Warm weather is finally here, and it’s time to start thinking about getting back to nature as a family. Whether you like to pitch your own tent or get a good night’s sleep in an air-conditioned cabin, there are a number of campgrounds across the United States that are great for all kinds of families.
Jellystone Park Larkspur
Families can’t help but love this Yogi Bear-themed campground, which is located midway between Denver and Colorado Springs and offers much more than sites to pitch a tent. Look for cottages with en suite bathrooms, as well as yurts, tepees and safari tents. Explore nearby Pike National Forest, or spend the day at the campground for goat walks, fossil digging, archery classes and geocaching. Snap pics with Yogi and Boo Boo at the flag-raising and lowering ceremonies that start and end each day.
Herkimer Diamond KOA
Sure, you’ll find the usual cabins and tent sites at Herkimer Diamond KOA in upstate New York, but science-loving kids will go mad for the Sky Catcher, an astronomy-themed cabin with its own observatory and high-powered telescope. Or book Professor Gadget’s Robotics Lodge, a deluxe cabin outfitted with a vacuuming robot, motion-sensing lights and plenty of robotic toys. Families can also prospect for diamonds (well, quartz crystals) at Herkimer Diamond Mines or visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, about an hour away.
Bend-Sunriver RV Campground
At Bend-Sunriver RV Campground, an on-site activities coordinator ensures that kids and families have fun all day long, whether by participating in sand-castle-building competitions, hunting for clues in scavenger hunts or earning badges as part of the Thousand Trails Club Blazer program for young campers. It’s minutes from central Oregon’s Mount Bachelor, where there are plenty of opportunities for hiking, biking, canoeing and fishing. In the evening, relax in your tent, RV or even one of the on-site cabins or yurts.
Lakedale Resort at Three Lakes
Situated on San Juan Island in Washington, Lakedale Resort was designed for the modern-day camper, with log cabins, canvas tent cabins, and even an Airstream trailer rental right on the lake. Of course, it has classic campsites with fire pits and picnic tables, but there’s also a lodge with deluxe rooms and whirlpool tubs. Surrounded by 3 lakes, the resort offers many water activities, including trout fishing, canoeing and stand-up paddleboarding. Organized activities such as making tie-dyed shirts and learning to cook on a campfire keep the kids entertained, too.
Fort Yargo State Park
Fort Yargo State Park is one of 13 state parks participating in Georgia’s 3-year-old First-Time Camper Program, which enables families to experience sleeping under the stars in a tent before investing in their own camping equipment. Kids will love taking a Camping 101 lesson and working with park staff to set up their campsite before going off to swim in the lake, paddle a kayak or get in a round of disc golf. The state park also offers ranger-led nature hikes and 3-day Junior Ranger camps.
Blue Bell Campground
For old-fashioned hayrides and classic chuckwagon cookouts, spend a few days at Blue Bell Campground in South Dakota’s Custer State Park. Whether you want to sleep in a tent or stay in a cabin that sleeps up to 5 people, the whole family will love the variety of wilderness activities, including horseback riding and fishing. As a bonus, Buffalo Safari Jeep Rides picks up at the nearby State Game Lodge Resort, enabling visitors to tour the park with an expert guide and get up close with wildlife such as buffalo and elk.
Ventura Ranch KOA
Give kids the joy of splashing in the pool at Ventura Ranch KOA, which sits just over an hour outside Los Angeles at the foot of one of Ventura County’s tallest mountains, Topa Topa. Then, take a nature walk, fly down a zip line or race up the rock-climbing tower. In the evening, settle in to your tent or cabin. Even better, reserve one of several Sioux Indian-style tepees. The campground also has safari tents with comfy beds and private porches; keep your eyes open for the occasional peacock wandering by as you relax.
Jellystone Park Mammoth Cave
It’s a must to explore the caverns of nearby Mammoth Cave National Park with a ranger before bouncing on the Jumping Pillow, sliding down the 300-foot waterslide and having a water-balloon battle with other campers at Jellystone Mammoth Cave. Kids love the theme weekends, which can involve competing in Olympic-style events and turning campground staff into a human sundae. Look for a variety of cabins and cottages, including the Boo Boo Bungalow, which sleeps up to 15 people.
Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort
In a town called Santa Claus, IN, you have to spend time at Santa’s Splash Down Water Park, which is located on the grounds of Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort. Nearly every road and section of the campground is Christmas-themed (e.g., Blitzen Bay Pool and Frosty Lane). From playgrounds and mini golf to family movie nights and even visits with Rudolph himself, there’s plenty to do at the campground. Campers can also hop the free shuttle to Holiday World, which is just a few minutes down the road.
Lake George Escape
At this campground situated in the Adirondacks, kids will love hiking, fishing, kayaking and tubing along the Schroon River while staying in a log cabin. There’s also a bonfire pit at Lake George Escape that’s ideal for roasting s’mores when the sun goes down. A full-time activities staff ensures that children have plenty to occupy them every week of the summer, from doing the limbo at a luau to decorating bikes and joining a Mardi Gras-themed bike parade.