New Brighton State Beach is a 93-acre slice of paradise, with a beautiful beach on one side and lush forest on the other. The campgrounds are located on the forested bluff overlooking the beach, providing you with magnificent views of northern Monterey Bay. This state beach lies along the California coast, so the weather is pleasant most of the year. You don't have to worry about cold or snowy winters. The campgrounds also offer potable water, an RV dump station, and several campsites with RV hookups. Located just outside of Santa Cruz, New Brighton State Beach boasts a wide variety of recreation options, including surfing, fishing, picnicking, swimming, hiking, and nature watching.
The park is extremely family-friendly with great spots to view some pretty unique wildlife. History buffs will love soaking up the sun in the same place as the historic Chinese fishing village that once occupied the beach during the 1870s and 1880s. The wreckage of the historic S.S. Palo Alto is located nearby and is sure to be packed with marine life. For all the recreational fishermen out there, fishing is allowed off of the pier, so why not see what you can reel in? Although there is plenty of wildlife and scenery to enjoy, you'll likely see more than a few dogs as well. Dogs are allowed at the park as long as they are on a leash no longer than six feet long. Leave the drones at home, because they aren't allowed. Put a pin in this park for your next RV trip.
New Brighton State Beach is only a 12-minute drive south of Santa Cruz and is easy to find, just off Highway 1. You’re also just 10 miles from Wilder Ranch State Park if you want to stop there on your drive in or out of the park. Natural Bridges State Beach, which is only about eight miles away, is also a great place to see. Being on the west coast shoreline, you should not have any trouble finding the park, but you may have some issues with the curviness of the roads. What makes the coastline so beautiful also makes for a more challenging drive if you have a large RV or are pulling a trailer.
The paved roads around the campgrounds are not difficult to maneuver an RV around as there aren't a whole lot of sharp turns or narrow roads. People also love the fact that the campsites have a paved area to park your RV and are all mostly even, not just a patch of dirt.
There are four parking lots dotted around the park, offering easy access to the beach, Visitor Center, and picnic areas. One of the great things about New Brighton State Beach is you don't necessarily have to bring an extra car if you are camping in your RV.
The New Brighton State Beach Campground is located high above the water on a nearby bluff, with nine premium campsites that have direct views of the beach. In total, there are 111 family campsites, but nine of them are tent-only. Ten of the sites have RV hookups for water and electricity, which includes sites 47-56. The campsites are divided between the northern and southern ends of the park. All of the RV sites can accommodate RVs and trailers up to 36 feet in length, which should be kept in mind when planning your visit. Visitors have raved about the spacious sites and the privacy each site gives you. Although size varies based on what campsite you get, rest assured, you won't be shoulder to shoulder with your camping neighbors.
The RV accessible campsites feature picnic tables, grills, food storage lockers, and nearby water and RV sanitation areas. Pay showers are available. Reservations are available up to seven months in advance. Unlike some other parks that set aside some campsites for local sale only, all of the campsites are available for reservations, so first-come, first-served doesn't apply here. There are also three group sites available in the first loop at the western end of the campground. These are tent-only and can accommodate up to 25 people.
If you are really into biking, or you just want to do some camping outside the RV for a change, check out the bike campsite at New Brighton State Beach. You can find it right between the premium beach sites and the middle loop of RV campsites by sites 91-103. There are five campsites here (B1-B5), and each has a picnic table, barbeque grill, campfire pit, and a large bearproof box to store your food and other scented items.
You will also have access to the shower houses and modern restrooms with running water as well as the potable water faucets. Pets are welcome but must be supervised and properly restrained at all times during your stay. The three-mile beach trail starts right next to the campground so you will have easy access without having to go through other campsites to get to it. Reservations are not needed, but you may want to get there early to get a spot, especially on weekends or holidays.
During the spring and summer months, the Pacific Migrations Visitor Center is open and is the premier place to learn about the area's rich cultural and natural history. While there, you will learn about the natives that once inhabited the area. Visiting the Pacific Migrations Visitor Center and the nearby store is the perfect way to add a little educational value to your RV vacation and provides a fun escape from the sun on the unusually hot days.
The warm Pacific waters of New Brighton Beach provide the perfect setting for everything from swimming to surfing. Many visitors venture out on their boogie boards or surfboards to catch some waves, which are particularly good at this beach. The lighter waves make this a fabulous place for newbies and kids who are just learning the sport, but the surf can get pretty gnarly sometimes. The maximum swell is typically six feet, with the smallest swells generally starting at two feet.
Fishing can be a relaxing solo activity or a bonding experience for you and your kids. The waters are rich with marine life, and popular catches include flounder, mackerel, and halibut. For the ultimate camping experience, you can catch yourself dinner and cook it in the provided fire rings. You don't have to have a license to fish at New Brighton State Beach, but be sure to check out the California Wildlife fishing regulations to ensure you are following all of the fishing rules.
Be sure to pack your swimsuit and beach toys in the RV before heading to the beach because swimming is the number one pastime here, no matter what time of year it is. However, summertime is the prime time for swimming. The beach area is the perfect place for a family picnic or beach games. The list goes on, but one thing that's for sure is that you'll never be bored during your RV road trip to California.
Anywhere nature and good cell phone service meet is prime real estate for geocaching, which is why New Brighton State Beach is such a popular geocaching destination. Geocaching is just as great for families as for couples and soloists, and it is a way to bring treasure hunting into the real world. Some caches lead you to the nearby Seacliff State Beach, where there's even more fun seaside things to do. Geocaching is a great way to get out of the camper and explore the lesser-known areas of the park.
With so many things to do on the beach, many people forget to explore the hiking trails. Don't make the mistake of staying on the beach every time you go, because the hiking trails throw you right in the middle of nature, giving you unparalleled views of the wildlife that inhabits the area. Whatever you do, just make sure you don't litter or take anything from the trails since there's plenty of beachy artifacts to buy in the park store.
During the winter months, thousands of monarch butterflies flock to Southern California for warmth, and many flock specifically to New Brighton Beach. A popular place for the butterflies to hang out is among the eucalyptus and pine trees, where you can see them in clusters. If you are a butterfly lover, it is definitely worth the trip to catch these fantastic creatures in the middle of their great migration. The monarchs are usually visible around mid-October until mid-February.
This beach likes its bike riders. In fact, they even have a bicycle camp just for those who want to camp near the bike trail. But you cannot park the RV there so you may be better off getting one of the other sites. There is a three-mile trail from New Brighton State Beach to Seacliff Beach that is absolutely stunning. While many people just walk, others enjoy biking the trail. Some people use fat bikes, which have wider tires that are not aired up as much so you can get through the sand better. The 0.4-mile Sunset Trail is also an excellent way to get into the woods on your bike and see flora and fauna of the California state beach.