After our fun-filled month in San Diego, we headed next towards LA. We have some good friends that live in Manhattan Beach, so we stayed at the Dockweiler State Beach which was close by. This campground has a lot of things going for it. It’s got full hook-ups, it’s right on the beach, and you can access the beach path which takes you right into Manhattan Beach in one direction, or Playa Del Rey in the other.
But it also has a few negatives – the sites are really, really tight, and it’s directly under the flight path from LAX so it’s pretty noisy. And unfortunately for us, we were there over Easter weekend, and the campground was filled with large families who hung out in the campground all weekend. The sites are so tight that when we tried to walk the dogs, we were actually walking right through these large family gatherings.
While we were staying at Dockweiler, our good friends Joe and Kait (We’re the Russos) were staying nearby as they were awaiting delivery of their new Hymer Camper Van. Since we were so close, we planned a night to meet them in Venice Beach.
I had never been to Venice Beach before, and wow – it’s a crazy place. The people watching was amazing – I didn’t get pictures of half of the stuff we saw because there was just so much to see I forgot to take pictures!
It’s a really vibrant area with lots of cool murals everywhere.
The other area of Venice that we explored was the canals. I really didn’t even know this area existed, which in hindsight I guess I should have…after all it is called Venice. This area was vibrant and beautiful in its own right, but very different from the boardwalk. We loved strolling along the canals and admiring all the colorful homes.
From LA we headed north towards Santa Barbara and a reservation at Carpenteria State Beach. There are some full hook-up sites there, but those sites are really small and packed in tightly.
We opted for a dry camping site and were glad we did – much more room to spread out.
The town of Carpenteria is adorable, and we could walk or ride our bikes right into town from the campground. That is always a huge plus for us, so we really enjoyed our stay here.
We spent one afternoon exploring Santa Barbara, and just like in San Diego, I couldn’t stop admiring all the beautiful flora.
When we drove to Carpenteria from LA, we drove right past Ventura and the Rincon Parkway camping area, which we had heard a lot about from friends. At first we weren’t planning to stay here, but on the day we left Carpenteria we made a last-minute decision to try to get a spot. There are 127 sites at Rincon, and they’re all first-come-first-served. We arrived on a Thursday and there were only a handful of sites available, but we were able to snag one pretty easily. And I think you can see why we decided to go!
I really can’t believe we almost skipped staying here – it was an amazing stop. It was so awesome to just step right outside our door and see the ocean, enjoy the beautiful sunsets, and hear the waves crashing all night long.
Rincon has a 5-day limit during the time of year we were there, so after 5 days we had to leave. But our next destination had some great views too! We went to the Port San Luis Harbor in Avila Beach. Sites here are all also first-come-first-served, and the majority of them are right on the water, but also right on a busy road. We opted for the overflow area which is up on a hill and much quieter. Most sites are dry camping, but there are a handful of full hook-up sites available also.
The harbor has a pier you can walk or drive on, and there are a couple of restaurants located at the end. We loved eating our meals there sitting outside on the deck looking at all the boats and marine life.
The town of Avila Beach is really cute with lots of shops and restaurants, and we spent some time there enjoying the beach, some more outdoor meals, and taking the dogs for walks. Shorty always loves to soak up all the attention he gets!
Next we headed to Paso Robles, which is an area known for wine, and we stayed at the Wine Country RV Resort. Our site backed up to the vineyard at EOS Winery.
We spent a few days at that park, and then moved over to a Harvest Host winery – Stacked Stone Cellars. Their property is beautiful and we had a lovely place to park our RV under a beautiful tree.
We had a great time talking to the owners, and the wine was seriously good. They also had several farm animals on their property, including an unbelievably large male boar and three female boars. And the females had just had babies! I could not get enough of these little babies, even though they were incredibly loud and stinky. They also had a really sweet horse that would whinny and beg for attention every time we walked by him.
We visited so many wineries during our stay in Paso Robles I can hardly remember them all, but among our favorites were Sculpterra, Eberle, and Calcerous, all of which not only had declicious wine but also beautiful settings.
We decided to head next to Pinnacles National Park. On our way out of town, we took the RV to a self-service RV wash we saw a few days prior, and our very dirty RV got a nice long bath.
As we usually do when we stay in national parks, we opted to stay in the campground inside the park. It’s first-come-first-served, dry camping only, but the sites are somewhat close together. The campground used to be privately owned/managed, so it wasn’t as spacious as most national park campgrounds tend to be.
The next day Deas and I did the Condor Gulch trail. Pinnacles is known for having a lot of condors, but we didn’t see any on the hike.
That night when we got back to the campground, we were sitting outside at our campsite and I noticed a bunch of vultures flying in the air. However there was one vulture that I thought looked a little different, so I got out our binoculars, and much to my delight, it was a condor. I don’t have a zoom lens for my big camera, so there was no way I could get a good picture of him, but it was a real thrill to see him flying around.
The weather at Pinnacles was a little hotter than had been predicted, so we decided to move on after just two nights. We had an upcoming reservation at Yosemite, so we headed to Merced which was on the way. We stayed at another Harvest Host called Vista Ranch and Cellars. I’m starting to feel like a broken record when I talk about Harvest Hosts stays, but once again, it was lovely and the owners were super nice! They were having some live music while we were there and we enjoyed sipping on their wine and sitting outside listening to the music.
We had one more might before our reservation in Yosemite, and friends Chris and Rachel of It’s a Wanderful RV Life were staying nearby at The Lakes RV & Golf Resort in Chowchilla, so we decided to move over there for a night to see them. This is a really nice RV park – we don’t golf, but if you do and you’re in the area, I highly recommend it. The sites are pretty typical of most private RV parks being somewhat close together, but there were grassy areas in between and a really beautiful pool and clubhouse. We were assigned a spot right next door to Chris and Rachel and had a great time and lots of laughs with them.
Next stop: Yosemite!
One thought on “California – LA to Merced”
You certainly cannot beat the views from a couple of those campsite!