Campfire Camping Camp
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The best family camping spots near NYC

Our curated list of family campgrounds will let you enjoy a taste of nature close to NYC

By Allie Early, Danielle Valente and Oliver Strand
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NOTE: RULES AND REGULATIONS ARE CHANGING AS NEW YORK STATE ENTERS PHASE 3. FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH WHAT FAMILIES NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CAMPING IN 2020, AND ALWAYS CONTACT A CAMPSITE DIRECTLY TO CONFIRM IT IS OPERATING.

When you're living in NYC it's easy to forget that the Concrete Jungle is surrounded by some truly spectacular nature. Let this serve as a reminder that you're just a hop, skip and an E-ZPass toll away from a weekend of hiking, and swimming, and campfires, and s'mores, and restful slumbers under the night sky. 

Our curated list of kid-friendly campgrounds is perfect for those of us new to camping with the family. These campsites are easy to access and have loads of amenities, but will still give you that surrounded-by-nature feeling that feeds your kid's sense of adventure. 

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best family vacations

After all, camping is one of the best outdoor activities for kids and families—it's right up there with the best hiking trails for NYC families, the best beaches for kids in and around NYC and the best kids' playgrounds NYC families need to visit. So, pack your hot dogs, marshmallows and bug spray, and get camping!

Family camping near NYC

camping beach
camping beach
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1. Hither Hills State Park

Travel time: 3 hrs from Penn Station. Take the LIRR to Montauk and a short cab—or a hike—to the park. 

The camping scene in Montauk is just as alluring as its beaches. Bring the kiddos and take in a waterfront view at Hither Hills State Park, which provides access to bike trails, Napeague Harbor's "walking dunes," night fishing, playing fields and other popular things to do. The campground offers either one five-person tent or two two-person tent or the option to camp in an RV. The camping fees are higher for those traveling from out of state. Note that motor homes, pop-ups and trailers are not allowed in the parking lots on Friday–Sunday. Pets are prohibited in the camping area. Be sure to make a reservation well in advance—Hither Hills always books up.

To learn more about the regulations and to book a trip, visit parks.ny.gov.

Harriman State Park
Harriman State Park
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2. Beaver Pond Campgrounds, Harriman State Park

Travel time: 1 hr by car from NYC.

Located close to Lake Welch in Harriman State Park, the Beaver Pond Campgrounds are perfect for families looking for the comfort of car camping and the adventure of wide, open nature. The tent sites have platforms, and there are bathrooms with hot showers. There's also a swimming beach on Lake Welch, plus miles and miles of trails. All of this just 1 hour from NYC? Better believe it.

To learn more about the regulations and to book a trip, visit parks.ny.gov.

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camp, camping, fire, bonfire, smores, marshmallows
camp, camping, fire, bonfire, smores, marshmallows
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3. NYC Parks

Travel time: None!

Looking to get in tune with nature? Believe it or not, you don't even have to leave NYC. If you're anxious to swap your apartment (briefly) for a tent, have a look at NYC Park's Family Camping events. They're the perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city...without actually leaving. The free program, which operates on a lottery system, allows campers young and old to unleash their inner Henry David Thoreau. Visitors will enjoy an evening hike through the park, stories by the campfire and other exciting outdoor activities (hello s'mores!). Tents will be provided. All that's required of visiting campers is a sleeping bag and additional bedding (and perhaps a teddy for little campers). Although the event is free, registration is required.

Register at nycgovparks.org

Floyd Bennett
Floyd Bennett
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4. Floyd Bennett Field

Travel time: Travel times vary. 2 or 5 train to Flatbush/Brooklyn College; transfer to the Rockaway Park–bound Q35 bus. Ask the driver to stop at the last traffic light before the bridge toll plaza after crossing the Belt Pkwy.

Camping within the five boroughs is a possibility thanks to Floyd Bennett Field. The BYO tent destination has 32 camping sites and 12 RV parking spots. Amenities include picnic tables, grills and a fire ring. Restrooms and showers are nearby, much to parents' relief. No sweat if you've forgotten your gear at home—the camp store offers what you'll need for a night outdoors. 

To learn more about the reservations and book a trip, visit recreation.gov

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Camp camping
Camp camping
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5. Malouf's Mountain Sunset Campgrounds

Travel time: 2 hrs from Grand Central. Take Metro-North's Hudson Line to the Beacon station. Beacon train shuttle will drop you at the beginning of your hike of choice, and shuttle will also deliver your gear to your campsite for you while you hike (hike options range from 30 minutes to 5 hours).

Prepare for an awesome weekend in the shady woods! Maloufs Mountain in Beacon, NY—open from April until October—offers well-spaced campsites so your little chatterboxes won’t keep the neighbors up, plus two site options: tarped platform sites (think mini covered porches) and Primitive Sites (no covering, just wood chips and a picnic table). Platform Sites offer mini kitchens (called chow boxes) with a gas stove, sink, pots and pans, dish soap, paper towels and more, so it’s a pretty cushy deal. There’s also a bathhouse with running water, toilets, hot showers and dryers for wet clothes. 

To learn more about the regulations and to book a trip, visit maloufsmountain.com/campgrounds

NY camping camp site
NY camping camp site
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6. Clarence Fahnestock State Park

Travel time: 1hr 30 mins from Grand Central. From Grand Central Terminal, take Metro-North's Hudson Line to the Cold Spring station. Arrange ahead of time for a taxi ride to the campgrounds.

You’ll find a traditional family camping experience at Clarence Fahnestock State Park, complete with fishing in Stillwater and Canopus Lakes. Rowboats are available for rental, plus there’s a nature center with environmental displays and touch boxes for kids. Enjoy the spending time at the beach, hiking, picnicking and special outdoor movies shown on Saturday nights. Each site is equipped with a picnic table, small BBQ grill and a nice fire ring. Reservations can be made all year. Note that there is a non-refundable reservation fee for campsites, cabins and cottages. 

To learn more about the regulations and to book a trip, newyorkstateparks.reserveamerica.com.

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7. Watch Hill Fire Island National Seashore

Travel time: 2 hrs from Penn Station. Take the Long Island Rail Road Montauk Branch to the Patchogue station and catch a shuttle bus (or walk) to the ferry terminal. Take the 20-minute ferry to Watch Hill. Campground is a short walk from the ferry dock.

The trek to the Fire Island attraction is well worth it. Families can tuck in under the summer sky—walk-ups are possible but online reservations are better. Kids will love being within walking distance of the gorgeous beachfronts, but mom and dad will be especially excited to know that the amenities on the grounds include bathrooms, showers (cold water only!) and drinking water—a must when traveling with kids in tow. For those campers who are looking to take their experience up a knotch, Watch Hill does offer glamping in Safari-style accommodations (platform tents, netting to keep the bugs at bay, rechargeable LED lanterns) for a significantly higher rate Learn more about rates and availability on lovefins.com

To learn more about the regulations and to book a trip, visit nps.gov

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