How to Choose a Kid-Friendly Campground

by melissa on May 24, 2010 · 20 comments

Camping season is ramping up! If you’ve got kids, choosing the primo campground could mean the difference between having a memorable trip straight out of a sappy commercial or having a trip that leaves you feeling like the Griswolds.

So how do you pick the perfect campground? Let’s give it a shot…

1. Lots of kid-friendly things to do

Kids need to unplug from the world of Nintendo Wiis, iPods, TV and computers… but don’t expect them to be satisfied with a campground that offers just a place to pitch a tent and a lame hiking trail. Many campgrounds have boat or canoe rentals, fishing, playgrounds, a swimming area, horseshoes, volleyball courts and other amenities. Find a campground that matches your interests.

2. Quiet time enforcement at night

No parent wants Billy Bob and his redneck friends “hootin’ and hollerin’” in the wee hours of the morning when the kids are zonked out. Nor do we want Billy Bob’s A-hole friend chugging Natty Lite all evening then stumbling into your campsite and puking in your hiking boots. So find out if your campground has quiet time (you may have to call if you can’t find out online).

3. Nearby attractions (& necessities)

Find out what fun places are within a few miles of your campground. You may want to take a daytrip to go horseback riding, visit a historical landmark or eat at the local hotspot for breakfast on your way out. As for necessities, know where the closest grocery store, gas station and – God forbid – hospital. You never know when you’ll need it.

Next week, I’ll tell ya what to look for in the actual campsite. That matters too!

Ready to find a place to camp?
Check out these resources:

Reserve America

Go Camping America Camping

What tips do you have for choosing the perfect campground? Oh and don’t forget to download my family camping checklist if you’re planning a trip anytime soon!

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1 Jenny May 24, 2010 at 11:55 am

Thanks for all that info. on camping. We are thinking about taking a camping trip this summer and this is most helpful!

2 Becky May 24, 2010 at 9:05 pm

I hate when someone pukes in my hiking boots!!!

3 alicia May 24, 2010 at 9:31 pm

Wow. This post couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. I’m actually assigned to do a write up at work tomorrow for a mailing about camping. And if it was up to me I’d go find my nearest 5 star hotel. lol Thanks for the info! I’m a new follower from SITS.

4 melissa May 25, 2010 at 10:17 pm

Yay- glad I could time that so well!

5 Jessica - One Shiny Star May 24, 2010 at 11:02 pm

My husband and I love camping! My requirments also include nearby toilets and showers. As a single (younger) person I did 30 miles on the Appalachian trail… and I will never camp with out a toilet, EVER again. The other thing is there must be a cheap hotel nearby. It also rained the entire time I was camping out in the mountains and peeing behind the bushes. If I’m getting soaking wet in the tent – it is time to pack up. The only problem with the place we like to go to Claytor Lake state park – in southern Virginia, which is nice, and it has a lot to do – but it wouldn’t make your list, because the nearest grocery store (aside from the gas station mini-mart), and hospital are both a good 30 minutes away.
.-= Jessica – One Shiny Star´s last blog ..My Camera Is Dieing, and other news. =-.

6 melissa May 25, 2010 at 10:16 pm

Definitely good tips! We camping in the bottom of the Grand Canyon without a toilet and that was INTERESTING to say the least!
Also, I did break my hospital rule at the beach last summer… and we ended up having to drive 20 miles to get Big Roo stitches!

7 Erin May 25, 2010 at 10:13 am

Ah, I used to love camping as a kid. Definitely left me with some good memories! Even if you, as a parent, don’t enjoy it, I would recommend taking your kids…at least a few times!
.-= Erin´s last blog ..My day at the flea market =-.

8 Jodi V. May 25, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Great post! Thanks for the tips. I posted to articles to my blog that includes tips for hiking with kids. Check them out at and
.-= Jodi V.´s last blog ..The Undercover Mother: A Safe Choice for the Family Garden? Ortho EcoSense Branded Pesticide =-.

9 Liz@HoosierHomemade May 25, 2010 at 6:37 pm

Hi there! I just wanted to tell you that your blog looks awesome! You replied to my discussion in the BlogFrog community, so I thought I would hop on over and check it out!
Great work!
.-= Liz@HoosierHomemade´s last blog ..Weekly Menu Plan~Goulash & Italian Biscuits =-.

10 Eric May 25, 2010 at 10:25 pm

This article is so true. Kid-friendly campgrounds are a must when it comes to family camping. This summer I chose a campground located close to the ocean so my two kids can experience a real-beach for the first time.
One thing to think about too after you find the family-friendly campground is a kid-friendly campsite. Being close to the bathrooms and out of the way of heavy traffic are two-must haves for a lot of campers.

11 melissa May 26, 2010 at 10:14 pm

Absolutely! I’m posting tips for a campsite next week and those are two things I’m mentioning. Your summer trip sounds fun- I’ve camping in all sorts of places but never the beach. It’s on my wish list!

12 Marc May 26, 2010 at 12:49 am

Great tips! If you can, have a couple of options and let the kids help choose one from the list. That way they can get excited about one of the activities at a particular site, it will help get them in a good mindset for the trip. I’d also recommend doing a Google search of any sites you are interested in, its always amazing how you can discover great information, more activities, etc. about a site in just a couple minutes worth of time!

13 melissa May 26, 2010 at 10:12 pm

Those are some great tips too, Marc! It’s important to let kids make choices– plus, they’ll have less to complain about if they help pick out the place!

14 Ronnica May 26, 2010 at 10:10 am

I think that parents who camp with their kids are quite brave…I know that just *me* is a lot of work!
.-= Ronnica´s last blog ..Blog Trot: Welcome to Raleigh, NC! =-.

15 Roy Scribner May 26, 2010 at 9:23 pm

Our kids like the campgrounds with other families (thus, other kids!), but they’re pretty easy going when it comes to amenities and other stuff. Sometimes they are in the mood for the beach and sometimes the mountains. One thing, though – they are kind of bummed when we camp somewhere where you can’t have a campfire!

16 melissa May 26, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Good point Roy! I know Big Roo would be bummed about no campfire as well. He was mesmerized by it last time.

17 Merry120 May 28, 2010 at 12:48 am

We camp all through the summer…actually my last post was full of pictures from our camping trip this past weekend complete with parkas! That’s the danger of being a camper in Canada!

We take a white noise maker with us (ours uses batteries) so that it can drown out any noises so that our little guy can sleep through almost anything. We have a trailer with tent pop outs so we aren’t “real” campers but we love it.

Our favorite “family friendly” destination near us is Drumheller, AB for many of the reasons you mention.

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