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.
A beautiful rainbow greeted us in the morning as we hooked up the CR-V and traveled to Pismo Beach in the rain.
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,
walking along the beach and boardwalk.
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.
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!
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.
While in the area, we had dinner in Ventura with some old friends at Cafe Fiore.
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.
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.
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.
Also on the grounds is a section of the Berlin Wall. “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!
President Reagan and the First Lady, Nancy, are buried on the grounds. Happy Trails to them both.
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.
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.
Walking just north of the pier we saw a movie set under construction, complete with VIP trailers for the stars.
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!
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!
We did some tide-pooling at Crystal Cove State Beach.
Vanguard University. Go Lions!
San Diego and La Jolla
Old Town, La Jolla, and the Birch Aquarium.
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 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)
RV Parks in this trip:
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 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 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 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, 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!