RVing through California’s Central Coast

With spring on the horizon, it’s time to plan some warmer weather road trips in your RV. Any snowbirds who chose to enjoy the warm temperatures of Southern California, Southern Arizona, or Southern New Mexico over the winter may consider opting for a California road trip. Likewise, those who spent the winter season somewhere cold may wish to enjoy a trip through sunny California’s Central Coast as the weather begins to warm up. Whether you plan on heading up the coast of California to leisurely make your way towards Northern California or the PNW or just simply wish to explore the Central Coast, then don’t miss this article. Harvest Hosts will take you on a tour of some of the most popular cities and places to explore when visiting Central Coast California. 

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is located just an hour and a half north of Los Angeles, but it boasts completely different scenery. This town is commonly known as the area where the sea meets the mountains, and it is filled with beautiful beaches and breathtaking scenery.

Things to Do

In Santa Barbara, there are several gorgeous beaches to choose from, each a little different from the next. There, visitors can enjoy a whole slew of exciting activities, including swimming, sunbathing, fishing, surfing, and much more. Santa Barbara also has a vibrant arts culture, with several galleries and theater venues to explore. They also host the annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival. 

Nearby, travelers can visit Channel Islands National Park. This frequently-missed park is comprised of a stunning chain of five out of the eight total Channel Islands. Due to the sheer isolation of the islands, there are unique animals, plants, and archeological resources found here that cannot be found anywhere else on Earth.

Campgrounds

If you are exploring this beautiful area in your RV, the following campgrounds come highly recommended.

Cachuma Lake Recreation Area

Owned by Santa Barbara County, this beautiful campground offers lakeside full and partial hookups sites. 

Jalama Beach

Also owned by the county, this beachfront campground is a surprisingly peaceful place to escape the crowds. They offer partial hookups with water and dump stations available on site. 

Flying Flags RV Resort & Campground

This full hookups campground offers a traditional campground-feel with all the amenities that frequent RVers have come to expect. They have a pool, an on-site café and bar, a hot tub, and a playground, all available to resort guests.

Harvest Hosts Locations

Giessinger Winery

Take a break from the bustling crowds to enjoy a glass of wine from Giessinger Winery. Located just under an hour from Santa Barbara, this Harvest Hosts location can make an excellent home base for exploring the city, or can be used as a place to stop when traveling to or from Santa Barbara. They offer over two dozen wines for sampling and six reservable, pet-friendly spaces for RVs under forty-four feet in length.

San Luis Obispo

Nicknamed “SLO Cal” for the slower pace found here, San Luis Obispo is the perfect place to leave the crowds of Los Angeles and Santa Barbara behind. The entire area is dotted with beaches, mountains, shopping, and vineyards, making for an excellent place to relax and vacation.

Things to Do

There are ample hiking and biking opportunities in San Luis Obispo, along with any water activity imaginable. Many beaches are even dog-friendly, and they also have a flourishing nightlife. 

Campgrounds

If you are exploring the San Luis Obispo area in your RV, the following campgrounds come highly recommended.

Pismo Beach RV Park

Situated right along Pismo Beach, this large campground is located near ample shopping and dining opportunities. They offer full hookups, along with amenities such as a pool, an arcade, bicycle rentals, a playground, mini golf, and more.

Morro Bay State Park

The beautiful lagoon of Morro Bay is the perfect place to relax, sail, fish, hike, and bird watch. This campground offers partial hookups a few other amenities. Please note that there is a thirty-five-foot RV length limit in this campground.

Cypress RV & MH Park

This smaller, more personal RV park is located just two blocks from nearby shopping, dining, and beaching opportunities. Those stopping for just a day or two may not even have to unhitch! Just hop on the Morro Bay trolley to get to anywhere you want to go.

Harvest Hosts Locations

Sea Pines Golf Resort

Harvest Hosts members with an upgraded membership can enjoy this golf resort just over twenty minutes from San Luis Obispo. Sea Pines is not only a golf resort, but also a seaside hotel and Clubhouse Grill. This Harvest Hosts location offers one reservable, pet-friendly space for RVs under twenty-nine feet in length. 

Big Sur

Big Sur is famous for its rugged coastline where the Santa Lucia Mountains dramatically rise from the sea. The area is known as the “longest and most scenic stretch of undeveloped coastline in the contiguous United States.” 

Things to Do

Here, there are ample hiking opportunities on the beaches, on the mountains, or within the Los Padres National Forest. Visitors can also enjoy the dining, shopping, and art galleries available in town. Along the coast, travelers can also tour the beautiful and historic lighthouses.

Campgrounds

For those exploring this stunning area in their RV, the following campgrounds are highly recommended.

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

This primitive campground offers standard and riverside sites. There are numerous hiking trails within the park. Due to its popularity, RVers should be sure to book as far in advance as possible. 

Riverside Campground & Cabins

This partial-hookups campground is situated near a river that allows floating and fishing. There are showers, restrooms, and laundry facilities on-site.

Big Sur Campground

This campground offers partial hookups with a dump station on-site. Each site comes with a picnic table and fire pit. There is also a playground, a camp store with inner tube rentals, and an on-site laundry facility.

Harvest Hosts Locations

At the time this article was written, there are currently no Harvest Hosts locations within the town of Big Sur or the surrounding areas. Some of the closest locations are about two hours away. While not an impossible distance for a base camp, it can be tricky to drive this far while planning all-day activities. Consider using these Harvest Hosts locations as a base camp to not only explore Big Sur but the surrounding areas as well. Alternatively, guests could plan to stop at any of these locations overnight on the way to or from Big Sur. The town of Paso Robles hosts about a dozen Harvest Hosts wineries, and several other beautiful Harvest Hosts locations are located along US-101.

43 Ranch Olive Oil

Located in the town of San Ardo, this world-class olive mill grows four types of olives to produce their small-batch oils. They have olive oils, soap, and honey available for purchase and eight reservable, pet-friendly spaces for RVs of any size.

California Street Winery

What began as a hobby for the Ziemanns eventually turned into a lucrative and award-winning business. California Street Winery currently produce and sell three wines from their winery in the town of Bradley. This Harvest Hosts location offers one reservable, pet-friendly space for RVs under twenty-nine feet in length.

Salinas

Salinas is located nearby Carmel-By-The-Sea and Monterey, and these three cities are all notoriously popular vacation destinations. True to Central Coast California, this area is dotted with gorgeous beaches. 

Things to Do

The area is rich with historical sites, wineries, and working farms. It is also home to the yearly Steinbeck Festival, with Pinnacles National Park also located nearby. The unique landscape is the direct result of multiple volcanoes erupting millions of years ago, making this an excellent place to stay and explore.

Campgrounds

If you are exploring this beautiful area in your RV, the following campgrounds come highly recommended.

Pinnacles Campground

Like many national parks, Pinnacles has an excellent campground located within the park. This partial-hookups campground offers flush toilets, hot showers, a pool, a camp store, and Wi-Fi. Frequent national park-goers understand how rare some of these amenities are. 

Moss Landing KOA

This full-hookups campground offers 50-amp service, Wi-Fi, and cable TV. They are located near the Monterey Bay Aquarium, nearby beaches, and historic Monterey.

Yanks RV Resort

This pet-friendly campground offers full hookups, a fenced dog area, a dog wash, a pool, spa, on-site laundry and more. It is located in the small town of Greenfield, just about thirty minutes from Salinas.

Harvest Hosts Locations

Bayonet Black Horse

This gorgeous, oceanside course is considered one of the most difficult courses on the Monterey Peninsula. Located just under fifteen minutes from Salinas, and only a few minutes further to Carmel-By-The-Sea and Monterey, this is the perfect home base to explore the area. This Harvest Hosts location offers four reservable, pet-friendly spaces for RVs of any size.

Santa Cruz

Our final stop on our Central Coast California road trip brings us to Santa Cruz. Situated between San Francisco and Monterey, this area is filled with stunning beaches, towering mountains, striking redwoods, and beautiful organic farmlands.

Things to Do

In Santa Cruz, surfing is popular among the locals and visitors. There are also several local breweries and wineries to enjoy. Santa Cruz is also known for its year round wildlife-viewing opportunities. 

Campgrounds

The following campgrounds are highly recommended for those exploring the Santa Cruz area in their RV.

Santa Cruz Harbor RV Park

Situated along Woods Lagoon, this full hookups RV park is located near beautiful beaches, the Santa Cruz boardwalk, and many excellent dining and shopping options. This is an awesome choice for those who want to experience staying within close proximity to the best Santa Cruz attractions.

Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort

Located near beaches, golf courses, and ample outdoor activities, this full hookups RV park makes for another great base camp to explore the surrounding area. Just about fifteen minutes north of the city, this resort offers visitors plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding forests of redwoods and Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.

Smithwoods RV Park

This campground offers full hookups, a heated pool, a billiard room, a basketball court, and on-site laundry. It is located just about fifteen minutes north of Santa Cruz.

Harvest Hosts Locations

Inn at Tres Pinos

Located just under an hour from Santa Cruz, the Inn at Tres Pinos is a restaurant that Harvest Hosts members will not want to miss. The atmosphere is described as “country with a touch of class.” This historic site offers three reservable, pet-friendly sites for RVs under thirty-five feet in length. 

Visiting Central Coast California is a huge adventure just waiting for you and your RV. Each town on our list brings something exciting and unique to the table. Some towns are so special that you may never want to leave!

Have you ever visited California’s Central Coast? What was your favorite area? Tell us all about your adventures in the comments below!

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  1. Stanley Sokolow
    14th March, 2021

    Here are some other interesting places to camp in your RV in this region:
    1. Costanoa is an eco-resort and KOA campground, with spaces for RVs of all lengths, plus a lodge, cabins, tent-cabins and tent campsites for those who don’t RV, and a nice restaurant and small convenience store, plus “comfort stations” with showers, fireplaces, and dry sauna. It is located just off of Highway 1 near the Ano Nuevo State Reserve where the elephant seals come to give birth and raise pups. https://koa.com/campgrounds/santa-cruz-north/
    2. If you’re into auto and motorcycle racing, check out the RV park within the Laguna Seca Raceway (now named WeatherTech Raceway) in Monterey County along state Highway 68 between Salinas and Monterey. Be aware of the events they have planned because on race-days the noise of the race is quite loud, but if you’re there to watch the races, you may enjoy that. https://www.co.monterey.ca.us/government/government-links/weathertech-raceway
    On certain months, they also open the track for anyone with a bicycle (for a small fee) for twilight bike riding/racing just for fun . https://www.co.monterey.ca.us/government/government-links/weathertech-raceway/upcoming-events/special-events/twilight-cycling

    Reply moderated
    1. Sam Leash
      24th March, 2021

      Hey Stanley!! Thanks for such an awesome list! Really appreciate your input! 🙂