Looking for a Great Way to Support Your Camp Pendleton Devil Dog?
Whether your loved ones are deployed or training at Camp Pendleton, send them care packages with Troopster! As a veteran-owned business, Troopster lets friends and family of Marines send personalized care packages online - never deal with the frustrations of the Post Office and military mail again! Check out our great selection of Marine care packages:
- The Few The Proud Pack ($18.99)
- The Grunt Pack ($29.99)
- The Chesty Puller Pack ($64.00)
- Upload Photos ($1.00)
- Add a Personal Note (Free!)
Camp Pendleton and Troopster
So what’s Troopster’s connection with Camp Pendleton? Troopster Chief Outreach Officer, Chipp Naylon, served as a Marine aboard Camp Pendleton, deploying as an infantry officer with 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. With his knowledge of Camp Pendleton and Troopster’s overarching mission of helping military families, we figured we’d pass on some of our base knowledge. Specifically, we hope to educate military families by providing a one-stop shop for everything you need to know about Camp Pendleton.
Share Your Camp Pendleton Experience!
We'd love to hear from you! We know that Marines and families who've spent time at Camp Pendleton all experience the base in different ways, so the more input we get, the better we can help people who are new to the area. If you have some local knowledge about Camp Pendleton, please write us a comment below. We'll take your advice and include it in this post. Thank you!
Camp Pendleton’s History
In 1942, Camp Pendleton began training Marines destined for the island hopping campaigns of World War II’s Pacific Theater. In 1944, the base became a permanent Marine Corps installation. And, in 1946, shortly after the war ended, Camp Pendleton officially became the home of the 1st Marine Division. Since then, the base has become home to I Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF) and various other training units.
An Overview of Camp Pendleton
Camp Pendleton more than earns its unofficial title of the “West Coast’s Premier Expeditionary Training Base.” Located on the southern California coastline between San Diego and Los Angeles, the base includes more than 125,000 acres of terrain, and it has been the largest employer in northern San Diego County for the last 60 years.
Camp Pendleton’s coastal and mountainous terrain support a wide spectrum of military training, from amphibious ship-to-shore maneuvers to artillery and close air support. Bottom line: the base is a an unbelievable resource for maintaining combat readiness across the Marine Corps Operating Forces.
Living on Camp Pendleton
Life is good on Camp Pendleton. Throughout the sprawling base, there are a number of base housing communities, with over 38,000 military family members living there. While there are over a dozen individual developments, base housing for families is divided between two military housing contractors: Lincoln Military Housing and De Luz Family Housing. Both organizations have their pros and cons, so please look at these two options to see what fits your needs!
Living Off Base at Camp Pendleton
At Camp Pendleton, you’re going to be hard pressed to find more beautiful surroundings. As such, living off base can be a great option for you if it makes sense for your family logistically and financially. From a BAH perspective, cost of living is high in southern California, so you can expect a larger BAH than many other bases. However, living off base also means dealing with southern California traffic. With that said, here’s some info about living outside Camp Pendleton.
Off-base Living: North of Camp Pendleton
The first town north of Camp Pendleton, and a perfect spot for quiet beach living, is San Clemente. If you’re going to be stationed anywhere towards the north part of Camp Pendleton (San Mateo, Horno, or School of Infantry - West), San Clemente’s perfect. As you drive up Highway 5, the town only has a few exits, and you’d blow by it if you didn’t know it was there. However, this anonymity makes San Clemente a great place to live. In addition to only being 5 to 15 minutes from the Cristianitos Gate in the far north end of Camp Pendleton, San Clemente’s quaint feel makes it awesome for both families with small kids and single junior officers and SNCOs looking to avoid the far busier south side of base.
San Clemente Pier
Off-base Living: South of Camp Pendleton
If you’re working on mainside Camp Pendleton, Del Mar, or any of the areas on the south side of base, living south of the base may make more sense for you. The first town south of Camp Pendleton is Oceanside, a busy base town with a great stretch of coastline. If you’re looking for less of a “Marine feel,” head a bit further south along the coast to Carlsbad Village. This cool town has a ton to offer to both single Marines and young families - plenty of restaurants and beachfront walking distance from housing.
Off-base Living: Inland from Camp Pendleton
If you’re looking for some more reasonable rents in nice communities, heading inland may be the option for you. Fallbrook, immediately east of Camp Pendleton, and Temecula, just to the northeast, both have some great options for high-quality family living. As you move further away from the ocean, rents typically get less, but you also get more square footage for your money. So, for families with young kids who want quieter off-base living with some more space, looking around these communities would be a good start.
Old Town Temecula
Shopping on Camp Pendleton
Over the past decade, Camp Pendleton has done a phenomenal job with its Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS) developments. From the brand new (and huge!) Exchange to the awesome beach villas to rent down in Del Mar, Camp Pendleton has everything you need. While we could spend pages writing about all the base resources, looking at this MCCS map gives you a better overview of Camp Pendleton than we can provide. Enjoy!
Great Day Trips from Camp Pendleton
Southern California is an absolute outdoor playground. Here are just a few of the outstanding options for things to do with a free afternoon away from Camp Pendleton.
A Day at the Beach
- Check out world-class surfers while enjoying a day in the sun, all without even needing to leave Camp Pendleton! San Onofre Beach, located on the north end of Camp Pendleton, is a global surfing destination with shared public access. Take the kids, a cooler of snacks and colds drinks, and enjoy a day at the beach!
A Hike in the Mountains
- Drive north of Camp Pendleton to Ortega Highway (Route 74) and you’ll find yourself in pristine (and preserved!) southern California wilderness in less than an hour! If you’re looking for great, secluded hiking through the hills outside of base, you won’t find a better option closer. Whether you want to go “off-trail” for some rugged hiking or follow marked paths, there are plenty of options. Just bring water - it gets hot and dry fast!
A Day at the Zoo
- If you have little ones, a day at the San Diego Zoo is an awesome way to spend some time. It’s an incredible place, and you can be there between one to two hours from leaving Camp Pendleton (depending on southern California traffic).
Looking for a Way to Support Deployed Marines?
Whether you’re an old Camp Pendleton Marine yourself, or you just want to support some deployed Devil Dogs, Troopster’s 501(c)(3) charitable partner, Troopster Donation Corp, is a great option! Unfortunately, not all deployed troops have loved ones at home to send them care packages, so our charity pairs generous Americans with deployed service members who request free care packages on deployment. Thanks in advance for the support!