Cheap Sleeps|San Elijo State Beach Campground.
If Carlsbad State Beach and San Elijo State Beach were sisters, San Elijo would definitely be the social butterfly, party girl, straight C (maybe B’s) sister.
Don’t get me wrong I actually really like this campground, in fact it may be my favorite one in this region. For starters I LOVE the layout. Instead of the one straight, boring road that is the Carlsbad campground, San Elijo winds around a bit giving it more of a real camping feel. You can turn a corner and find an absolutely awesome spot and camp right under a palm tree – like we did last week. That was cool.
The downside to the layout is that you have less privacy but it adds to the sociable feel of the place.
This campground is also great because it not only has a store, surfboard rentals and a surf school, it also has a taco shop! I haven’t tried out the taco’s yet but you can bet I will be soon. It has a cute little picnic area that overlooks the water.
Another perk is that there is a commercial area right across the street. There’s a pizza place, a Subway, numerous coffee shops, a couple bars & restaurants, a 7-11, a surf shop, etc, etc. This is pretty nice if you want to go pick up a snack or simply want to take a stroll to somewhere besides the beach. Carlsbad is surrounded by residential neighborhoods – you can walk around but there isn’t really anywhere to go so it’s nice that in San Elijo you can walk to a bunch of a different areas. One thing to note though is that the commercial area brings in more traffic which makes this campground a bit noisier.
Traveling with your dog? There is a bar right outside the campground called The Office. It doesn’t bear any resemblance to the show but it is 100% dog friendly. You can bring your dog inside and have a couple drinks or watch the game. There are bound to be plenty of other dogs in there and from what I saw everyone got along just fine.
This campground is also situated on a cliff overlooking the ocean and is perfect for swimming, surfing or just walking on the beach.
The major downside to this campground? It’s proximity to the commuter train. The train runs up the coast and runs by both Carlsbad & San Elijo campgrounds however it is loud and clear in San Elijo and I have never even heard the train at the Carlsbad campground. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t annoying. It is most definitely annoying. It goes until about 1am every night and because it passes through a commercial/residential area it announces it’s arrival by sounding off a huge horn as it passes by. The crashing waves help to muffle it a bit, but not much.
This campground also has electricity at some of the sites. It does cost $20/day, which I think is really expensive but if you need electricity it is there. I am thinking of hijacking an unused electric site tomorrow simply to see how long I can work until they tell me to move. Maybe the park guides won’t care – I won’t know until I try it though!
Is this the right campground for you?
This is a great place to camp if you want to hang out, meet people and maybe have a BBQ with your neighbor. People seem to be younger and much more social here. I see small groups always gathering by the taco shop or by the bathrooms. There also seem to be more kids & young families. If you’re looking for a bit more relaxation you will probably want to head to Carlsbad instead. There are families there but mainly I see a lot of retired people just enjoying the view. Carlsbad feels more private and it is definitely a lot quieter.
Know before you go:
If you book online and want a $35 site, try to get a middle site rather than one in the back of the campground. Those sites directly abut a very busy road and the train. Being in the middle will buffer a bit of the sound and give you a more camp like experience.
This campground fills up fast! If you’re going to camp here in the summer make sure to make your reservation 48 hrs in advance. If you drive in, you will most likely not get a site. To read more tips on getting a good site read our other post about saving $$ on your camping site. To read our review of the Carlsbad campground please click here.
$35/ inland site $50/ocean site $20/day for electricity $12/day for an additional car (yes a trailer is a car), showers $1 for 3 minutes
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