SoCal Beaches Tour RV Trip (74-78)

With temperatures dropping and rain everyday in Northern California, we decided to drive south and camp on the warm Southern California beaches in Pismo, Huntington Beach, Ventura and San Diego. While the weather didn’t always cooperate (it is, after all, the middle of winter!), we still had several glorious sunny days and beautiful sunsets.

Pismo Beach

A beautiful rainbow greeted us in the morning as we hooked up the CR-V and traveled to Pismo Beach in the rain.

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It rained most of our time in Pismo Beach, but we had a nice site at Pismo Coast Village, and we still enjoyed the area,

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walking along the beach and boardwalk.

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Pismo Beach with rain in the distance
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Pismo Beach Pier and Boardwalk
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Shell Beach

and visiting Avila Beach, Avila Barn, and San Louis Obispo.

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Avila Barn

What do we do in the rain? Play our favorite board games, read a book, color, watch videos, play guitar, catch up on reading, or throw on a rain coat and walk the dog.

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Ventura and the Rincon Parkway

Our next destination was the Rincon Parkway in Ventura. It is a long stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway that you can camp along with the Pacific Ocean literally at your door!

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Rincon Parkway
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Rincon Parkway Warning

It’s a beautiful place to camp, with the ocean breezes, the pounding of the waves, and the Channel Islands and oil rigs in the distance. Even though you are next to the PCH and a railroad, it just adds to the charm.

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Channel Islands from Rincon Parkway
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Rincon Parkway Beach

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While in the area, we had dinner in Ventura with some old friends at Cafe Fiore.

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The view from the cross above Ventura was unbelievable, and you could see all the way to Mugu Rock.

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The Cross had visible char marks from the wild fires last year, which burned much of the park. The community has restored the park and it is open to visitors once again.

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We also visited the Reagan Library for the first time. The museum does a great job of introducing you to the issues from the 80’s.

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Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

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There is also a replica of the Oval Office (used many times in various TV shows and movies over the years), complete with a jar of Jelly Belly’s, and you can also tour Air Force One and the presidential helicopter. The setting in the hills near Simi Valley is worth the drive alone.

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Also on the grounds is a section of the Berlin Wall. “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

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President Reagan and the First Lady, Nancy, are buried on the grounds. Happy Trails to them both.

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Huntington Beach

Our next stop was Huntington Beach, Surf City, USA. Between October and April, they use a prime section of their beach parking close to their pier exclusively for RVs.

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This is where surfing was made popular in the lower 48, and you definitely feel like you are in Southern California here, rain or shine.

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Walking just north of the pier we saw a movie set under construction, complete with VIP trailers for the stars.

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We ate several times at Dukes, our favorite place for fish. It almost felt like we were back  in Hawaii, especially when enjoying some Hula Pie!

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We also went to the Bolsa Chica Ecological Preserve for a nice hike. Note the snow in the mountains. When I lived here, you rarely saw the mountains for the smog. I guess that’s progress!

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We did some tide-pooling at Crystal Cove State Beach.

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We made a detour to my alma mater in Costa Mesa, Vanguard University. Go Lions!

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San Diego and La Jolla

Our last stop along the coast was San Diego. We stayed at Mission Bay, and visited the Zoo with a good friend of ours,

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and also Old Town, La Jolla, and the Birch Aquarium.

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Old Town Dan Diego
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La Jolla , CA
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Mount Soledad Natural Park, La Jolla, CA
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Birch Aquarium, La Jolla, CA
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Shore Rider, La Jolla Shores, CA

The Trip Home

At each stop along the coast, we felt that we just dipped our toes in the area! There will be so much more to explore on our next trip there.

Our next stop was intended to be an overnighter on our way home, but we like the area so much we made it 4 nights!

We stayed, once again, at Flying Flags in Buellton, and took in the surrounding area from Santa Barbara to Solvang to Los Olivas.

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Flying Flags RV Resort, Buellton, CA
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Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara, CA

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Solvang, CA
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Solvang Farmers Market

We had a great winter tour of Southern California Beaches, and Lucy says she is ready to head home…for a little while at least.

Al & Deb (and Lucy)

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Our Route:

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RV Parks in this trip:

Pismo Coast Village RV Resort, Pismo Beach, CA

Pismo Coast Village has a great location. You can walk to downtown, the wharf, the state park. It does not have direct beach access, however, due to the flow of the river. It is very well maintained and has a restaurant and activities year round. The sites are wide enough so you don’t feel claustrophobic. I’d give it a 8 out of 10.

Rincon Parkway, Ventura, CA

Rincon Parkway is just a parking space. No amenities. However, the view is amazing and it is a short drive into Ventura. We give it a 10 and are planning a trip there again this year. 

Sunset Vista Camping Facility, Huntington Beach, CA

Sunset Vista has a great location, and has water and electricity even though it is just a parking lot. Recent commercial development (a very nice mall with pubs on the second floor) across the street makes it loud some evenings and you will see a few homeless people, though we didn’t notice panhandling. Because of the upscale location and beach vibe, we still give it a 6. 

Campland on the Bay, San Diego, CA

Campland on the Bay has a great location within Mission Bay, and the people were great. There are activities and a restaurant year round, like Pismo Coast. However, the infrastructure is past its prime and the sites are closer together. We would give it a 7. 

Flying Flags RV Resort and Campground, Buellton, CA

Flying flags, as I mentioned, is a favorite of ours. Every time we visit it gets better. If you want a glamping experience, this is the place. They have everything from 3 swimming pools, to bocci ball, to live music on the weekends, and a restaurant and pub. We give it a 9 of 10, only because a 10, for us, requires a beach!

8 thoughts on “SoCal Beaches Tour RV Trip (74-78)

Add yours

  1. Luckily, I caught your note on RVillage about this post, and it led me to your blog. Exceptional photography and a marvelous keepsake to relive over and over. (This gets much more important when you get older and the memory fades.) Your blog is worthy of even more exceptionalism, however. If you have the inclination, adding more narrative would make it even more appealing. People love to read about people–what you are thinking, feeling, relating to yourselves and others in connection with what you are seeing. Thanks for sharing your talent and your experience. Can’t wait to see another post! Mike (http://mills-travels.blogspot.com)

    1. People look for different things, so I’ll just give you my thoughts on each and will update the posting to include the info.

      Pismo Coast Village RV Resort, Pismo Beach, CA
      Pismo Coast Village has a great location. You can walk to downtown, the wharf, the state park. It does not have direct beach access, however, due to the flow of the river. It is very well maintained and has a restaurant and activities year round. The sites are wide enough so you don’t feel claustrophobic. I’d give it a 8 out of 10.

      Rincon Parkway, Ventura, CA
      Rincon Parkway is just a parking space. No amenities. However, the view is amazing and it is a short drive into Ventura. We give it a 10 and are planning a trip there again this year. 

      Sunset Vista Camping Facility, Huntington Beach, CA
      Sunset Vista has a great location, and has water and electricity even though it is just a parking lot. Recent commercial development (a very nice mall with pubs on the second floor) across the street makes it loud some evenings and you will see a few homeless people, though we didn’t notice panhandling. Because of the upscale location and beach vibe, we still give it a 6. 

      Campland on the Bay, San Diego, CA
      Campland on the Bay has a great location within Mission Bay, and the people were great. There are activities and a restaurant year round, like Pismo Coast. However, the infrastructure is past its prime and the sites are closer together. We would give it a 7. 

      Flying Flags RV Resort and Campground, Buellton, CA
      Flying flags, as I mentioned, is a favorite of ours. Every time we visit it gets better. If you want a glamping experience, this is the place. They have everything from 3 swimming pools, to bocci ball, to live music on the weekends, and a restaurant and pub. We give it a 9 of 10, only because a 10, for us, requires a beach!

  2. In January and February, do you need to make reservations far ahead to camp in state parks and Private RV parks? Or can you wing it?

    1. Great question. It seems every park is busier than they used to be. Even during the winter months months, the parks were full on the weekends. We made reservations about 2 months early. We had trouble in San Diego and had to call our second choice to get a reservation. So I would say book ahead, especially if staying over a weekend.

  3. The next time you are in Pismo, you must go to the Splash Cafe for the world’s best clam chowder! It’s a little hole in the wall that constantly has a line around the block but gets people in and out so fast you don’t know how they do it and everyone (even the patrons) are so friendly that it’s like one big family experience. Get it in the bread bowl with a crab meat topper!

    1. Thanks! Splash Cafe is a fun place to visit. I prefer the clam chowder at Brads next door, but the line down the side of the building proves that people love Splash!

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