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7 close to home RV getaways around Santa Cruz

Couple enjoying their romantic summer vacation with camper.
(valentinrussanov/Getty Images)

Summer has arrived, your boss has approved your time off, and your DIY camper project is (mostly) done. The only thing dampening your excitement is the price of gas. No one wants to go broke just for some rest and relaxation.

That’s why Bay Federal Credit Union, a not-for-profit cooperative with the mission of making a difference in the financial lives of its members and the community, put together this list of RV outings close to Santa Cruz.

1. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

Campground in the redwoods of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
(Brad Lane)

As you drive along one of the most majestic portions of Highway 1, you may find yourself de-stressing even before your out-of-office notification has gone into effect. Throw in a river babbling outside your camper, and you may never want to leave. Visitors to this park regularly enjoy the scenic coastline, numerous hiking trails, the Big Sur Lodge, and Esalen Hot Springs. One word of caution—keep an eye out for poison oak.

Length limits apply.

Hookups: None. Dump station with potable water is available.

Dogs: Allowed on leash, but not on all trails.

Book it: Reservations can be made at

Distance from the clock tower: 72.9 miles.

2. Seacliff State Beach

Soak in the sun’s rays and fall asleep to the sound of waves breaking against the shore at one of the most highly coveted RV campsites in the state. Enjoy a stroll along the paved walking path, sunsets beyond the iconic Cement Ship, and proximity to a variety of restaurants. Depending on the time of year, you can even catch a local show: whales frequently feed in the area.

Cement ship at sunset

While most people have to set an alarm to book their stay as soon as spots open up, there are often one- or two-night stays available on less in-demand days—perfect for a mini-staycation.
Length limits apply to some sites.

Dogs: Dogs are allowed on leash.

Hookups: 26 full, 37 none.

Book it: Reservations can be made at

Distance from the clock tower: 7.9 miles.

3. Pinnacles Campground

Pinnacles National Park is renowned for its otherworldly rock formations. During your stay, you can explore underground caves, go rock climbing, and learn about how the geologic natural wonder was formed millions of years ago. Be prepared to fully disconnect (your cell phone won’t work out here), and treat yourself to a dip in the pool after your daytime excursions. Many people also enjoy bird-watching as they hike among the chaparral.

Dogs: Allowed on leash, but not on trails.

Hookups: Electricity only. Dump station available.

Book it: Reservations can be made at

Distance from the clock tower: 73 miles.

4. Costanoa KOA

The Costanoa KOA campground is part of an eco-adventure resort that’s not far from the Pigeon Point Lighthouse. In addition to an ocean view, you’ll find an array of resort programming, including yoga, crafts, concerts, and guided walks. You can also schedule a trip to the Spa at Costanoa after a long day hiking or mountain biking to treat yourself to a massage and a dry sauna.

Costanoa campsite
(Dave Corby)

The Premier Delux RV Sites offer cable and a fire pit. Sites are pull-up or pull-through.

Dogs: Allowed as long as they meet Costanoa’s breed restrictions.

Hookups: Full.

Book it: Reservations can be made through the Santa Cruz North/Costanoa KOA website.

Distance from the clock tower: 25.3 miles.

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>> Don’t have an RV of your own but are dreaming of getting on your way to adventure? Bay Federal offers competitive local financing on RVs, vans, motorcycles, and other vehicles to get you on the open road. <<

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5. Mercy Hot Springs

Mercy Hot Spring
(Mercy Hot Spring)

Chances are you’ve never heard of Firebaugh, California. And that means no one will be able to track you down as you engage in some serious You Time at Mercy Hot Springs. This remote glamping resort offers yoga classes and massage. Reservations include day-use access to the thermal baths and heated pool. Visitors can enjoy star-gazing, hiking, bird-watching, disc golf, mountain biking, and more.

Sites are pull-through and back-in. Rates are per person, not per site.

Dogs: Pets are not allowed.

Hookups: Full with electricity limitations.

Book it: Reservations can be made on the Mercy Hot Springs website.

Distance from the clock tower: 88.7 miles.

6. New Brighton State Beach

Nestled between Capitola and Aptos, this state beach has less pedestrian traffic than Seacliff while still offering beach access. None of the 11 RV hook-up sites will disappoint. If you want an amazing ocean view from atop the bluff—and, really, who doesn’t?—make sure to book one of the premium RV campsites.
Dogs: Allowed on leash.

Hookups: Electricity only. Water and sanitation stations available for a small fee.

Book it: Reservations can be made at

Distance from the clock tower: 6.7 miles.

7. Santa Cruz Harbor RV Park

santa cruz harbor rv parking

You can’t stay any closer to home than this—unless, of course, you park in your neighbor’s driveway. So if you prefer to spend your time lounging on the beach instead of stuck in traffic, head down to the harbor. The park is adjacent to Arana Gulch open space, so you never know when you’ll see a sea lion, a pelican, or a falcon. All within a mile walk, you’ll find easy access to the beach, Frederick Street Park, and local eateries.

Dogs: Allowed on leash.

Hookups: Full.

Book it: Call 831-212-4261 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Distance from the clock tower: 2.4 miles.

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    Bay Federal offers competitive local financing on RVs, vans, motorcycles, and other vehicles to get you on the open road.

Bay Federal Credit Union was started when local school teachers pooled their money together to start a credit union. That investment has grown through an amazing journey of involvement (evolution) into the area’s largest locally-owned financial institution, with over $1.6 billion in assets.

Bay Federal provides full service financial products and solutions to Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Benito counties. Whether a community member is looking to buy a home, purchase a car, save some money, or access the latest in banking technology, our local and friendly employees are here to help.