Destination: Lake Nacimiento
When you say “lake destination” a lot of people in Northern California automatically think of Lake Tahoe. And true, there are a lot of great campgrounds at Lake Tahoe to take your rented Airstream (we featured some here and one here). But if you’re heading south towards Paso Robles or to the beaches near Santa Barbara, then you can still enjoy a bit of lake time at Lake Nacimiento. Though Lake Nacimiento isn’t large, the resort located there has all the fixings needed for a fun summer lake experience!
This 18-mile long lake is located in about two hours south of San Jose. This campground is also the site of the music/spiritual festival Lightning in a Bottle, and we have had a client rent an Airstream to dry camp there for that festival. But we ended up visiting it during the off-season so we had the lake and campsite to ourselves, which was such a pleasure!
Getting to Lake Nacimiento
This lake is about a 2.5-hour drive south from our Airstream garage in San Jose, and thus is doable in one day. It’s a straight shot on Hwy 101.
Glamping at Lake Nacimiento Campground
The campground here is quite large with several different campsites. Oak Knoll is the only campground with full hook-ups and requires reservations. It’s located near the entrance of the campground and higher up on the mountain (not lakeside). We chose to go further down towards the lake, and camped at Pine Knoll (which had no hook-ups). Since we were the only ones at the park (we went mid-week), we were able to choose a site that was just steps away from the lake edge. We especially loved this lakeside campground for all the wildlife, and we saw plenty of deer and birds around our campsite.
There is a general store on-site in case you need to purchase any last-minute items. And starting summer 2018, they are re-opening the Dragon Lake Grill, the only restaurant located within the resort.
What To Do There
Since we went on a cold late autumn day we weren’t able to enjoy the number one attraction of this lake: water sports! They have boats and water sport equipment for rental so you can enjoy such things as kayaking, waterskiing, flyboard, wakeboarding, wake surfing, paddle boarding, tubing, and jet skiing. If fishing is more your thing, then you’re in luck! Lake Nacimiento has a large variety of fish and plenty of fishing opportunities for the experienced fisherman. Even newbies can enjoy themselves with a purchase of a fishing permit and supplies at the resort’s general store. And if you’re the only one in the family not a lake-lover, there are still a multitude of hiking trails and even a 5k dog path.
Even if you’re not an outdoorsy person, this campsite is great because you also have the option of visiting several Central Coast wineries in the area. The famous Justin Vineyard and Winery is located 20 minutes away. Their grounds are gorgeous and they also have a restaurant serving delicious meals paired with their wines. Kiamie Wine Cellars and several small wineries are also located nearby. If you’re looking to grab a quick and easy meal near the campground then we highly recommend Naga café (it’s located right outside the campground).
Where to go next
This is a great first stop on your trip south. If you’re looking for some beach destinations, we recommend Rincon Parkway Campground, Morro Bay, or Jalama Beach. If you want to visit some of California’s National Parks then Pinnacles is located 1.5 hours away and Sequoia National Park is 3 hours away. Or you could head back up north and visit the Santa Cruz/Monterey KOA or Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort, both 2 hours north of Lake Nacimiento.