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Jeremy
San Francisco

San Francisco

What are the best weekend camping getaways near SFO?

I grew up camping, but am new to California and would like to find a getaway for the weekend.  What are the best places within driving distance (2-4 hrs) from downtown SFO to add to my bucket list?  Want something with a little bit of privacy/character... but not looking to totally rough it so would like to have bathroom/shower facilities. 


12 Answers

top answer by
Jeanne from Sonoma

Steep Ravine Cabins

These are so unique!  They are cabins perched on a cliff at the base of Mt Tamalpais, with unbelievable views and a short drive to Stinson Beach.  No showers but they do have shared toilets.  The cabins have wood stoves for heat, elevated sleeping platforms for your sleeping bag, a table for dining, a barbeque for cooking.  You have to book months ahead of time though unless you go during the week.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Steep Ravine Cabins (attraction)
5 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Valerie from Los Angeles

Oh my look no further than the Sierra Nevada Mountains! Specifically in Sierra City.

This area will forever be my favorite place to vacation. When i'm in these mountains, I always contemplate if I ever want to leave. It is so breathtakingly beautiful and peaceful. It is a tradition in my family to go fishing at Sardine Lake.

It is not a big lake but its perfect for fishing and not at all touristy. The surrounding mountains hug the lake so perfectly, we always call it our private lake :) We usually catch Brown and Rainbow trout. There are a series of lakes that are above this one. They are all nestled below the Sierra Buttes Lookout (which is a grueling hike but totally worth it when you make it to the top). It looks over 3 lakes!

I highly recommend checking out the campgrounds around this area. We usually don't camp but instead stay in the Yuba River Inn. We have been staying here every summer for 25+ years. The family that owns these cabins are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. 

I hope this helps! I cannot express enough how much I love this area, I want others to experience the same beauty:)

Have fun and don't forget the bug spray!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Sierra City (attraction)
  2. Sardine Lake (attraction)
  3. Sierra Buttes Lookout (attraction)
  4. Yuba River Inn (hotel)
4 thanks


answered by
Scott from Hays, Kansas

Big Basin State Park is a great local park.  There's a lot of stuff around Boulder Creek.

And I know it's a little far North, but Standish-Hickey State Park and that area near Willits is a great base for exploring the redwoods of N. CA


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Big Basin State Park (attraction)
  2. Willits (city)
  3. Boulder Creek (city)
  4. Standish-Hickey State Park (attraction)
3 thanks


answered by
Kim from Orchard Park, New York

Pescadero CA was fun! We drove from Noe Valley and spent the weekend.  It's a small little beach town, with GREAT hiking, goat farm (fresh goat cheese!) and lots of other quaint activities.  We stayed here, in Costanoa Coastal Lodge & Camp, but they have camping on site as well, and it's not very "rough". http://www.costanoa.com/index.html


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Pescadero (city)
  2. Costanoa Coastal Lodge & Camp (attraction)
3 thanks


answered first by
David from Brooklyn

Angel Island! You have to book the sites well in advance, but the views are unparalleled. Also check out Mount Tamalpais or if you want to go further, Big Sur is amazing (check out Fernwood Resort for some tent cabins) or Mendocino up north.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Angel Island (attraction)
  2. Mount Tamalpais (attraction)
  3. Big Sur (city)
  4. Fernwood Resort (hotel)
  5. Mendocino (attraction)
3 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Janet from Emerald Hills, Ca


You might try the Pinnacles National Monumentsouth of San Jose (quick before it gets too hot), @Mt. Diablo in the East Bay, Point Reyes National Seashore

(quick before summer fog begins)/fabulous place in Fall/Spring). Also south of San Jose is a place Henry W. Coe State Park great little wilderness area where they wanted to run the high speed rail but were stopped...again go quick before it gets too hot.  Also there are a few backpacking/camping spots in the Peninsula Open Space District that are lovely (may also be places in the East Bay MUDDistrict) and lots of wonderfulness in the Big Basin State ParkBig Basin area/Santa Cruz Mountain area. And of course Big Sur/Ventana Wilderness area.

A good camping book for California: California Camping by Tom Stienstra.

For future, more wide ranging trips, don't forget to look at BLM land.

Have fun! Janet


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Point Reyes National Seashore (attraction)
  2. Big Basin State Park (attraction)
  3. Pinnacles National Monument (attraction)
  4. Henry W. Coe State Park (attraction)
2 thanks


answered by
Darcy from San Francisco

Big Basin State Park and Portola Redwoods State Park are both great options south of the City. Portola is a much smaller campground, and Big Basin has some great hiking trails. Pantoll Trailhead, Mt Tamalpais State ParkMt. Tam also has great hiking north of the city


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Big Basin State Park (attraction)
  2. Portola Redwoods State Park (attraction)
  3. Pantoll Trailhead, Mt Tamalpais State Park (attraction)
1 thanks


answered by
Eric from San Francisco

Try Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Point Reyes National Seashore (attraction)
1 thanks


answered by
Annie from San Luis Obispo

Check out Big Sur!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Big Sur (city)
1 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Molly from Santa Barbara, California

I love Big Sur and El Capitan Canyon for camping.  Big Sur is more remote and in the mountains  - there are a variety of places to stay or campgrounds if you decide to completely "rough it."  Treebones Resort is a nice one that still feels like camping.  El Capitan is a bit further South but has what you seem to be looking for- a beach side camping ground with yurts and tents you can rent along with bathrooms, fire pit, a store, bicycles, etc.  


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Big Sur (city)
  2. El Capitan Canyon (attraction)
  3. Treebones Resort (hotel)
1 thanks


answered by
Tracey from Sausalito

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Steep Ravine Cabins (attraction)
  2. Esalen (attraction)
  3. China Camp State Park (attraction)
  4. Bodega Bay (city)
  5. Big Basin State Park (attraction)
1 thanks


answered by
Andrew from Los Angeles, California

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Mount Tamalpais State Park (attraction)
  2. Stinson Beach (city)
1 thanks




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