Sand Camp

Forgo coastal resorts for a night outdoors at one of these beach campgrounds.

Getaway // Johnie Gall // 06/30/14
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Photo by Meg Haywood Sullivan

Summer is prime time to venture into the great outdoors and set up camp, but finding a beach that allows you to pitch a tent can be harder than you’d think. With 12,000 miles of coastline, the US offers plenty of options for waking up to the sunrise—if you just know where to look. This isn’t a list only for the coasts, either: Michigan, Alaska and Texas are laden with sandy spots perfect for snoozing under open sky. So break out the Coleman stove, grab some marshmallows and point your ride in the direction of these waterfront campgrounds.

It doesn’t get more “California” than a jaunt to Big Sur topped off with a night of camping on a bluff 100 feet above the ocean. Think tent-front views of the rocky beach, bathing in the Pacific Ocean and, if you’re lucky, a whale sighting from Sand Dollar Beach. Take a hike into Los Padres National Forest (the trailhead starts right outside the camp- ground), and later head into town for a frothy craft beer and board game at Big Sur Taphouse.
Tent sites $25/night;

The foggy coast of Oregon feels like the setting for a pirate flick, and Sunset Bay State Park perfectly encapsulates this. A network of hiking trails takes you from the campground through the forest and out to the craggy shoreline. Book one of more than 65 tent sites or eight yurts, all of which are located within walking distance of flushing toilets and hot showers. Explore the nearby tide pools before trying your hand at crabbing and clamming in the village of Charleston, just a five-minute drive away.
Tent sites $15–$19/night, yurts $36–$40/night;

Check out the five other beach camping spots featured in our May/June 2014 issue! Pick up a copy from stands now or download on your iPad, Kindle Fire, NOOK Tablet or Android device.

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Originally published in May/June 2014

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