There’s a very good reason so many classic songs, books and films have been inspired by California. The Golden State is world-renown for its natural beauty, as well as its varied landscape. It’s entirely possible to go from mountain top, to desert, to the beach in the span of one day. It’s also the reason why California has been a hot destination for campers and travelers ever since Route 66 started bringing automobiles across America in droves back in the first half of the 20th century.
Here are seven must-visit destinations for your next RV trip to sunny California.
Mendocino is home to breathtaking ocean views and moderate weather that’s perfect for a summertime trip to Northern California. The town of Mendocino features quaint, New England-style architecture that beckons to a simpler time. You can take in spectacular hiking, fishing, swimming and skin diving, as well as The Mendocino Art Gallery, The Mendocino Theatre Company and the Historic Ford House, which doubles as a museum.
Where to park your RV: Mendocino National Forest offers up breathtaking scenery and jaw-dropping sunsets.
For the California beachside experience, Oceanside is the place to be. The town bills itself as “Southern California’s Most Authentic Beach Town” and boasts a thriving food and drink scene, as well as prime surfing and beach activities. Oceanside is a Beach Boys song come to life and the perfect place to do a little California Dreamin’.
Where to park your RV: Oceanside RV Park allows you to wake up to the sounds of crashing waves, bask in the sun all day by the pool, and go to sleep after an epic ocean sunset. With full amenities, including WiFi, utility hook ups and laundry, the park is the perfect home base for a few days of Southern California fun.
3. Lake Tahoe
Tucked away in the northeast portion of the state, the Lake Tahoe area is known for bluebird days, and crystal clear water. It is also an outdoor sports enthusiasts dream, where you can ski and golf in the same day. The lake itself shares a border with Nevada, making for a quick getaway to the casinos and nightlife on the other side of the water.
Where to park your RV: Chris Haven Mobile Home and RV Park offers 96 full service sites, paved roads, laundry and quick access to both golf and ski areas.
4. Calaveras Big Trees State Park
The northern California Redwood forests are as much a part of the California mythology as beaches and sunshine. Naturalist John Muir called the area a “flowering glade in the very heart of the woods, forming a fine center for the student, and a delicious resting place for the weary”, and it has been drawing tourists and nature lovers from around the world for over 100 years. It is one of the the only places on earth you can find these massive trees, and as you wander amongst their grand trunks, its very easy to feel as though you are walking alongside giants.
Where to park your RV: Calaveras Big Trees State Park is RV friendly, with sites to accommodate your RV. It’s best to reserve online to get a spot, however with incredible hiking and sightseeing within the park, it won’t be hard to spend several days there.
5. Big Sur
The original Spanish meaning of Big Sur is “the big country of the south”, and taking a drive along the incredible 70+ miles of coastline highway, it’s very easy to see where this name came from. The Big Sur drive down California Route 1 from Carmel River to San Simeon is one of the biggest stretches of undeveloped coastline in North America. From incredible rock formations to huge crashing surf, the trip along “The Number 1” is an essential part of any California getaway.
Where to park your RV: The Fernwood Resort boasts incredible RV sites for virtually any setup. With full amenities and sanitation, it makes for the perfect respite after a long day of sightseeing on the road.
NOTE: Due to ongoing road construction and closures in the Big Sur area, please make sure to check highway conditions before planning a trip to this area.
6. Joshua Tree
Slip outside of the golf courses and fine dining of Palm Springs, and you’ll find yourself in the high desert wonderland of Joshua Tree National Park. Sparse, but beautiful in its simplicity, Joshua Tree is one of the most photogenic and unique locations in California, full of incredible desert flora and fauna. It also makes for incredible camping, particularly in the early spring and late fall before temperatures climb too high. If you are truly looking to get away from it all, Joshua Tree is a great destination. The other-worldly atmosphere truly feels like you are somewhere far from earth, without having to venture far off of the beaten path.
Where to park your RV: The quiet and serenity of Joshua Tree comes with a separation from the kind of camping associated with some of the more modern RV parks in California. Indian Cove Campground is located on the edge of the park, near Twentynine Palms, and features many RV-sized sites. There aren’t any utility hook ups within Joshua Tree, so come prepared to be unplugged for the duration of your stay. Another great option to spend a few nights is Jumbo Rocks Campground (pictured above).
Sonoma is synonymous with California’s wine industry and is as popular for it’s stunning Spanish-style architecture as it is for its wonderful grape blends. Sonoma has evolved into one of the state’s most popular tourist destinations, particularly amongst foodies and its historic plaza features over 30 restaurants alone. Dine and drink like royalty in one of the California’s most beautiful settings.
Where to park your RV: Bodega Bay RV Park is an RV-only park with 58 full service sites. It’s pet friendly, with nearby beach access and tantalizingly close to some of Sonoma’s best wineries.
California is the place of dreams, and whether your dreams are of incredible scenery, fine food and drink, or an outdoor adventure, it is a place where anyone’s travel fantasy can come true. With so many idyllic locations to choose from, this list is just the tip of the iceberg. What are your favourite Golden State spots?