Great Places For Your Family To Go Camping
Camping is one of those activities that often times can seem far more romantic or fun in theory than in reality. Truth is, there’s a lot more to camping then just packing up a few good things and hitting the road. You actually have to plan, not only what you are wearing, though this is very important and is very contingent on the terrain you will be camping in, but also what you are eating, where you are prepping it all with, tenting supplies, fire supply, sleeping supplies – I mean, it’s no wonder frequent campers end up just buying trailers later on.
But, I still like to think of camping as something very special, and very basic that I can do with my boys. I love the opportunity to be disconnected where there’s nothing but nature and the sky. I can do a good three days in the woods before I start feeling like I’ve had enough, but regardless, it always ends up being a good time and something my kids have loved to do.
Here are spots to get you started in camping, not only this summer but also this coming Fall when the weather is often kinder.
Feather Down Farms is an idea created in the UK where working farms would host luxury tents, with simple amenities that would provide the camper and visiting guests the experience of being in such a surrounding. Every farm is different, but in most farms guests can tour the farm, partake in working the farm, or just enjoy nature while completely disconnected from everyday life (i.e. no WiFi or electricity). We enjoy the Stony Creek Farm location in upstate NY. I especially loved their soft beds and running water, the barriers from bugs, and the soft candle light dinners we had there. The kids loved getting up in the morning to collect eggs, and making pizza in the outdoor wood burning brick oven. Visit Feather Down Farm Vacation for more information and reservations.
Fire Island camping is nice because though you are still technically in NY, the travel required to get to the island makes it feel like you’ve ventured somewhere far for an adventure. And the beauty of Fire Island’s beaches is just something worth traveling for. Watch Hill is the most crowded by families and other groups due to its proximity to a lot of amenities, like eateries and showers. However, the campsite is open well into October, and if you go during the week, and not in the middle of the summer, you stand a good chance of having the campsite to yourself (or at least it will feel that way). More aggressive campers would enjoy Otis Pike, literally in the thick of it, so much so that you need a Park Ranger’s permit to camp here, but if you really want to feel like you are “out there” camping and are ready to make that leap this is your spot. Visit Fire Island National Seashore Campgrounds for more information and reservations.
The Delaware Water Gap in Pennsylvania is one of my favorite places for outdoor fun and also hosts a Pocono Mountains KOA Camp, which is the go-to camp ground for families looking to camp “light”. We discovered KOA when camping in Yellowstone Park on a road trip with our kids from NYC to Montana, and we loved it. It can feel a little crowded at times, with all the site literally right next to each other, but it’s a great “starter” camping experience, and one that many families traveling cross country or road tripping for the season like to take advantage of. With tons of amenities, such as laundry, hot breakfasts, and even game rooms, it’s no wonder so many families choose these sites as a rest point when looking to spend some time in the nation’s top national parks. All sites offer easy access to the park’s activities and sights, and can be huge money savers when surrounding hotels are charging a fortune during high peak season. This site also requires that you bring your own gear, so be prepared. Visit Delaware Water Gap/Pocono Mountain KOA for more information and reservations.
Yellowstone Park, which I mention above, is by far one of the most beautiful spots I have camped with my boys. It would require days upon days to see it all. This vast national park offers tons to family lovers every where, from visits to Old Faithful, the Mammoth Hot Springs and various waterfalls to catching glimpses of wildlife such as moose, buffalo and deer – just to name a few. The unforgettable and breathtaking experiences offered in this beautiful park are ones that have made it one of our favorite camping destinations outside of the Northeast. Visit Yellowstone National Park for more information and reservations.
Peninsula State Park in Door County, WI was the location of my very first camping experience with my family, and where I picked up a lot of the tips of what to do and how to prepare. They have several campsites to meet individual campers needs and abilities, offering services to anyone from the backpacking camper to the camper wanting electricity, showers and flushable toilets. My favorite spots are North and South Nicolet Bay, because they are the ones with access to Peninsula’s only swimming sand beach (note: there are no lifeguards there). And if you want access to “civilization”, the town and all the action of Door County is not that far away. Visit Peninsula State Park for more information and reservation.
Things to Know:
Always check the weather and be ready for it. We traveled to Yellowstone in the heat of Summer, without realizing that the temperatures can drop to 30 degrees at night!
Arrive to campsite early for set up. Nothing is worse than trying to set up a tent, especially if you aren’t a pro at it, with flashlights and car headlights.
Follow all and every park rule. So very important. Things like bag your food, or water out your fire pit when done, or avoid certain parks of the lake or forest. The worst that happened to us was a massive raccoon fight outside our tent in the middle of the night because we didn’t clean out and store cooking supplies, but it could’ve been worse.
Sleeping bags are cool, but who are we kidding? We want comfort! Bring a down comforter and pillows, as well as extra blankets to cushion your bed. Shop for your camping products well before season as they tend to go fast and ask the campsites what you need to bring, as they might have items for rent or sale on-sight. Before shopping for the Bentley of tents, make sure you can carry it, set it up, and most importantly, that it fits into your allotted campsite.
Most of all, camping requires bug spray, books, and an ability and willingness to just have fun with the people around you. You get better at it the more you do it, and for the kids, being out there in nature, with you completely disconnected and by their side? No getaway is greater.