The possibilities for camping in the Bay Area are endless and with the temperate climate, families can camp year-round. The fall season is probably the best for camping in the Bay Area especially in San Francisco and Southern Marin as those are the least foggy and warmest months. Several campsites are booked well in advance, but other still have openings for cabins and camp sites. It's not too late to book a camping getaway for your family!
If you are nervous about camping with kids make sure you read Helen Olsson's latest book, Down and Dirty Guide to Camping with Kids. Helen shares the lessons she's learned over the years camping with her family. In her informative and humorous book, Helen guides parents to the different camping activities they can do with children of all ages (from infants to teenagers.) Parents and children will learn about campfire safety, sun protection, first aid and the perfect way to roast marshmallows over an open fire. You may want have your older kids read this book before a trip so they can help you with the packing and planning.
A great resource to help you make reservations at California parks is the California Department of Parks and Recreation website. The site is comprehensive and for each park has descriptions of the parks, sites and facilities. Here are a few of our favorites:
Rob Hill Campground
Rob Hill Campground in the Presidio is a hidden treasure and a campsite right in the middle of the city of San Francisco. The campground is set above Baker Beach amid a beautiful eucalyptus grove with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean.
The campground offers four group campsites that can easily accommodate 30 people each. Recently spruced up and renovated, each site has a campfire circle, a free-standing barbeque grill and picnic tables.
A reservation and Special Use Permit are required for camping at Rob Hill, and their camping season goes from April 1 to October 31. This is a very popular campsite, so reservations have to be made well in advance, but are absolutely worth the effort. Reservations are filled on a first come, first served basis and are confirmed via email. It is always worthwhile to check back from time to time for cancellations.
Hendy Woods State Park
Hendy Woods State Park was slated for closure in May 2011, but the local community rallied together and it is now slated to remain open at least through the end of the year. Set in the beautiful wine-making and agricultural area of the Anderson Valley, Hendy has 816 acres of redwood forest, meadows, and riverfront.
Be sure to hike the Hendy Woods and swim in the Navarro River while you are there. Fishing is not allowed in the park but is permitted in the Navarro River watershed down river from the bridge at the park entrance. The park also features interpretive exhibits, Junior Ranger nature walks and campfire programs. See the park's website to make a campsite reservation.
A stop at The Apple Farm stand (right the entrance of Hendy Park) for some juice or dried apples and homemade jams is a must-do.
Olema RV Resort and Campground
Olema RV Resort and Campground located in the spectacular Point Reyes National Seashore is about an hour away from San Francisco. This spot is your gateway to 65,000 acres of unspoiled wilderness, from grassy meadows to coastal forests, full of wildlife and stunning vistas.
This campground provides a comfortable and well set-up area for campers and motor-home travelers. The 187 campsites are well spread out and each one is equipped with a fire pit and a picnic table. There is also a new playground for the little ones and washer and dryer facility
Be sure to explore all that Point Reyes has to offer, such as Toby's Feed Barn in Point Reyes Station, Tomales Bay Foods, Hog Island Oyster Company and the Point Reyes Lighthouse.
Costanoa in Pescadero is an eco-adventure lodge located south of Half Moon Bay on the beautiful California coast. Costanoa caters to campers, RV travelers and also vacationers who want to rent cabins or tent bungalows. You can even stay at their lovely lodge. They also have a spa and a restaurant if you cannot really rough it out and want an introduction to camping.
The setting is beautiful and a wonderful break from city-living. The whole family will feel like they are at "summer camp." The coast can get cold, so always pack enough layers. Also, make sure you stop by at Harley Farms for some delicious goat cheese and perhaps even a farm tour. A meal at Duarte's Tavern (http://www.duartestavern.com/) for some fresh and tasty seafood and their delicious pies is not to be missed.
A Savvy Tip
Camping with children can be a relatively inexpensive family vacation if you drive to the destination and also if you have all the gear. If you do not want to invest in all the gear, Sports Basement in San Francisco rents camping equipment. Smart!
Stacie Dong and Simran Singh are the moms behind A Little Yumminess, a family food blog where they share spiced-up recipes, hands-on food-related activities and kid-friendly food adventures. You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
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