Cachuma Lake Recreation Area

Set amidst acres of wilderness flanked by the picturesque Santa Ynez and San Rafael Mountains, lies glimmering Cachuma Lake. Here you will find practically everything you need for a relaxing getaway in the great outdoors. Mild temperatures, typically sunny skies, and celebrated fishing conditions make camping here during winter months exceptionally rewarding. Reservations can be made online for tent sites, hookups, cabins, yurts and group areas. Reserve a 1 or 2-bedroom cabin with full bathrooms and kitchenettes, or reserve a yurt, a cross between a permanent tent and tepee, with spectacular views of the lake.

Carpinteria State Beach

Ten miles south of Santa Barbara, Carpinteria State Beach offers a mile of beach for swimming, surf fishing, tidepool exploring and camping. Seals and sea lions can be seen in the area December through May, as well as an occasional gray whale. Tidepools contain starfish, sea anemones, crabs, snails, octopi and sea urchins. Although dogs are not allowed on beach, they have a great picnic area where they are allowed to enjoy the outdoors as well. Lifeguards patrol the beach year round and lifeguard towers are staffed roughly from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. The Spanish named the area Carpinteria because the Chumash tribe, which lived in the area, had a large seagoing canoe-building enterprise, or "carpentry shop" here. This was because of naturally-occurring surface tar, which was used to waterproof the canoes.

Channel Islands

Camping is available year round on all five islands in Channel Islands National Park in National Park Service-managed campgrounds. There is currently one established campground on each island: above the Landing Cove on Santa Barbara, on the east islet of Anacapa, at Scorpion Canyon on Santa Cruz, at Water Canyon on Santa Rosa, and above Cuyler Harbor on San Miguel. No camping is allowed on The Nature Conservancy's western 76 percent of Santa Cruz Island. Limited backcountry camping is available on Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Islands.

El Capitan State Beach

This is a beautiful beach that fronts a large and popular campground. It's not the biggest beach in town, and rocks are plentiful, but it still has plenty of sand, and the level of privacy is delicious. Since it is away from the city there is a sense of getting away, even though you didn't travel very far. The 130+ site El Capitan State Beach family campground is open all year. Each site has a picnic table and fire ring with a grill; restrooms with hot showers are nearby. Several sites are paved for RVs only. Some sites accommodate trailers and recreational vehicles up to 42 feet in length. Five group camping areas, accommodating 40-100 people, overlook the ocean from the marine terrace. In addition to a sandy beach, El Capitan State Beach offers visitors tide pools, trees along El Capitan Creek, swimming, fishing, picnicking, whale watching (from the bluffs) and lots of camping.

Gaviota State Park

Most people - even long time Santa Barbarans - don't even know this beach is here. It is a ways out of the city - 33 miles west of Santa Barbara to be exact. This is a great beach for the surprise element. You actually have to walk under the train trestle to get to the sand. The wind can get pretty wild along this stretch of the coast. Gaviota State Park Beach occasionally has wind advisories - this stretch of the coast is famous for it. The 41 developed campsites accommodate tents, trailers up to 25 feet and RVs up to 27 feet. Visitors can reserve campsites and lodging six months in advance from the current date using Bookings may extend from the arrival date to the desired departure date - based on availability and the park's maximum stay rules.

Jalama Beach County Park

Jalama ... the perfect place to surf, sunbathe or simply explore. Miles of sandy beach for amazing beach walking (probably the best in the county), waves breaking on the shore, and little sign of civilization. Yet this Santa Barbara County Park is fully equipped to to serve the needs of year-round campers and day-trippers. There are 98 campsites, all overlooking the ocean or beachfront. Each site has a picnic table and BBQ pit, with hot showers, restrooms and water nearby. 29 of the campsites offer electrical hookups for trailers. 7 cabins are available for reservation.

Live Oak Camp

This 40 acre campground is nestled in pristine wilderness between the San Raphael and Santa Ynez Mountains. Its closest neighbor is the Rancho San Marcos Golf Course, over whose greens you will drive on the way to the campground. Originally a campsite for cowboys, Live Oak is the county's large group facility. It is strategically situated 15 miles northeast of Santa Barbara and 15 miles southwest of Solvang approximately five miles from Cachuma Lake Recreation Area. Many events are held here throughout the summer.

Los Padres National Forest

Los Padres National Forest encompasses nearly two million acres in the beautiful coastal mountains of central California. It stretches almost 220 miles from the Carmel Valley area to the western edge of Los Angeles County. Los Padres is one of the 18 National Forests in California. There are a number of campgrounds with varying facilities and locations within a half hour of downtown Santa Barbara. For the most part they are on the other side of the foothills in the Santa Ynez valley. This means they tend to be warmer and drier than the coastal region of Santa Barbara. Translation: there are greater fire restrictions. However, the flipside is more privacy and less congestion.

Refugio State Beach

Refugio State Beach is unique among Santa Barbara beaches. Many locals find that they come here over other beaches closer to town. Refugio State Beach is a state park located about twenty miles from Santa Barbara. It just feels different than the rest. A 66-site family campground and three group sites are close to the beach. All three group campsites at Refugio State Beach allow RVs up to 30 or 35 feet. A minimum of 9 people are needed to reserve a group site. There are no RV hookups. Reserve campsites well in advance. Campground facilities include restrooms with flush toilets, showers, fire ring, picnic table, store, and laundry.

Sunrise RV Park

This is the only RV park located in the city of Santa Barbara. It is close to downtown, beaches, bus lines, and grocery stores. It is conveniently located off the highway between Santa Barbara and Montecito. You are about a half mile away from the beach, the zoo, and Stearns Wharf. All spaces have 30 & 50 amp electric, full water and sewer hookups, free WiFi and basic cable. The park can accommodate big rigs with room for slides and has four private showers/bathrooms which are cleaned daily. A laundry facility is also located at the park. Sunrise RV Park is adjacent to the freeway. A 12-foot wall offers a sound and sight buffer, but you can hear some traffic.