San Onofre State Beach

A comfy campout with 2 to 5 mile hikes
Driving to and sleeping at a campground
Ideal for first-timers

Surfer watching at Trestles Beach at San Onofre State Beach

Surfer watching at Trestles Beach at San Onofre State Beach

Surfer watching at Trestles Beach at San Onofre State Beach

Surfer watching at Trestles Beach at San Onofre State Beach

Designed by
Veronica Head
Share this itinerary
Last updated
May 24, 2024

Trip · 3-day camping trip

For · Friends and new campers

Vibe · Relaxing and chill

Reservations · Yes, reserve a site at San Mateo Campground

Drive · 1.5 hours from LA

Ideal dates · July to October

Pets · Welcome at camp and down by trails 1 and 6

San Onofre State Beach (SOSB) is one of the top five most visited state parks in CA and rightly so. It has 5.5 miles of coastline, which makes it a camper's playground and a surfer's dream. Trestles Beach within SOSB is considered the best year-round surf break in America! For campers, there are six numbered trails (1 to 6) that takes you below towering sandstone bluffs down to the rocky beach. Use the restroom before you hike down and settle in for awesome surfer-watching and ocean views.

Official State Park Website

Directions To Campground

Main image credit: California State Parks Foundation

Stuff to know

  • The beaches and trails are rocky so wear closed-toe shoes while hiking at SOSB
  • April to May is wildflower season!
  • Pups are welcome at camp and only on trails 1 and 6
  • If you're only visiting for the day, there's a $15 parking fee
  • Stow away and secure your belongings overnight!

Resources

Check the weather
San Onofre State Beach

Where to camp

San Mateo Campground

Each campsite comes with a:

  • Picnic table
  • Fire ring and grill
  • Space for up to 8 people
  • Three parking spots
  • Trash collection (on site)
  • Restrooms and showers (on site)

San Mateo Campground is a 20-minute walk to the rugged coastline of San Onofre State Beach, but it offers plenty of modern amenities for RV and tent campers alike. The campground has hot, coin-operated showers, restrooms, and RV hookup sites with electricity and water. Some campers suggest bringing ear plugs because you might hear the hum of the highway, but the campground's convenient location to the beach makes it hard to beat.

Check-in: After 2 PM · Check-out: 12 PM

View San Mateo Campground Map

Nightly Rate: $40

San Mateo Campground
No items found.

Itinerary

Day One

San Clemente Pier. Credit: Metrolink

Drive to San Onofre State Beach

  • It’s about a 1.5 hour drive to the campground, be sure you leave early enough to beat weekend traffic
  • Enjoy some brunch on the water at Fisherman’s Restaurant and Bar, they have ample breakfast options and are kid-friendly. Located at 611 Avenida Victoria in San Clemente and open from 8AM to 9PM.
  • Nearest grocery store is Ralph’s at 903 S El Camino Real in San Clemente
  • Last pit stop is Shell at 2400 S El Camino Real in San Clement

Check into the campground and get setup

  • Find your site, get set up, and wander the campsite.

Trek around the San Onofre Canyon

  • This moderate 2.8 mile loop takes you around the canyon with fantastic views of the beach and mountains.
  • Make sure you pack plenty of water (at least 2L per person), snacks, sunscreen, and sun protection for everyone in the group.

Return to camp

  • Spend the rest of the night stargazing and enjoying family time
San Onofre is considered the "Crucible of Modern Surfing" and is home to the most popular surfing beach in the United States, "Surf Beach". "Trestles Beach" is considered the best year-round surf break in the country.

Day Two

San Onofre Beach. Credit: LAList.

Cook up brekkie and get ready for a beach day

  • Make a quick and easy breakfast for the whole family
  • Get ready for a day at the beach, be sure to pack towels, sun shades, sun protection, snacks, and drinks.
  • Pack a lunch too, or eat out.

Head to Trestles Beach for the day

  • You can walk or drive, it’s about a 1.5 trip one way to the beach
  • Once at the beach, set up and enjoy your day
  • Enjoy lunch, the view, and relax.

Optional trek to the Bluffs or Wetlands

  • In the afternoon, feel free to keep relaxing or go explore.
  • The nearby Bluffs Beach trail is an easy 3.3 mile loop that will take you through sand bluffs and along the ocean.
  • Or, you can explore and search for critters in the Trestles Wetlands, nearby the beach

Head back to camp, clean up, and prep dinner

  • Chill and recuperate from the day
  • Enjoy dinner and games at camp
  • Spend the rest of the evening relaxing, and unwinding
San Onofre has a rich history that predates European activity in the area. Eight thousand years ago, the Acjachemen people used the village of Panhe as a sacred ceremonial, cultural, and burial site. Surfers have visited San Onofre since at least the 1940s, and the beach was memorialized in the Beach Boys' 1960s hit song, "Surfin USA".

Day Three

San Onofre State Beach. Credit: California State Parks Foundation.

Prep brekkie and clean up around camp

  • Take down your tent, check for litter and make a quick breakfast

Enjoy a quick lunch in San Clemente before heading home

  • Make a stop at Biggie’s Burgers for a classic low-frills American classics
  • Located at 1017 S El Camino Real in San Clemente
  • Open daily from 11 AM to 10 PM

Head home

San Onofre is one of California's most popular beaches, with nearly 2.5 million visitors annually.
June 1, 2024

Bewilder at LAist Super-Fun Saturday

Make wildflower seed bombs with Bezzi the Yeti at LAist's Super Fun Saturday

Event in 2 days

Bewilder Basecamp: Spooky Wonders

Join Bezzi the Yeti on her first spooky camping adventure!

Shop curated gear

Subheading about gear and affiliate links.

Search icon
Price Range
Reset
Scroll
Price Range
Bezzi's Pick
$399.95

NEMO 4-person Aurora Highrise

This colorful tent has plenty of standing room, is easy to set up, and pack out!

Bezzi's Pick
$249.95

NEMO Stargaze Reclining Camp Chair

Lean back, and we mean all the way back, in this comfy camp chair. You'll never want to sit up.

Bezzi's Pick
$159.95

NEMO Moonlander Camp Table

We can confirm that these camp tables withstand hot bevvies and rock collections.

Woops! We don't have any results. Try resetting the filters and try again.

Meal and snack ideas

Subheading about meals and affiliate links.

Search icon
Dietary Preferences
meal Type
Bezzi's Picks
Reset
Dietary Preferences
Meal Type
Bezzi's Faves
Bezzi's Pick
Breakfast

Food For The Sole Blueberry Banana Crunch

Gluten Free • Vegan

Bezzi's Pick
Breakfast

Packit Gourmet Diner Deluxe Eggs with Sausage

Bezzi's Pick
Dessert

Campfire cinnamon roll ups

Vegetarian

Bezzi's Pick
Snack

Brookside Dark Chocolate Covered Blueberries

Vegetarian

Bezzi's Pick
Snack

Angie's Boom Chicka Pop

Gluten Free · Vegan

Bezzi's Pick
Snack

Santa Cruz Organic Apple Sauce

Gluten Free · Vegan

Bezzi's Pick
Lunch

Summer rolls with almond butter satay

Gluten Free · Vegan

Bezzi's Pick
Dinner

Dan dan noodles

Gluten Free · Vegan

Bezzi's Pick
Lunch

Asian chicken lettuce wraps

Gluten free

Bezzi's Pick
Dinner

Pho ramen

Bezzi's Pick
Dinner

Curry ramen

Bezzi's Pick
Breakfast

Peanut butter cheesecake overnight oats

Vegetarian

Have feedback on this itinerary? Send us an email!
Spread the love
Explore our most popular trips
Explore our most popular trips
Explore our most popular trips
Explore our most popular trips
Self-Guided Trip

Immersing yourself in the idyllic wilderness of Idyllwild at Mount San Jacinto

Enjoy the small town charm and enchanting wilderness in Idyllwild for this beginner camping trip.

Self-Guided Trip

Catching desert sunrises and shooting stars at Joshua Tree National Park

Camp underneath the stars and watch glorious sunrises in Joshua Tree National Park, the second largest national park in California.

Self-Guided Trip

Beachside backpacking and sea lion sightings at Santa Rosa Island

This winter trek on Santa Rosa Island in Channel Islands National Park is a one of a kind itinerary for adventerous backpackers.

Looking for more?

View all itineraries