Top 5 Family Camping Destinations and Tips Near Sacramento

IMG_3363By Heather Crivellone

Summertime fun always means the “great outdoors” for our family.  Whether it’s hiking, biking or camping, you can always find us making memories out in nature.  Luckily, we live in an area that is surrounded by opportunities to get out and enjoy the outdoors.  Camping is a great family tradition that fits into everyone’s budget and can make memories that will last a lifetime.

Here are a few of our family favorites that are within a couple of hours from Sacramento and some “tips and tools” to help make your camping experience more enjoyable.

Sly Park– 4771 Sly Park Rd, Pollock Pines. Just up Hwy 50, past Apple Hill, is one of our favorite campgrounds.  With beautiful views of Jenkinson Lake, plenty of hiking trails and our kids love to swim and play at the beach – it’s the best way to enjoy nature while being so close to the city (it’s only about a 45 minute drive from Sacramento). Amenities include:  boating, fishing, hiking, general store close by, plenty of picnic tables, vault toilets (unfortunately, it’s not “glamping” and they don’t have flushing toilets but, it is camping after all).

Collins Lake- 7350 Collins Lake Rd, Browns Valley. This resort is a family favorite for many Sacramento residents.  Located in the Gold Country Foothills just over an hour East of Sacramento- this campground offers a wide variety of family activities. Amenities include:  marina and boat rentals, fishing (they are known for their “big bass and trophy trout”, ice cream shop and espresso shop, children’s playground, swimming beach, general store, laundry, showers and flushing toilets.  Yes,ladies. They do have showers and flushing toilets!  This is my kind of camping. The only downside to Collins Lake campground, is that it can be crowded and on holiday weekends, so you should reserve sites way in advance.

Lake Berryessa Hwy 128, Napa Only about an hour drive from Sacramento, Lake Berryessa is our families “go to”. We love the proximity to Sacramento and the lake (when it’s full), is absolutely beautiful and perfect for a day out on the boat. They have several campgrounds around the lake with amenities including:  hiking, children’s playgrounds, boating, fishing, and vault toilets (sorry ladies).

Fallen Leaf Lake– 2165 Fallen Leaf Rd, South Lake Tahoe. This campground is a little bit further from Sacramento, but being “deep in the woods” as my daughter would say, gives you a bit more of the “camping feel”.  They have bear lockers to store your food, and if you are lucky enough to leave your scraps behind, you may just have a visitor in the middle of the night!  The seclusion makes you really enjoy nature rather than just “hopping off the freeway”.

Amenities include:  general store, showers, flushing toilets (Hooray for flushing toilets!), and if you wanting more of a “Glamping” experience- they rent Yurts that have electric heather and lamps, futons and even bunk beds!

Bothe State Park– 3801 St. Helena Hwy, Calistoga Camping in Napa… a wine lovers dream!  Not only do they have regular tent campsites, but they also have Yurts for those of us who would rather not set up a tent and do some “glamping” instead. Amenities include:  showers, flushing toilets, yurts, swimming pool, hiking and biking. The Bale Grist Mill State park is a small hike away and is a very educational and fun experience for the family.

siena paddle

Here are 4 of my favorite camping tips to help make the experience more enjoyable:

  1. Freeze a gallon water jug before you go and then use this block of ice to help keep food cold during your trip.  As it melts, you will have fresh water to drink.
  2.   Pre make and freeze breakfast burritos and/or regular burritos for easy meals.  By freezing them ahead of time, they will stay transport easier and will help to keep other food cold.   Just toss on grill and eat – no need for cleaning dishes or pans!
  3. Tic Tac Containers can be used for holding spices you will need while cooking, without the large bulky containers.
  4. Instant Coffee!  Starbucks VIA’s are always a special treat while camping – no need to wait for the coffee to brew and clean out the coffee grinds, just pour and enjoy!


These are just some suggestions of the many different areas to choose from.  Camping is a great family activity and with some preparation ahead of time, you can enjoy a relaxing weekend away in nature while creating lifelong family memories.


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