Love to get your kids outside? show them the beautiful outdoors?
As a Northern California mom who has slugged through many camping adventures... I would LOVE to share what I've learned (good & bad) with you!
Read below to see some of the best Northern California campings spots for families with young children:
Quiet, Simple, & Often Has Availability: Sugar Pine Reservoir (Giant Gap Campground):
Sugar Pine Reservoir is a beautiful, smaller sized "lake." It's a great location for families and kids. There is a hiking trail around the reservoir, day use areas, and nice campsites with shade trees, picnic tables, fire rings, and bear boxes to food.
It's a little bit cooler than the Sacramento valley area, so it can be a great way to escape the summer heat in only about a 90 minute drive.
Perfect for kayaking, paddle boarding, or just floating near the shore. The water is warmer than standard Tahoe area lakes.
The only draw back is there are no showers or flush toilets - something to think about if you want to go for a few days. Also, there is no cell coverage... but I tend to feel that is a plus!
Overall, I highly recommend Giant Gap Campground at Sugar Pine Reservoir for family camping.
Go here for reservations: https://www.recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/232888
Amongst the Magical Redwoods In a Quiet Location:
Hidden Springs Campground in Humboldt Redwoods State Park
Hidden Springs Campground in Humboldt Redwoods State Park
Driving down the Avenue of the Giants in Humboldt Redwoods State Park is one of my most favorite places to be on earth.
The redwoods in this area are by far the best I've ever seen - and I've been to a lot of redwood parks.
There are tons of great hikes all around the area, too!
So that you can enjoy the area to it's fullest, I highly recommend reserving a campsite at Hidden Springs Campground. It's a nice, quiet campground with coin operated showers.
Each spot has a picnic table, fire ring, and a bear box for food.
Staying near these amazing trees is renewing for everyone and outstanding memories for kids!
Go here for reservations: https://www.reservecalifornia.com/Web/
Nearby Camping With A Lake & Waterfall: Sly Park Campground at Jenkinson Lake
Want to go camping without driving too far from the Sacramento area? Check out Sly Park Campground at Jenkinson Lake!
There are tons of beautiful campsites and a super fun hike all the way in the back of the park to a little waterfall and pool the kids can play in. When my kids were small, they really loved the pools and stream near that area. There's a fun bridge on the hike to it, too!
To find this hike, drive all the way to the back of the park to the Hazel Creek Area and head to the left around the lake to pick up the trail. It's an easy, short hike that small children can do. There are campsites at Hazel Creek, too!
It is usually a little bit cooler than Sacramento area weather during the blazing summer months.
There's a big lake for kayaking, etc, too. Or put on your boots and hike around the lake.
Go here for reservations: www.eid.org/recreation/spra-campsite-photos-and-reservations
Best Place for Waterfall Lovers: Manzanita Lake Campground Near McArthur-Burney Waterfall
I have to be honest, I'm a sucker for waterfalls. As a result, I have chased many of them down throughout Northern California.
McArthur-Burney Falls is definitely one of the very best. Bonus: Lassen Volcanic National Park isn't too far away and is equally stunning in many ways. So... stay at Lassen and then go visit McArthur-Burney Falls - oh, and I recommend throwing in Mossbrae Falls, Faery Falls, & McCloud Falls if you have several days & love waterfalls like I do!
Inside of Lassen Volcanic National Park almost feels a bit like Denali in Alaska... but much closer!
The Manzanita Lake Campground has many beautiful views and there are may great hikes in the park.
To reserve a campsite, go here: www.recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/234039
For Huge Waterfalls Near Tahoe: Fallen Leaf Lake Campground
Fallen Leaf Campground is a sweet spot right near Fallen Leaf Lake. A great jumping off spot for some amazing waterfalls near Fallen Leaf Lake.
One waterfall you can drive right up to, the other falls are along a short trail.
After enjoying a night under the stars at Fallen Leaf Campground, hop in your car for a quick trip along the one lane road around Fallen Leaf Lake over to Glen Alpine Falls. Late spring or early summer will get you the most amazing views while the water is flowing strongly.
These falls do not disappoint! Then, head further up the road for a small, family friendly hike to the abandoned Glen Alpine Springs Resort. Bonus points: your kids can learn a bit of history once you get there!
Along the easy hike to the abandoned resort, watch for the many beautiful big and little falls. It feels like a surprise around every corner! Once you get to the resort area, you can even see the natural spring, too.
Be sure to spend some time enjoying Fallen Leaf Lake, too. There's even a little restaurant and the option to rent kayaks, etc.
For reservations, go to: www.recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/232769
For Water Views That Rival Hawaii: Zephyr Cove Campground at Lake Tahoe
Hawaii has a special place in my heart... but since I can't always get there, I'm happy to have found another spot that feels just as beautiful as some beaches in Hawaii. This spot is Zephyr Cove.
The water is sooooo clear with many shades of blue. There is some nice sand that my girls noticed is incredibly sparkly, rocks to climb on, and crisp water to play in.
If you are looking for more adventure, rent a kayak or jet-ski and make an extra exciting day of it. They even have sunset cruises from the little harbor. There are tons of options here.
If you will be there for more than one day, I recommend also making a stop by Sand Harbor. It has a similar feel to Zephyr Cove, but with a few different features that are fun to explore.
Right by Zephyr Cove, is the campground where you can stay in anything from tents, to RVs, to cabins. It all depends on what you prefer!
For reservations, go to: www.zephyrcove.com/lodging/zephyr-cove-rv-campground/
For Crystal Clear Water: D.L. Bliss State Park by Calawee Cove & Lester Beach
Rivaling Zephyr Cove and Sand Harbor is one of my most favorite spots at Lake Tahoe: Calawee Cove.
Crystal clear water, beautiful views, and a great little hike.
Spend the night near this amazing spot at D.L. Bliss State Park and walk to the cove in the morning.
Standard state park camping amenities under a nice canopy of trees. They don't open until mid-June, but it's worth the wait.
If you have the time, while you are there, be sure to take the small hike to Cascade Falls, too. It's a short drive from D.L. Bliss and you can always stop off at Emerald Bay for another view, too.
These water views rival crystal clear oceans, but are just a quick trip away!
For reservations, go here: www.reservecalifornia.com/Web/
Family Fun Activities Galore: Lake Francis Resort
Looking for a place with lots of other families so maybe your kids can make friends? Lake Francis Resort is the perfect spot!
Kayaking, fishing, soccer, horseshoes, a pool, and a safe little lake. Bring the bikes and let the kids explore!
You can choose from a tent, RV, or cabin for the night.
This is a favorite amongst many families who want the camping feel and natural beauty, but also enjoy creature comforts.
To make a reservation, go here: lakefrancisrv.com/camping-rv
For Ocean Lovers: New Brighton State Beach
For a convenient spot to explore the ocean, New Brighton State Beach Campground in Capitola, CA near Santa Cruz is a great choice!
You get all the standard amenities of a state park campground (fire ring, picnic table, showers, etc). The beach down below is a great place to spend the day.
I also HIGHLY recommend that you make a visit over to Natural Bridges State Park. The arch is beautiful to see, but the real treasure is in the tidal pools you can reach through a short trek to the right.
To reach the tidal pools, you will go up the rocky hill to the right, through a gate into a small neighborhood. Follow the signs for the tidal pools. Once you get back down by the water, climb along the small rocky cliffs to the right until you get to the area with a bunch of pools.
Keep your eyes open for sea stars, big sea anemones, crabs, and much more! These tidal pools are some of the best I have ever seen anywhere.
And if you happen to be there in the early spring, be sure to visit the Monarch butterfly nesting area by Natural Bridges for an amazing sight!
To reserve a campsite, visit: https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=542
Want to Stay Super Close to Home? Check Out Beals Point Campground
Must-Have Best Family Camping Gear: