One of America’s best and most popular family traditions is to head out on the open road for a fun-filled summer vacation. However, with rising fuel costs across the nation and peak demand for lodging, many families will have to tighten their travel budget a bit in order to get away from it all. Fortunately, there are thousands of affordable campgrounds to consider, where even a seven-night stay might equal a single night in a hotel or motel room. While most, if not all of the most popular campgrounds may not be available over the summer, here are five other great camping sites for a family-friendly getaway.
Ashland-White Mountains Jellystone Park
35 Jellystone Park
New Hampton, NH 032562
The Yogi Bear Show may have ended its television run way back in 1962 but the legacy of this popular cartoon character lives on in the many Jellystone Park Camp Resorts across the country. This includes the Yogi Bear-branded campgrounds in the White Mountains region of New Hampshire. As with any other location, the Ashland-White Mountains Jellystone Park is extremely kid friendly with several great amenities, like two heated pools and a kiddie pool, pool, and ping pong tables, an 18-hole miniature golf course and regular appearances by Yogi Bear himself. Several upcoming events are in store this summer and include Yogi’s Birthday Party from June 22-24, Happy Birthday America! Featuring a 4th of July parade and live entertainment, Wet and Wild July 6-8 and even Yogi’s Yuletide Christmas in the middle of summer from July 13-14. Additional fun things to do can be found all around the White Mountains, that features Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeastern U.S. This includes Conway Scenic Railroad, Monkey Trunks Zipline Park at Weir Beach, Polar Caves Park, and the historic Omni Mount Washington Hotel, which features exceptional amenities like two swimming pools, tennis courts, a teen adventure camp, a kids’ Go Kart Park, fly fishing and one of the finest golf courses in New Hampshire.
Big Basin Redwoods State Park
21600 Big Basin Way
Boulder Creek, CA 95006
Nestled within the California redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains near Silicon Valley and a short drive from the City of Santa Cruz, Big Basin State Park is the oldest state park in the Golden State. Founded in 1902 and a California Historic Landmark, Big Basin covers more than 18,000 acres and features several hiking trails, redwood trees of up to 2,500 years old, 146 campsites, four group sites and nearly 40 tent cabins, as well as options for backcountry camping. While the main attractions are clearly the old growth redwoods and exceptional hiking trails like the Skyline to the Sea, Big Basin is a also a reasonably easy drive to the world famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, the admission-free seaside park named Best in the World for 10 of the last 11 years by the industry-leading Golden Ticket Awards. Founded in 1907, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is one of the last of the classic seaside amusement parks in America and California’s oldest that’s still in operation. If the Boardwalk’s iconic Giant Dipper roller coaster or newer rides like the Shockwave or Undertow aren’t enough, Santa Cruz offers fun activities like hiking and biking along with several miles of beaches for swimming, beach volleyball and more, and another popular local attraction, the Roaring Camp Railroad is even closer to the campgrounds at Big Basin.
Glimmerglass State Park
1527 County Highway 31
Cooperstown, NY 13326
Ask any kid where he wants to go this summer and the answer is oftentimes a major amusement park like Disneyland, the Magic Kingdom or Universal Studios Hollywood. But another popular destination, especially for kids that love baseball, is Cooperstown, a surprisingly small town in Upstate New York with a population of well under 2,000 but home to the iconic National Baseball Hall of Fame, where such baseball legends like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays have all been honored for their contributions to the sport. For campers, one of the best spots nearby is Glimmerglass State Park, located along the shores of the picturesque Otsego Lake, just eight miles from downtown Cooperstown. Named after the glimmery description of the lake in James Fenimore Cooper’s “Leatherstocking Tales”, this popular state park features 43 campsites that are available through ReserveAmerica, most of which are equipped with electrical hookups. Open year-round, Glimmerglass State Park is popular for summertime activities like biking, hiking, and fishing as well as ice skating, cross-country skiing and ice fishing during the winter months. Recently named the No. 2 Best Small Town in America by Expedia, Cooperstown is generally an easy place to get around to see all the top attractions like the Hall of Fame and Doubleday Field except over Hall of Fame weekend from July 27-30.
Olympic Peninsula/Port Angeles KOA
80 O’Brien Road
Port Angeles, WA 98362
As the world’s largest system of privately held campgrounds, Kampgrounds of America (KOA) has long been a reliable and reputable place to stay, especially for families with children. Among the best with a prime location is the Olympic Peninsula/Port Angeles KOA, filled with an assortment of amenities and activities and just a short drive from the enormous Olympic National Park, that covers nearly one million acres and home to three remarkably distinct ecosystems. Open year-round, this KOA campgrounds offer a large number of tents with or without electrical hookups and plenty of RV parking, in addition to one or two bedroom cabins equipped with modern conveniences like double beds, bunk beds, shelving and even a bathroom and fully equipped kitchen in the deluxe cabins. The swimming pool will be open through September 16 and several special activities will be held on weekends, such as an Ice Cream Social, Wagon Rides and Night Time Movies on the Big Screen. Olympic National Park also offers camping, including wilderness camping, lodging and fine dining at places like Lake Crescent Lodge and Lake Quinault Lodge and RV parking, with plenty of things to do like biking, paddle boarding, fishing, and hiking.
Peaks Of Otter Campground
10454 Peaks Road
Bedford, VA 24523
Known as “America’s Favorite Drive” the Blue Ridge Parkway often surprises travelers with its unmistakable natural beauty, filled with scenic waters and incomparable vistas. But what may surprise even more visitors is that the Parkway s the most visited park within the U.S. National Park System and has been for most of the past 70 years. Extending nearly 470 across the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Parkway attracted more than 16 million people last year and features eight developed campgrounds from May through late October. One of the most popular campgrounds along America’s longest linear park is the Peaks of Otter Campgrounds, located about 26 miles northeast of Roanoke, Virginia. A very popular spot for hiking, boating, and fishing, the Peaks of Otter Campground offers 86 tent sites and 58 RV sites, with about half available through the online reservation system. Onsite amenities include flush toilets, a general store, drinking water and access to the scenic, 24-acre Lake Abbott. Also nearby is the Peaks of Otter Lodge and Restaurant, as well as other local attractions like the Johnson Farm, and Aunt Polly’s Ordinary. Visitors may also wish to visit Roanoke, to enjoy more dining options as well as popular attractions like the Mill Mountain Zoo, Virginia Museum of Technology and one of the most iconic spots along the Blue Ridge Parkway, the famous Roanoke Star atop Mill Mountain.