My favorite part of camping is the s’mores, but my daughter loves the entire experience, no matter how muddy or muggy or cold it gets. If your kids are more like me—itching to get out of the city, but perhaps not prepared to truly rough it—there are lots of great campsites near NYC with family-friendly features to check out. These campgrounds all boast extra entertainment options for kids, like movie nights, petting zoos, or a nearby river for tubing.
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To stay squarely in the camp—get it?—of old-fashioned fun, here’s a roundup of the best campsites near NYC with family-friendly perks. Most of these camping sites, which are within three hours of the city, close during the winter, so be sure to verify the information before heading out. And, of course, don’t forget to pack some marshmallows.
New York City North/Newburgh KOA — Plattekill, New York
This campground is about an hour-and-a-half by car from New York City, although you can also take the train to Beacon and then make your way across the river. The family-friendly campground near NYC boasts amenities galore, including mini golf and two swimming pools. The Newburgh campsite is also a great jumping-off point for art lovers, with proximity to Dia Beacon as well as Storm King, the spectacularly beautiful outdoor sculpture park.
Lodging types offered: Tent, cabin camping, RV
Fun family activities: Catch-and-release fishing, mini-golf, two swimming pools (open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend), basketball, movies, rock climbing wall, fire truck rides, and a jumping pillow
Campground amenities: Snack bar and coffee shop (open only in the summer)
At Mills-Norrie State Park you can pitch your tent in the woods near the Hudson River. Photo courtesy of New York State
Mills Norrie State Park — Staatsburg, New York
This tract of wilderness topping 1,000 acres is actually two adjacent parks: Margaret Lewis Norrie and Ogden and Ruth Livingston Mills State Parks. I’ve visited this idyllic spot often, and it’s one of my favorite places to hike and bike. As a bonus, there’s an amazing Gilded Age mansion on the grounds, Mills Mansion (admission extra). This family-friendly campsite near NYC, which has spectacular views of the Hudson River, is also a great base for trips to several nearby national historic sites, including the FDR Library, the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, and the Vanderbilt Mansion.
Lodging types offered: Tent, cabin camping, Tentrr sites available
Fun family activities: Fishing, hiking, bike trails. For additional fees: tours of the Mills Mansions and kayaking excursions
Campground amenities: Pavilion, marina access, grills, showers
Roscoe Campsite Park – Roscoe, New York
Whether you want to pitch a tent or hunker down in a riverfront cabin complete with a kitchenette, you’ll find a space suited to your style at this Catskills campsite. Plus, the park offers tons of family-friendly activities, from hiking and fishing to kid-centered fun like scavenger hunts. Its proximity to the Beaverkill River also means there are lots of water activities to enjoy, like tubing or swimming. If kayaking or paddleboarding is more your speed, there’s a shuttle to take you to nearby Lake Wanita.
Lodging types offered: Tent, RV, glamping tents, cabin camping
Fun family activities: Hiking, tubing, kayaking, hayrides, scavenger hunts, river mining, and more
Campground amenities: WiFi, pets allowed, general store, bathhouse with showers (some cabins have private showers)
The game room at Hither Hills has you covered on rainy days. Photo courtesy of New York State
Hither Hills — Montauk, New York
Want to “do” the Hamptons affordably? This ocean-front campsite, three hours from New York by car or train, is your answer. If all the beauty on display in Montauk isn’t enough to entertain your kids, Hither Hills offers an organized children’s recreational program during the summer. The two-mile-long sandy beach is also ideal for exploring or relaxing.
Lodging types offered: Tent, RV
Fun family activities: Movies, folk and line dancing, children’s summer theater, magic shows, playground, courts for horseshoes, basketball, volleyball, and hiking trails, beach
Campground amenities: Picnic area, shower, camp store
Pleasant Acres Farm Campground is a perfect overnight destination for farm fun. Photo courtesy of the campground
Pleasant Acres Farm Campground — Sussex, New Jersey
If you have an animal lover for a child, this campsite is a dream vacation. Pleasant Acres Farm Campground is, as the name suggests, situated on a working farm. The family-friendly campsite near NYC allows city kids to get up close and personal with farm animals. The cabins and cottages are also a good option for those who aren’t quite tent-ready, and there’s lots of fun to be had in the swimming pool.
Lodging types offered: RV, cabin camping, cottages
Fun family activities: Horse-drawn hayrides, mini golf, petting zoo, cow milking, playground, game room, fishing, sports fields
Campground amenities: Swimming pool, lake, dog park, WiFi, showers
Delaware River Campground. Photos courtesy of Kymers
Delaware River Campground — Columbia, New Jersey
The Delaware River is beautiful, and this campground takes full advantage of its location on the river. Kids and adults jump at the chance to go tubing, and there are plenty of other water-based activities, like boat rentals, river excursions, and swimming in the pool.
Lodging types offered: RV, cabin camping, glamping, tent
Fun family activities: Planned activities, like arts and crafts and special events, a heated swimming pool (plus kiddie pool!), river fishing, game room, mini golf, basketball and volleyball courts
Campground amenities: Playground, camp store, pavilion, cable TV
Sam Pryor Shawangunk Gateway Campground — Gardiner, New York
Although I haven’t camped here, I’ve spent a lot of time in Gardiner and at the nearby Mohonk Preserve, and to say it’s stunningly beautiful is an understatement. This family-friendly campsite near NYC is probably the most rustic on this list, and it’s aimed squarely at rock climbers and nature-lovers who want to explore the preserve. It also offers easy access to Minnewaska State Park, where you can swim, hike, or bike. If you want to splurge, you can also buy a day pass to the famous Mohonk Mountain House, which has immaculate grounds and amazing recreational facilities.
Lodging types offered: Tents
Fun family activities: Rock climbing, hiking, biking
Campground amenities: Pavilion, cooking area, showers
Originally published in June 2017.