Best Family Camping Spots in the US
By Lisa Armstrong
There's something about being outside in nature—cooking s'mores on a campfire, spending days hiking, and snuggling into sleeping bags at night. And, since most camping trips mean an escape from technology, it creates the space for families to truly bond, explore the outdoors, and create lifelong memories. So now that warm weather is on the horizon, it's time to plan a camping escape with the family.
Hang with Yogi Bear
Catch up with Yogi Bear and his pals at the Jellystone Park of Estes, in between the Colorado Rockies and Roosevelt National Forest. The park offers a number of activities, including mini-golf, movie nights, dances, family-style campfire activities, cookout breakfasts on Saturdays and Sundays, basketball courts, and an outdoor heated pool.
Pick your weekend based on its theme: In June, campers can celebrate at Yogi's birthday party (he doesn't want gifts, just canned goods for the local food bank), while August is Chocolate Lovers Weekend with games like a chocolate slip n' slide. Jellystone Park offers a range of camping options, from no hook up sites for small tents, to full hook up sites that have access to water and electricity.
Insider Tip: Since Jellystone is close to Rocky Mountain National Park, families can hike, explore the edges of Bear Lake, and watch the bighorn sheep there. Kids will also love a trip to Gem Lake, where boulders are perfectly arranged for climbing. During National Park Week and Get Outdoors Day, the park is free to the public.
Camp Without Pitching a Tent
If you want to camp without struggling with things like pitching a tent, head to El Capitan Canyon, 20 miles north of Santa Barbara, California. The Canyon's safari tents and cedar cabins are fully furnished; tents are built on raised, wooden decks and have queen or double beds, bed linens and towels, screened windows, and electric lamps. Each tent has a picnic table, fire pit, grill, and guests have access to a heated pool.
Families visiting El Capitan Canyon can feed llamas and goats, borrow bikes to cruise along the beach, and go whale watching. During the summer, the Canyon staff organizes story telling and stargazing, movie nights and other activities.
Insider Tip: This spring, El Capitan Canyon opened five adventure yurts, each big enough for a family of four. These spacious yurts have a queen bed, a twin-sized daybed with a second twin trundle bed, night stands, wicker storage baskets under the bed, a small fridge, electric lighting, and a space heater. The yurts also have skylights, so that you can stargaze from bed at night.
Wilderness and Water
Clay's Park Resort, just outside of Cleveland, Ohio, allows for a range of camping experiences: stream-side primitive camping, full hook-up amenities, and "glamping" in custom canvas cabins with queen beds and bunk beds. Campers can enjoy nature by hiking, kayaking, and fishing in the 20-acre lake, but one of the main attractions is the new Adventure Waterpark. The 10-acre sand-bottom swimming lake features 150-feet water slides, ring swings, zip lines, a barrel roll, water volleyball, and a kid's swimming area.
Insider Tip: The Clay's Park Teen Club offers activities just for teens, including paintballing and camping in the woods. Teen helpers can also assist with activities for younger kids.
Lisa Armstrong has written travel stories for several publications, including National Geographic Traveler, In Style and USA Weekend. You can read more of her work at lisaarmstrong.net or follow her on Twitter at @lisaarmstrong
Member Comments Post a Comment
Be the first to comment!
Fodor's Top News & Features
- Cheap and Chic: 10 Affordable Hawaii Hotels
- World's Best Destinations for Solo Travel
- 10 Castles You Can Actually Afford to Sleep In
- 10 Best Lakeside Hotels in the US
- Pot Tourism: How to Buy Marijuana in Colorado
- Where to Eat in San Francisco Now
- 5 Perfect Dublin Itineraries
- Where to Eat in Orlando Now
- 7 Great Food Festivals & Street Fairs on Oahu
- Top 6 Alaskan Cruises for 2014
- 80 Degrees: Fodor's Helps You Find Your Best Beach Vacation Spots
- Fodor's Go List 2014: Where we are going in 2014
- World Cup Fever: Start planning your trip to Brazil!
- Fodor's 100 Hotel Awards: Check out the winners of 2013
- Weekend Getaways: Fodor's Recommends the Best Weekend Escapes in the US
- Great American Vacation: Find Your Next U.S. Trip with Fodor's
- $799 & up -- 4-Star Los Cabos All-Incl. Trip w/Air, 40% OffCheapCaribbean.com
- $980 & up -- Beijing & Shanghai 6-Nt. Vacation w/AirTripMasters.com
- $359 & up -- Ireland Coastal Tours & Trips, Save up to $700Ireland
- $849 & up -- Punta Cana: 4-Star Seaside Family Getaway w/AirApple Vacations
- $149-$179 -- Weekends at Dallas 4-Star Hotel, Save 40%The Westin Galleria Dallas
- $1917 & up -- Fiji Islands, Auckland & Sydney 9-Nights w/AirTripMasters.com