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Top Unforgettable Camping Spots in and Around San Francisco

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Undoubtedly, San Francisco’s vibrant streets echo the spirit of urban life, yet a swift escape into nature lies just moments away. Camping aficionados will be delighted by the Bay Area’s array of scenic locales, offering serene retreats amidst forests, coastlines, and rolling hills.

It’s a good thing that campervan rental in San Francisco is widely accessible. The perfect cure for those seeking an adventure of a lifetime, hopping into one and setting off on a journey along the Pacific Coast is as easy as it sounds.

Whether seeking solitude within the city’s embrace or in the wilderness that skirts its edges, here’s a curated list of premier camping destinations around San Francisco to immerse yourself in the great outdoors.

Angel Island Campground: A Ferry Ride to Serenity

Set sail on a brief ferry journey to Angel Island, an idyllic retreat rising from the waters of the San Francisco Bay. Embark on the adventure prepared, with hiking gear in tow, for the scenic two-mile journey that greets you upon reaching the island’s shores. The East Bay Sites, nestled discreetly from the winds, promise tranquillity, while the Ridge Sites boast breathtaking panoramas of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco skyline. For those planning a group excursion, the Sunrise Sites offer a seamless merger option, creating a larger, communal space for up to 24 guests.

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    Rob Hill Campground: San Francisco’s Hidden Gem

    Perched within the city’s verdant Presidio, Rob Hill Campground stands as a rare urban oasis, the only campground tucked within San Francisco’s bustling borders. This peaceful enclave is an open gateway along the celebrated Bay Area Ridge Trail, accessible by bus, bicycle, or a scenic hike. With four campgrounds under its canopy, each can comfortably accommodate up to 30 guests.

    The site thoughtfully provides essential amenities: a fire pit for evening tales, barbecues for savoury meals, secure food storage lockers, ample picnic tables, and clean restrooms—sans showers. Take note, however, vehicle access is limited to four per group, encouraging a more eco-friendly approach. Beyond the campsite, the rich tapestry of the Presidio lies ready to explore, ensuring that a stay at Rob Hill is much more than just a night under the stars.

    Hawk Camp: Marin County’s Elevated Escape

    Enveloped by the serene embrace of Marin County, Hawk Campground presents an unrivalled panoramic spectacle of Gerbode Valley. Perched prominently atop a hill, the campground invites visitors to revel in nature’s heights with its trio of campsites, each accommodating up to four guests. Here, the necessities for a rustic getaway are provided: picnic tables for dining and portable toilets for convenience.

    An adventure in seclusion, this no-cost camping destination does require prior reservation, a testament to its exclusivity and charm. Whether you choose the three-mile journey from the Marin Headlands Visitor Center or the two-mile trek from Tennessee Valley parking, the ascent rewards you with a setting that feels a world apart. Yet, conveniently, the pulsing heart of San Francisco remains just a drive away, offering a peaceful respite for those eager to exchange city skylines for towering trees and open skies.

    Bicentennial Campground: A Quick Escape with Breathtaking Vistas

    For a seamless nature escape that doesn’t skimp on the views, set your sights on the Bicentennial Campground. Nestled within the raw allure of Marin Headlands and ensconced among cypress groves, the campground offers a front-row seat to the awe-inspiring Golden Gate Bridge and the sprawling San Francisco skyline.

    With three intimately scaled campsites, each accommodating up to three people, Bicentennial is ideal for small groups seeking solace in the great outdoors. The provided amenities, including barbecue grills, secure food storage lockers, and picnic tables, ensure a comfortable and worry-free camping experience.

    Kirby Cove Campground: A Seaside Sanctuary with Iconic Views

    Just a stone’s throw from the Golden Gate Bridge, nestled in Sausalito’s 948 Fort Barry, the Kirby Cove Campground presents enchanting panoramic views. Behold the majestic bridge spanning the strait and the boundless Pacific stretching beyond. Situated on an inviting sandy beach, a serpentine trail leads from the parking area to your waterside retreat. The microclimate here is cool and frequently shrouded in a gentle fog, ensuring a comfortable sojourn regardless of the season.

    Kirby Cove offers a quaint ensemble of five campsites, including two that are ADA accessible, allowing for a wide range of adventurers to enjoy this natural haven. For those desiring a brief seaside escape, a day-use area provides the perfect opportunity to bask in coastal beauty without forgoing the comforts of home come nightfall.

    Steep Ravine Campground: A Majestic Mount Tamalpais Treasure

    Unveil a slice of coastal paradise at Steep Ravine Campground, situated within the natural grandeur of Mount Tamalpais State Park. A haven for enthusiasts of the rustic outdoors, the campground is cherished for its charming collection of wooden cabins that dot the cliffside, offering spellbinding views of the Pacific Ocean’s expanse. Each structure is thoughtfully furnished with a wood stove to banish the evening chill, tables, benches, and ample platforms for a restful night’s sleep wrapped in nature’s lullabies.

    Though the cabins provide a unique lodging experience, traditional campers can also find solace in pitching their tents at one of the seven coveted campsites. Due to its popularity and limited availability, securing a reservation here is tantamount to striking gold; plan ahead to ensure your tranquil retreat amid the clouds and ocean spray.