise RV Park: Santa Barbara Sunrise RV Park is a small campground in the city. RV sites are full hookup with cable and WiFi. It’s a big rig-friendly park with some pull-through sites. 

Included Amenities: Amenities at the RV park include key-coded bathrooms, showers, and laundry facilities. It’s also a pet-friendly park. It’s conveniently close to grocery stores, gas stations, propane, and a home improvement store that carries some RV supplies.

2.  Los Prietos Campground

Address: 111 Paradise Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93105

About Los Prietos Campground: Los Prietos Campground is in the Los Padres National Forest. It provides easy access to hiking, outdoor and water recreation. The campground has RV and tent sites without hookups. However, campsites have a picnic table and fire ring with a grill.

Included Amenities: The campground has flush toilets and drinking water on site. Campsites are in the shade. The Santa Ynez River is only half a mile with hiking trails, making it a beautiful destination for camping in Santa Barbara.

Pro Tip: Want to snooze in the sand? We uncovered 10 Places Where You Can Go Beach Camping in California.

Man sitting in back of truck camper at campsite in Santa Barbara
Enjoy hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and more while camping in Santa Barbara.

3. Paradise Campground

Address: 301 Paradise Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93105

About Paradise Campground: Paradise Campground is also in the Los Padres National Forest. It’s in the Santa Ynez Mountains and sits at approximately 1,000 feet. The campground has 15 paved sites for tents and RVs. Each site is without hookups but has a picnic table, campfire ring, and a grill. 

Included Amenities: The campground has drinking water, flush toilets, and firewood. There is a dump station about 11 miles from Paradise Campground. You can also access the Santa Ynez River from the campground through a tunnel under the road.

4. Rancho Oso RV & Camping Resort

Address: 3750 Paradise Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93105

About Rancho Oso RV & Camping Resort: Rancho Oso RV & Camping Resort is a Thousand Trails campground in Santa Barbara. You’ll find 190 campsites with full hookups. The RV resort sits in the beautiful mountains behind Santa Barbara and offers many activities, including horseback riding trails.

Included Amenities: The RV resort has a pool, hot tub, nature trails, mini-golf, and other outdoor activities. It also offers horseback riding and has a dog park. In addition, it has a clubhouse, bathhouse, laundry facilities, and RV storage.

5. Fremont Campground

Address: 2525 Paradise Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93105

About Fremont Campground: Fremont Campground is a short distance from the Pacific Ocean. It’s an excellent place for camping with access to the shoreline and the city of Santa Barbara. The small park offers modern campsites with a picnic table, fire ring, and grill. Some sites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

Included Amenities: The campground has drinking water, flush toilets, and firewood. It has paved parking spurs, a bait shop, and river access. You’ll also find hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails, plus some swimming options.

Santa Barbara beach at sunset
Sleep just steps from the beach in Santa Barbara.

6. Cachuma Lake Campground

Address: 2225 CA-154, Santa Barbara, CA 93105

About Cachuma Lake Campground: Cachuma Lake Campground is on Cachuma Lake within the Santa Ynez and San Rafael Mountains. The county park has tent sites, cabins, yurts, and group camping. You can reserve campsites up to six months in advance. 

Included Amenities: The pet-friendly campground offers a general store, a gas station, laundry facilities, and showers. You’ll also find a marina that sells bait and tackle, fuel, fishing licenses, and boats for rent.

7. Sage Hill Campground

Address: Forest Rte 5N43 – Los Prietos WH, 3585 Paradise Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93105

About Sage Hill Campground: Sage Hill Campground in the Santa Ynez Mountains offers group camping access to the river. It’s a prime Santa Barbara campground for fishing, hiking, or horseback riding. One of the group campsites includes 12 horse corrals and a hitching post.

Included Amenities: The campground has paved roads, and the group sites each accommodate up to 50 people. There is an extra-large parking area for horse trailers. There’s also drinking water and flush toilets on site. 

Pro Tip: After exploring Santa Barbara, head to one of these 7 Best National Parks in California.

Friends watching the sunset over Santa Barbara ocean
It is possible to go boondocking while in Santa Barbara.

Can You Boondock in Santa Barbara?

There are some boondocking options when camping in Santa Barbara. As long as you follow the rules for each spot, you can enjoy free camping in the area.

For example, Arroyo Hondo Vista Point puts you right on the coast. You can only stay for eight hours, but if you time it right, you can sleep to the sound of the waves. You can also check out the Miranda Pine Campground in the Los Padres National Forest. The views of the mountains are epic.

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When Is the Best Time for Santa Barbara Camping?

Camping in Santa Barbara is possible year-round. The summer is one of the best times to enjoy the ocean and beaches and cool off in the mountains. However, if you want to beat the crowds, spring and fall can be an optimum time to have peace and quiet. If you like it cool, visit during the winter to enjoy the fewest visitors.

Are you ready to experience campgrounds in Santa Barbara? Mark them on your road trip list, and let us know how it goes! Tag us in some photos or leave a comment below.

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Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
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Doug Donnelly

Sunday 29th of May 2022

I enjoy reading your articles, but as a Santa Barbara resident of over 40 years, I was puzzled by your article about camping in/near Santa Barbara. You mentioned some really iffy camping spots but failed to mention the best, including my favorites. What research was done? How in the world can you write an article about Santa Barbara camping and not mention Rincon Parkway, El Capitan State Beach, Ocean Mesa RV Resort, Faria County Beach, Hobson County Beach, etc, etc, etc?????? Frankly, this causes me to wonder how reliable are your other articles?

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