California is all that it's cracked up to be. We have oceans, cliffs, mountain peaks, deserts, sun and sand. When the folks over at Los Angeles magazine came out with this month's '52 Great Weekends' issue, we jumped up and down with glee. Sure, we've presented you with some of California's best designed hotels, but if you're looking to get a little bit closer to the earth, check out the 5 best places to camp in California below:

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  • CENTRAL COAST

    Twenty miles west of Santa Barbara, <strong>Refugio State Beach Campground</strong> puts you right on the shore. Many of the 67 sites -- they're close together, but this is the coast, after all -- are shaded by palm trees, and each has a picnic table and a barbecue pit. Staffers lead kayak outings, there's a paved bike trail, and 12 miles north, Gaviota Peak is a challenging hike. Shower and flushable toilets are available. <em>Reservations required April through November: (800) 444-7275 or <a href="http://www.parks.ca.gov/" target="_hplink">parks.ca.gov</a></em>

  • JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK

    Leave Joshua Tree's larger, more cramped campgrounds to the rock climbers who clamber here. With 39 sites scattered around towering boulders, <strong>Hidden Vallen Campground</strong> is a removed alternative that's perfect for rock scrambling. Each site is outfittted with a picnic table and a fire grate (bring your own wood). There are toilets but no showers or running water. <em>Peak season is October through May; first come, first served; <a href="http://www.nps.gov/index.htm" target="_hplink">nps.gov</a></em>

  • LOS PADRES NATIONAL FOREST

    The vistas of the Big Sur shore are mesmerizing. Occupying a bluff in Los Padres National Forest, the 33 sites (each with picnic table and fire ring) at <strong>Kirk Creek Campground</strong> sit 100 feet above the sea. Surf-and-turf hikes, mountain biking, horseback rideing, fishing (licenses required)--you've got plenty to keep you busy when you're not taking pictures. Toilets and sinks are scattered throughout the grounds. <em>Reservations recommended; (877) 444-6777 or <a href="http://www.recreation.gov/" target="_hplink">recreation.gov</a></em>

  • RED ROCK CANYON

    Here at the edge of the Mojave you can hike for miles among eroded buttes that appear to melt as if Antoni Gaudi designed them. Pitch your tent at <strong>Ricardo Campground</strong>: 50 sites with potable water, toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings huddle beside the dramatic White House Cliffs. At night read the firmament using the constellation charts sold at the visitors' center. <em>First come, first served; <a href="http://www.parks.ca.gov/" target="_hplink">parks.ca.gov</a></em> Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/matthigh/" target="_hplink">Flickr</a>

  • SEQUOIA NATIONAL FOREST

    Sleep among giant sequoias at <strong>Atwell Mill Campground</strong>, a secluded 21-site spot (the stumps are remnants of a bygone mill). Each campsite has a picnic table, a fire ring with a grill, and a bear box for food storage (black bears love these parts). It's leisurely along the 1.2-mile leg of Hockett Trail that snakes throuhg incense cedars, pines, firs, and the redwood's giant cousins to a footbridge that crosses the Kaweah River. <em>Open late May through October; first come, first served; <a href="http://www.nps.gov/seki/index.htm" target="_hplink">nps.gov/seki</a></em>