Yes, you love your life in the bustling city, but every once in a while you long for a few hours off the grid. Just you and the kids and the calm connection to nature only camping can give. Your life, unplugged. No cell phones. No emails. No 24-hour news cycles. Just a quiet tent or a cozy cabin, where nighttime means a sky full of stars and morning means an easy hike to a nearby waterfall. We’ve put together a list of nearby places to camp where you can trade in those city sounds and stresses for a night or two of cricket songs and crackling camp fires. Most are just a short drive from the city and in some cases, you don’t even have to drive, you can get there by metro!

Photo: Arup Malakar via Flickr

Bull Run Regional Campground
Soak up a little of our area’s civil war historical lore when you set up camp at Bull Run in No Va’s
Centreville area. Besides traditional campgrounds, family’s can reserve ahead to take advantage of
cabins and enjoy trails, a frisbee golf course, and Atlantis Water Park. Check out also the cabins at
Pohick Bay near Lorton, or riverfront cottages at Algonkian Regional Park near Sterling.

Cost: $25+/night
7700 Bull Run Dr. (Centreville, VA)
Online: reserveamerica.com

The Tree House Camp
What a dream come true! Treehouses are the main attraction at Maple Tree Campground in
Rohrersville, Md near Harpers Ferry. Go rustic or deluxe as you enjoy a night’s sleep amongst the leaves
in one of ten treehouse options, or a fun an fanciful family retreat in the Hobbit House built
underground. The campground has outdoor showers with hotwater and indoor bathrooms.

Cost: $43+/night
20716 Townsend Rd. (Rohrersville, MD)
Online: thetreehousecamp.com

Little Bennett Campground
The ultimate in family friendly camping, Little Bennett is less than an hour away from D.C. metro’s
Maryland suburbs and makes for an easy afternoon nature escape should the liquid sunshine make an
appearance and everyone wants to go home. There’s plenty of mild to moderate hiking trails to challenge the
young nature seeker, and great on site activities, including movies at the campground.

Cost: Varies
23705 Frederick Rd. (Clarksburg, MD)
Online: montgomeryparks.org

photo: ex magician via flickr

Cherry Hill Park
You barely have to leave the city to get to this family-fun-filled campground with 350 full hook-up sites, 25 tent sites, 12 premium log cabins and three cottages to choose from. No one will be saying, “mommy, I’m so bored,” because there are two pools, a splash park, minigolf, playgrounds, exercise areas, a café and more.

Cost: $55/night
9800 Cherry Hill Rd. (College Park, Md)
Online: cherryhillpark.com

Greenbelt Park
No car? No problem, you can still go camping. Greenbelt Park lets you get away from it all without ever leaving the Beltway. This 1100-acre park, just 13 miles northeast of the city, has 175 campsites, plus a bathhouse with hot showers, several picnic areas, and nine miles of forested hiking trails. Take the Greenline to Greenbelt and hop on a short 2-mile bus ride.

Cost: $20/night
6585 Greenbelt Rd. (Greenbelt, Md)
Online: nps.gov/gree

Photo: George Wesley & Bonita D via Flickr

Savage River Lodge
If you like sleeping under starlight and moonshine, minus the cramped tent and hard ground, glamping is the way to go. Savage River Lodge features stylish yurts and cabins nestled in 700 acres of woods. Each yurt has a king bed, full bathroom, deck, and gas fireplace. The cabins are beyond luxurious. It’s the perfect place to unplug in comfort and style. You’ll even get robes and house-made hot chocolate. There’s a spacious lodge with a restaurant and bar, a library, comfy reading nooks, and plenty of board games. It’s pet-friendly too!

Cost: $220/night
1600 Mt. Aetna Rd. (Frostburg, Md)
Online: savageriverlodge.com

Greenbrier State Park
If you like the view of mountain peaks in the distance, but the kids want to sink their toes into a sandy beach, you get the best of both worlds when camping at MD’s Greenbrier State Park. Greenbrier features a 42-acre man-made lake and beach where you can swim, canoe, and build sand castles. There are 165 campsites, each equipped with picnic tables, fire ring and parking area. Forty sites have electric hookups. There’s plenty of shared bathhouses with hot showers to go around.

Cost: $25-$34/night
21843 National Pike (Boonsboro, Md)
Online: dnr2.maryland.gov

Photo: Kristian Mollenborg via Flickr

Loft Mountain Campground
No list of camping destinations would be complete without the Shenandoah National Park. Just 70 miles outside of D.C. and a beloved destination for nature lovers far and wide, Shenandoah National Park offers beauty, convenience and just about any camping experience you can wish for. Loft Mountain campground at mile 79.5 is the park’s largest campground and sits atop Big Flat Mountain with incredible views to the east and west, plus two waterfalls and hiking trails that lead into the Big Run Wilderness area nearby. Each campsite comes with a picnic table, fire grate and parking area. There are no water or electric hookups at the campsites, but there are shared utility sinks, water supplies, showers and restrooms.

Cost: $15/night
At Shenandoah National Park
3655 U.S. Highway 211 East (Luray, Va)
Online: nps.gov/shen

Algonkain Regional Park
Who could say no to camping in a cozy cottage on the banks of the Potomac River? Throw in an 18-hole golf course, the Volcano Island Waterpark for the kids, and plenty of hiking trails and you have the recipe of a fun family getaway. Choose from two to five bedroom cottages, all fully furnished with private kitchens, scenic decks and beautiful views of the Potomac River. Some cottages also have hot tubs.

Cost: $175 and up
47001 Fairway Dr. (Sterling, Va)
Online: novaparks.com

Lake Fairfax Park Campground
If your family requires multiple entertainment options with your camping experience, then Lake Fairfax is the place for you. Enjoy the Water Mine Family Swimmin Hole, a Western-themed activity pool, complete with twisting slides and fumes, and a lazy river. There’s an 18-acre lake with paddleboats to rent and plenty of fishing, plus an intricate skate board park. There are 136 camping sites each with a picnic table and fire ring, plus nearby bathhouses with hot showers and flushing toilets.

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Cost: $28/night and up
1400 Lake Fairfax Dr. (Reston, Va)
Online: fairfaxcounty.gov

–Carolyn Ross and Jamy Bond
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