The San Elijo State Beach Campground—perched on the edge of a towering bluff—sees the most traffic March through November, but is an in-demand SoCal escape in the winter months too. Locals and visitors surf this stretch of Cardiff coastline year-round, and the campground is home to the Eli Howard Surf School, which offers camps and day lessons. Try to nab a spot on the campground’s west side, where you’ll catch dramatic sunset views and hear waves lapping from your tent or RV (and you’ll be a little farther away from the nearby train crossing).
In addition to easy beach access, one of this campground’s biggest draws is its proximity—just a three-minute walk across Highway 101—to the quaint town center of Cardiff, with its Seaside Market (head straight to the meat counter and order a piece of Burgundy Pepper Tri Tip or a local fisherman’s catch to throw on the campsite grill), yoga studios, coffee shops, the famous VG Donut & Bakery, restaurants, and shopping options, including a Patagonia store. The campground has a family-friendly vibe, and you’ll see hordes of kids riding scooters to the camp store for ice cream or biking to the onsite Bull Taco snack bar for a California burrito.