A Beginner's Guide to Camping near San Francisco
One of San Francisco’s greatest characteristics is just how close its skyscrapers are to nature, with most locations just a short drive from city limits. Have no idea what to bring? Looking for somewhere gorgeous to set up camp? We’ve got recommendations on the best gear paired with some of the Bay Area's most coveted campsites.
While part of the fun of camping is stripping away some of the complexities of city life, it’s always nice to have a comfortable and convenient campsite that reminds you of home. Before heading out, you'll want to make sure you're equipped with the following basics:
- Camping Chairs
- Camping Table
- Portable Chargers
- Sleeping Bag
- Sleeping Pad
- Headlamps or Flashlights
If you’re new to all this, it’s best to rent your camping gear essentials before committing to more expensive gear. Take note that most campsites include a place to pitch your tent and others might include nice-to-have amenities like a picnic table, shared bathrooms, and (gasp) running water.
Located north of San Francisco, the 2,571-foot peak of Mt. Tamalpais includes sweeping views of the Bay Area. Its sweeping hillsides are paired with redwood forests and open grasslands and on clear days you'll see the downtown SF skyline, the East Bay, and Mt. Diablo.
- Only a short 20 mile drive away from the city.
- Bring that fancy DSLR camera or rent one for this trip.
- Make sure to stare in awe at the majestic redwood trees located in nearby Muir Woods.
One of the most coveted campgrounds in the Bay Area, this spot provides breathtaking views of downtown San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Pacific Ocean.
- Only 7 miles away from downtown San Francisco.
- You'll want to wear layers since no one is ever really sure whether the sun, fog, or wind will show up.
- Nearby at Battery 129 on Hawk Hill is one of the oldest defensive gun batteries on the West Coast, so stroll on down and educate yourself.
The coast campground is a small grassy valley with easy access to the beach and tidepools – just 600 feet away from where you'll pitch your tents. You'll take either the Laguna or Firelane trail to get to the site, which are about 1.8 miles and slightly uphill.
- 40+ mile drive from San Francisco and a 2 mile hike from your car.
- Avoid packing anything you wouldn't want to carry for two miles.
- Visit some of nature's most majestic creatures — the Elephant seal — on the other side of Drakes Bay.