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
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.
9800 Cherry Hill Rd. (College Park, Md)
Rates: $55+ a night
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.
6585 Greenbelt Rd. (Greenbelt, Md)
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!
1600 Mt. Aetna Rd. (Frostburg, Md)
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.
21843 National Pike (Boonsboro, Md)
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.
At Shenandoah National Park
3655 U.S. Highway 211 East (Luray, Va)
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)
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.
Cost: $28/night and up
1400 Lake Fairfax Dr. (Reston, Va)
Do you have a favorite camping ground near D.C.? Tell us about it in the comments below.