Southern California

The following Destination Inspiration about Southern California is courtesy of Shore Looks Nice.

Southern California

Getting There | Day One | Day Two 

When most people think about Southern California, a camping adventure isn’t what comes to mind. So what if more than 22 million people live there; it doesn’t mean you can’t find seclusion and an outdoor paradise, right? There are countless reasons why so many people flock to So-Cal, and as an RVer you get to immerse yourself in the California Dream!

Getting There

Newport Dunes RV Park

Location, Location, Location! We believe that the Newport Dunes RV Park has the best location of all Southern California RV parks. It’s right on the Bay of Newport Beach, CA off the Pacific Coast Highway. Not only do you have ocean access, but it’s a central point to visit all the hot spots So-Cal has to offer.

Some highlights:

  • The back bay bike/walk/run trail runs next to the campground
  • Gorgeous beach on the bay at the campground
  • Ocean access via boat
  • Within minutes of multiple world class beaches
  • Halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego
  • Less than a mile from the beautiful Fashion Island Mall
  • Near Disney and other major attractions

Day One

12:00 am - Cucamonga Peak – The Best Sunrise Hike

I’ve hiked/climbed to all of the major peaks in Southern California. Cucamonga Peak is one of the most overlooked hikes since it’s overshadowed by nearby and larger Mount Baldy. It offers one of the best sunrises I’ve ever seen!

Cucamonga is less than an hour from Newport Dunes RV Park. You can actually see the peak inland from some of the Orange County beaches. In the winter you can be skiing or snowboarding just over an hour from where you would be surfing!

Turn on your headlamp, and start hiking around 1 am. This will put you at the peak around 5:30 am, just in time for one of the most amazing sunrises of your life! From the top you’ll be able to see the Inland Empire, Orange County, and part of LA!

Conditions can vary greatly so always do your research. The peak sits at 8,862 and can get a lot of snow in the winter. Do your research and call the park ranger as you may need crampons. When there is no snow, most active people would have no problem making it to the top.

11:00 am - Surfing Newport Beach – Best Surf Spot

Newport Beach is the spot to experience a 100% authentic California beach culture! World-class waves can be found on a lot of the peninsula’s beaches. If you’re like me and just love to get out there and have fun, you’ll be happy to know that you can find great waves pretty much anywhere in Newport. The locals can get a little hostile at Blackies so stick near the pier or head anywhere north in between the jetties. My favorite spot is on 38th street.

If you need to rent a board and a wet suit, the best place is the Frog House. This has been a staple of the surfing community since the 60s. If you’re looking to buy gear, many of the major surf brands have headquarters within 10 miles of the beach and retail stores on location.

Parking on the peninsula can be tough in the summer. The paid lots near the pier get crammed so look for free parking on side streets to the south just a few blocks away.

When you’re done surfing make sure to take the boardwalk to the Balboa Pier. It’s 4 miles (round trip) of walking/running/biking along a gorgeous beach with great food selections along the way!

1:00 pm - The Wedge – Best Bodyboarding Beach

The Wedge is one of those rare places on earth that creates a completely unique experience. Two waves converge together to create a gigantic explosion in the form of a shore break (meaning it breaks on the sand, so if you’re caught in the wave you’ll be dumped on sand, ouch!).

When a big swell comes in, the waves are 45 feet high! At these times some of the best surfers, skim boarders and body boarders in the world flock to The Wedge (this is world champ George Bryan in the photo). Make sure you check the surf report. You won’t want to miss watching a human get tossed 20 feet in the air from a wave. When the waves aren’t massive it’s a fun spot to get caught in a barrel.

If you’re looking for a very secluded beach experience, head to The Wedge and walk north on the beach. This area is almost always deserted and is a great secret of Orange County when it’s tough to find parking at more popular spots.

3:00 pm - Boating in Balboa – Best Place for Boating

In Balboa there’s just about every type of boating excursion you could desire. From deep sea fishing to dinner cruises, they have it all. If you have a boat you could launch it at the RV park, but we rented a boat for a few hours with some of our friends. Often you’ll find great deals online like on Groupon. You get to take out a boat for a few hours and if you have two couples it usually ends up costing less than if you had gone to the movies! It’s such a blast to cruise around looking at the mega yachts.

7:00 pm - Surf City USA – Best Dog Beach

Huntington Beach is one of the most iconic surfing beaches for good reason. It has a huge and very apparent surfing culture. The annual US Open Surf Competition is held here each year and 500,000 people gather for the event. But you don’t have to plan your visit around the US Open to enjoy great surfing. Anytime of the year is fun to surf or watch surfers hitting the waves from the pier. The locals are a little protective of their waves on the north side of the pier so I would recommend surfing the south side or walk to the state beach where the waves are also superb.

If surfing isn’t your thing there are countless retail stores and restaurants across the street from the pier on mainstreet.

One of the biggest highlights of HB is the Dog Beach. It’s HUGE and busy with happy dogs. In fact, every year they have a massive Dog Surfing Competition and it’s not uncommon to see dogs surfing on any day.

8:00 pm – Woody’s Wharf - Best Waterfront Restaurant

Woody’s is across the street from the Newport Pier and has an amazing view of the harbor. While you eat you’ll see boats pulling up to the dock to pick up their food orders. The Wednesday karaoke attracts some really talented singers. The atmosphere is what you would expect of your typical OC high end spot without having outrageous prices.

Day Two

4:30 am – Seaside Donuts - Best Breakfast

Seaside Donuts is a local favorite near the Newport Pier. It’s open 24/7 and will draw a line that wraps around outside after bars close and everyone is there for the ham & cheese croissant. I’ve personally watched at least 20 people eat it for the first time and each person is amazed at how great they taste!

6:00 am – Biking 72 miles from Malibu to Newport Beach – The Best Bike Ride

It’s a little bit difficult to put into words how amazing it is to see so many famous and spectacular beaches in one day. If you’re looking for one of the best rides in the country, this is one not to miss!

If there are multiple riders, you can drop one car off at the end point and then take another to the start. I had Danielle drop me off at sunrise and she waited for me in the RV at my finish line in Newport Beach!

4:00 pm - Corona Del Mar – Best Hidden Gem

Immediately south of Newport is Corona Del Mar. It’s a quaint little town filled with wealth. There’s a lot of great shops to check out but if you head west on any major street from the PCH you’ll end up at Corona Del Mar State Beach. There’s a great beach on the south end called Little Corona Del Mar Beach that has some neat rocks and tide pooling at low tide.

5:00 pm – Laguna Beach – Best Beach to Catch a Barrel

Laguna Beach is one of the most beautiful areas we’ve ever seen. There are 27 beaches and coves in Laguna that offer a wide variety of experiences from tide pooling to shopping, but my favorite part is its fantastic waves!

While you can see marine life such as whales, dolphins, sea lions, etc. from any Southern California beach, Laguna has a lot of great swimming beaches with clear water that put you right in the area of the underwater creatures. In fact, at Crescent Beach in Laguna, a local marine rehab center releases California Sea Lions back into the wild almost every Sunday at 9 am.

7:00 pm – Mozambique – Best Happy Hour

Great atmosphere, live music, and good prices. This gem is located in the heart of Laguna Beach. It gets busy at happy hour so make sure you get there early or you won’t get a seat. The rooftop seating offers an amazing view of the ocean across the Pacific Coast Highway.

8:00 pm - Best place to unwind – Surf and Sand Resort

If you’re looking for a million dollar view, this is the place to visit. They have an area up top that often has live music, fire pits and a view. The best view in the house is down below at The Splashes Restaurant. We’ve never found a restaurant on the beach as nice as this one. The sound of the waves pounding is intense as you relax and eat your meal.