5 Tips for Choosing the Perfect Family Camping Site


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Find Plenty to Do

Adults may think of a camping trip as a great opportunity to relax in a hammock, walk in the woods and get away from it all. The kids, however, may find their parents' idea of fun to be, like, totally boring.

Include things for everyone in the family to do, especially if you choose a campground where the sites don't come with electricity to power the usual pastimes. Bring books, toys and games, but also look for amusements at the campground.

Choose a campground that caters to families like yours. Children often make friends easily when they're camping and all the "neighbors" are outside.

Here are some other things to look for:

  • Swimming. If you're at a beach, or along a mountain stream, you've got this covered. If not, the campground pool can make kids happy.
  • Campground activities. State and national parks offer ranger-led activities. Participate in programs, hikes, hayrides and more. Private campgrounds often have miniature golf, free movies and programs that amuse kids and give parents a break.
  • Bicycling. Campground roads are often great places to ride. Some campgrounds are near good bicycling areas for the whole family. At the Cade's Cove area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee, an 11-mile (17.7-kilometer) scenic loop road adjacent to the campground is closed to everyone but cyclists on Saturday and Wednesday mornings.
  • Nature. Make the most of what's around you. Take field guides. Devise scavenger hunts.
  • Civilization. It can sweeten the experience for kids if you choose a camping spot within an easy jaunt to a theme park, museum or movie (especially if it rains). Camping at Mammoth Cave National Park with a teenage boy? Drive to the National Corvette Museum in nearby Bowling Green, Ky., one afternoon.