Camping with kids: 16 places to experience the outdoors

Ami Neiberger-Miller

Get back to nature with your family and go camping at one of these lovely locations near Washington, D.C. You’ll find all sorts of activities and amenities, from fine dining and ice cream parlors to curling and river tubing. We’ve sorted camping facilities into three categories: “Roughing It” (for those who truly want to hike and haul their gear), “Pull Up and Unload” (for those who want to camp with a tent or RV without the trek through the woods with gear), and “Glamping” (for those who want to bring only a suitcase).

Insider tip: Many campgrounds provide firewood, ask you not to bring your own firewood, or tell you to bring only store-bought firewood. This is because of the Emerald Ash borer threat, which poses a danger to trees throughout the area.

 

ROUGHING IT

Cedarville State Forest, Brandywine, Md.

Go primitive with your horse in the forest’s equestrian camping area. Hunting, fishing, picnicking, mountain bike riding, and horse trails offered.

 

Chopawamsic Backcountry, Triangle, Va.

Hike to tent sites in the back country of the Prince William Forest. No sanitation or trash facilities provided. Hiking, biking, and picnicking offered.

Camping spots at Leesylvania State Park in Woodbridge, Va.
Camping spots at Leesylvania State Park in Woodbridge, Va.

Leesylvania State Park, Woodbridge, Va.

Primitive “paddle in” campsites offered. Boating, peer fishing, and hiking.

 

Sky Meadows State Park, Delaplane, Va.

Hike a mile from the parking lot to your campsite at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Pit toilets, non-potable water, and firewood available. Tour the Mount Bleak House, hike 24 miles of trails, fish in Turner Pond, or pedal your bike down 9 miles of trails.

 

PULL UP AND UNLOAD

Burke Lake Park, Fairfax Station, Va.

This campground offers 100 sites for tents and RVs. Ride the miniature train or merry-go-round, go hiking or biking, play golf or miniature golf, visit the ice cream parlor, or enjoy a rowboat ride. Campsites closed Oct. 31–April 15.

 

Cherry Hill Park, College Park, Md.

This campground boasts it is the closest campground to Washington, D.C. Rent a log cabin, yurt, or cottage. Swimming pools — and splash pad for the kids — café, miniature golf, Wi-Fi, dog run, laundry, and camp store. This park has 400 campsites and the majority are for RVs. Review the online camp map before booking.  

 

Downriver Canoe Company, Bentonville, Va.

This small and primitive campground for tent camping is reserved for canoeists booking a trip with the company. The site is located at picturesque Compton Rapid. Fire pits, portable toilets, fresh water, and picnic tables are provided. Park your car at the campground with your gear and canoe into camp.

 

Drummer Boy Camping Resort, Gettysburg, Pa.

Enjoy camping with your RV or tent, or in a cabin or cottage just minutes from downtown Gettysburg. Two pools (one with a waterslide), camp store, arcade, playground, mini-golf, snack bar, and fishing pond onsite. Golf cart and tricycle rentals available.

Pitch a tent and enjoy the views at Sky Meadows State Park in Delaplane, Va.
Pitch a tent and enjoy the views at Sky Meadows State Park in Delaplane, Va.

Greenbelt Park, Greenbelt, Md.

Tent camping for individuals, families, and organized groups is available at this beautiful “urban oasis.” RVs are allowed (no hookups). Picnic areas, playground, and hiking available. Metro is a 2-mile walk.  

 

Pohick Bay Regional Park, Lorton, Va.

Tent sites and cabins are available, as well as RV sites with full hookups. Boating, kayaking, equestrian trails, disc golf, hiking, miniature golf, a waterpark, and paddle boarding offered.

 

Shenandoah River Outfitters, Luray, Va.

Enjoy camping in a pristine setting at Camp Outback with your tent. Restrooms and hot showers are available, and firewood is for sale. The campground borders George Washington National Forest and has a walking trail to the Shenandoah River. Enjoy canoeing and rafting. Cabin and cottage rentals, many with hot tubs, are also available.

 

GLAMPING

Algonkian Regional Park, Sterling, Va.

Vacation cottages fronting the Potomac River are fully furnished with private kitchens and have decks. Four-bedroom deluxe cottages include hot tubs. Golf, waterpark (summertime only), and hiking offered.

State parks, like Sky Meadows in Delaplane, Va., have fall festivals and events to enjoy while you camp.
State parks, like Sky Meadows in Delaplane, Va., have fall festivals and events to enjoy while you camp.

Front Royal Outdoors, Front Royal, Va.

Stay at your private rental home overlooking the Massanutten Mountain Range and the Shenandoah Valley. Enjoy canoeing and fishing, or explore the valley.

 

The Lodge at Glendorn, Bradford, Pa.

These luxury cabins are loaded with charm. Activities include fly fishing, shooting sports, spa treatments, dining, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, curling, and more.

 

Rose River Farm, Syria, Va.

Luxury rental cabins in a yurt style. This property focuses on western-style fly fishing.

 

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