We're hesitant to give this secret up, but Jalama is the number one spot in all of Cali, when it comes to camping. Think beachside (contained) bonfires at least 10 miles off any main road, and no cell reception (hallelujah!) for at least 15 minutes from your tent. Located near Vandenberg Air Force Base, all of the in-the-know surfers hit the shore when there's swell, and the beautiful kites from those kind of wave-riders make for picturesque playtime in the sand. Plus, the site boasts coin-fed showers, and a general store with Top Chef-style chili. You have to get your ressies on-site, so we recommend you get there at the crack of dawn to snag prime real estate.
Jalama Beach County Park, 9999 Jalama Road (near Jalama Road), Santa Barbara; 805-736-3504.
Beachcomb, swim, surf, fish, and hike at this just-off-PCH paradise. There's tide pools galore and crazy-cool caves, all shaded by beautiful Sycamores. LCSP is about 45 minutes from L.A.'s center, so you can pitch a tent on a Friday, even after a long week's worth of work.
Leo Carrillo State Park, 35000 West Pacific Coast Highway (at Mulholland Highway), Malibu; 805-488-1827.
Photo: Via SantaBarbara.com