Looking for an affordable getaway with the kids? Camping as a family is a great way to get outside and unplug—and you don’t have to go too far to do it. We found campgrounds near NYC where you and the kids can go as rustic or refined as you like, enjoy programming or a water park, or explore nature in the woods or by the shore. (FYI: If you’re camping in New York a lot, check out the Empire Pass, which for $80 gets you unlimited entry to most state parks and beaches for a whole year!)
Catskills, NY: Rip Van Winkle
Want to experience the soothing sounds of the Plattekill Creek as you and your loved ones roast marshmallows in your own fire pit? This 160-acre wooded facility features a variety of unique areas, and it's even dog-friendly. Each site allows a maximum of six guests, unless it is a designated group site. A fire ring and picnic table are at every site.
Eleven Fun Zones will keep everyone busy with activities such as R/C car racing on a full-sized track, taking a dip in a watering hole or outdoor swimming pool and boating. Plus: a designated movie night, three different playgrounds and "mining" for gems with a kit available for purchase.
Insider Tip: Trying the custard is a must here, and look out for the Goodnow Family Farm truck driving throughout the campground with a variety of high-quality meats for sale on Fridays at 6 p.m.
Cost: 2021 rates start at $40 per night for a basic tent site
Distance from NYC: 2.5 hours
149 Blue Mountain Rd.
Online: Rip Van Winkle
Rockland County, NY: Beaver Pond State Park
Adjacent to Harriman State Park and Lake Welch, this campground is a good option for those who want convenient access to hiking trails as well as a beach. The lake's water is calm and shallow, which makes it the perfect spot for young children to play and splash. Each site allows up to six guests, and you can camp on raised platforms or park your own RV or trailer. Campsites come with picnic table and fire ring, and comfort stations, showers and laundry are available here, too.
Important to note: Bears are active in this area, which means keeping your campsite clean is a must. Food should be sealed and put away when you're not cooking and eating.
Cost: Non-refundable reservation fee of $7.25 is required. New York State non-residents will incur a fee of $5. Rates for tent sites start at $18 per night.
Distance from NYC: 1 hour, 20 minutes
700 Kanawauke Rd.
Stony Point, NY
Online: Beaver Pond State Park
Ulster County: Yogi Bear’s JellyStone Park
Jellystone is a resort for camper enthusiasts set next to the Wallkill River. A "water zone" offers 100-foot waterslides, a water cannon and a separate swimming pool. Other activities include archery, mini-golf, laser tag, gem mining and even fishing just to name a few. Don’t forget to check out the campground's events page, or download its app to keep track of daily events.
For those that aren’t quite ready to sleep on the ground just yet, there are a variety of cabins and bungalows to choose from. Bigger groups may opt for the Mountain View Lodge or Ranger’s Retreat—which includes a hot tub.
Insider Tip: Check out the special offers page on their website for deals.
Cost: Rustic tents start at $52 per night and include a fire ring and picnic table. Day camp passes are also available at $38 for guests ages 3+ along with a vehicle charge of $5.
Distance from NYC: 2 hours
50 Bevier Rd.
Online: Yogi Bear
Suffolk County: Hecksher State Park
Just an hour away from Midtown Manhattan, this beautiful 1,600-acre park is located on the Great South Bay of Long Island. It's a great place to see white-tailed deer, birds and other wildlife, or taking a kayak or canoe out for a spin. Staying here gives you access to the private Overlook Beach. You can pitch a tent, or stay in one of the newly-built one and two-bedroom cottages, which are furnished and come with a fully equipped kitchen, and back patio.
Insider Tip: The South Shore Nature Center is located nearby if you're looking for more to do in the area.
Cost: Tent sites start at $22 per night. Vehicle use fee is required and ranges between $8-$10 to enter.
Distance from NYC: 1 hour
Heckscher Pkway Field 1
East Islip, NY
Online: Hecksher State Park
Eastern Catskills: Getaway
This is the place to go if you truly want to unplug. (Read: no Wifi.) Located on 105 acres in the Catskills, Getaway, offers a remote experience in nature without the hassle of acquiring (or carrying) camping equipment. It's not too remote, though: the distance between the camp's stylishly designed tiny cabins ranges from 50 to 150 feet.
Cabins for four guests feature queen bunks, with cooking supplies, linens, and toiletries provided. And yes, there is a hot shower, plus a picnic table, fire pit and grill grate. (Check out the campfire recipes on the Getaway site.) Hiking trails are just 30 minutes away, including the popular Kaaterskill Falls, and the Mountaintop Arboretum featuring native plants and trees.
Cost: Cabin rentals start at $169 per night but vary depending on the date. The camp is closed Labor Day week for a “collective rest” period, but the fall season is open for booking.
Distance from NYC: 2.5 hours
New York Outpost
Cape May, NJ: Holly Shores Camping Resort
This 38-acre woodland resort is close to the Jersey Shore beaches as well as the beautiful and historical town of Cape May. Stay in a tiny house or experience living in a Safari Glamping tent. (Cabins and even luxurious houses are available too.) Amenities include a heated pool, hot tubs for adults, a wading area for tots, a jumping pillow, a biking path—plus a schedule of family-friendly activities.
Insider tip: The Cape May County Park Zoo nearby is perfect for animal lovers and admission is free year-round!
Cost: Varies based on availability
Distance from NYC: 3 hours
491 US Route 9 South
Cape May, NJ
Online: Holly Shores
Sussex County: Swartswood, NJ
You'll find wooded and grassy campsites at Swartswood, New Jersey's first state park. People come here for the beautiful lake views and activities like canoeing, kayaking and fishing. The park's trails are short and make for easy and leisurely hikes with the kids. Pitch a tent or rent one of six cabin-like structures for a bit more shelter. Sites include a fire ring, picnic table and a lantern holder, and you'll have access to drinking water, a boat launch, restrooms and showers.
Insider Tip: Bald Eagles live here, so bring some binoculars!
Cost: Campsites start at $25 for Non—Residents and an entrance fee of $10/weekdays and $20/weekends.
Distance from NYC: 1 hour, 30 minutes
1091 County Rd. 619
Madison, CT: Hammonasset Beach State Park
Connecticut’s largest public beach park offers 550 grassy campsites and several rustic cabins. Relax on the beach or stroll on the boardwalk and enjoy the views of the Long Island Sound. How about some crabbing just along the shore? This is a great spot for bird watchers, and kids can hunt for sea glass and scale the big rocks. At the nearby Meigs Point Nature Center you can learn about the local native animals, peek in water tanks to see—and even touch—some marine critters and hike a nearby nature trail. There are three state parks within a four-mile radius for other activities such as saltwater swimming, fishing and field sports.
Cost: Campsites start at $30 for Non-Connecticut residents, plus a processing fee of $9.
Distance from NYC: 2 hours, 15 minutes
1288 Boston Post Rd.
Northern New Jersey: Jenny Jump State Forest
What once was covered by glaciers 21,000 years ago is now a well-maintained and popular nature spot. Opt to take the narrow trail up Jenny Jump Mountain for some great breathtaking vistas, canoe or kayak on Ghost Lake, and swim and fish in Mountain Lake. There is also a natural cave around but it’s up to you to find it. Young campers may enjoy a day at Land of Make Believe, a fun amusement park just five miles away. Stay in your own tent or trailer or one of eight furnished shelters. Showers and bathrooms are on site.
Insider tip: You can get an unspoiled view of the night sky here. The United Astronomy Clubs of New Jersey lease an observatory here, and offer weekly star-gazing programs on Saturday evenings throughout the fall. Reservations are required.
Cost: Tent sites start at $25 per night for non-residents. Cabins and group campsites are closed as of mid-August.
Distance from NYC: 2 hours
330 State Park Rd.
Online: Jenny Jump
The Rockaways: Camp Rockaway Fort Tilden
Fairly new to the camping scene is Camp Rockaway, which was established in 2017. This comfortable basecamp at the newly-leased Fort Tilden location offers easy access to the beaches such as Jacob Riis and the Jamaica Bay. You can literally pack an overnight bag and just show up.
Luxury canvas-walled tents come with a cozy queen-size bed, linens, a lounge area and hammock. Plus, a communal bonfire. There are five canvas tents to choose from or you can pitch your own, choosing from two types they provide. There is a concession stand at the Beach Bazaar if you want someone else to cook, and in the summer, Jacob Riis beach is a great spot for kids to play and catch some waves. Other activities nearby include bike rentals, sailing excursions in Jamaica Bay, surfboarding, hot yoga, nature walks and even golf.
Insider tip: If you're interested a similar spot further away, check out Camp Rockaway's upstate locations in Schuylerville and Saratoga Springs.
Cost: Two-person walled-tents start at $149. An additional pup tent (shown here on the right) suitable for families costs $90. Kid cots are $50.
Distance from NYC: 40 minutes from Manhattan by car, and accessible via subway and bus
Breezy Point, NY
Online: Camp Rockaway
—Wai Sze Zara