With the temperatures dropping and the trees beginning to turn, it’s natural to wonder if you made the most of your summer. Or if you might have made too much of it. It’s easy to mess up a perfectly good season with an overpacked schedule. If you could use a few more days to relax, or if you just need one final immersion in nature before winter sets in, you’re in luck. With the help of our friends at Pitchup.com, we’ve scouted a slew of campgrounds that are just an hour outside major U.S. cities.
Below are a few of our favorite campgrounds for quick weekend getaways. While none of these campgrounds are what you’d call “backcountry”— they all feature on-site camp stores, laundry and shower facilities, and most offer a common room with TV and Wi-Fi accessibility — they do offer an opportunity to stretch out your summer with an escape to nature before the weather gets inhospitable. And since camping high season is pretty much over in most of the U.S., going now practically guarantees that you’ll get to enjoy the beautiful fall colors and crisp temperatures in near solitude.
If you’re craving a retreat into nature, don’t overthink it. Pack a bag, toss a sleeping bag in your trunk, and hop on the nearest highway to one of these amazing, city-adjacent campgrounds.
East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania
Ask any hustling 20- to 30-something New Yorker, and they’ll tell you that the key to thriving in the city is getting out of it sometimes. There’s no better retreat than this 65-acre woodland hollow in the Pocono Mountains. Refresh your soul with a morning canoe trip or a meandering hike along the Delaware River, or just a long daydreaming sesh as you gaze up into the green forest ceiling. If you want to break up the day a little, take a trip into nearby Monroe County and visit the local casino or the indoor flea market.
- Big cities: New York City, Phildelphia
- Price: $32/night for primitive gravel and earth tent sites; $36/night for FHU gravel and earth trailer sites; $38/night for powered gravel and earth tent sites; $62/night for four-person cabins
- Open April 12 through October 27
A short ride out of Nashville will transport you to another world, surrounded by the rolling mountains of Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau. Perched among these smoky, scenic foothills is Mountain Glen, a quiet slice of heaven such as John Denver might have dreamed of. Along with a fishing pond, private bathrooms (what?!) and free Wi-Fi throughout the grounds, the campground is just fifteen minutes’ drive from Fall Creek Falls State Park, the state’s southeastern showpiece, where you’ll find forests, caves, gorges, and a majestic waterfall crashing 78 meters into a crystal pool.
- Big city: Nashville
- Price: $18/night for primitive grass tent site; $20/night for powered grass tent site; $33/night for FHU grass and gravel trailer site; $61/night for 1 bedroom on-site trailer
- Open all year
Middle Bass Island, Ohio
Who said an island vacation has to be overpriced and hard to get to? This 21-acre resort lies on an island in the middle of Lake Erie, just off the coast of Sandusky, Ohio, and offers fishing access, a private swimming beach, and kayaks and paddleboards for rent, as well as a number of hiking trails to enjoy 360-degree lakefront views. Best of all? There is an onsite microbrewery and tiki bar where you can satisfy the appetite you’ve worked up, plus a hot tub for relaxing under the stars. All just a few hours from Detroit, Toledo, or Cleveland.
- Big cities: Detroit, Toledo, Cleveland
- Price: $14/night for primitive tent site
- Open April 15 through October 15
Just over an hour from Los Angeles, this desert oasis offers a clean, well-lighted place to escape the 9 to 5. Spend the day on one of the many hiking the quiet desert trails, fishing in one of four nearby lakes, or lounging on a floatie in the pool. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a live music act performing around the fire pit. If you fancy a day trip, you can spend a Sideways type of day at one of the many wineries in neighboring Temecula Valley.
- Big city: Los Angeles
- Price: $25/night for primitive earth tent sites; $34/night for FHU earth sites
- Open all year
We didn’t go to Harvard or Yale, but if we had, this is where we’d have decompressed after exam week. Just an hour from Boston and New Haven, this peaceful woodland site borders on a number of state parks where you can explore forests, waterways, and caves on foot or on a mountain bike. Upscale amenities include an onsite cafe, outdoor pool, and a well-stocked convenience store to supply a gourmet barbecue.
- Big city: Boston
- Price: $35/night for primitive grass and gravel tent sites, 30-amp powered grass and gravel sites (basic, back-in) and 20/30-amp powered grass and gravel trailer sites (basic, woodland); $37/night for 30/50-amp powered grass and gravel trailer sites (woodland, back-in); $74/night for 1-bedroom bunked cabins
- Open April 10 through October 16
College Park, Maryland
This campground is easily the one with most history on our list … which seems fitting, given that it’s just 15 minutes away from downtown Washington, D.C. This former poultry farm began welcoming camping guests back in 1921, and offers a traditional family-style experience today, with rental cabins as well as RV and tent sites. What this campground lacks in remoteness (it’s located within the suburb of College Park), it makes up for in upscale amenities such as two solar-heated pools, a hot tub and sauna, and an on-site cafe. And even though it’s perhaps best suited as a hub for exploring the nation’s capital, there’s still plenty of outdoorsy fun to be had on the grounds’ fishing lake and walking trail.
- Big city: Washington, D.C.
- Price: $199/night for bunk 2-bedroom cabins, queen 2-bedroom cabins, and 1-bedroom cabins
- Open all year
Hidden Lake Safari Ranch and RV Park
Who would have guessed that a wildlife reserve exists 90 minutes from Dallas-Fort Worth? Bring your binoculars — you’re likely to encounter a host of native Texas fauna and waterfowl during your stay. The real star, however, is the 20-acre lake that offers license-free fishing for bass, catfish, and perch. You’ll also find fire rings, classic campground games like horseshoes and croquet, and even a fully furnished cedar cabin if you don’t feel like roughing it. They even keep an RV technician on staff, just in case your transportation needs an assist.
- Big city: Dallas-Fort Worth
- Price: $10/night for primitive grass tent sites; $15/night for FHU gravel sites
- Open all year
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