I’ve mentioned several times that I am decidedly not a camper, at least not a “pitch your own tent” kind of camper. I don’t know how to pitch a tent, at least not yet, and I don’t own a sleeping bag. However, I do love a good campground.
Three years, ago, we stayed in deluxe cabins at the Mystic KOA in Connecticut and the Delaware Water Gap / Pocono Mountain KOA in Pennsylvania as part of a two-week road trip from DC to Boston. Each cabin had air conditioning, satellite television, a kitchenette and a private bathroom. There was even a picnic table out front that was perfect for dining al fresco. My kind of camping with kids.
Even better, there were loads of kids’ activities, including a playground, swimming pool, crafts and a jumping pillow (which sadly was out of service when we were there). One of the nights of our stay there was even an ice cream sundae party for all of the campers.
This year, we’re going on a seven-week road trip across the country. We’ll be staying four nights in deluxe cabins at KOA. We won’t exactly be roughing it, but it just feels like a must to stay at least a few nights at a campground as part of a big road trip.
In New Mexico, we’ll stay two nights at the Carlsbad KOA in a deluxe cabin that sleeps six people in a queen bed, a futon and a set of bunk beds. You do need to bring your own sheets, but really, that’s no big deal. Plus, it’s in a great location for visiting Carlsbad Caverns. A few weeks later, we’ll stay two nights at the Yellowstone Park KOA just outside the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park.
If you’re thinking about a stay at a KOA, many of the sites across the country have cabins (“kamping lodges”) along with tent sites. Take a look at 10 KOA campgrounds that are especially fun for kids:
Port Huron KOA (Michigan)
Just one hour from Detroit, the Port Huron KOA has go carts, batting cages, train rides and bike rentals. Even better, there’s an ice cream parlor and a “Western Complex” with an old-time general store and a sheriff’s office. There’s even an 88-seat Opera House for nightly movies.
Herkimer Diamond KOA (New York)
You’ll find a collection of science-themed cabins at Herkimer Diamond KOA in Upstate New York, like The Sky Catcher, an astronomy-themed cabin with its own observatory and high-powered telescope. Kids can also prospect for diamonds (quartz crystals) at the Herkimer Diamond Mines.
Ventura Ranch KOA (California)
Just an hour outside Los Angeles, kids will love splashing in the pool at Ventura Ranch KOA, which sits at the foot of Ventura County’s tallest mountain, Topa Topa. Take a nature walk, fly down a zipline or race up the rock climbing tower. Even better, reserve one of several Sioux Indian-style teepees.
Waterloo / Lost Island Waterpark KOA (Iowa)
You may be in Iowa, but you may not know it from the looks of the island-themed Waterloo / Lost Island Waterpark KOA, which is located adjacent to Lost Island Waterpark. Kids will also love the nine-hole disc golf course, as well as on-site paddleboat and kayak rentals.
Carlsbad KOA (New Mexico)
Look for Friday evening campfires, nightly BBQ dinners, scavenger hunts and a brand new playground at the Carlsbad KOA in Southeast New Mexico. As a bonus, the campground is just minutes away from Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park, as well as Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
Cape Hatteras KOA (North Carolina)
Located on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Cape Hatteras KOA boasts a new zero entry pool, water slides, train rides, and just over the dunes, the perfect beach. Look for vacation suites with views of the Atlantic Ocean, as well as pirate-themed activities that pay homage to the legendary Black Beard.
Astoria KOA (Oregon)
On the North Coast of Oregon sits the Astoria KOA, which has an indoor pool, a jumping pillow, mini golf, rental bikes and a dog park. As a bonus, the campground is across the street from Fort Stevens State Park, which is perfect for kite flying, whale watching, clam digging and beachcombing.
Yellowstone Park / West Entrance KOA (Montana)
Just six miles from the popular west entrance to Yellowstone National Park, the Yellowstone Park / West Entrance KOA is about as close as you can get to one of our most-visited national parks. Look for mini golf, daily pancake breakfasts and a heated indoor pool, which is perfect after a day of hiking.
Mount Rushmore KOA at Palmer Gulch (South Dakota)
Just minutes from Mount Rushmore, kids will love the splash pad, water slides, bike rentals, chuckwagon dinners and gold panning at the Mount Rushmore KOA at Palmer Gulch in the Black Hills. You’ll also find twice-weekly hayrides and live entertainment three nights a week.
San Diego Metro KOA (California)
Just outside San Diego, look for a full-time activities director that ensures kids have fun from morning until night at the San Diego Metro KOA. Look for a heated pool, a rock climbing wall and bike rentals. Traveling with a pet? There’s Kamp K9, a dog-friendly on-site campground for dogs to run and play.