There’s no wrong way to camp. Some of us like to bring the comforts of home along for the trip while others enjoy leaving it all behind. There’s still time to load up your backback (or ginormous camper) and head for the hills, so we’ve scouted out cool spots perfect for every kind of camping family. Scroll down to find your camping style.
Sure you enjoy the Great Outdoors. From the front stoop of your souped-up cabin complete with AC and flushing toilets.
Photo: courtesy El Capitan Canyon
El Capitan Canyon – Santa Barbara, Ca
A favorite from our SoCal and LA editors, glamping doesn’t get any more well, glam, than this spot on the California coast. Where else would you be able to order ready-made gourmet meal kits complete with s’mores for roasting? Choose from twenty-six tents, over one-hundred cabins or the recently added Adventure Yurts. Guests can lay back and relax poolside or explore the local surroundings on complimentary beach cruisers, scope out constellations while star-gazing, or enjoy story telling and the Saturday night live music sessions.
Family Travel Tip: Forgot your toothbrush, or perhaps, the gourmet organic dipping sauce? Head straight for Canyon Market, where you’ll find better supplies than you left behind at home—it’s that awesome.
Photo: courtesy Fuller’s Resort and Campground
Fuller’s Resort and Campground – Buchanan, Mi
At just one-and-a-half hours outside of Chicago, this glamping spot is a Red Tricycle fave. Fuller’s Resort allows families to choose their own level of luxe camping comfort—from trailer rentals to the popular log cabin and fully loaded cottages, even the pickiest of campers will be thrilled. Kids will enjoy the candy counter and ice cream that’s offered at the pavilion and parents will love the ample shade and space down at the four-hundred feet of sandy beach.
Family Travel Tip: While there’s a mile-long list of things to do nearby, you don’t have to leave Fuller’s to have fun! Rent a canoe, kayak or water toy to float the spring-fed lake, play volleyball, hit up the playground or go fishing, for a start.
Natural Wonders Nearby
When you camp, you need amazing, go-big-or-go-home kinda scenery.
Photo: loppear via flickr creative commons
Mammoth National Park – Mammoth, Ky
Getting a good look at the world’s longest cave system is on the bucket list, so head for Mammoth National Park and park yourself in one of their three campgrounds. Mammoth Cave campground is ideal for families—it’s near the little-caver friendly frozen Niagara Tour, which, at an easy quarter-mile, even the tiniest walkers can marvel at natural formations Rainbow Dome, Drapery Room and the Frozen Niagara Formation. The campground itself comes with running water, tables, showers and it’s the only one in the park with a camp store.
Family Traveling Tip: Strollers and baby backpack carriers are not allowed in the cave system.
Photo: NPS photo via flickr creative commons
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve – Mosca, Co
Fancy a roll down the tallest dunes in North America? Then you’ll want to set up camp at Great Sand Dunes National Park Preserve in Colorado. Pinyon Flats campgrounds is filled with perks, including shaded camping spots, and it’s located only one mile away from the Visitor Center. After sledding or sand-boarding down the nearly seven-hundred foot dunes, head for Modano Creek, which in normal seasons has plenty of splash-worthy spots for cooling off. If everyone wants to escape the heat, try the Monteville Nature Trail or the Mosca Pass Trail.
Family Travel Tip: Want to get away? The family can hike into Buck Creek, a trail designed for first time backpackers. Look for the trailhead just a half-mile north of Loop 2 in Pinyon Flats.
Taking a two-wheeled expedition is the way to go. You don’t even mind toting the kids along for the ride.
Photo: Madi Carlson via Family Bike Ride
Bainbridge Island – Bainbridge Island, Wa
It’s no surprise Seattle Kidical Mass director Madi Carlson looks forward to her annual family bike-camping trek to Bainbridge Island. A fairly short journey of just over seven miles, riders can hitch a ride on the ferry across the water to Winslow, then set off on their adventure. Head’s up parents! There are a few hills—be prepared to drop a gear or two while pedaling with your littles. Located on and above a sandy stretch of beach, the new and improved Fay Bainbridge Park campground offers thirty spots on a first-come-first serve basis and the hike-in/bike-in spots are budget-friendly at only $7 per person. The stellar views of Mount Rainier (on a clear day!) complete the package.
Family Travel Tip: Every Saturday in August (8:30-9:15pm) features an owl show with facts about local wildlife and a visit with Orion, a great horned owl. For more tips (or to join in on a planned 2015 trip) head over to Madi’s blog Family Bike Ride.
Photo: Todd Fahrner via flickr creative commons
Angel Island – San Francisco, Ca
San Francisco offers several of the best bike-camping trips around and we love the super family-friendly trip to Angel Island. With no more than two-and-a-half miles of paved trails, it makes lugging the supplies (and maybe a kid or two) easier. Take the ferry to Ayala cove and head out. There are eleven sites, all with fantastic views of the Bay Area. Ridge Site Five, located on the southwest side of the island is a favorite, offering light shelter and a partial view of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge. Worried about making new animal friends looking for snacks? Rest assured, your food will remain un-nibbled because each site has a food locker. There’s also a water tap, picnic table, and campfire ring.
Family Travel Tip: If you feel like eating out instead of hauling dinner across the bay, head for Angel Island Cafe, where you’ll find a kid’s menu, hot and cold sandwiches and much more.
Because no vacation is complete without the sand and surf.
photo: Mrs Gemstone via flickr creative commons
Assateague Island National Seashore – Berlin, Md
Open year-round, the camping at Assateague Island is for beach bums of all styles. There’s both drive and walk-in sites as well as backpacking trails for the hardy types. The beaches are easily accessible via the boardwalks through the dunes so families can search for shells, try to catch a glimpse of the wild ponies, go kayaking or birding or both! Thinking about fishing? Anytime is a good time, as surf-fishing is allowed twenty-four hours a day.
Family Travel Tip: Camping is only allowed on the Maryland side of Assateague Island National Seashore and reservations are required through the busy months of Apr. – Oct..
Photo: Clinton Steeds via flickr creative commons
Navarro Beach Campground – Albion, Ca
You want a sandy stretch off the beaten path, and you’ll find it at Navarro Beach Campground, which is part of the Navarro River Redwoods State Park. The campground has ten spots with no running water but is located at the mouth of Navarro river and only a short walk from the beach, where, despite the typical Northern California cold water, parents can find plenty of shallow pools for tiny toes and exploring eyes. Collect shells, driftwood or just take in the breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and the cliffs that dangle nearby.
Family Travel Tip: Forgot to make that reservation? Pack up anyways, Navarro Beach Campground operates on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Mountain and Forest Camping
It’s not camping unless huge trees are involved.
Photo: Doug Kerr via flickr creative commons
Savoy Mountain State Forest – Savoy, Ma
With fifty miles of wooded trails, it’s safe to say you might not be out of the woods until…well, you pack up and leave! There are forty-five camping spots and year-round cabin rentals near South Pond. Pitch your tent and start exploring the park, which boasts a swimming beach, nature center and access to Bog Pond trail, which is perfect for beginning hikers. Busby Trail offers snap-worthy views of Spruce Hill and for remote forest scenery, Tannery Falls is a must. A series of cascades, this easy-to-moderate uphill hike is off the beaten trail but not too hard for kids.
Family Travel Tip: Finding Tannery Falls can be tricky. The gravel road continues for two miles from the campsite and dead ends at the trailhead. If you need more guidance, grab a map from the campground.
Photo: Robbie Shades via flickr creative commons
Bryce Canyon National Park – Utah
Located in a Ponderosa Pines region, if you want trees, you’ve got them at Bryce Canyon National Park. Pick from two spot, North and Sunset campgrounds, both of which are close to the visitors center and the phenomenal (and natural) wonders of the geological formations—called hoodoos. For an easy hike, hit the Mossy Cave Trail. At just over one mile, it ends at a little waterfall and set against the red mountains, it’s quite the scenic route. Southern Utah is also one of the best places to try stargazing, so be sure to sign the kiddos up for any of the numerous programs offered. Head straight for the Visitor’s Center for the latest info.
Family Travel Tip: Want get a meal to go? Order a pre-packaged picnic at Bryce Canyon Lodge and hit the road.
Photo: Enota Mountain Resort via Facebook
Enota Mountain Retreat – Hiawassee, Ga
Nestled in the North Georgia mountains and surrounded by the Chattahoochee National Forest, it doesn’t get more woodsy than Enota. Nature nuts, you’ll love the fact that the entire facility is certified organic. There’s a ten acre working organic farm on-site—complete with chickens, cows and miniature horses. Families can pick and choose between pop-up campsites, RV spaces and cabin lodging. With four waterfalls, five streams, two trout ponds, playground, trampolines, campfires and hayrides, there’s no end to the exploration, phew!
Family Travel Tip: The organic farm offers daily tours, animals feedings and guests are invited to purchase produce at market value.
Your tent comes on four wheels with beds and comfy couches. Yup, it’s your little home away from home.
Photo: courtesy Yosemite Pines RV Park
Yosemite National Park – Yosemite Valley, Ca
You (like most everyone else), have a jaw-dropping shot of Half-Dome at sunrise pinned to your “places I want to go camping” board on Pinterest but tents ain’t your thing. Well, kick back and drive on, because one of the best places to camp and take in nature at its finest is also one of the most trailer-friendly. Even though there are no running water or electric hook-ups for trailers, being close to much of the popular hikes makes it worth the extra effort. With ten RV sites in the park, you could come back year after year and not see it all. If you really want to rough it, the water sources at Tamarack Flats, Yosemite Creek and Tuolumne Meadows are creeks, not taps.
Family Travel Tip: Even though it’s twenty-two miles outside of the park, a popular park for families is Yosemite Pines RV Park, where activities like panning for gold and petting an alpaca win big points with the small set.
Photo: Myrtle Beach Travel Park via Facebook
Myrtle Beach Travel Park Campground – Myrtle Beach, Sc
The ultimate in beach-front camping, Myrtle Beach Travel Park is also one of the best RV spots in the United states. It’s an all-day playground. When the kids get tired of the sand and surf, they may want to hit up the lazy river and kiddie pool, try their hand at freshwater fishing, compete in the family olympic events, play bocce ball or get play games at the arcade. There are wacky themes like “Christmas in July”, dive-in movie nights and even Easter Egg hunts if you happen to find yourself there over the holiday. This park has everything you’d want in a camping vacation, and you can even pitch a tent if you don’t want to park the trailer. Be sure to book it now because there’s a seven-day stay minimum from June – Oct. and spots fill up quickly.
Family Travel Tip: Be sure to try a slice of the pizza at the cafe, or, have it delivered to your camping site!
You love the VIP access boat-in camping gives you and your crew.
Photo: John Menard via flickr creative commons
Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area – Manila, Utah
Positioned between the Utah and Wyoming borders, Flaming Gorge Reservoir is one of those jaw-dropping spots best explored by boat. With at least four boat-in-only spots—Kingfisher Island, Jarvis, Gooseneck and Hideout Canyon—campers can enjoy the seclusion of being in a small group of visitors who boat in their supplies. The ninety-one mile long lake has a range of awesome terrain, from high desert to heavy forest mountains. Known for it’s trophy lake trout, it’ll be a blast watching the kids attempting to snag a fish that could be almost thirty pounds! The Green River feeds into Flaming Gorge and there are plenty of family-friendly rafting trips available.
Family Travel Tip: Even though the boat-in campgrounds are secluded, be ready for lots of water traffic, as there are three marinas around the reservoir.
Where’s your favorite spot to camp with the kids? Share with us on the comments!