Summer vacay sticker shock got you shook? Don’t pop a vein. Pitch a tent instead! No flights, no car rentals, no hassles—camping may be your easiest (and cheapest) family vacation ever. Whether you’re a seasoned camper or require a little more luxury when it comes to sleeping under the stars, we’ve got a back-to-nature spot guaranteed to put the great in the great outdoors. Check out our list of the best camping near North Jersey:
If you're torn between a visit to NYC and actual camping:
Governor’s Island, NY
Distance from Bergen County: 17 miles
If the phrase “roughing it” isn’t in your vocabulary (hey, this is still a vacation after all!), a stay at Collective Governor’s Island could be your turn-key camping solution. And a rather posh one at that. A quick ferry ride from downtown Manhattan, this peaceful oasis nestled near the hills of historic Governors Island is like staying at a Four Seasons under the stars, complete with a killer view of Lady Liberty. Guests will enjoy all the fun and adventure the 172-acre island has to offer—including biking, art exhibits, zip lining, tours of the island’s historic National Monuments, and more—without any of the typical campsite hassle. Choose from three different levels of luxury accommodations (all include actual beds, linens, electricity, and private toilets and showers; top-tier amenities include private en suite bathrooms, designer-curated bedspreads, and complimentary meals).
If you’re a camping rookie:
Distance from Bergen County: 43 miles
Not sure your family is going to take to this whole camping thing and want to try it out before you invest in the equipment? Panther Lake is the place to be. They offer camping rental equipment for families just like yours. Tent camping, trailer and cabin rentals are available. Once you’re settled, fish, swim or boat on the 45-acre lake. Or take a dip in the pool, relax in the hot tub, challenge the family to a tennis match, head over to the playground or take advantage of the full daily schedule of entertainment. Panther Lake also has a camp store on site—just in case you forgot to pack the marshmallows.
If you need a little nature:
Distance from Bergen County: 79 miles
Located not far from the Mohonk Preserve and the town of New Paltz, Minnewasha State Park Preserve is home to waterfalls, 50 miles of foot paths for hiking and biking, sky lakes (lakes fed only by rainwater) and world-class rock climbing. You’ll find minimalist camping at its finest here at the Samuel F. Pryor III Shawagunk Gateway Campground with a pavilion, cooking area, bathhouse and restroom facilities with tent-only camping. A plus? The return of the peregrine falcon, back in residence after disappearing from the park in the 1960s.
If you’d like to pick your own adventure:
Distance from Bergen County: 56 miles
Find Stokes State Forest at the point where the Appalachian Trial follows the Kittatinny Mountain Range and hike along for a while. Or pick one of the other 33 miles of marked trails suitable for varying levels of hikers. Camping areas vary from secluded and wooded to open field sites and offer lodging options that range from cabins with showers and other amenities to a site that features only a pit toilet and potable water. Activities include lake swimming, boating, bird watching, biking and a playground.
If you need resort-like amenities:
Distance from Bergen County: 63 miles
There’s camping, and then there’s camping. At Yogi Bear’s, you can stay in tents, cabins or your RV, but you probably won’t be seeing the inside of your lodging very often. Instead, you’ll be at the pool or the interactive splash pad, or playing lazer tag or miniture golf, or jumping on the enticingly named jumping pillow. And when you tire of those things, you can fish or play gaga ball, or mine for gems or head to the arcade. Your kids will have a blast, and you can pat yourself on the back and say you are, wait for it, smarter than the average bear.
If you want to go back in time:
Distance from Bergen County: 71 miles
Camping alone is an education, but how great is it that you can incorporate some other learning into your trip? Visit the historic Village at Allaire, a living history museum that portrays the everyday lives of people living in a 19th-century, iron-producing factory town known as the Howell Iron Works. Or ride the Pine Creek Railroad, a narrow-gauge railroad located in the state park. Then hike or fish for trout before you turn in at one of the 45 campsites, six shelters or four yurts available to families. You’ll find modern sanitary facilities, showers and water within walking distance of your campsite with barbeques, a picnic table and a fire ring also provided.
If you need some sand under your sleeping bag:
Distance from Bergen County: 149 miles
With its proximity to Sea Isle City, Ocean City, Wildwood and Cape May, Ocean View allows your family to roll your camping vacation and your beach vacation into one epic adventure. In addition to all the amenities of a top-notch campground, including pool, splash pad, games, mini golf and tennis courts, Ocean View offers a well-stocked camp store and best of all, a café and lake pavilion that will give parents a break from cooking (what’s more of a vacation than that?). Choose to bunk down in a tent, a cabin or a trailer, and don’t forget to bring Fido. Ocean View is pet friendly.
If you’d rather glamp:
Distance from Bergen County: 61 miles
Are you one of those people who likes nature, but really mostly out the window? Then how about trying a weekend in this two-bed, two-bath treehouse? You can venture out onto the 2,000 square foot wrap-around deck to enjoy the fresh air and then head back inside to your fully equipped kitchen to whip up a gourmet meal for the family. Other amenities include air conditioning, wi-fi and satellite TV proving once again that “roughing it” is in the eye of the beholder.