There’s no doubt the family camping trip is a classic staple of summer. This year, instead of the old standby spot, check out one of these lesser-known gems with plenty to offer. We’ve got the overlooked, offbeat and unusual campsites that promise your vacation will be memorable and worth the trip.

Ingalls Homestead (DeSmet, SD)

Get a peek into prairie life of the past with a visit to Ingalls Homestead. Families can attend class in a one-room schoolhouse, drive a pony cart, take a covered wagon ride and help with farm chores. Pitch a tent to take in breathtaking South Dakota sunsets, or rent a covered wagon for the night. Interactive exhibits can spark plenty of meaningful family conversations about how life and culture have changed since the time of Laura’s Little House on the Prairie.



Paradise Shores (Bridgeport, CA)

When you’re looking for a quiet escape, this charming little spot is just the thing. Tucked away against the backdrop of the Sierras, Paradise Shores offers a place to relax and connect with new friends around the communal campfire. Bring your own tent or RV, or rent one of the super comfy trailers, fully decorated and equipped with everything you’ll need for your stay. Just a short drive from Bodie ghost town, hot springs, fishing and tons of hiking, Paradise Shores is the perfect home base for your adventures.


The Treehouse Camp at Maple Tree Campground (Rohrersville, MD)

If your tiny explorer has always dreamed of living in a treehouse, head to The Treehouse Camp at Maple Tree Campground. In addition to tent sites, this Maryland campground rents year-round tree cottages and three-season treehouses on twenty wooded acres. Looking for something a little cozier? The adorable Hobbit House sleeps four and has electricity and a wood stove for heating and cooking.


Beverly Beach State Park (Newport, OR)

Forest and ocean lovers alike will adore this large family campground in Oregon. Nestled in the woods, but just a short walk to the beach, the park is close to fun coastal attractions like the impressive Devil’s Punch Bowl Natural Area, Otter Rock, the Oregon Coast Aquarium and Yaquina Head lighthouse.


Enota Mountain Retreat (Hiawassee, GA)

Waterfalls, miles of hiking trails and an organic farm and garden are some of the highlights of this gorgeous mountain campground in Northern Georgia. Reserve a spot by the creek where kids can splash all day, check out the playground, take a hike or visit and feed the animals on the farm. With its lush setting surrounded by forests, this is one place the whole family can truly unplug and enjoy nature’s magic.


Smokey Hollow Campground (Lodi, WI)

Countless activities for kids and adults make this Wisconsin campground a family favorite. Along with tent and RV sites, you can rent a gazebo, Conestoga wagon, cabin, yurt, trailer or even a coach bus! Little campers will get a kick out of the giant shopping cart rides, swimming pond, dunk tank, outdoor movies, jumping pillow, climbing wall and so much more.


City of Rocks State Park (Faywood, NM)

Marvel at the impressive formations in this “city” of rocks made by a volcano eruption 34 million years ago! Kids will love the history when you camp at this scenic and otherworldly park in New Mexico. Hike the trails, check out the desert botanical garden, stop by the Visitor’s Center and don’t forget to show your sweet stargazers the amazing night view.


photo: Erin Feher

Inn Town Campground (Nevada City, CA)

You’ll find plenty of options for camping and glamping at Inn Town in Nevada City, where you can bring your own tent set up, or relax inside a cool retro RV rental or deluxe tent. Swim in the pool, curl up in a reading nook or let the kids catch an outdoor movie in front of an Old West façade. Looking for even more to do? The Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum is right next door.


Breitenbush Hot Springs (Detroit, OR)

For families looking for a more blissed-out and relaxing experience, Breitenbush’s peaceful environment might be just the place. Hot springs, organic vegetarian meals, daily wellness programs, hiking trails and a labyrinth are just some of the highlights of this off-the-grid sanctuary. Children are always welcome, but families should know that the overall vibe is one of tranquility, meditation and quiet.


Mt. Baker Farm (Eastsound, WA)

A train ride through the woods and a petting zoo are total kid-pleasers at this enchanting 80-acre campground on Washington’s Orcas Island. No gear? No problem! They rent everything from tents to bedding to hammocks. Bring your own setup from home, or make your dreams even sweeter by splurging on one of the magical lotus tent rentals.


Pinon Flats Campground (Mosca, CO)

Located just one mile from the Visitor’s Center of Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Pinon Flats Campground offers excellent views of the biggest dunes in the U.S.  Take the tots sledding and sandboarding on the dunes, enjoy some water play at nearby Medano Creek or hit a hiking trail. The campground is open April through October each year.


Buttonwood Campground (Mifflintown, PA)

This Pennsylvania campground has a pool, mini golf, laser tag, hay rides, gaga pit, water wars, playgrounds, pedal carts, fun on the river, themed weekends and even an on-site winery for the grownups. The nearby Juniata River is the perfect adventure spot for tubing, canoe and kayak rentals or just a good time splashing around.


Tully Lake Campground (Royalston, MA)

This tents-only waterside campground in Massachusetts offers shady private sites, canoe and kayak rentals and kids programs during the season. Try a history walk, attend a nature presentation or enjoy some water fun on the 200-acre lake.


Dinosaur Valley State Park (Glen Rose, TX)

Walk in the tracks of dinosaurs! Set up camp at Dinosaur Valley State Park, and get a close-up view of real dino tracks in the bed of the Paluxy River. Plus, you’ll find ranger programs, workshops, a tackle loaner program for fishing, plenty of hiking and the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, just a short drive away.


Turtle Beach Campground (Sarasota, FL)

Catch the unbelievable beach sunrise at this little gem of a campground in Florida. Direct beach access takes you from tent to surf in a matter of seconds, and there’s a free open-air trolley to town so you can check out the sights.


Kamp Dels (Waterville, MN)

It’s over the top fun at Kamp Dels in Minnesota. With a huge outdoor water complex, a petting zoo, a climbing wall, mini golf, tennis, boating, fishing and more, you’ll find no shortage of ways to make some unbeatable family memories.


Point Mugu State Park (Malibu, CA)

Ocean shoreline, sand dunes, 70 miles of hiking trails and an assortment of available day activities await you at this sweet spot in Malibu. Build an epic sandcastle, hike and look for wildflowers or just relax and soak up the rays.


Have you been to any of the spots on our list? Tempted to make a reservation? Let us know in the comments below!

—Anna Doogan

featured image: Loren Kerns via flickr 



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