Camping at El Capitan State Beach

The kids, husband and I had an amazing weekend camping in Santa Barbara. We were lucky enough to get a group site at El Capitan State Beach, which had a view of the ocean and enough room for 7 families.

It wasn’t easy to arrange. The friend who organized it made the reservation 6 months ago to the day and the trip was almost canceled because of rain. But there was no rain and the weather couldn’t have been better.

El Capitan is 17 miles west of Santa Barbara in a beautiful location. It’s a short walk to the beach and it’s surrounded by hiking and bike trails. We had enough room so the tents were close, but not too close to each other. Near the picnic tables was the perfect tree for the kids in our group, not too dangerous, but they could still fall and injure themselves. They are 2 to 6 years old and spent most of their time in the tree.

It was too cold to swim in the water, but the rocky beach was fun for climbing and collecting shells and rocks.

The beach, the walks and campfire were really fun, but the food was fantastic. The first night one family made fajitas marinated in gluten-free beer and bbq sauce. The second night we had lamb kabobs that had been marinated for 3 days in a sweet mint sauce. We had salad with fresh avocado and tomato, cheese and crackers with quince and carmelized nuts. Several types of interesting wine. Amazing.

The nights were a little cold, but the campfire and smores warmed everyone up. The nice people at Backyard Safari gave me a lantern at the LA Blogger’s Brunch last week and it was the perfect nightlight in the tent for my boys.

On Saturday, the weather was clear and warm. We took the kids to the beach, had a fabulous lunch and then went on a long walk. After a lot of resting/snacking, two of us decided to fight our instincts to drink beer and eat more cheese and we went on a run. Actually, it was more like a shuffle. (Just FYI: Don’t go running after you’ve had a beer and cheese and crackers. Uggh). We went jogging across the road to see what life was like at the private campground, El Capitan Canyon.

The family and I had been there before, on our first camping trip with kids. It was really “Glamping” (glamour camping) because there’s no camping involved. We stayed in a cabin with a bed, refrigerator, and a spa tub. You could cook outside and sit by the campfire as if you were camping and then go inside and crawl into a warm bed. The grounds have a pool, a store with chocolate and wine, restaurant, and lots of activities for the family. It was quite nice.

I was definitely thinking about that spa tub that afternoon when I was showering in the campground’s showers (which were nice for camping, but no hot jets). But I’d pick our tent camping any day. Good friends, good food, (no computer!) and kids having a blast. It was a great time.