There’s nothing like the great outdoors—fresh air, s’mores by the fire, and of course, enthusiastic little ones excited to sleep outside….or, sort of outside! When it comes to camping, some of us can be extremely resourceful—cooking our own food, sleeping under the stars, and roaming through perilous landscapes. Then, there are those that thrive outside but would rather sleep indoors and watch TV! Whatever category you fall under, warmer weather is here so put on comfy shoes, because these ultimate camping locations will have you, hiking trails and all-out adventuring in no time.
Photo: Rose River Farm
Rose River Farm
Located about two hours from D.C., Rose River Farm offers the ultimate glamping experience. The property features three large luxury yurts. Yes, your fam can stay in a yurt! Yurts include amenities like A/C and heat, two full bedrooms and two full baths, a full kitchen, a flat screen TV, and high speed WiFi. Each yurt also features a wall of windows and a big porch to capture the spectacular views of Old Rag Mountain, the Rose River Valley, and a pond full of fish. There is even a charcoal grill and a big outdoor fire pit so you can cook outside and hang with the fam. While this Virginia getaway caters to a more posh posse, outdoor exploring and adventuring can still be a big part of the agenda with nearby guided kayak tours and horseback rides.
Cost: $250/night; $1500/week
3099 Old Blue Ridge Tpk. (Syria, Va)
Fancy Gap Caboose
Ever wonder what it would be like to live in a caboose? Come spend some time in an authentic refurbished, modern, railroad caboose along the Blue Ridge Parkway! Your kids will drool over this experience. Spend the day hiking down to Grassy Creek where you can hang among the trees. Play “I Spy” with the kids to see if they can spot does, turkeys and bucks. Sit outside at night and see the thousands of stars that light up the serene skies. The site has three cabooses that sleep two guests each. Each caboose is fully furnished with a kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. There’s even a Jacuzzi! The cabooses each have decks with rockers and charcoal grills so you can enjoy being outside.
(Fancy Gap, Va)
Beaches, Birds and Pinecones
Take Pennsylvania Ave. and keep going, turn left after Solomon’s Island, and you’ll end at the confluence of the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay. Staying in one of the six four-person camper cabins at Point Lookout State Park in St. Mary’s County, you’ll be serenaded by songbirds from the leafy trees near your cabin. Not an ace at fire-building? No worries! The friendly rangers can help get you started (hint: use pinecones). After climbing on the jetty rocks near the lighthouse, kiddo will find sandcastle bliss at the small beach on the riverside of the peninsula. If your family is feeling really adventurous, ask about snagging a license to do some night fishing. Bonus: Two cabins are ADA accessible.
11175 Point Lookout Rd. (Scotland, Md)
Photo: Getaway Home
If you need a unique, off-the-grid weekend, the Getaway home might be your cup of tea. Created by two Harvard grads, these homes are geared towards folks that need to escape the city, and dive into nature, but without having to wrangle their own camping gear. The stocked cabins ( ideal for 2-4 people) are tucked away near Shenandoah National Park and are designed to let you unplug, but not too severely . Homes have a full bathroom, kitchen, running water and queen bunks where your family can hide away!
Thirty miles north of D.C. your campsite is set up and awaits your arrival. Little Bennett Campground, which is part of the Montgomery County Park system, offers to pitch your four-person tent and set up your campsite with two camp chairs, a propane stove, and a lantern. You just bring the happy campers, bedding, cooking gear, and food supplies. And, get this, you only need to give them one week’s advance notice for a two-night minimum stat.
23705 Frederick Rd. (Clarksburg, Md)
Photo: The Treehouse Camp
The Hobbit House
Yes, there is a Hobbit House in Maryland…for reals…and you MUST go! Truly, there’s nothing quite like the hobbit house at The Treehouse Camp at Maple Tree Campground in Rohrersville, Maryland. This unique cottage will make you and your family feel like you’ve stepped into the Lord of the Rings and we mean that in the best possible way. You’ll arrive to find a thatch covered porch, outdoor fire circle, grill, and picnic table. Everything you need for a most unique camping experience. Step inside and you’ll find a wood stove, Woodland mural, and a hand-made harvest table that can seat up to eight people. Accommodations include two queen mattresses that can sleep up to four people. The wooded area around the hobbit house provides plenty of enchanting opps for outdoor adventures.
20716 Townsend Rd. (Rohrersville, Md)
Camping in Cunningham Falls
Cunningham Falls State Park is located in the picturesque Catoctin Mountains in Maryland. Next to Great Falls, Cunningham Falls might be the shortest distance to D.C., just an hour’s drive from the city. Cunningham falls offers hiking, off-road trails and tubing in the summer. The waterfalls are a must see! The campsites offer everything from cottages, cabins, and other unique venues April through October.
Zippity-Do-Whheeeee in the Shenandoah
After a day of zipline flying through a hardwood forest in Shenandoah River State Park in Virginia and then sitting around the fire, your kids are gonna love you for this camping trip. Forever. Kiddos over 10 years old and that weigh over 70 lbs can get this “you and your folks did what during the summer” cool cred if they pass the ground school, can walk about a mile and are in reasonably good health. You could do the rustic cabins (no kitchen, ac or bathroom) but after a heartbeat racing zipline tour you’ll be glad you booked one of the of cabins that are equipped with a kitchen, including a microwave and coffeemaker (tip: bring your own coffee filters), bathroom, fireplace and linens on the beds. In prime season these cabins require a weeklong stay. Bonus: Fido can stay at the cabin for an extra fee. To get the zipline tour ($42-$84) you need to reserve it separately from Virginia Canopy Tours.
Cost: $708+/a week (2 bedroom cabin for the week)
50 Daughter of Stars Dr. (Bentonville, Va)
Have you gone camping someplace really cool? Tell us about your trip in the comments section below.
—Guiomar Ochoa and Linda Bennett