7 Best Camping Spots in Monterey, California

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There are few words in the English language that adequately describe the views of California’s rugged coast. If you’re taking a trip along the iconic Pacific Coast Highway, you’ll pass through the beautiful coastal town of Monterey. It’ll be so gorgeous that you’ll have to stop and stay at least one night! So, here are seven Monterey camping spots to call home while you explore this unbelievable California city.

History of Monterey

Before the Spanish arrived in 1602, the Rumsen Ohlone tribe occupied the area that settlers would later call Monterey. Spanish explorer Sebastián Vizcaíno named Monterey Bay after the viceroy, or governor, of New Spain. With the only port infrastructure in the entire state of California, the city grew quickly and dramatically.

Modern-day Monterey is known for the waterfront street of Cannery Row, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and Fisherman’s Wharf. As you wander around these popular areas, you’ll likely get sucked into their historical significance. You may initially only plan to come for a day, but we’re confident you’ll want to extend your stay.

Top Monterey Area Campgrounds and RV Parks

When you decide to extend your stay, we’ve done the work to find a few of the best Monterey camping spots for you!

Marina Dunes RV Park

Address: 3330 Dunes Dr, Marina, CA 93933

Marina Dunes RV Park is an Encore resort in the Thousand Trails network. It’s 15 minutes north of Monterey Bay, but the ocean views make the drive feel incredibly short. You’ll have convenient access for a relaxing morning or evening stroll on the beach, all the while enjoying the sounds of crashing waves from your site. You’re incredibly close to Monterey, Pebble Beach, Big Sur, and Carmel.

This Monterey camping option offers 62 full hook-up sites that can accommodate large and small rigs. You can stay connected as campers report strong cell signals from all major cell phone providers. 

You’ll have access to a fitness center, volleyball, horseshoes, playground, and laundry facilities. Bring your golf clubs because if you’re lucky, you can snag a tee time to test your skills at the historic Pebble Beach Golf Course nearby. When you combine the park and local amenities, it’s easy to see why people flock here to enjoy the California coast.

Santa Cruz / Monterey Bay KOA Holiday

Address: 1186 San Andreas Rd.Watsonville, CA 95076

The Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay KOA location makes a tremendous base camp for your west coast adventures. You won’t regret staying here!

This KOA offers 174 sites that range from full hook-up and pull-through to tent camping spots. With cable TV, WiFi, and excellent cell phone coverage, you can stay as connected or disconnected as you like.

Kids will love visiting the colossal playground, climbing the palm trees, playing basketball, or racking up a high score in the game room. This park has more than just two-legged activities–there’s a K9 park as well. Your furry friends can burn off energy and prepare for a great night’s rest.

When the sun goes down, this park’s attractions are just getting started. You might make some new friends at the outdoor cinema, campfire theatre, or while soaking those tired muscles in the hot tub. This KOA campground offers one of the best all-around camping experiences in the area.

Pro Tip: If you’re looking for even more campgrounds in the Santa Cruz area, you have to check out these astonishing campgrounds!

Moss Landing KOA Express

Address: 7905 Sandholdt Rd. Moss Landing, CA 85039

The Moss Landing KOA Express is on the Old Salinas River. This small town is an ideal location for exploring Monterey, Santa Cruz, and adventuring on Monterey Bay. Campers talk about hearing sea lions and buoy bells due to the proximity to the water.

In terms of amenities for Monterey camping, this KOA Express is pretty bare bones. The sites are close together and share a community fire pit at the back of the campground. They are big rig-friendly and provide 50-amp electrical service. 

You’ll also stay connected with wifi, cable TV, and excellent cell phone coverage. If you’re looking for a no-frills place to park your RV and experience all that the Monterey Bay area offers, this might be just the place.

Monterey Pines RV Campground

Address: Higuera Ln, Monterey, CA 93940

Monterey Pines RV Campground is open year-round and serves military members and their families. Whether you’re currently active duty, retired, or a DOD civilian, it’s a campground worth considering. While you’re not within walking distance from the coast or beach, you’ll camp amongst the serenity of pine trees.

This campground offers 29 full hook-up sites, eight partial hook-up sites, a bathhouse, and access to a coin-operated laundry facility. Military and their families can get a great value while seeing an area where there are few value options.

Please note that is Monterey camping option is exceptionally close to Monterey Regional Airport; like, at the end of the runway. There are currently no red-eye flights there, but private jets come and go as they please.

Pebble beach with waves crashing, this beach is only a short drive when Monterey camping.

Santa Cruz Harbor RV Park

Address: Brommer St. & 7th Avenue, 7th Avenue Brommer St, Santa Cruz, CA 95062

Despite being approximately 45 minutes from Monterey, you can’t ask for a better camping spot. Whether you spend your time at the multiple beaches, restaurants, or the Santa Cruz boardwalk and harbor, you’ll love your stay at Santa Cruz Harbor RV Park.

Don’t expect an average campground feel because this is a small parking lot campground with 10 full hook-up sites. It’s very close to the beach, and each campsite has a great view. 

Vehicles that camp here should be fully self-contained, including gray water, since the campground doesn’t guarantee access to the harbor docks or the restrooms. Don’t think the lack of amenities is any sign of a discounted price–the $50+ price tag is paying for the view and easy access to restaurants and the city of Santa Cruz. 

Carmel by the River RV Park

Address: 27680 Schulte Rd, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923

Carmel by the River RV Park is a short 20-minute drive to Monterey proper and is on the Carmel River. Sites may feel close together, but rows of hedges offer privacy.

This Monterey camping option has 35 full hook-up sites with wifi and cable TV. Enjoy the serenity of the sites while you cook dinner over the barbecue grill at each location. The lounge has air hockey, billiards, and ping pong tables for a little competitive action between you and your fellow campers. 

This pet-friendly resort will be the perfect place for your whole family’s time exploring the Monterey Bay area.

Monterey County Fairgrounds RV Park

Address: 2004 Fairground Road Monterey, CA 93940

When considering your Monterey camping options, this location can’t be beat. When you choose to stay at the Monterey County Fairgrounds RV Park, you’ll only be six minutes from the popular Old Fisherman’s Wharf and 10 minutes from Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. You can’t ask for a better location if you’re looking to explore the area!

However, this fairground RV park is a glorified parking lot with hook-ups. You have easy access to a golf course and the local attractions, and if you enjoy the sounds of aircraft taking off, you’ll love that the local airport is only four minutes away. There’s access to a laundry facility and bathhouse if needed.

There’s No Wrong Choice When it Comes to Monterey Camping

To close, Monterey is an incredible spot to spend a long weekend or more. You’ll have no trouble soaking up the sun and filling your time with all that the city and area have to offer. Now that you’ve picked where you’re staying, it’s time to learn about the 6 Best Things to Do in Monterey.

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