Joshua tree national park

Trip Planning

Winter Weekend Getaways in Southern California

Southern California is the perfect destination for RVers looking to catch some sun this winter. With lots of outdoor activities and beautiful weather year-round, this area is a can't-miss. Jeff Crider shares where to go, what to see, and where to stay.

The good news for RVers in Southern California is that no matter where you are, there are opportunities for just about any kind of outdoor recreational activity within a two or three-hour drive.

There are also campgrounds and RV parks that can be used as base camps to enjoy these activities, making for a perfect mid-week or weekend getaway from just about any location in San Diego, Orange, Los Angeles, or Riverside counties.

Below are examples of great places for hiking, biking, kayaking, horseback riding, hot air ballooning, and wine tasting, with listings of nearby campgrounds that can be used as base camps for these activities.


Palm Springs Indian Canyons and Tahquitz Canyon in Palm Springs: The Indian Canyons and Tahquitz Canyon are on Agua Caliente Indian Reservation land at the base of the San Jacinto Mountains. Both parks have trails that lead through beautiful rocky canyons and arroyos that make for perfect day hikes. Tahquitz Canyon also has a 60-foot spring-fed waterfall.

Nearby campgrounds include:

Emerald Desert RV Resort in Palm Desert

Palm Springs RV Resort in Palm Desert

Palm Springs / Joshua Tree KOA in Desert Hot Springs

Mission Trails Regional Park: This scenic park in the foothills east of San Diego has 8,000 acres of both natural and developed recreational acres with 65 miles of hiking trails. Rangers also lead guided nature walks to see majestic coast live oaks and rare Engelmann oaks, through coastal sage scrub, chaparral, and riparian woodland habitats and to see archeological sites, such as the site where the Kumeyaay Indians used grinding rocks for food preparation.

Nearby campgrounds include:

Kumeyaay Lake Campground

Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve in Santee

Torrey Pines State Reserve: This beautiful 1,750-acre coastal state park in San Diego County offers a variety of strenuous and family friendly hiking trails through oak and evergreen chaparral-covered hills that are also home to Torrey Pines, the nation’s rarest pine tree, which is similar in appearance to the Monterey Pines found on the Monterey Peninsula and the Central California coast. Trails lead to cliffs near the beach.

Nearby campgrounds include:

Mission Bay RV Resort in San Diego. Guests at this park are also welcome to participate in campground activities at neighboring Campland on the Bay and to rent watercraft equipment there.

Campland on the Bay in in San Diego. The campground offers a variety of watercraft rentals, including kayaks, pontoon boats, stand up paddle boards, wave runners and ski boats.

Joshua Tree National Park: This park is famous for its namesake Joshua trees and unique rock formations, which make Joshua Tree a favorite destination for travelers from across the U.S. and around the world.

Nearby campgrounds include:

TwentyNine Palms RV Resort & Cottages in Twentynine Palms. This park complements its RV sites and rental accommodations with a swimming pool and spa, clubhouse, and fitness center.

Palm Springs / Joshua Tree KOA in Desert Hot Springs


Canyon RV Park in Anaheim: This beautiful 63-acre campground is filled with shady pines and sycamores and is located next to the Santa Ana River and the Santa Ana River Trail, a popular bike trail that runs from the Orange County/Riverside County line through Anaheim and down to Huntington Beach.

Dockweiler Beach RV Park in El Segundo: This beachfront RV park is one of only a handful of campgrounds in Southern California that is right next to the beach. It’s also next to a paved beach bike path that runs southward to Manhattan, Hermosa, and Redondo Beach and northward to Marina del Rey, Venice, and Santa Monica.

Temecula / Vail Lake KOA: Located just east of the Temecula wine country near Vail Lake, this scenic campground provides convenient access to the Vailocity Bike Park, a premier bike park 25-miles of world-class trails, obstacles, flow track, and races for Mountain Biking, Gravel Biking, and BMX. Students, recreational riders, and racers at Vailocity enjoy the conveniences of maintained restrooms, a café for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and a bar serving post-ride pints and cocktails and live music. New trails are built using the Greer-method, ensuring serious bike enthusiasts have racing class rides, whether cross-country, enduro, endurance, downhill, or gravel. 


Channel Islands National Park:The Channel Islands are located off the coast of Oxnard and Santa Barbara. Several outfitters, including Island Packers and the Santa Barbara Adventure Company offer guided ocean kayaking trips to explore the coastline and grottos of Santa Cruz Island and other locations in the islands, which creates opportunities for exciting day trips for adults or families with adolescent or teenage children.

Nearby campgrounds include:

Evergreen RV Park in Oxnard: This gated park is close to Channel Islands Harbor where kayakers catch the boat for Santa Cruz Island and other points of interest in Channel Islands National Park.

Ventura Ranch KOA
 in Santa Paula: In addition to RV sites and park model RV rentals, this campground features a large swimming pool, a ropes course, zip lines and a meditation-inducing labyrinth.

Kayaking in La Jolla Cove in San Diego County: HBK Adventure Tours and San Diego Bike and Kayak Tours offer guided kayaking tours to
explore the grottos near La Jolla Cove, just north of San Diego.

Nearby campgrounds include:

Campland on the Bay in San Diego. The campground offers a variety of watercraft rentals, including kayaks, pontoon boats, stand up paddle boards, wave runners, and ski boats.

Mission Bay RV Resort in San Diego. Guests at this park are also welcome to participate in campground activities at neighboring Campland on the Bay and to rent watercraft equipment there.

Kayaking at Lake Hemet near Mountain Center: The campground at Lake Hemet has both RV and tent sites as well as a marina with watercraft rentals, including kayaks.

Horseback Riding:

Pacific Dunes Ranch RV Resort in Oceano, near Pismo Beach: This RV resort is next to a stable that offers guided horseback rides on the beach and through the Oceano sand dunes. 

Rancho Oso RV and Camping Resort, between Santa Barbara and Solvang: This park offers guided horseback rides on scenic trails in the Santa Ynez Mountains.

Hot Air Ballooning:

TripAdvisor highlights several companies that offer hot air balloon rides over the Temecula wine country in the rolling hills of southwest Riverside County. 

Nearby campgrounds include:

Pechanga Casino RV Park in Temecula

Temecula / Vail Lake KOA located just east of the Temecula wine country near Vail Lake

Fantasy Balloon Flights offers balloon rides over the eastern Coachella Valley during the winter months.

Nearby campgrounds include:

Coachella Lakes RV Resort in Coachella. This is a brand-new RV resort that opens February 1.

Emerald Desert RV Resort in Palm Desert

Shadow Hills RV Resort in Indio

Wine Tasting:

There are three primary areas for wine tasting in Southern California, with wineries in Temecula and the Santa Ynez Valley near Solvang being the closest to the Los Angeles area. The Paso Robles area is further north but still accessible with a four-hour drive from the Los Angeles area: Wine tasting opportunities in Temecula wine country.

Nearby campgrounds include:

Pechanga Casino RV Park

Temecula / Vail Lake KOA

Wine tasting opportunities in the Santa Ynez Valley:

Nearby campgrounds include:

Flying Flags RV Resort
 in Buellton. This resort features RV sites and rental accommodations, including furnished glamping tents, park models and shiny Airstream trailers. Each vintage RV has fully restored interiors and shaded outdoor seating areas with high end barbecues, sinks and granite countertops.

Wine tasting opportunities in the Paso Robles wine country:

Nearby campgrounds include:  

Sun Outdoors Paso Robles. Amenities at this resort include two swimming pools and two Jacuzzis, but multiple off-leash dog runs, walking trails, a wellness center, and a wine bar and bistro that features stone fired gourmet pizza.

Sun Outdoors Central Coast Wine Country. Amenities at this park include a swimming pool, hot tub, and fitness center.

Jeff Crider


Jeff Crider, President and CEO of Crider Public Relations, has been involved in covering the campground industry for over 25 years. Jeff has worked as a freelance writer for publications such as RV Business, Motor Home Magazine, Trailer Life, Highways and other Affinity Group Inc. publications since 1995. He has also successfully pitched many of the nation's top tier media outlets, including CNN, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The Financial Times, Reuters, The Associated Press and National Public Radio. In addition to writing, Jeff is also a talented photographer and humanitarian.