Do you remember the enchanting sense of freedom and family bonding during summer vacations as a kid? Maybe you loved telling scary stories around a crackling campfire, seeing who could make the biggest cannonball splash, crafting with sticks and leaves, or tucking into a mouthwatering barbeque feast. Regardless of the specifics, summer vacations are all about enjoying the simple pleasures of life. This year, take the opportunity to create those magical experiences for your kids.
Still searching for the perfect summer vacation destination? Look no further than California, a state that serves up everything from balmy beaches and majestic redwoods to thrilling amusement parks. Whether your crew loves to explore the great outdoors or marvel at wonders of the man-made variety, you’ll find what you’re looking for in the Golden State.
While the state itself is a family-friendly paradise, choosing the right RV parks can take your trip to the next level. That’s why we’ve compiled eight of the most kid-friendly van camping accommodations across California. These RV parks and resorts go above and beyond when it comes to setting the stage for good times. With pools, playgrounds, games, movies, and more, there will never be a dull moment. Having tons of activities on the grounds also means that kids can entertain themselves independently while parents get some much-needed R and R nearby.
Whether you want to link multiple locations for an unforgettable California road trip or simply explore a single area at a leisurely pace, these destinations will have the whole family smiling from ear to ear. We’ve arranged our list from the tippy top of the state to its sunny southern border. Read on for the details.
Where: Crescent City
Why we love it: Nestled in a fairytale forest, Ramblin’ Redwoods Campground and RV Park offers the serenity of NorCal nature along with full hookups and a range of amenities. The creators of Ramblin’ Redwoods were thinking about the whole family–Fido included–when they designed the playground and pet-friendly park. There’s even an off-leash trail next to a creek so your kids and canine companions can run free together. Another trail from the campground lets you stroll among towering redwood trees. If you’re looking to introduce young kids to nature in a safe and accessible way, this destination is for you. Plus, multiple world-renowned redwood parks are just a few minutes’ drive away for more awe-inspiring views. In the evening, make tasty campfire desserts or challenge your loved ones to a game of horseshoes.
Where: Mt. Shasta City
Why we love it: The stunning Mount Shasta serves as a backdrop for both excitement and relaxation at Lake Siskiyou Camp Resort. Many activities center around the lake, including swimming, boating, watersports, fishing, and the Splash Zone–an inflatable floating playground. Two on-land playgrounds, a rec room, and beach volleyball are also on the menu. Speaking of menus, treat your kiddos to soft-serve ice cream from the general store or full meals at the Lake Sis Grille & Brew. A group BBQ site provides another opportunity to take a break from the van kitchen and enjoy some classic smoky summer flavors. The relaxation continues with nightly family movie screenings under the stars. If you can summon the motivation to leave this dreamy home base, Shasta-Trinity National Forest is just 20 minutes away.
Where: South Lake Tahoe
Why we love it: Located right on Lake Tahoe, Camp Richardson is the place to go for simple pleasures and slow days reminiscent of summer camp, but for parents and kids to enjoy together. Lounge by the lake or take advantage of cruises and water taxis to visit spots of interest along the shore. Craving something more active? The resort provides equipment rentals for tandem bikes and mountain bikes, allowing your crew to explore nearby scenic trails. Power your excursions with provisions from a whopping four different on-site eateries. They even carry gluten-free bread for visitors with dietary restrictions! Camp Richardson is a perfect summer destination for wilderness-loving families, especially those with older kids who can take full advantage of the outdoor recreation on offer.
Why we love it: For a bucket list-worthy experience, head to Yosemite Pines RV Resort and Family Lodging. The name says it all–this place was designed with families in mind.
Sand volleyball, tetherball, horseshoes, bocce ball, and a playground will keep kids of all ages entertained. A barbecue area and picnic pavilion facilitate family dinners in the fresh mountain air. Perhaps most importantly, the resort is conveniently located near the iconic Yosemite National Park and within a small historic Gold Rush town. Kids will love the chance to travel back in time by glamping in one of the resort’s covered wagons for a night. Here, nature and history combine into one unforgettable adventure.
Why we love it: If your offspring are best described as little balls of energy, this KOA Holiday might be the perfect fit. As a family-friendly destination, Santa Cruz is hard to beat. However, the amenities and activities at this KOA ensure your family will be equally happy staying on-site. All ages can appreciate the pool, hot tub, and sauna. Little ones will be delighted by the Beach Zone’s unique attractions including a jumping pillow and sand shack. A large playground, horseshoes, movies, and themed weekends add to the fun. With additional activities led by staff like surf lessons, tie-dying, and a palm tree climbing experience, parents can take a well-deserved break while kids make lifelong memories.
Why we love it: Just an eight-minute drive from the charming Danish-style town of Solvang, the Flying Flags RV Resort and Campground provides a one-of-a-kind experience. Besides the folksy town, this location earns major uniqueness points for a neighboring ostrich refuge where families can make some new feathered friends. The RV resort itself boasts a playground, splash zone, two pools and spas, shady cabanas, bocce ball courts, and regularly scheduled food trucks. At night, gas-powered fire pits with comfortable outdoor furniture facilitate quality time. With the ostriches, nearby horseback riding experiences, and an off-leash dog park on the property, this destination is sure to appeal to animal lovers of all ages.
Why we love it: Disneyland is dubbed The Happiest Place on Earth for good reason. If you’re looking to make your kiddos’ dreams come true without breaking the bank, look no further than Anaheim Harbor RV Park. While the RV park has basic amenities and a swimming pool, gazebo, and clubhouse, the true allure of this establishment lies in its proximity to Disneyland. The theme park is just a 15-25 minute walk from your doorstep. That means you’ll save around $35/day on parking and can easily return to the van for a homemade lunch or nap break if you so desire. The magic doesn’t have to end when you leave Disneyland–the park’s nightly fireworks are visible from the comfort of your campsite!
Where: San Diego
Why we love it: Last but not least is Campland on the Bay, a highly-rated resort in sunny San Diego. This family-friendly oasis offers endless possibilities within its sprawling grounds on Mission Bay. With activities ranging from scheduled age-specific dodgeball games to arts and crafts, your kids are bound to make new friends regardless of their interests. Multiple swimming pools, a playground, an ice cream shop, ping pong, horseshoes, and a video arcade ensure that every member of your family finds their bliss. With over 500 campsites, Campland on the Bay is like a self-sufficient town, but don’t forget to venture to San Diego’s thrilling attractions. Back at the resort, bust out your best dance moves to live music every weekend during the summer.
Whether you choose to visit one destination or embark on a grand tour of all eight, your family is in for a summer of joy and excitement in the Golden State. Thanks to the freedom, flexibility, and comfort of having a constant home base wherever you go, van travel is ideal for summer vacations. Looking for more family van life content? Check out “Tips for Van Travel With Kids,” “How to Plan a Summer Van Vacation for the Whole Family,” and “Eight Spring Break Van Destinations Your Kids Will Love.”
For the van to take you there, visit RecVan. We carry a wide range of state-of-the-art camper vans for every type of adventure. If you have any questions, our customer service team is here to help!