Summer, winter or fall, any time is a great time to go camping in LA. Few things are more satisfying then escaping the city for some time in nature. If you’ve got more tentative campers, or simply lack the camping experience to be comfortable with a trip far away from home, you may want to check out a spot in Angelenos’ backyard—Malibu Creek State Park. Make camping in Los Angeles a family adventure. As it is the closest campground to downtown L.A., it’s definitely not completely silent or remote (you’ll hear motorcycles on Mulholland Drive), but enough of each that you can get a taste of camping without a long road trip.
Go: The valley can get chilly at night, so it’s best done with little ones during warmer months.
Approximate travel time: 25 miles northwest of Los Angeles, the park can be reached from most parts of LA in under an hour.
What to do: Pick a campsite and hit the trails! The gated fire road past the day use area and before the campground marked will lead you to the visitor center, and beyond that, the site where M*A*S*H was filmed. It’s a flat trail perfect for biking, or do-able with a trail stroller. However, if you want to venture off the trail, or take another route back, you’ll need to cross the creek. There are stepping stones and logs, but it’s probably not the sort of thing your tot will want to maneuver with a bike.
You’re guaranteed to get a glimpse of some wildlife, and if you’ve got a fishing license, maybe you or the kids will even catch some out of the creek! Deer are abundant in the park, gorgeous birds flit about, and at night you’ll hear owls hoot, coyotes howl, and tons of frogs ribbiting away down by the creek.
How to dress: In layers: the heat of the day is just a memory when that sun goes down.
Need to know: Fires aren’t permitted during drier months (i.e. most of the year), so try to hit the park during spring. Urban camping means scavenging critters, especially the park’s prolific ground squirrels. Raccoons and coyotes appear as well, so be sure to keep all food in your car overnight.
Bonus: With your paid pass into the park taped to your windshield, you gain admission to any of the state park beaches in the area (normally $10). Point Dume, Zuma, Leo Carillo, take your pick!
Cost: campsites cost $35 per night, the day use fee is $12.