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Where You Should Go Camping in NJ With Your Kids

Here's what you need to know before you go.


It looks so awesome—all those Facebook photos of smiling friends roasting marshmallows with their kids over a campfire somewhere, but could your kids hack it? Can you? If you’ve never been camping and have no idea where to start—don’t worry, with so many different types and so many places to go there is truly an outdoor experience for everyone. And once you get the hang of it, the kids may never want to sleep indoors again. And if you are looking for an extra way to keep them entertained, try our printable camping game.

Consider cabin camping first

Cabin rentals are a nice non-stressful transition into camping. They also mean you won’t have to lay out a lot of money for pricey camping gear, and they’re better than tents at keeping mosquitos out at night. Some even come with mini fridges and microwaves, which means less to pack and easier cleanup. Once you get the hang of it, it’s an easy graduation to tent camping.

Figure out what you want to do

Is it all about hiking in nature or will your family do best with playgrounds, pools and a slew of planned activities? There are options for both. Some places will even let you bring the dog along, so no one gets left behind.

If you like: Being near the ocean
Then try: Adventure Bound Camping (Cape May)
Camping style: Cabins, tents, RVs
Why we love it: Combine your beach vacation and your camping trip into one at this resort minutes away from Cape May’s boardwalk. Take a break from the shore one day and enjoy the campground’s pools, bouncy houses and a 27-foot inflatable water slide—there’s even an outdoor movie theater. Campsites start at $44/night. 609-465-4440, abcamping.com/abcapemay

If you like: The comforts of home
Then try: Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Camp Resorts (Elmer)
Camping style: Cabins, tents, RVs, yurts
Why we love it: Stay in a fancy deluxe cabin here, complete with air conditioning and a TV (though you’ll probably have to walk to a shared bathroom). They’ve got a big pool, a huge inflatable 36-foot-tall waterslide, a big splash pad and a “gaga pit” where big kids can play this unique-to-Yogi game. Make time for arts and crafts, swimming and bingo, and then squeeze in a little adult time listening to some live music. Plan your trip to coincide with one of their themed weekends, like Christmas in July, Pirate Party or Chocolate Lovers. Campsites start at $48/night. 856-451-7479, campjellystone.com

If you like: Fishing and boating
Then try: Sea Pirate Campground (Long Beach Island)
Camping style: Cabins, tents, RVs
Why we love it: This campground has the best of both worlds—nice seclusion in a wooded lakeside setting and plenty of activities to keep the kids busy during the day. Kids can join arts and crafts classes or participate in a ton of lake-related activities, from fishing (the lake is fully stocked) and kayaking to canoeing and crabbing. And there’s a snack bar on site, just in case someone forgets and leaves the burgers on the BBQ a little too long. Campsites start at $50.39/night. 609-296-7400, sea-pirate.com

If you like: Outdoor adventure
Then try: Delaware River Family Campground (Columbia)
Camping style: Cabins, tents, RVs
Why we love it: You can’t beat this campground’s right-on-the-Delaware-Water-Gap location. Rent tubes, canoes or kayaks and float your way down the river. Try your hand at mini-golf, lounge in the heated pool or cuddle up for an outdoor family movie night. And since you’re so close to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, spend the day hiking along some of the most spectacular trails around. Campsites start at $45/night. 908-475-4517 or 800-543-0271, njcamping.com/delaware.

If you like: High-adrenaline fun
Then try: Knoebels Campgrounds (Elysburg, PA)
Camping style: Cabins, tents, RVs,
Why we love it: The standout feature of this campsite is that it’s right next to (and we mean RIGHT next to) Knoebels Amusement Resort. You’ll be so close to the rollercoasters you’ll hear the kids screaming (with excitement)—plus you can roll out of bed and be at the park right when it opens—better yet, you can take advantage of the park’s restaurants. Campsites start at $52/night. 570-672-9555, knoebels.com/index.php/camping

If you like: Lakefront camping
Then try: Spruce Run Recreation Area (Clinton)
Camping style: Tents, RV hook-ups
Why we love it: Probably the most “roughing it” you’ll want to do with little kids (restrooms are a bit of a walk), there are just tents and RV hook-ups here (no cabins). But you can book a campsite right on the waterfront, which means boating, fishing and a sandy beach are steps away from your front “door.” Campsites start at $20/night. 908-638-8572, reserveamerica.com

What to Pack

Resist the urge to bring everything outdoors with you—on your 300th trip to the car you’ll regret it. Most family campgrounds have a small store for anything you may have forgotten. Your exact camping checklist will depend on where you go, but this is a good start:
• food
• flashlights
• tents
• something to cook with (charcoal or propane)
• sleeping bags
• a first-aid kit
• a cooler with ice
• batteries
• plenty of water (bring gallons if you pick a spot without access to running water)
• matches (or a lighter)
• sunscreen
• bug spray
•  tarps
• sleeping pads/air mattresses/cots
• clothes (and swim gear)
• utensils and a sturdy utility knife
• firewood (check with your campground first—many won’t let you bring your own if they offer it for sale, and almost all frown upon you chopping down their trees).

Electronics: If your goal is to let the kids enjoy the outdoors, leave the iPads at home. If not, have some sort of battery backup, perhaps a solar option, so there aren’t tears when there’s no more juice for Fortnite.


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