Road Trips on the East Coast of America
When most people say camping, they mean tents, sleeping bags, rolling around on the hard, cold ground for days, and lots of pork and beans. But for people who have camped as much as I have, it really just means taking our house on wheels on the road for some family fun.
Dry Tortugas National Park, Key West.
For, the first time I went to Key West I couldn’t believe there was water so clear in a place that belonged under the Red, White, and Blue. It just didn’t seem possible. But this remote island park, which is home to lots of marine life, coral reefs, and Fort Jefferson, is, simply put, a tropical beach paradise.
Now before you get on my case about how the Dry Tortugas is only a place you can visit by boat—don’t worry, I’ve got a plan. Park the RV at Boyd’s Key West Campground, and hoof it to the Dry Tortugas ferry pick-up point in town. You can spend the whole day—or if you packed a tent—on the islands, get a little crispy, and enjoy the tropical side of life.
Ginnie Springs, Florida.
Do you know what’s awesome? Tubing. And in Ginnie Springs, it’s not allowed not to. Grab an inflatable and get in the clear, crisp Sante Fe River for a ride that’s all relaxed and no work—which sounds exactly like the kind of camping I like most.
If you’re SCUBA certified, it’s also a great place not to just float on the water, but to also dive right in, with underwater grottos, caverns, caves, and lots of colorful fish. But if you’re toting the kids and they’re not old enough to be trained, bring the snorkel gear or just grab a kayak—there’s plenty of water sports for the whole family!
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina.
If you don’t already know that the best place to get a look at the changing autumn leaves is from Clingman’s Dome on the state lines of North Carolina and Tennessee in the Great Smoky Mountains, then you’ve just been living under a rock. One as big as Black Mountain.
As the most visited National Park in America, the Smokies aren’t new to the kind of shenanigans you and your family like to get up to. Take a horseback ride in Cades Cove or get adventurous with a hike to Alum Cave—either way, go in the fall, and get ready for s’mores and lots of golden, pumpkin, wine-colored leaves lighting up the view as far as the eye can see.
Hunting Island State Park, South Carolina.
When was the last time you climbed to the top of a lighthouse? Or just took the afternoon to fish? At Hunting Island State Park you can climb the only public lighthouse in the state—for a rather spectacular view too—and you’re only minutes from that sweet Atlantic shoreline. Next best thing about the park? You’re in the Deep South, which means trips into town—aka Beaufort—means lots of fresh seafood, biscuits, and if you’re lucky, fried green tomatoes.
Assateague State Park, Maryland.
Are you a fan of oceanfront property? Then ditch the RV for the night and pull up a sleeping bag next to the campfire and feels the sand beneath your toes because this national park is a barrier island, and you can’t get any closer to the ocean unless you decide to get right in it (and I don’t think the camper would survive that very well). The extra cool perk? Wild ponies roaming around—so grab your sneakers and head out to find them!
Hershey Highmeadow Campground, Pennsylvania.
If you think this campground has anything to do with chocolate just because of the name you’d be dead right—it’s a chocolate wonderland! Not only a great place to take the kids (can you say discount tickets to Hersheypark), but being so close to Hershey, Pennsylvania means golfing, spas, sports, shopping, and excellent dining—in other words, something for everyone! And an extra bonus, the campground comes equipped with wifi—everywhere—so you can finally have a moment’s peace while the kids frantically refresh their Facebook feeds.
Letchworth State Park, New York.
When you’ve got a name like the “The Grand Canyon of the East,” you’re just not allowed to be anything but spectacular, and Letchworth definitely delivers. Head out to the huge gorge that sports three different waterfalls or go in the winter for some great snowboarding and cross-country skiing. Just don’t forget to grab a view from one of their hot air balloon rides—it’s a killer vantage point that you don’t want to miss, especially if you’re a slave to Instagram.
And if you are addicted to travel photography, or just traveling from abroad, make sure you start by prepping your phone and grabbing a SIM card at any of the local gas stations, or convenience store stops along the way—it’ll save you a bundle in international roaming, and the bars will be better everywhere, which is a great backup for when you run across a bear out hiking and can’t help but call everyone you know. I can’t really blame you—I’d definitely do it too!
Mount Desert Island, Maine.
Lobsters, open flames, hiking, swimming, fresh-picked blueberries galore…could you want anything more in a camping destination? Well if you ask for more, you’ll get it, because if you hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain early in the morning, you can watch the sunrise before anyone else in the continental U.S. Head to Bar Harbour for some vacationing festivities like fine dining and great shopping, or just hang out along the cliffs—it’s an incredible view.
I don’t know where you’ll start on this list, but I certainly know where you’ll end; back home with a bunch of great memories of laying on the beach, climbing to unforgettable views, and spending quality time with you people you love most. That’s what all of this is about anyway!
Have a favorite spot that we missed? Send us a message or leave a comment so we can check it out!