San Elijo State Beach: Soak in California Sunshine Near San Diego

This California state park is a hippie's paradise.

If San Elijo doesn't scream Southern Californian culture, we don't know what does. Watermen, beach goers, and nature lovers come here to go camping oceanfront in this Cardiff-by-the-Sea recreation area. This CA state park is situated in sunny North County San Diego. San Elijo State Beach offers everything one needs for a day in the sand and surf. Nature-lovers, sportsmen, or anyone looking to get out of the house for a few days in the Summertime should plan in advance when heading to San Elijo State Beach.

What to Do at San Elijo State Beach

Individual surfers, groups of friends, and families who love beach camping by the ocean should look no further than San Elijo State Beach Campground. The area is as scenic as it gets. Travelers immediately see blue, Pacific Ocean views as they navigate the parking lot. The sand is just steps from the place you pitch your tent. The area is amazing for swimming, snorkeling, and surfing over the algae-covered, underwater reef. The most famous surf break nearby is called Swami's which can be found just North of San Elijo.

The park offers facilities like a campground, camp store, drive-on beach access, picnic tables, fire rings, picnic areas, bathhouses, dump stations, nature trails, electric hook ups, and more. The region is a perfect place for campers to pitch a tent or hookup the RV. Also, visitors of San Elijo State Beach often choose to go mountain biking, hiking, surfing, boating, and exploring along the coastline. Anglers love the area's fishing opportunities—whether it be pier fishing, casting out into the surf, or via boat. Whether it be surfing, fishing, or just hanging at the beach, San Elijo is a go-to spot to do it all in San Diego, CA.

Getting There

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From the beach campground visitors will see nothing but beautiful Pacific Ocean and California coastline for as far as the eye can see. The Park is located at 2050 S Coast Hwy 101 in Cardiff, CA 92007. San Elijo State Beach lies South of large metro areas like Los Angeles. Locally, the state beach park sits just outside coastal towns like Encinitas, Carlsbad, Oceanside, Del Mar, Torrey Pines and La Jolla. Visitors coming from Southern towns like Ocean Beach, San Diego will pass Cardiff State Beach and Solana Beach before arriving at San Elijo. Others coming from North County towns like Oceanside will pass by South Carlsbad State Beach on their way to San Elijo. Park goers need only pay an entrance fee at the office or with their reservation to access parking lots, camping areas, hot showers, beaches, and the surrounding nature preserve. Individuals traveling this way in the Summertime should give themselves plenty of time due to the high traffic during this season.

Planning Your Trip

Individuals and families make reservations up to six months in advance for tent and RV campsites at San Elijo. These spots are available for booking through the park's website.

For families visiting San Elijo, parents can ask the park's management about environmental education programs, local wildlife information—which can be great learning opportunities for the kids.

When traveling this area, individuals should also make a point to visit nearby attractions like Fletcher Cove Beach Park, bike rentals in Solana Beach, San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve, and the San Diego Botanic Garden. After working up an appetite after a day in the sun, visitors need only drive along the coast highway 101 for restaurants, bars, and shops in each local town.

Visitors can rest assured that San Elijo State Beach is their best bet for a fun-filled day in sunny, scenic San Diego. Travelers come and return time and time again for hiking, boating, birding, beaching, camping, surfing, fishing, and much more.

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