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Camping in San Luis Obispo: A Guide to the Best Campgrounds

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Camping San Luis Obispo, by Travel Blogger What The Fab

With the perfect weather all year round and endless breathtaking views, I can see why people enjoy camping in San Luis Obispo—even though I’m not really big on camping myself. 😉 I love the central coast so much because it allows me to be deep in nature.

There are beautiful beaches, majestic mountains, and gorgeous lakes to choose from around San Luis Obispo county which means you can spend a ton of time outside. It’s seriously the best place to visit if you’re into the granola girl lifestyle!

Plan your next camping trip to SLO with this guide to camping (and glamping) in San Luis Obispo county. Be sure to look into reservations beforehand to secure your spot!

Pssst, heading to San Luis Obispo? Don’t miss these travel guides to help you plan your trip!

Things to do in San Luis Obispo (SLO Travel Guide)
Best Restaurants in SLO
San Luis Obispo Downtown Guide
What to Do in San Luis Obispo (Top 17 Things)
Top San Luis Obispo Wineries

8 Best Spots for Camping in San Luis Obispo

Camping San Luis Obispo, by Travel Blogger What The Fab

Oceano Memorial Campground and Lagoon

Right next to the picture-perfect Pismo Beach is the oh my god gorgeous Oceano Park. There’s plenty of outdoor adventure to keep you busy here with opportunities to hike, swim, and surf.

The lagoon is also a popular place for bird watching, and there’s a private area for fishing if you’re into that.

Oceano is overall one of the best campgrounds for magical wildlife sightings and if you’re lucky enough, you’ll get to see the largest colony of Monarch butterflies in the country.

There are also stunning sand dunes to explore right behind the beach, by foot, or by an all-terrain vehicle. There are 24 campsites and each can accommodate eight people with one RV or a few tents, and they come with a complete hookup.

Camping San Luis Obispo, by Travel Blogger What The Fab

Morro Bay State Park

Morro Bay State Park is over 2,000 acres and is known for its stunning scenery formed by millions of years of volcanic activity. The lagoon and natural bay habitat are breathtaking, especially the main draw Morro Rock.

You’ll be happy to know that dogs are allowed since it’s a dog-friendly state park.

Enjoy the colorful marina, tide pools, parks, saltwater marsh, and local museum. The museum has exhibits on the history, culture, and ecology of the area.

It’s conveniently located close to both town and Morro Strand Beach, which can be the best of both worlds if you’re not in search of some serious seclusion.

There are 120 campsites and the facilities offer everything needed for a few nights of fun in the forest.

Alta Colina Winery

I’m here to tell you not all camping has to be rough and rugged. Sometimes camping is splurging on a boutique vintage trailer located in a vineyard because it’s just too cute not to. You know I’m here for the glamping.

It’s private and relaxing with so many Instagrammable spots. This is an experience well worth the price tag of $275 a night.

Trailer Pond is a collection of five recently refurbished retro trailers tucked away on one of the acclaimed Paso Robles wineries, with sweeping vistas overlooking the estate and sparkling pond.

Each is unique and furnished with adorable boho chic decor, so you can enjoy some serenity with a side of style and sauvignon. If feeling extra fancy you can arrange for amenities, such as catered meals at the large farm table, private wine tastings, tours, and yoga classes.

You can also decide to take things slow and soak up sunbathing, hiking, swimming, and a beautiful bottle of wine. It’s the perfect place for a girl’s glamping trip.

Cerro Alto Campground

Cerro Alto is a paradise for hikers and bikers in the Los Padres National Forest. It’s only a short distance from the sandy shores of Morro Bay and the quaint town of Atascadero.

It’s a serene and relaxed environment with so many outdoor activities and tranquil things to do. The amenities are basic with single-family sites for tent or RV camping, however, there are no hookups.

Set in a verdant canyon at an elevation of over 1,000 feet, the sweeping 360 panoramas of the central California coast and inland valleys are unmatched.

The 4 mile Cerro Alto trail takes you right from the campground to the mountain peak for plenty of hiking, biking, and horse riding adventures. At $25 a night, this is a spectacular steal for a simple retreat in sweet seclusion.

Lopez Lake Campground

Close to Arroyo Grande, Lopez Lake has more interesting terrain than some other sites with rolling hills covered in oak trees and breathtaking canyons, plus a long stretch of coastline with perfect weather all year round.

There are 350 campsites to choose from that are split into seven sections based on type, amenities, and location. Some locations overlook the lake and some are nestled in the trees.

In the Hawk section, there are cabin accommodations available for anyone hoping to add a bit of luxury to their camping trip. There’s a marina on-site, so be prepared to catch a lot of fish on its open waters.

One thing to note is that there have been bear sightings, so stay alert and ready.

Avila Hot Springs Resort Campground

Trust me when I say the historic Avila Beach hot springs are the perfect escape for a relaxing retreat in nature. Soak all your worries away surrounded by spectacular wilderness.

The private campgrounds here offer incredible amenities including a heated freshwater pool with waterslides, a hot mineral soaking pool, massage therapy, and bike rentals for the nearby city to sea trail.

Go for some rustic dry tent camping on their designated grounds or enjoy a more luxurious stay. The available cabins feel much more like glamping than camping, and I’m not mad at it.

Only two miles from the beach, it’s easy enough to spend a day bathing in some sun rays with a sea breeze. The vacation rental cabins available have everything you need for a stellar stay and soak in the stunning hot springs of Avila.

Camping San Luis Obispo, by Travel Blogger What The Fab
Image via Hipcamp

Islay Creek Campground

Islay Creek is set in Montana de Oro State Park where the Irish hills meet the Pacific Ocean. This preserved stretch of the Cali coast is marked by beautiful bluffs and sandy coves.

The inland offers picturesque peaks and charming canyons as well. The campground is only a short walk from the state beach at Spooner’s Cove and there are several fabulous hikes nearby.

If you’re an equine enthusiast there’s a whole separate horse camp at Hazard Canyon. There are 50 standard campsites giving you plenty of options.

It’s best for tent campers, and really offers a very secluded stay, just you and the coyotes howling at the moon together in 8,000 acres of wilderness.

Santa Margarita Lake Recreation Area

Set right in San Luis Obispo, Santa Margarita is a prime locale for camping that’s still close to plenty of restaurants and breweries.

The site is carved into the side of a hill, covered in oaks and pines, and providing 70 acres of panoramic vistas as far as the eye can see, plus some stunning lake views.

It has 60 standard campsites in four separate sections, none have full hookups and some are tent only.

The amenities offered are not too bad, and there are so many activities such as hiking, kayaking, horseback riding, mountain biking, canoeing, fishing, swimming, and wildlife spotting.

It’s an ideal retreat for any and all nature lovers. There are even boat-in campsites for all the nautical out there.

If rustic and rural are in your camping repertoire, this may just be your best bet.

If you have anything to add to this list I want to know! During the day if you want a break from camping, I recommend going on an adventure to Hearst Castle in San Simeon or checking out the beachy city of Grover Beach.

Definitely show me where you decide to camp by tagging me on Insta @wtfab! I love seeing where you all end up and looking at your pics.

Planning a trip? Explore more of my travel content here.

Best Beaches in San Luis Obispo
San Luis Obispo Travel Guide
What to See and Do in the San Luis Obispo Downtown Area
Top Restaurants in SLO
What to Do in San Luis Obispo

Airbnb San Luis Obispo
Top 14 San Luis Obispo Wineries
Hotel Cerro San Luis Obispo
Mission San Luis Obispo, but Make it Pink


What are the best camping spots in San Luis Obispo?

The best camping spots in San Luis Obispo are:
– Oceano Memorial Campground and Lagoon
– Morro Bay State Park
– Lopez Lake Campground

Do you need reservations to camp on Pismo Beach?

Yes, you do typically need reservations to camp on Pismo Beach. You can check their availability online or by calling them.

Is Pismo Beach worth visiting?

Yes, Pismo Beach is definitely worth visiting! There are so many fun outdoor activities and sights to see.

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