Any Legal, or Tolerated, Beach Camping in San Diego County?

I’m planning a pretty quick, one week trip to San Diego with my girlfriend (who has never seen the ocean). I’d love to spend a night or two on the beach, tucked away in a tent. Does anyone know where this may be possible? I’ve found plenty of info about RV camping, but not a single mention of over-night stays in a tent. I know from past experience that this tends to be pretty dependent on the opinions of the local rangers and other law enforcement in the area, and really don’t wanna pick a nice spot only to be woken up at four in the morning and forced to move.

Also, if anyone has any ideas for nice things to do in San Diego, suggestions would be greatly appreciated. We’re already getting a day-pass for the zoo.

Thanks to any Cali dopers that can help!

I live in San Diego and know a little something about this. Check for availability on the dates you want. Both locations I am aware of are in the North County area of San Diego. If you want to be close to civilization (i.e. near food, restaurants, etc.), then you want to go to South Carlsbad State Beach. The downside is the good chance of noisy assholes that will be camped next to you. If you want something away from civilization, go to San Onofre State Beach a bit further north. The likelihood of assholes is lower, but you are close to the freeway so you will hear some highway noise, and you will be camping within sight of a nuclear power plant, which some people find unappealing. I believe both are about $35/night for a campground and allow tent camping. You will DEFINITELY want to reserve a spot in advance if you are coming during the summer. I can virtually guarantee you will be screwed if you just show up. Obviously if you can camp on weekdays, you will have greater success then trying to get a weekend spot.

As far as activities, I believe some of the Balboa Park museums are free on Tuesdays (though you may have to be a resident) and since you’ll already be at the zoo next door, you might want to check that out.

Oh, and as far as ‘tolerated’ camping on the beach, you are basically talking about camping with the homeless in Ocean Beach in the southern San Diego, which I don’t recommend, unless you plan on starting a heroin/meth habit. You might also have some luck at the rest stop on the 5 South Freeway between Oceanside and San Onofre, but I have no idea. Personally, I’d recommend getting a dirt cheap motel or hostel stay anywhere along the coast and just spending the day at the beach if money is tight for you.