I'd like to plan a memorable 2-night camping trip this summer for my group of friends. We're willing to drive and are open to staying in a variety of environments (desert, forest, beach, etc.). Any recommendations?
There is so much to see within a 5 hour driving radius -- so let me see if I can help you out. These are in no particular order. :)
1. Mammoth Mountain - this is an amazing all-season destination that is about 4-5 hours from LA. You can camp, bike, ski, hike, fish, swim, climb, hot air ballon, zip line, etc and/or drink all day and chill out. Check out visitmammoth.com
2. Palm Springs - 2 hours from LA, this is a great place to go and stay at a fancy hotel ( The Parker, Palm Springs, La Quinta Resort & Club), go to different festivals, hike around in the desert, or just lay by the pool.
3. Joshua Tree National Park - I've had a bunch of friends go and camp in Joshua Tree and love it. I've never personally been but it sounds cool.
4. Big Bear Mountain - If you want to do the mountain thing but Mammoth is too far -- try Big Bear. It's an all-season destination with lakes and trails, and skiiing the winter -- but it's only 2 hours from LA.
5. Lake Arrowhead - Another 2 hour drive. If you're going to Big Bear -- stop in Lake Arrowhead and check out the scenary. IMHO, It's a little kitschy but cute nonetheless.
7. San Onofre State Beach - If you're into surfing and camping on the beach, San Onofre is an option. Lots of my friends who surf will go down and camp in their car or in a tent and surf in the morning. It's a bit unusual too because you'd be surfing right near a shut down nuclear power plant. #lookoutfor3headedfish
8. Malibu - If you don't want to drive too far, you have hike, camp, surf, and celeb site see and wine taste all in Malibu. Not too exotic but fun.
9. Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort - (personally one of my favorite spots in CA) -- I don't think you can camp here but it's an all inclusive resort that has everything. Fishing, skeet shooting, horse back riding, etc. It's really geared towards families but the land is magical. Rolling hills, big oak trees, cows roaming everywhere. I would search for a camp ground near here and then camp at night, and wine taste during the day. Also, if you're up this direction, stop at Olsen's Danish Village Bakery & Coffee Shop for some killer danish pasteries.
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I'm planning a National Parks trip and there are a bunch within driving distance of LA.
Yosemite National Park has the most options, with in-park camps like
Curry Village, but
Sequoia National Park has their own High Sierra Camp as well. At
Death Valley National Park you'll find the
Stovepipe Wells Village.
Mendocino National Forest is supposed to be gorgeous in the fall and features a few rugged camping sites. And though it's six hours away, not five,
Zion National Park has camping on-site too (but you need permits to reach many of the summits).
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