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Family Camping at Refugio State Beach

by Eugenia Lazaris

Aug 23, 2019

Tupungato | Dreamstime.com

Destinations / North America

There are a few experiences we can have as families that create strong, lasting bonds that go beyond the norm. Family camping trips are one of those experiences — on a camping trip we spend all of our time together, working together to set up, maintain and then take down our campsite and creating our own forms of entertainment to fill the hours.

Just north of Santa Barbara on the California coast is a quiet stretch of sandy beach known as Refugio. This state-run beach sets itself apart from most of the state’s other beaches because just a few feet from the crashing waves is a quiet little campground where families can pull up an RV or pitch a tent and set up camp. After a day of playing in the waves and building sand castles, you can enjoy a spectacular sunset on the beach, roast marshmallows in a fire pit and let the sound of the waves crashing lazily against the shore lull you to sleep.

The location is ideal — campsites have amazing views of the Pacific and the water is just feet from your campground. On a clear day the nearby Channel Islands can be seen in the distance and the waters are favored by local marine life. The area is great for fishing, surfing, kayaking or scuba diving and there are excellent hiking trails nearby that let you enjoy the local scenery and the sea breeze. The palm trees that line Refugio Creek, which runs through the middle of the campground, provide a picture-perfect California beach setting for your camping trip.

During the summer months (usually until Labor Day) there is a lifeguard on duty for added safety in the water. Dogs are welcome in the campground but must be on leashes at all times and are not permitted on the beach. The campground can accommodate visitors in both cars and small RVs (however, there are no RV hookups located within the campground) and has group and handicap accessible sites available. Campers are expected to respect “quiet hours,” 10 p.m.–6 a.m., and keep noise to a minimum. Fires are only allowed in camp stoves and in designated fire rings and make sure you bring your own firewood as gathering wood and kindling from the beach is not allowed.

Family campsites can accommodate up to eight guests and reservations for campsites can be made up to six months in advance on the California Department of Parks and Recreation website.


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