Summers run long in Southern California. We might be transitioning back into school mode, but there’s still time to camp and explore while the weather is warm!

Of course, there are different ways to camp and glamp: by vehicle, ferry, tent, yurt, beachside, and by backpacking. Access to nature is worthwhile in whatever way suits you and yours. Eco-therapy can work wonders! It gives us a break from routine and can be refreshing, restorative, and a chance for reflection.

On the Go

This summer, my family took a cross-country road-trip, pulling a travel-trailer. To guide us, we relied upon an atlas from AAA, a “roadtrippers” route, a Kampgrounds of America (KOA) guidebook, the Campendium site, Hipcamp app, and knowledge of National Parks. On our journey to and from Michigan, we went to Arches National Park and the Badlands, plus Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse memorial, among other interesting places.

If you don’t own an RV, motorhome, or camper van and would like to try these forms of travel, consider renting one through or another outlet.

(By the way, did you know veterans can now obtain a lifetime pass to National Parks? They just need to present identification. Now, that’s a cool card to carry!)

“Not all those who wander are lost” (J.R.R. Tolkien)

Great Local Spots to Camp

  • KOA’s can be fun for families! The “Ventura Ranch” Holiday location between Santa Paula and Ojai is a local getaway option.
  • To reserve a spot along the Rincon, go to or We hauled our trailer there for my August birthday last year. It was fun to stay and play on the beach with friends, but limited parking is an issue.
  • The Lake Casitas reservoir offers camping opportunities as well as fishing, picnicking, scenic trails, playgrounds, a “water adventure” park, and disc golf. It can get busy during popular holidays though, so if you want a peaceful night of sleep, be sure to choose your campsite wisely.
  • Have you ever been to the Channel Islands? For camping considerations, please navigate to the “plan your visit” section of the website, check out the Visitor Center at the Ventura Harbor, and/or read “Islands Apart” by local author Ken McAlpine. While tent camping on Santa Cruz Island one Thanksgiving, my family enjoyed sight-seeing, kayaking, learning about the history, and coming up with silly names for the Island Foxes.

Do you know about the Junior Ranger program on the islands? The activities in the ranger booklets promote discovery, awareness, and protection.

Take the Trip…Camp Outside

Kids of all ages (and their grownups) benefit from outdoor experiences and nature immersion. This involves healthy risk taking, exercise, and exposure to the elements. Some additional ideas for things to do out there (while camping or exploring) include: photography, taking a guided tour, rock hopping, biking, swimming, tide pooling, hiking, looking for wildlife, horseback riding, birding, plant identification, flower drawing, and stargazing.

Have fun! Happy camping!

Family camping on beach


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