Good Sam RV Travel Guide & Campground Directory

One Tank Trip for Southern California Camping

Total mileage / average drive time:
112 miles – 2 hours, 16 minutes

Southern California is a megapolitian area, as heavily populated as it is culturally diverse. Home to movie stars, entertainment industry moguls, and a goodly share of eccentrics, this area is a popular destination for its beautiful sandy beaches, temperatures that remain steadily in the 70s or above for most of the year, and an
overabundance of activities and sights to make even the shortest stay here one of your most memorable.

Every traveler knows that you can’t
come to SoCal without putting Anaheim and a trip to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure parks near the top of your list; it would be a vacation sin! You don’t need to be a kid to enjoy all that this massive theme park has to offer, just bring a good pair of walking shoes, plenty of sunblock, a sense of adventure and you’re ready to have the time of your life. Welcoming visitors from the four corners of the world for well over a half a century, Disneyland is the ultimate vacation destination, playing host to nearly 16 million visitors in 2010. All the classic theme park rides are here, from Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, and the new Ariel’s Undersea Adventure to some uniquely California-themed adventure rides such as Soarin’ Over California and California Screamin’, as well as theaters, railroad rides, shows, parades, the Hollywood Pictures Backlot, and all of the Disney characters you know, love, and grew up with. It’s impossible to see and do everything in the park within a day, so many travelers opt to spread their adventure over three or four days. There are several discounts offered, and if you plan on making Anaheim a regular stop, consider purchasing a yearly pass. Park your rig at the Anaheim Resort RV Park, which will put you in close proximity to all the action; it’s a top-notch facility that feels more like a resort than an RV park.

Newport Beach
20.6 miles – 27 minutes
Next stop on this one-tank adventure is Newport Beach, less than 20 miles from Walt Disney’s empire and known for its lavish lifestyle and beautiful surroundings. As you wander around, you might get the feeling you’ve been here before, thanks to the many t.v. shows that have been filmed here. But you’ll find it’s much more beautiful and fun when you see it for real. Of course, you can’t come to Newport Beach and not indulge in some time at the beach to soak up that famous California sun. If you’re a surfer, this is the perfect place for you, as the locals will attest. The Wedge, which lies at the end of Balboa Peninsula, is famed for its challenging surf. Don’t worry about crowded conditions as the miles of wide beach here offer enough elbow room for everyone. Although the busiest summer months may get a little less roomy, there’s plenty of sun and fun to go around! Hankering to do a little exploring? Newport Beach is home to the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve, Southern California’s largest estuary and a major stopover for migrating birds. You’ll find dozens of species here, including some that are endangered. If you’re a birder, this will be an important stop for you, so make sure to bring your binoculars and telephoto lens. Another great opportunity to view the natural beauty of this area is at the Muth Wetlands Interpretive Center where you’ll be introduced to the delicate flora and fauna of the Pacific Coast. There are many opportunities to cruise around the harbor to do a little sightseeing, including taking the hour-long boat trip to Catalina Island, dripping with Art Deco-era charm. If sightseeing by boat isn’t your thing, maybe sport fishing is more your style. There are many charters waiting to take you out for as long or as little as needed to make sure you land the big one. You’ll also find that Newport Beach has a long list of exceptional restaurants, wonderful boutiques, and an interesting history to explore.

46.4 miles – 1 hour
Enjoy a spectacular drive along the coast as you drive to Oceanside, an hour south of Newport Beach. This is another exceptional California beach community and home to one of the few coastal freshwater lagoons in California, Buena Vista Lagoon. This 350-acre wetland habitat straddling Oceanside and Carlsbad is home to dozens of migrant and resident waterfowl and has two trails close to the Nature Center that will give you numerous opportunities to see the lagoon and its inhabitants up close. Stop to enjoy the picnic facilities within this pristine location before you head off to Legoland in nearby Carlsbad for some non-stop fun and adventure.

Chula Vista
45.3 miles – 49 minutes
The last stop on your trip takes you to beautiful Chula Vista, less than an hour’s drive further south down the coast. If you’re looking for some huge attractions, you’ve come to the right place! Chula Vista is the home of Knott’s Soak City U.S.A., a massive 32-acre water park, which is just where you’ll want to be on a hot California day. Due west of Chula Vista is Coronado Island, across the bay from San Diego and a premiere attraction enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. If you’re looking to put some relaxation back in your trip, Coronado will give you ample opportunity. You’ll enjoy some magnificent skyline views of San Diego, as well as a chance to sample the impressive array of theatres, great restaurants, and many quaint shops to be found in the area. From Coronado, take the ferry into downtown San Diego where you’ll find even more great attractions at your fingertips. Due to its close proximity to San Diego to the north and Mexico to the south, Chula Vista makes a great home base for taking advantage of all the attractions, sun, sandy beaches, and fun you’ll find here.

Check out the 2011 One Tank Trip For Southern California
Check out the 2010 One Tank Trip For Southern California
Woodall's Recommended Campgrounds in California