The air on the California Coast is teeming with a rare brand of adventurous luster not found anywhere else in the world, which is why it is best taken in outdoors. Camping along these beaches flush with towering trees, colorful sea life and a bounty of activities (for all ages!) will support you in creating the ultimate vacation for your entire family. To ensure your vacation planning efforts result in more fun than futility, follow these tips.
1. Find the Ideal Spot.
It's easy to get it right when finding a site to camp along the West Coast, but depending on your family's specific needs, some locations will suit your family better than others. Take your preferences for sites (e.g., not near cliffs, activities for young children and mellow surf-able waves) and find a few spots that meet your needs.
2. Pre-Plan Your Activities.
There are more water sports, hiking trails and other activities to keep you occupied on the California coast than you can shake a snorkel at. To prevent spending hours each morning deciding on what to do, have a family pow wow before you leave on vacation to plan a loose itinerary for each day.
3. Show Up Early.
If you're not able to reserve a spot at the campsite you're heading to (which I recommend) get there early in the day to nab one of the walk-up sites many locations have available on a "first come, first serve" basis. The early bird gets the sweet spot overlooking the ocean and close to the bathroom!
4. Pack Versatile Layers of Clothing.
No mater how warm it gets during the day, California nights are usually chilly -- pack accordingly.
There is so much to see and do while camping in Cali, you don't want to waste time looking for lost items, and figuring out how best to pack and unpack if you'll be camping in more than one spot. Have a chuck box or two ready to go with all your essentials, and organize the compartments by use (e.g., cooking, sports, bedding, etc.) For personal items, use luggage with separate sections to keep categories separate.
6. Seek Out Tide Pools.
Tide pools are rich with opportunities for discovery and can entertain kids for hours. You'll see sea anemones, starfish and maybe even a little octopus if you're putting off good explorer vibes.
7. Say Yes to the Sports.
Camping on the California coast offers everything from beach cruisers, dune buggies, surfing, snorkeling, hiking and other activities that will get your blood pumping. Eek out of your comfort zone by trying something new -- if it makes you nervous, you're on the right track.
8. Heed the Bear Warnings.
Some portions of California have bears, and campsites are excellent at providing clear guidelines for how to stay safe, which primarily consists of keeping your camp clear of food after meals and putting all food in the bear boxes many locations offer. (And if the bears aren't the ones to find that open bag of marshmallows you accidentally left out, the squirrels will be all over it.)
9. Have Tech-Free Time Each Day.
The scenery along the coast of California will change your life, if you allow yourself to fully be in it. Because screens are so addictive, set a time period of a few hours each day where all family members lock up their devices in the car and instead stare at the dolphins surfing the waves, craps skittering along the sand or a sunset so glorious it will be engraved into your memory forever.
Happy camping campers!
*A version of this article originally appeared on Discount My Flights.