Charlie's Top 5 California Beach Camping Spots in the Fall

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School has been center stage for the last couple of months. Getting acclimated to being a full time student again has been an adjustment. Long study hours, the arduous task of picking out the perfect pens and highlighters, choosing the best coffee shops for Charlie… a learning experience in ALL the ways.

However, Charlie and I are still very connected to our roots of longing for adventure.

With Fall being our favorite time of year, we’re both itching to pack up the camping gear and hit the road. The colors, the weather, all the winter puffy things, and my little guy make for a perfect secluded escape.

Charlie assessing the surf conditions.

Charlie assessing the surf conditions.

So, in between Pharmacology, Anatomy, Physiology, and Intro to Veterinary Medicine, I’ve been researching the best beach camping spots for us to check out this season. Since Charlie’s congestive heart failure has progressed, our camping destinations will focus on sea level hideaways. Given that we’re calling California home for the time being, we’re pretty stoked to have such a gorgeous coastline to explore.

Pfeiffer Beach on the coast of Los Padres National Forest/Big Sur.

Pfeiffer Beach on the coast of Los Padres National Forest/Big Sur.

Between October and April, the Central California coastline is a dream for whale watching and surfing alike. With legendary waves like the Mavericks and the migrations of our sentient whale friends, the shores of central California aren’t a bad place to sleep under the stars.

Surfer catching a ride on the infamous Mavericks.

Surfer catching a ride on the infamous Mavericks.

To be fair, I should tell you that Charlie and I aren’t campground campers very often. We prefer dispersed, minimalist camping as often as possible. So, when looking at our list below, know that we picked these spots based on their dog-friendly-exploration potential and not camping amenities.

Humpback Whale migrating off the coast of Big Sur. Photo credit PressDemocrat.com

Humpback Whale migrating off the coast of Big Sur. Photo credit PressDemocrat.com


 If you’d like to visit some of the spots we're headed to, make sure you research whether they have all the things you want in a camping experience.

In no particular order, here’s our camping itinerary this season:

Laguna Point Boardwalk/MacKerricher State Park. photo credit hikespeak.com

Laguna Point Boardwalk/MacKerricher State Park. photo credit hikespeak.com

  1. MacKerricher State Park Area

    This gorgeous little gem on the Mendocino Coast holds a special place in our hearts. Charlie earned his very first Ranger Badge here back in April. Super Cool fact: this is the only park park system that was at one time part of the Mendocino Indian Reservation.
    If you’re driving on Hwy 1, you might drive right past it if you’re not paying attention. It’s perfectly tucked off of the highway and offers quiet seclusion. Perfect for campfire study sessions with my favorite little guy.

  2. Doran Regional Park

    This will be a new one for us! It’s not our typical rugged coastline that we’re drawn to but it’s got some features worth checking out. We will have 2 miles of beach to explore on Bodega Bay as well as the dog friendly Bird Walk Coastal Access Trail to sharpen our ornithology skills. According to sources, this year round park is pretty popular. Charlie and I lean more toward quiet environments but, we’re excited to check out a new place full of un-sniffed sniffs. AND!! check it out…they have hike-in, dog-and horse-friendly campsites 2 miles from the parking lot that might be right up our ally. We’ll keep ya posted!

  3. Los Padres National Park

    This is one of the rare dog friendly National Parks and it’s well worth the visit. With multiple dog friendly hiking trails and camping options, Charlie and I will have plenty to explore here. Located along the Big Sur coast line, I have a hunch this will be one of our favorites. Camp coffee in the morning atop picturesque ocean bluffs; yes, please.

  4. Morro Bay

    San Luis Obispo has been on our list for awhile now. We never quite get there because we get sidetracked by all of the beautiful scenery along the way. This year, however, we’re finally going to explore SLO, as the locals like to call it. With a dog friendly downtown area, gorgeous beaches, and nearby hiking trails, how can we go wrong.

  5. Point Reyes National Park

Charlie and I have been here several times but it’s worth a repeat. Kehoe, Limatour, and Great Beach are all (leashed) dog friendly beaches and the Kehoe Beach Trail is dog accessible for sniffing as well. The weather here will be extra crisp so, we’ll have our puffy jackets on for sure.

Charlie making beach camp coffee.jpg

I’m often asked about what it’s like to camp with a handi-capable little guy like Charlie and what kind of gear we travel with. Stay tuned for a blog post all about that! This little guy is tougher than most humans I know so, he’s a perfect camping buddy…even if he does snore a little.

Exploring the Mendocino Coast with Charlie.

Exploring the Mendocino Coast with Charlie.

How about you? Where are you going to adventure with your pups this fall? Let me know in the comments!

Happy trails, everyone!