California’s campgrounds offer activities ranging from Easter egg hunts to cardboard boat regattas, wine tasting and painting parties to Zydeco music festivals, dinner dances and vintage RV rallies
Nothing rounds out a day of camping like sharing stories with friends and family while roasting s’mores over the campfire.
But while hiking and swimming are popular daytime camping activities, growing numbers of campgrounds and RV resorts across California also offer a wide range of activities and entertainment for people of all ages.
This spring and summer, for example, California’s campgrounds offer everything from Easter egg hunts to cardboard boat regattas to wine tasting and painting parties to vintage RV rallies. Some RV resorts even have dinner dances and live music featuring every major genre, from country, jazz and rock to Zydeco.
“Camping is changing,” said Debbie Sipe, executive director of the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, which hosts Camp-California.com, the travel planning website.
“Many campgrounds still encourage their guests to cook and share stories and s’mores around the campfire. But increasingly, campground operators are creating new activities and entertainment offerings to enhance their guests’ vacation experience and keep them coming back for more.”
“Camp-California.com can help you identify the best campgrounds, RV parks and resorts in the areas you want to visit, and once you click on the websites of the parks that interest you, you can find out what they offer in terms of onsite activities and entertainment and see if it’s the right fit for your friends or family.”
Here’s a sampling of some of the activities taking place this summer at campgrounds throughout California:
— Campland by the Bay in San Diego: This family friendly campground has a private beach on the shores of Mission Bay with special areas for swimming that are ideal for children. The park also has swimming pools and a Jacuzzi as well as a skate park, a fitness center and an onsite restaurant. Activities include scavenger hunts, beach volleyball, kickball, capture the flag, soccer, horseshoes and adult darts. Hydra bikes, Hobie Cats, jet skis, peddle boats and kayaks are also available for rent. Special events include live entertainment and dances, including periodic “Glow in the Dark DJ Dances” as well as talent competitions involving Campland guests. www.campland.com
— Casini Ranch Family Campground in Duncans Mills: This park, located 60 miles north of San Francisco, has frontage along the Russian River. The park has hayrides, weekend beach bonfires with marshmallow roasting as well as outdoor movies on holiday weekends. Canoe and kayak rentals are also available. Many guests also enjoy feeding the ducks and other waterfowl on historic Moscow Mill Pond. Easter Bunny visits are scheduled for April 8 and 15. The campground is adjacent to Willow Creek State Park, which offers hiking trails. www.casiniranch.com.
— Chula Vista RV Park & Resort in Chula Vista: This park’s amenities include a swimming pool and Jacuzzi as well as a fitness center. Upcoming activities include a St. Patrick’s Day Dinner of corned beef and cabbage on March 18; a wine tasting and painting party on April 1; An Easter Eggstravaganza the week of April 8 to 18 with kids’ activities, including a foam party on April 15; a dinner dance on June 2 and a Zydeco Mardi Gras party on July 1 with music by the Bayou Brothers. Other July 4th weekend activities include an old-fashioned weenie roast and a lighted bicycle parade on July 2 and a family picnic with a magic show on July 3. www.chulavistarv.com
— Club Royal Oak RV Resort in Kingsburg: The biggest event of the year at this quiet riverfront RV resort is the Flat Bottom Boogie, a flat bottom boat racing event which it has been hosting along a section of the Kings River since 2012. The next Flat Bottom Boogie is scheduled for July 13 – 16. Club Royal Oak is located along the Kings River, roughly 3.5 miles east of Highway 99, just east of the tiny Swedish-themed town of Kingsburg.
— Coloma Resort in Coloma: This park, which includes campsites, RV sites, park model cabins and safari tents, offers several onsite activities, including a ropes course, gold panning and fishing along the American River. Nearby activities include whitewater rafting, river tubing and biking. www.colomaresort.com
— Far Horizons 49er Village in Plymouth, California: In addition to offering over 300 full-service RV sites, this Sierra Nevada Gold Rush Country resort also features 15 vacation cottage accommodations that are available on a bed and breakfast plan in conjunction with Café at the Park, an on-site deli/espresso café. The resort also offers organized activities and special events, the most popular of which are its three Halloween-themed weekends, which include resort wide trick or treating, costume and campsite decorating contests, a pet costume contest, a pumpkin carving contest and a best scream contest. www.49ervillage.com.
— Flying Flags RV Resort in Buellton (Solvang): This park, located five minutes from the Danish-themed village of Solvang, has RV sites as well as luxurious safari tent, park model RV and vintage Airstream trailer rentals. The resort’s onsite restaurant, the Campfire Cafe, features American comfort food, beer and wine. Golf and wine tasting packages are also available. www.flyingflags.com
— Frandy Park in Kernville: This park is located on the banks of the wild and scenic Kern River and offers sites for tents and RVs. Three river rafting companies are located onsite and there are opportunities for golfing, horseback riding, hiking, biking and ATV riding nearby. Fishing opportunities also abound for golden, rainbow and brown trout as well as crappie. Nightly dancing and weekend live bands are available at local dinner houses. www.frandy.net
— Fridays RV Retreat and McCloud Fly Fishing Ranch in McCloud: This park is unique in that it has onsite fly fishing ponds as well as a runway for model airplanes. www.fridaysrvretreat.com
— Lake Minden RV Resort in Nicolaus: This park’s upcoming activities include a craft activity over Mother’s Day weekend for children to make presents for their moms; a Father’s Day weekend fishing derby and several barn dances. https://www.thousandtrails.com/california/lake-minden-rv-resort/events
— Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina in Newport Beach: This resort has frequent ice cream socials and outdoor movies on the beach. Special events include an annual Easter egg hunt as well as an Easter Sunday brunch April 16 at the Back Bay Bistro. Other special events include cardboard boat regattas. The resort also offers sailboat, peddle boat and electric boat rentals. Amenities include a secluded beach with a waveless swimming lagoon on the bay and a swimming pool. Pet friendly amenities include a dog wash station. The resort includes RV sites and park model cottage rentals. Tent camping is also allowed on the beach. www.newportdunes.com
— Pacific Dunes RV Resort and Riding Stables in Pismo Beach: This 215-site RV park is next door to Pacific Dunes Ranch Riding Stables, which offers horseback riding trips on one of the only beaches in California where people can go horseback riding. Guides take riders through a lushly forested area that includes a creek that’s inhabited by beavers and frequented by deer. Riders then go along the beach for a short time before circling back on another trail that crosses the Oceano Dunes, an 18-mile-long stretch of sand dunes that were once inhabited by the Chumash Indians. www.rvonthego.com/ca
— Rancho Oso RV & Camping Resort in Santa Barbara: This park also offers guided horseback riding trips. Guests at this park can watch stock dogs herding sheep and cattle every Saturday. The park also offers a bucking bull demo with “baby” bulls that are being prepared for future work in rodeos. Amenities include bike trails, miniature golf, nature hiking trails, plus an onsite restaurant and clubhouse. Camping options range from RV and tent site rentals as well as park model cabins. The resort also offers horse camping sites for campers who bring their horses with them. The resort also has several covered wagon rentals, which are arranged in a circle around a campfire pit. Covered wagons sleep up to four people and are equipped with four cots and an electrical outlet. www.rvonthego.com/ca
— Redwood River Resort & Campground in Leggett: This park, which has RV and tent sites as well as cabin and motel room rentals, features movie nights, rock painting, ice cream socials, Karaoke nights and “Find the Rock” games in which children search for brightly colored rocks in exchange for a prize. One of the park’s biggest onsite events takes place over July 4th with a chocolate pie eating contest and canoe races in the swimming pool, a tug of war and water balloon toss. Reggae Rising, an internationally acclaimed three-day Reggae music festival, takes place six miles north of the resort during the first weekend of August. www.redwoodriverresort.com
— San Diego Metro KOA in Chula Vista: This campground features a variety of organized activities from tie-dye t-shirt making classes to ice cream socials, pony races, hayrides, flashlight lollipop hunts and outdoor movies. The campground also has a rock climbing wall, an outdoor laser game facility called a Surf Shack Shootout. Rental accommodations range from an African safari style tent that’s furnished to rustic cabins to fully furnished park models, two more of which were expected to be available for rent this summer. www.koa.com
— San Francisco Petaluma KOA in Petaluma: This campground, which features park model cabin and RV rentals as well as RV sites, features a petting farm with goats, chickens, miniature donkeys and horses; a 30-foot rock climbing wall; horse-shoe pits; a bocce ball and ring toss area; a jumping pillow as well as a huge swimming pool. Organized activities include Karaoke nights, hay wagon rides, pancake breakfasts and outdoor movie nights. www.koa.com
— Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve in Santee: Operated by Padre Dam Municipal Water District, the Preserve has over 190 acres of stocked lakes and parkland as well as a 300-site campground with RV and tent sites as well as 10 fully furnished park model cabins with kitchens and bathroom facilities. Seven of the cabins are right on the water’s edge, while three of cabins are actually floating on the water. The cabins come equipped with air conditioning and heating as well as wireless Internet service and barbecues. Other campground amenities include swimming pools and a Jacuzzi, a water sprayground and regular playground facilities as well as a camp store that offers food and fishing tackle as well as canoe, rowboat and kayak rentals. Bicycle rentals are also available. Special events also take place at Santee Lakes from time to time, including night fishing events with lanterns and summer concerts. An Easter Eggstravaganza event is scheduled for 9 to 3 p.m. April 15 with continuous egg hunts for children 8 and younger. There will also be craft booths, inflatables, carnival rides, pony rides, face painting and food. www.santeelakes.com
— Smithwoods RV Park in Felton: This park’s summer activities include outdoor movie nights, ice cream socials and scavenger hunts. Other special events this summer include a July 4 children’s wheels parade in which campers are invited to decorate their bikes, trikes, scooters and wagons and red, white and blue. The park will also have its annual dog show competition on the last Saturday of July, a vintage trailer rally on the first Saturday of August and a wiffle ball tournament on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend. www.smithwoodsrvpark.com
— Ventura Ranch KOA in Santa Paula: This campground has a 1,400-foot long zip line, a rock climbing wall and jumping pillow. “Bigfoot Adventure Walks” also take place from time to time on weekends. Other activities include rock and tie dye t-shirt painting. This campground offers fully furnished safari tents, Native American style teepees and park model cabin rentals in addition to RV and tent sites. www.koa.com