This state park is 1.5 hours south of LA and 30 minutes north of San Diego. It is busy, and reservations must be made well in advance of your visit. We reserved our spot in May for this October visit. You want a spot overlooking the beach and not one of the spots sandwiched between the other campers and the road. But once you have carefully studied the campground map, looked at campsitephotos.com (that’s what I do anyway), and made your reservation (around $40 a night), here’s what you can expect.
These spots are pretty tight and some have trees/shrubs separating them from the others, some not so much. We had 163 near the end of the park. It faced the road on one side (rather than other campers) and the beach on the other. Next time I’ll book earlier and get one with shrubs on both sides, probably the one right in between the bathroom and the path down to the beach in the 160s.
Our neighbors were a very large crowd of many families. People stuffing as many of themselves and their stuff into one spot seemed to be pretty common. The good news about this is that with the sound of the ocean, you actually don’t hear too much from your neighbors unless they are very close by. I am an extremely light sleeper, and I faired just fine and better in this busy campground thanks to the endless crashing of the waves. Get a nice awning with a side wall, and you can pretend you are alone on the bluff with the Pacific Ocean.
These spots are perched high above the beach, and it is truly a lovely the view marred only by a utilitarian chain link fence. Perhaps California can spring for something more attractive someday. The sites each had a picnic table and fire ring. We spent three days and two nights and will be returning.
The walk down to the beach was 5 minutes for us. Once there, the crowds were minimal. The water was perfect for the heatwave. My skin is still tingling with the memory and my mind’s eye occupied with my boys’ faces as they played in the waves.
There were restrooms that were cleanish, most lacking hand soap so bring your own. The showers required quarters so we skipped them. The laundry facility has three small machines which we eagerly out to use. There were periodic spigots for rinsing off sand. There was a little camp store with the expected t shirts and souvenirs, but also and more importantly they had ice.
A final perk is the accessibility to Carlsbad. There are many restaurants very nearby if you are tired of camp cooking. We checked out Pizza Port on the recommendation of my sister. The place was massive with rows of shared picnic tables and semi frenzied guests acting a little lord of the flies-ish in acquiring spots. Many families, much stimulation, and children everywhere. The good news about that was that no one cared when my travel weary children forgot their table manners. My 1 year old actually was involved in a minor baby brawl (he lost) with a larger baby wearing only pajama bottoms.