11 answers

Family-Friendly Camping in Northern California

We're searching for a family-friendly campground. We normally go camping with friends and/or extended family members but it is becoming increasingly difficult to coordinate vacation schedules. So we've decided to try and go camping on our own this year. The problem is with the lack of other campers in our group I'm worried that my family will be bored. So we need to find a place that has lots to offer. Does anyone know of any good places to go camping in/around Northern California with children? Preferably no more than a 2-3 hour drive from Sacramento. Has anyone tried out the KOA campgrounds? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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Thank you all so much for responding. I plan to look into them for next year. We weren't able to make it camping this year as it was a super busy summer and we had so many things pop up but I can start looking now for next year right Thanks again =)

Featured Answers

We go to the Petaluma, CA KOA and it's great fro kids: hay rides, movie night, ice cream social, bikes you can rent, playground, pool etc. I highly recommend it. A 2 hr drive from Sacramento.

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Try camp grounds around Murphy's/Angel's Camp. We used to go to a place called Golden Pines in Arnold. It a RV/Campground and that was pretty fun. Lots of trails, they used to have a pool and a fort, but I am not sure if its still there.

Hi T.-

Although it isn't a KOA campground, our family loves tent camping at Donner Memorial State Park. Its a short walk to Donner Lake and has several fun trails throughout the park. At the lake, there is a nice beach area and a lagoon where you can rent kayaks and paddle boats. The campground has very clean restrooms and pay-showers. Campsites are well maintained and several are shady. The park includes a museum and admission is included in the camping fee. Also, if you forget anything, Truckee is only a mile or two away.

Camanche Lake is very nice and close to Sacramento. Check it out online. camancherecreation.com

Costanoa along the coast is great.

MONTERREY/SANTA CRUZ KOA. Enough said. OMG. This place rocks for families and on holidays ...like the one we go on..you need a years advanced notice..we go for thier Halloween celebrations which is the weekend before.....but on non holiday weekends I dont' think there is a problem getting a reservation. They have lots of rv parking and a great grassy circle for camping right by the bathrooms and showers..for the kids..big playground, on weekends..I do believe they have free pancake bfast for hte kids....little train ride that goes around the park...free....a bouncy bubble that comes out of the ground.....on weekends they will have crafts and games that are free....and some for a small amount.....on weekends they have free smores around the campfire....they have a great general store..and will deliver firewood purchased to you..they also have good coffee there too.....the campgrounds are also a short distance away from La Selva Beach.....30 minutes away from Santa Cruz boardwalk....30 minutes away from Monterrey where the fish aquarium is.....just a great place to take your family...they ahve a pool and I think a hot tub...I think sometimes they show movies outside during the summer as well....check out their website or call them...great ownes.

You can look for parks and campgrounds in the Chico area.
Lake Mendocino is pretty fun. (Ukiah)
Konocti and Clear Lake should have some places. (Lake County)
Also, I haven't been there for years, not sure what it's like now, but there is a place called the Narrows on Highway 20.
There are lots of campgrounds along highway 101 north. Cabana Holiday has cabins and Dean Creek Resort is nice. It all depends on when you want to go though. Our weather is not always as hot and nice as I like it, but you may prefer cooler weather.
Lake Mendocino is off Highway 20 as well. There are lots of camping and picnic areas with showers. There have always been lots of friendly people and little kids there.
I'm not familiar with any KOA's.
Check Lake Oroville, near Chico. We used to take out boat there all the time. Not sure about the camping situation although they do rent houseboats. Lake Shasta in Redding has lots of that stuff too.

Anyway, that gives you some places to check on.

Hope you have a great time!

KOA in Petaluma is fun!Swimming pool, rentals of little carts, etc.
Lake Berryessa has some campgrounds, not as many as they used to have.
There are lots of places along the Russian River.

It would help to know how old your children are...

We used to camp at Camp Richarson in Tahoe, near the 50 coridor. That way you had the lake, nature, and there was horseriding near by. I usually prefer the coast, because there are always shells and rocks to find, but that can be stressful when you are concerned with the surf. What sort of activities does your family generally enjoy?

I am not a major camper, but recently we purchased a travel trailer and have gone to two different KOA's while on way to visit friends. I really liked them! We have two small girls 3 & 6 and two dogs. One of the KOA's even had dog runs and some agility equipment. There was a large playground and my girls made friends and played with other kids. They have good facilites and also at the other place they had some music and smores at a big bon fire one night ( for free )to the guests. Really nice!

We go to the Petaluma, CA KOA and it's great fro kids: hay rides, movie night, ice cream social, bikes you can rent, playground, pool etc. I highly recommend it. A 2 hr drive from Sacramento.

Our family has camped for years. Currently our two favorite's (I hesitate to tell you because both are hard to get reservations??LOL).....Pine Crest lake, it is above Sonora, on Hwy 108..about 2/1/2-3 hours away. They offer a small lake (no power boats) just big enough for outboard type boats,or they rent paddle boats etc....they offer fishing,hiking,boating.My sons use to love cliff diving into the lake...Not something mom let them do....(found out later)..it also has a store & resturant,showers,flush toilets...but our families favorite thing to do there....an outdoor movie ampi-theatre. So much fun to watch a movie while camping,outdoors with the lake as the back drop....
Our second is Mac Keriicher State Park (on the beach) just North of Fort Bragg Ca.,,,off Hwy 20 & Hwy 101...about 3-4 hours away....It's on the beach!!! But you don't have to camp in sand. The campgrounds are off the beach in the tree's, so very comfortable. So much to do. I don't think our kids have EVER run out of things to do. There have a small lake also, for fishing. There are so many things to do, check it our online...Google images, a couple of our pic's are there...my husband says this one is more romantic than family, but I disagree. Like I said our kids have never run out of things to do & they are teenage girls..LOL..Hope this helps you.
There is a GREAT book called California Camping...I found it at Costco...

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