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Camp Pendleton California: In-Depth Welcome Center (2020 Edition)
Welcome to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton – the West Coast’s premier Fleet Marine Force Training Base! Moving is never easy, but when you are PCSing to an area known for its sunny weather, near the ocean, and with plenty to do, no matter your interests? It doesn’t seem so bad at all.
Camp Pendleton spans more than 125,000 acres, making it the Marine Corps’ largest West Coast training facility. The base supports nearly 70,000 active and reserve Marine, Army, and Navy units, as well as some national, state, and local agencies. So it’s no surprise that Camp Pendleton is one of the Department of Defense’s busiest installations.
The base is home to the I Marine Expeditionary Force, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Logistics Group and numerous tenant units, including Marine Corps Installations-West, Wounded Warrior Battalion-West, Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, Marine Aircraft Group 39, Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity, Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego’s Weapons & Field Training Battalion, Marine Corps and Army Reserve Forces, and a Naval Hospital.
Camp Pendleton’s mix of coastal and mountainous terrain is ideal for a variety of military training exercises. That same terrain makes the surrounding area perfect for hiking, birding, and surfing. It’s no wonder that people are clamoring to be stationed there.
Continue reading for our in-depth guide on Camp Pendleton to help aid you in your transition to your new base home.
1. Where Is Camp Pendleton?
2. Google Map View
3. Getting There – Directions to the Base
4. Where Should I Live Near Camp Pendleton?
5. What Schools are Near Camp Pendleton?
6. Camp Pendleton Weather
7. Things to Do in Camp Pendleton
8. Moving Tips
9. Check-in Procedures For Incoming Personnel
10. Camp Pendleton Gate Hours and Info
Where Is Camp Pendleton?
Camp Pendleton Visitor Center
Oceanside, CA 92058
Phone: 1 (760) 763-8435
Camp Pendleton is situated right along the Pacific Ocean in Southern California. The installation is roughly 40 miles north of downtown San Diego, in San Diego County’s North County, and 82 miles south of Los Angeles. Camp Pendleton has been the largest employer in North County for the last 60-plus years.
Camp Pendleton Area Map
Camp Pendleton Directions
If it’s your first time on base, or you don’t yet have a valid military ID or tags for your car, you may have to stop at the Visitor Center to check in before you’re allowed in the base. Click here to learn more about where to go.
Driving Directions to Camp Pendleton
From San Diego (south of Camp Pendleton):
- Take Interstate 5 North toward Los Angeles.
- Once you reach Oceanside, take the Camp Pendleton exit (Exit 54B), which will lead you right to the main gate.
From Los Angeles or Orange County (north of Camp Pendleton):
- Take Interstate 5 South toward San Diego.
- Once you reach Oceanside, take the Oceanside Harbor Drive exit (Exit54C) and make a left to reach the main gate.
Public Transit Near Camp Pendleton
Oceanside and North County have a fairly extensive public transit system, with buses, commuter and hybrid rails, paratransit, and flex, on-demand services. At present, there is limited bus service and no train service on the base but the North County Transit Department is looking into expanding in the near future. Driving is the best way to get on base currently.
Amtrak Station Near Camp Pendleton
The nearest Amtrak stop is in Oceanside, CA. The transit center in Oceanside connects travelers to the commuter and hybrid rails, making it easy to travel east to Vista, San Marcos and Escondido, and south to Carlsbad, Encinitas, and downtown San Diego.
Flights to Camp Pendleton, CA
There are a number of small and regional airports near Camp Pendleton, but the nearest major hub is the San Diego International Airport in San Diego, California. It’s about an hour drive from the San Diego airport to Camp Pendleton, depending on the time of day. The Los Angeles International Airport is just under 100 miles from the base. It takes about two hours to drive from the airport to Camp Pendleton, and the time of day or day of the week plays a huge factor in how much traffic there is on the route.
San Diego International Airport
The United Service Organization (USO) is in Terminal 2 of the airport and is open 0600 to 2400, 365 days a year. The facility offers active-duty members, their family members, and retirees referrals for shuttle service to Camp Pendleton, directions to base, and hospitality services. For more information, call 1 (619) 296-3192.
Los Angeles International Airport
The USO is across from terminals 1 and 2 at Bob Hope Hollywood USO at LAX, 203 World Way, Suite 200, Los Angeles, CA 90045. For more information, call 1 (310) 645-3716.
Cities Close to Camp Pendleton, CA
While more than 38,000 military family members call base housing their home, a large portion choose to live in nearby communities. The neighboring cities of Carlsbad, Escondido, Fallbrook, Oceanside, San Clemente, San Marcos, and Vista provide employment, housing, and services for Camp Pendleton’s military families.
Where Should I Live Near Camp Pendleton?
Camp Pendleton Housing on Base
Families stationed at Camp Pendleton have two options when it comes to base housing – Lincoln Military Housing and De Luz Family Housing. Lincoln Military Housing comprises 20 communities and over 6,000 houses. De Luz, managed by Hunt Military Communities, is made up of three communities and over 710 new construction or renovated single-family homes.
Best Places to Live Near Camp Pendleton
The coastal city of Carlsbad has so much to offer its population of roughly 118,000: surfing and sunbathing on seven miles of coastline, a 50-acre flower field, nine breweries, outlet shopping, golf, tons of restaurants and the LEGOLAND California Resort, just to name a few. The cost of living in this city is relatively high compared to the rest of the nation, but with so much to do and a 10-minute commute to the base, many military families choose to live here.
Escondido is a big city (population of over 150,000) with a small-town feel. The historic downtown area regularly hosts street fairs, the annual tamale festival, farmer’s markets, and weekly car shows. The area is known for the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens, and the California Center for the Arts. The 20-30 minute commute to Camp Pendleton’s main gate isn’t so bad when the cost to live in the “hidden” city of Escondido is significantly lower than in the nearby coastal cities.
Fallbrook, the Avocado Capital of the World, is a small but affordable community of around 30,000. The town is on the east side of Camp Pendleton, tucked out of the way about 5 miles from a major highway. Access to the base is found via Ammunition Road and takes about 16 minutes. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy Live Oak Park, with 27 acres of ancient oak tree forests; Los Jilgueros Preserve, a 46-acre preserve full of ponds and wetlands; and Santa Margarita River Preserve, with 221 acres of land for visitors to explore via trails on foot or horseback.
Closest to Camp Pendleton is the city of Oceanside, with a population of about 176,000. The coastal city is situated on 3 miles of sandy beaches, blessed with nearly perfect year-round weather. Multiple major highways, public transportation – both buses and commuter trains, Amtrak and Greyhound bus lines all serve the area. People flock to Oceanside to fish off the Oceanside Pier, relax on the beaches, and shop and eat in Oceanside’s Harbor Village. Other attractions include the Buena Vista Lagoon, Audubon Nature Center, Oceanside Museum of Art, and the California Surf Museum.
San Clemente, CA
San Clemente is the southernmost city in Orange County and the only city in the county closer to San Diego than Los Angeles. It’s a top-notch surfing destination, with all things surfing-related found in the city, from magazines about the sport to surfboard makers. Land lovers enjoy hiking the Cristianitos Regional Trail, Forster Ranch Ridgeline Trail, and Rancho San Clemente Trail, which offer a variety of terrain as well as scenic views. The city is directly north of Camp Pendleton, a little over 20 miles away.
San Marcos, CA
San Marcos is situated between Vista and Escondido. The area has grown steadily in the past 10 years with many master-planned communities being built, such as the sought-after San Elijo Hills. There is much to do here, from parks, trails, and golf to shopping, community theater, and mead tasting. The city of 97,000 also boasts a major university, California State University San Marcos, and Old California Restaurant Row.
Vista’s weather benefits from its proximity to Oceanside; the city experiences cool ocean breezes in the summer but escapes the coastal fog. It’s a booming place that has grown from 19,000 residents back in 1963 to its current population of nearly 102,000 residents. Vista has golf courses, the Wave Waterpark, the Moonlight Amphitheatre, and the AVO Playhouse, as well as annual events like Winterfest, the Vista Viking Festival, and the Strawberry Festival. Housing is fairly affordable and not hard to come by here.
Hot Tip: Look for Camp Pendleton homes and apartments for rent or sale, and find BAH, PCS, TLA & ETS military housing information at AHRN.com.
Best Camp Pendleton Schools
Living in a densely populated area like San Diego County, and being stationed at Camp Pendleton, means you have plenty of education options for your children, from elementary, intermediate, and high schools to public and private schools in the surrounding area. Not to mention preschools and daycare facilities for the younger kids.
Whether you decide to enroll your kids in one of the schools in the Camp Pendleton area or one of the other schools nearby, rest assured that they’ll have access to the finest education possible and the on-base school liaison officer will help make the transition easier.
Find more local school information at The Best Camp Pendleton Schools: Daycare – High School (2020 Edition).
Camp Pendleton Weather
It’s (almost) always sunny in San Diego County so there isn’t much difference between the seasons. However, some months are known for sunnier, hotter days and others are known for a bit of rain.
The wettest season in San Diego County is spring with about half of all rainfall coming in these months, most of it falling in April. Although the average rainfall in the area is still well below the national average as Camp Pendleton is one of the driest places in the state.
It can get really hot in the summer, with highs in the 90s and up to 100 when you go further inland away from the ocean. The hottest and driest month of summer is July. Tourism is usually at an all-time high during the summer months and beaches are crowded.
The highs can range from moderately cool (in the 60s) to fairly high (in the 80s) during the fall months. Rain is occasional during this season, with roughly three rainy days a month. September is the hottest month and tourism is low at this time so it’s a great time to enjoy outdoor activities.
As you would expect, the lowest temperatures of the year are during the winter months. Lows are found just above freezing levels and the highs are usually in the 60s. February is the wettest month of the year. Luckily for everyone stationed at Camp Pendleton, it never snows in this part of Southern California.
To find out more in-depth information on the weather in the area, visit Camp Pendleton Weather: What To Expect When Moving Here.
Things to Do Near Camp Pendleton, CA
A true Southern California town, there is so much to do in O’side, as the locals affectionately call it. The area is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream with everything from fishing, swimming, and surfing in the ocean to biking, hiking, golfing, and sightseeing. If being active isn’t your thing, there are great restaurants and the craft beer, cocktail, and coffee scenes are huge in San Diego. Not to mention the recreation and entertainment options available on base thanks to MCCS Camp Pendleton.
Check-in Procedures For Incoming Personnel
All Marines checking into Marine Corps Base, I Marine Expeditionary Force, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Logistics Group, Marine Corps Air Station, Marine Aircraft Group 39 or Weapons, and Field Training Battalion need to report to the Installation Personnel Administration Center Inbound Center.
The IPAC Inbound Center is open from 0730 to 1630. Monday through Friday. If you are arriving after hours, including weekends and holidays, check in with the duty located on the first deck of Building 13107
IPAC Inbound Center
Address: Building 13107 (directly across from the 13 Area Mess Hall)
Phone: 1 (760) 725-3730 or after hours at 1 (760) 725-6271
Camp Pendleton Visitor Center
The Camp Pendleton Visitor Center is in Building 20255T, adjacent to the Main Gate. The Visitor Center processes visitors who have been pre-sponsored by base personnel. Those who haven’t been pre-sponsored should expect lengthy delays or should arrange to have their sponsor meet them at the gate. The center is open from 0730 to 1530 Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and 0745 to 1530 Wednesday. If you have any specific questions about visiting, you can reach the center at 1 (760) 763-8435.
Camp Pendleton Gate Hours
The Camp Pendleton Main Gate, on Vandegrift Boulevard, is open 24/7. Hours for the other base entrances are as follows:
- San Luis Rey – 24/7
- Del Mar – 0600 to 2000
- Las Pulgas – CLOSED
- San Onofre – 24/7
- Cristianitos – 0500 to 2400
Hotels Near Camp Pendleton
There are plenty of hotels near Camp Pendleton to fit your budget, whether money is tight or you’re looking to splurge on a beachside resort.
909 N. Coast Highway
Oceanside, CA 92054
Phone: 1 (760) 721-1543
333 N. Myers St.
Oceanside, CA 92054
Phone: 1 (800) 989-1491
888 N. Coast Highway
Oceanside, CA 92054
Phone: 1 (760) 722-8880
3501 Seagate Way
Oceanside, CA 92056
Phone: 1 (760) 966-1000
121 S. Pacific St.
Oceanside, CA 92054
Phone: 1 (877) 351-3854
110 N. Myers St.
Oceanside, CA 92054
Phone: 1 (760) 722-1003
Hot Tip: Download MyBaseGuide’s Camp Pendleton Military Relocation Guide for information about hotels near Camp Pendleton.
Moving might not be easy but there’s so much to like about being stationed at Camp Pendleton we know you’ll be happy once you’re here. It’s a world-class installation with access to unique training facilities. And the abundance of sunny days and access to beaches and the great outdoors makes it the ideal place to be. Whether you’re here on your own, with your family, or just here for a short time for training, you’re bound to find something to do that interests you.
The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.