10 Best Places for Camping with Kids in Northern California

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California has some of the most diverse natural sites in the entire country, making it full of great places to camp with kids. We have to separate Northern California from the rest because it has some stunningly beautiful places that must be seen (and really, California is just HUGE, so we had to split it up). A single article can’t come close to giving you all of the best places to camp with kids in Northern California, but this is a good start. 

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How do you choose a good family campsite in California?

A good family campsite is just like a good family home. It’s in a spot that you love, it has everything that you love around it, and it fits you all comfortably. Choosing the perfect family campsite in Northern California can feel a bit like searching for a needle in a haystack, but trust me when I say it’s absolutely WORTH IT!

Best Locations For Camping With Kids in Northern California

boys camping canva

When you’re choosing a campground, find one that’s got good activities for kids to do nearby.  We like to be close to the water (but not right on the beach with really young kids), so the kids can swim and paddle around.  Finding a family friendly campground in Northern California that has good rocks to climb on, gives kids another fun campground activity as well.  

We also love choosing a campsite that’s a bit off the main traffic pattern so that the kids have more room to run and play.  In a big campground, we always look for sites on the outskirts, or corners for more privacy and space.  

Also keep in mind that access to town also means access to a lot more activities. That can be a huge plus for some families. 

Most campsites that you’ll find in Northern California are designed for car camping, meaning you drive your car directly to the campsite.  You can also find campsites that you need to hike or bike into, however, the logistics of that are a bit more complicated with kids.

Best Campground Amenities In Northern California

Not all places to camp with kids are created equal, and you’ll see a wide range of campground amenities.  Some will just have a central water spigot and pit toilets, while others will have everything from pools and miniature golf to cable TV hookups!

If you want a hot shower at the end of the day, you may need to filter through the campsites with a closer eye. There are a lot of campsites that have flushing toilets, but it definitely isn’t true for all of them. If you’re cruising in an RV, you’ll want the proper hookups and dumpsites. We linked to each campgrounds website so you can learn all of the detailed amenities that each provides.

Private vs Public Campgrounds In Northern California

There’s a time to go shopping in a Wal-Mart, and a time to go to a local Ma and Pop shop. Public sites are like Wal-Mart. They’re there to make everyone happy for a cheaper price. It makes camping affordable, but you lose out on a lot of amenities. 

Private sites are more specialized. They have tons of activities but they’ll also cost you a bit more to stay at. If you’re looking for full hook-ups, you’re more likely to find those at family-friendly RV parks and resorts.  

Do I Need Reservations to Camp In California?

Reservation systems are important in this day and age. Everyone wants to get out and camp with family in Northern California. Who can blame them – It’s the perfect place for it! 

Guarantee your spot by making a reservation ahead of time. You can usually make these up to 6 or even 9 months in advance. 

The 10 Best Places to Camp with Kids in Northern California

Camping At McArthur-Burney Falls

Closest City: Four Corners
Reservations: Reservations required
Best time of year to go: Year-round

burney falls california camping

Five miles of shoreline aren’t the highlight of this memorial state park, but it is up there. The 129-foot Burney Falls is the real show-off of the park’s family. This is what makes this one of the best places to camp with kids in Northern California. It will blow their minds. There’s tons of history to be taught and natural sciences to learn from the spring-fed waterfalls and trail system. Stay in your RV or your tent, it’s all up to you. The fishing here at this kid-friendly campground is also incredible, so make sure to bring your rod and fishing license!  This is one of the best places to camp in Northern California with kids, so plan on reserving your site in advance, since the campground is often fully booked.

Redwoods State Park Family Campgrounds

Closest City: Redwoods
Reservations: Established Campgrounds: Reservations recommended Backcountry sites: Permit required
Best time of year to go: Year-round

redwoods camping

There are four different campgrounds and seven different backcountry sites that you can choose from when camping with kids at Redwoods State Park. This is a great setup to try backcountry camping with your kids for the first time. You can have a basecamp to try out the trails and then get a permit for a future day. Take some time to slow down and look up at the amazing Redwoods all around you – this is a great California campground for camping with kids.

Sonoma Coast State Park Camping

Closest City: Santa Rosa
Reservations: Reservations Required
Best time of year to go: Year-round

Natural arches and secluded coves are popular along the rugged coastline of Sonoma Coast State Park. You have a couple of different family-friendly campgrounds in Sonoma Coast California to choose from when staying here, but no matter what, your kids have easy access to the water. This is a fantastic year-round site, but the summer days can end with you relaxing in the water. The park spans 17 miles of the coast, which gives your family plenty of space to spread out and enjoy the time on your family camping trip. 

Camping at Lake Siskiyou

Closest City: Pioneer
Reservations: Reservations Recommended
Best time of year to go: Year-round

Warm waters and a long shoreline make camping at Lake Siskiyou with kids one of the best spots to bring your family to enjoy some time in the water. Mount Shasta is easily accessed from your family campsite here and makes for the best mini-adventure with the family. You can fish and boat on this beautiful lake during the day and go back to your RV or cabin rental at night.  This is one of the best lakes for camping with kids in Northern California.

Point Reyes National Seashore Camp Sites for Families

Closest City: Point Reyes
Reservations: Reservations Required
Best time of year to go: Year-round

point reyes camping

Point Reyes National Seashore is a great place to get a different kind of adventure. There are several different campgrounds inland as well as on the coast that you can choose to stay at when camping with kids at this California State Park. When you aren’t sleeping peacefully after the long hike or bike in, you can continue to explore the area by kayak or stay on dry land and bike around. While this area was drastically affected by the fires, it will soon come back with green new-growth that will give you a new kind of beauty to appreciate. 

Whiskeytown Lake

Closest City: Whiskeytown
Reservations: Reservations Required for some sites
Best time of year to go: Year-round

Idaho camping with kids

While the name may not be the most age-appropriate choice for this recreation area, everything else about it is perfect for your kids. There are a great number of creeks to fish in, the lake is there to swim and boat and the campsites are plentiful. If you want to “rough it” in a tent, there are plenty of sites for that, but also sites available for your RV. One of the best parts of this area is the shade that it has for when Northern California temperatures hit triple digits in the summer. 

Castle Crags State Park

Closest City: Castella
Reservations: Reservation Recommended
Best time of year to go: Year-round

These rocks are a huge attraction in Northern California, making this a great spot for family camping trips. The Castle Crags have inspired many myths and legends that add to the experience of bringing your children there with you. They can camp underneath them and live the legends during the day. There’s a huge variety of family friendly campsites at this Northern California State Park, that give you easy access to all of the rock formations and trails that wind around their base. This park hosts part of the PCT, which is a cool adventure for your kids to get a taste of on their camping trip. 

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Closest City: Mineral
Reservations: Reservations recommended
Best time of year to go: Year-round

lassen volcanic park camping

This lesser-known national park has an immense range of activities to do and areas to explore with your kids. They can trek alongside volcanoes and steaming fumaroles, swim in the alpine lakes, or frolic through wild meadows filled with flowers. There are numerous kid friendly campsites to choose from depending on if you want to hike into the backcountry or stay cozy in your RV by a lake. This park has it all for you. 

Hat Creek

Closest City: Old Station
Reservations: First come, first served
Best time of year to go: April-October

Hat Creek is home to some of the best trout fishing you can find today in Northern California. If your kids enjoy any style of fishing then this is the site to hit up. They aren’t very fancy campsites, but they are focused on being well-maintained and in a prime position for adventure during your family camping trip. This is only a mile from Subway Cave and has direct access to beautiful hiking trails. There is an RV resort just down the road if your family would prefer that. 

Shasta Lake

Closest City: Redding
Reservations: Reservations Required
Best time of year to go: Year-round

From cabin rentals to primitive tent camping with kids, you can find it near Shasta Lake. This popular California lake has loads of different family friendly campgrounds around it and some sit right on the shoreline. If you want to find horseback riding, you can. If you want to go fishing, you can. Climbing? Yep. Boating and swimming? Of course. There’s everything here. Your family will find activities to last weeks in a single area surrounded by gorgeous forests and bodies of water. It’s one of the best all around places to camp with kids in Northern California. 

These 10 best places to camp with kids in Northern California all offer the perfect mix of nature and great activities nearby.  All of them are in stunning locations that will make your family camping trip to California even more memorable.  If you’ve stayed at any of these kid friendly Northern California campgrounds, please comment below and share more about your experience there! 

About Jessica Averett

Hi, I’m Jessica, a mom of 5 kids and married to my favorite adventure partner. I love to bike, ski, camp and hike. We've visited over 40 countries with our kids, but are equally happy on the road as we are exploring our home state of Utah.

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