You live in New York because you like civilization in a big way. Still, sometimes — especially come summer — getting out of town and back to nature seems like a really good idea, and camping is a great way to make that happen. Whether you’re looking for a bare bones, just the basics experience, or need a lot of the comforts of home, here are five great destinations near NYC for camping, glamping, and experiences somewhere in between.
photo: via Jellystone Park Facebook page
If that name conjures up images of a tie-wearing, smooth-talking bear who will do about anything for scrumptious picnic fare in the woods, you’re right—Yogi Bear and his band of merry makers run this campground in a way that is a big hit with little kids.
Part of a national franchise run by Sun RV Resorts, this Hanna-Barbera-themed establishment offers camping basics such as paddle boats, easy hikes, and swimming, along with a range of lodging options. Come in your own RV, rent one that is already on site (and has wifi, a flat-screen TV and air-conditioning), or choose from a selection of log cabins of varying sizes. A new multi-level water park play structure is also set to open this summer. Bring your own bedding, towels, and cookout provisions — although an on-site snack bar will do in a pinch. The Ranger Station also offers basic gear and souvenirs.
Distance from NYC: About two hours
85 Martinfeldt Rd.
Greenfield Park, NY
photo: ScubaBear 68 via Flickr
Once one of the most renowned tourist destinations in the nation, the Catskills are making a comeback. The KOA in Saugerties/Woodstock is perfectly situated to explore some of the breathtaking vistas that inspired the generation of artists known as the Hudson River School. Top spots include Kaaterskill Falls, Overlook Mountain, North-South Lake, and the stunning Hudson Valley gorge itself. Part of a national franchise, the KOA has tent and RV sites, as well as cabins with indoor or shared outdoor restrooms. This location also has a small pool and a well-stocked camp store, where you can pick up flotation devices and water toys to use in the pool. The famed nearby town of Woodstock transports visitors back to the 1970s with its bric-a-brac shops, outdoor cafes and open-air markets.
Distance from NYC: About two hours
882 Route 212
photo: vastateparkstaff via Flickr
If the great outdoors is the only attraction your family needs, the Mohican Outdoor Center nestled in the northwest corner of New Jersey is for you. Set in a high mountain ridge of the Delaware Water Gap, Mohican is run by the Appalachian Mountain Club as a stopover for thru-hikers along the Appalachian Trail. The site has basic cabins of varying sizes (some with indoor restrooms and full kitchens, and others with shared latrines), tent platforms, and plenty of ground tent sites scattered throughout the woods. The area features numerous hikes that offer spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Mohican is also home to Catfish Pond, a 60-acre glacial lake that gives new meaning to the word pristine. Canoe and kayak rentals can be arranged at the visitor center, which also carries gear and provisions.
Distance from NYC: 90 minutes
50 Camp Mohican Rd.
photo: via TheTurducken on Flickr
More in the “glamping” arena are the traditional stone cottages at Bear Mountain State Park in the Hudson Valley. Situated in a wooded mountainside overlooking the very placid Hessian Lake, the cabins have no wifi service or landline telephones — just “off the grid” enough for many families. Each cabin has six bedrooms which can be individually rented and come with a queen size bed and a private bath; a shared common area is equipped with a small refrigerator, a microwave and a wood-burning fireplace. A continental breakfast can be had at the Blue Roof Tapas bar located in the recently renovated historic inn which now includes a spa among other amenities. Less than an hour from New York City, this destination offers well-maintained hiking trails into the mountains, the wonderfully curated Trailside Zoo, a large (and crowded) pool, and paddle boats on the lake.
Distance from NYC: About an hour
3020 Seven Lakes Dr.
Tomkins Cove, NY
photo: Eden, Janine and Jim via Flickr
The only place where you legally camp in New York City, Floyd Bennett Field was the city’s first municipal airport and the one-time jumping off point for numerous aviation legends such as Amelia Earhart and Wiley Post. Today it is maintained by the National Park Service (NPS) which runs 32 tent and six RV camping sites with wide-open views of Jamaica Bay. The facilities here are very basic—no electricity and only shared water spigots and latrines — but kindly park rangers will help you find firewood. Beyond offering the thrill of camping inside city limits, Floyd Bennett is a fascinating trip back in time. The runways are clearly visible through the encroaching forest, and numerous vintage hangars and airport buildings dot the landscape in varying degrees of renovation. Fans of feathered friends take note: thanks to the nearby bay and the grassland habitat that the NPS runs in conjunction with the National Audubon Society, the area is a bird watcher’s paradise.
50 Aviation Rd.
What’s your favorite camping spot near NYC? Tell us in the comments below!
—Cheryl de Jong-Lambert