Camping at San Elijo State Beach Campground

San Elijo State Beach

It’s official, San Elijo State Beach Campground is one of our top 2 places to camp in San Diego, CA. The other is Carlsbad State Beach. We’ve been doing weekend camping for the last few years now and have stayed at San Elijo a handful of times. This was one of my favorite trips since we had an extra night and really got to enjoy the location. I’ve got a few helpful tips for your next stay at San Elijo State Beach Campground including a few breakfast options and ideal camp spots.
 Ocean Waves at San Elijo

Getting to San Elijo State Beach Campground

This campground is pretty easy to get to from the 5 freeway. It is located on the 101 and is close to shopping centers. San Elijo has street parking right outside of the campground. This makes it easier for visitors to pop by. You can exit the 5 freeway on Birmingham or Manchester. If you’re driving in with a trailer, note that there is a u-turn to get into the campground on the 101. 

Playing in the Ocean

Best Spots to Grab at San Elijo State Beach Campground

The best spots to get at San Elijo are any spots that are open but if you have an option, the south end is the closest to the beach. There has been some recent changes due to the heavy rains. We had a spot that we could walk closely to a set of stairs to go down to the beach or take a little longer of a walk down to head straight onto the sand. This is a great option if you’re not into the giant sets of stairs that this beach and Carlsbad have. Even the set of stairs closest to us and the most south at this campground were much shorter. The farther south you are at this campground, the closer you are to Cardiff Beach too. Spots can be booked through Reserve California. You can book 6 months out or try at 8AM to get a cancellation. 

San Elijo Canal

The tide was really low during our trip so the kids were able to play in the San Elijo Lagoon entrance channel. They thought this was so fun because they could walk to the other side and swim back. The waves on the ocean side were over the rocks though making surfing a little harder for the younger kids. The bigger kids and adults enjoyed the surf. 

San Elijo State Beach  

Awesome Camping Breakfast Ideas

We have some of our favorite breakfasts while camping! We made a bacon, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich on English muffins and baked all of them in the trailer oven for about 10 minutes. Our friends made really tasty breakfast quesadillas with egg, cheese, sausage and leftover tri-tip. Both breakfasts turned out really yummy and are fairly simple to put together while camping. Use bacon or sausage that is precooked for less mess. We also stopped in VG Donut & Bakery for the best donuts you can get in Cardiff. Pipes Cafe is another great spot to grab breakfast in Cardiff by the Sea. 

Camping Breakfast Quesadillas  

This beautiful pathway leads straight to VG Donut on the other side of the 101. You can take it a little farther and get to Seaside Market, a super awesome grocery store. Seriously, one of my absolute favorite grocery stores ever. They make fresh grab-and-go food everyday. The kids love to get sushi there too. They also make the best Cardiff Crack, which is a delicious marinated tri-tip. 

VGs Donuts

Walkway to Seaside Market and VGs Donuts

We highly recommend this campground for anyone looking to experience beach camping in San Diego. It’s one of our favorite spots and we hope to spend a lot more time here. We even considered running the campground store but ultimately decided it’s just the best place to camp. In the future, we will sign up to be campground hosts for our retirement fun. #CampGoals 

San Elijo State Beach Campground

San Elijo State Beach Campground Location

2050 S Coast Hwy 101
Cardiff, CA 92007

Check in time is at 2:00pm and check out is at noon. 
San Elijo State Beach extends along Coast Highway 101, slightly north from San Elijo Lagoon’s entrance channel, near Cardiff-by-the-Sea.

Sunset Ocean Views While Camping


I love sharing about family, food and fun in and around San Diego! Enjoy, Bri

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