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Urban Camping In Southern California

Urban Camping Header
(credit: Lake Skinner)

Camping is a great way to get in touch with nature and escape the everyday urban elements of traffic, smog, and a hectic everyday life. There is something about popping a tent, or staying in a cabin or RV that draws friends and family closer. But if you'd like to go camping within at least an easy car drive's reach of creature comforts, here's a list weekend getaways for urban dwellers.

rtmc astronomy expo
(credit: RTMC Astronomy Expo)

Big Bear Star Party Memorial Day Weekend

Camp Oakes YMCA
(760) 686-4804
Thursday, May 23 through Monday, May 27

A premier star party is taking place at Camp Oakes on Memorial Day weekend. It is the 45th annual Riverside Telescope Makers Conference (RTMC) Astronomy Expo. Campers will participate in nightly telescope viewing as well as other family activities. There are amenities available at the camp, along with food and equipment vendors. Teachers will be offering astronomy-related talks for beginners and intermediates all day Saturday and Sunday. YMCA Camp Oakes is five miles southeast of Big Bear City on State Route 38 at Lake Williams Road, between mileposts 44 and 45. This location is about 50 miles northeast of Riverside in the San Bernardino Mountains.

Urban Camping 2 Lake Skinner
(credit: Lake Skinner)

Wine and Camping at Lake Skinner

Lake Skinner
37701 Warren Road
Winchester, CA 92596
(951) 926-1541

Lake Skinner Recreation Area is the host for the annual Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival each June. From May 31 to June 2, set up camp at Lake Skinner and enjoy a weekend of concerts and fun with friends while taste testing wines from around Temecula Valley Wine Country. The best part of setting up camp during the festival is you won't need to worry about who is driving and who is drinking. Throughout the summer, Lake Skinner offers many other fun and relaxing events that include outdoor concerts, family movies, and stargazing.

Vail Ranch
(credit: Vail Lake Resort)

Concerts and Camping at Vail Lake Resort

Vail Lake Resort
Vail Oak Road
Aguanga, CA 92536
(951) 303-0173

Vail Ranch is gearing up for a summer of fun outdoors. Starting Memorial Day weekend, urban dwellers can rock the country at this camping retreat. Vail Ranch is throwing down a weekend packed full of music with country band Montgomery Gent. Vail Ranch also offers horseback riding with cowboy-style breakfasts. Campers can cool off in the heat by dipping in one of the three pools or water slides. The camping grounds are located on 11,000 acres of land home to ancient, shady oaks in a natural California chaparral setting. The lake is California's No. 1 Large Mouth Bass Lake. It is the largest private lake in California bordered by a quarter million acres of Cleveland National Forest, Agua Tivia Wilderness.

(credit: Pechanga RV Resort)

Casinos and Camping at Pechanga RV Resort

Pechanga RV Resort
45000 Pechanga Parkway
Temecula, CA 92592
(877) 99-RVFUN (1-877-997-8386)

Urban campers may find this the perfect retreat. Minutes from the picturesque Temecula Wine Country and seconds from exciting casino action, the Pechanga RV Resort offers endless opportunities for excitement, relaxation and fun. The RV Resort has earned several awards and has been honored with the "Top 100 RV Resorts in the United States" by Good Sam Club. This RV resort offers cable, Wi-Fi, swimming pools, a BBQ area and is dog friendly. If you tire from playing horseshoes with your family and friends, cool off inside the Pechanga Casino and enjoy lunch or dinner, or catch a comedy act.

Newport Dunes
(credit: Newport Dunes)

Newport Dunes and Waterfront Resort and Marina

Newport Dunes
1131 Back Bay Drive, Newport Beach, California 92260
(800) 765-7661

Campers who want to stay closer to the beach will love this 110-acre resort in Newport Beach. Located at the entrance to the Back Bay Nature Preserve and the Newport Bay Conservancy, guests will enjoy a mile of beachfront. There is also a water park, swimming and a playground area on the beach for the kids. Campers can rent a sailboat, pedal boat or electric boat. Simply pitch a tent on one of the campsites, and call it night. If you have a boat, launch it from the launch ramp by the Newport Harbor. Tour the Back Bay by kayak or by land in a covered Surrey. The Dunes also offers family entertainment and activities and fine dining at the Back Bay Bistro restaurant.

Michelle Mears-Gerst is a writer in South Orange County who can also be found @Sunnynsocal.

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