Good Sam Park of the Month: Newport Dunes, Newport Beach

Image Caption: Photo Credit: Blue Water/Getty

Nestled in idyllic Newport Beach—a hideaway for Old Hollywood stars of yore—Newport Dunes is your destination for laid-back luxury, complete with views of lush Back Bay. The resort’s 362 RV sites—including many that belly right up to the beach—offer ample resort amenities, including full hookups, free cable, Wi-Fi and picnic tables. RV rentals are available, as are a range of cottages. With the beach at your doorstep, long, relaxing days in the sand abound, capped with a visit to nearby shops and restaurants on the city’s main drag—like favorites The Crab Cooker and Lido Village Books.

RVing Newport Beach

Photo Credit: Newport Dunes

Newport Dunes has the perfect day in mind for every kind of guest. For naturalists, Back Bay is home to 1,000 acres of preserved, pristine wetlands and over 200 endangered species and 35,000 migratory birds. The expansive public beach offers beach cabanas, while the pool complex has four pools for wading, swimming and soaking, along with poolside cabanas for lounging the day away.

If an active day is more your speed, there are miles of hiking and biking trails—like the The Bay Loop Trail, a 10.5-mile loop with front-seat views of Newport Bay and stops to the Back Bay Science Center and the Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center. Bring your boat and launch it from the boat ramp, or rent a kayak, SUP or Duffy boat to explore the bay and harbor. Prefer to venture outNewport Dunes is a stone’s throw from Balboa Island, Crystal Cove State Park, Fashion Island, Lido Marina and Cannery Village.

Rated 9.5/10*/9 by Good Sam, Newport Dunes is open year-round; reservations can be made up to two years in advance.

RVing Newport Beach

Photo Credit: Wildsam

Expand your coastal journey in a red clay tile-clad city that defines Southern California’s sunny charms. And explore further with Wildsam’s Southern California Coast guide.

Scenic Drives of Southern California

Mission San Juan Capistrano to Dana Point

Traverse California history in just a few short miles, from the evocative 1700s mission to the beachy birthplace of Hobie boards and Surfer magazine. Orange County

Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge

An ecology of frontiers, where city, ocean, river and two nations meet, with more than 300 bird species and beach and marsh trails. Imperial Beach

Los Padres National Forest

Sprawling public lands connecting greater Los Angeles to California’s Central Coast. Ventura to Monterey

Pacific Coast Highway Malibu to Oxnard

A dreamy weave of palm-lined highway, public beaches, mountains and canyons. A time-honored California practice: drive the PCH with one eye on the surf, and stop where it looks good. Highway 1

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

As close as metro LA gets to a national park, with 500 miles of trails and lore-laden sites, including eerie brick ruins at Keller House. Backbone Trail threads 67 miles. Los Angeles County

Mulholland Drive

The iconic LA cruise. [Mandatory stop: The Hollywood Bowl.] East to west, the end comes at Leo Carrillo State Beach. Los Angeles County

East Camino Cielo Road

A high-mountain route commands views of Santa Barbara and the Channel Islands, with stops at Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park and the beloved Tunnel Trail. Highway 154

The 59-Mile Scenic Drive

San Diego’s entry in California’s catalog of road-trip hits connects Point Loma Lighthouse, beaches and historic neighborhoods. From Harbor Drive

RVing Newport Beach

Photo Credit: AlbertPego/Getty

Santa Barbara

Breakfast Institutions

Start your day with a breakfast burrito at Lito’s Mexican Restaurant. Lito’s is the real deal: a family-run institution with homemade salsa and a warm, no-frills atmosphere. Vegetarians, try the nopales (cactus) and egg; meat eaters, go for the machaca or chorizo. Don’t forget one of each salsa: red, green, and tomatillo.

History Ramble

Walk beneath the bell towers and arches of Old Mission Santa Barbara, dating to 1786 and often called the “Queen of the Missions.” Or, head to the huge Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, designed with over 1,000 species of entirely indigenous plants, including the distinctive peeling red bark of the manzanita trees and the explosive fuchsia of the beavertail cactus. With enough coffee, you can even hit both spots. (The mission closes at 4 p.m., the gardens at 5.)

Off The Beaten Path

Find your finale by driving north along Highway 154 West to Cold Spring Tavern. It’s only 15 miles from downtown, but it feels a world away. Tucked in a shady canyon, the tavern is virtually unchanged since its time as a stagecoach stop in the 1800s. (And, in fact, it’s only changed ownership twice since then.) Now it’s a favorite of bikers passing through for live music from local bands. On weekends, seek the coveted tri-tip barbecue outside; otherwise, get a bowl of chili (wild game black bean or the house special) and a cold beer from the Log Cabin Bar. Grab a picnic table under the trees, and enjoy the very SoCal scene.

Historic Site

Separated from today’s Santa Barbara by a 20-minute drive through historical Chumash land, Alaxuluxen, or the Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park, offers a glimpse into the Indigenous tribe’s religious connection with the land. Etched from minerals–white from limestone, black from charcoals, red from hematite or red ocher–then bound by water, plant juices, or animal fat, the paint was applied with fingers or animal-hair brushes. The site remains important to Chumash people today. Yet the paintings themselves are eroding, both from wind damage and from decades of carved initials and dates on the outside of the cave.


Samantha Alviani
+ posts

Read This Next

Subscribe to Wildsam Magazine today, Camping World and Good Sam’s magazine of the open road.

Just $19.97 for a year’s subscription.


Read Premium Articles with an subscription.
Starting at $14.97/year

Join Now