Camping is a wonderful way to explore the outdoors while spending serious quality time with your family—and you can do it all for much less money than you'd spend at a Boston-area hotel or vacation rental home. While Massachusetts is home to many campgrounds and campsites, we have selected eight that go out of their way to create a kid-friendly experience that combines adventure and creature comforts.
Whether you are camping in a fancy lakeside yurt or a pop-up tent in your backyard, make downtime and evenings fun with these camping games to play with kids.
Considered a "luxury camping destination," Normandy Farms offers deluxe cabin and yurt rentals while also accommodating tents and RVs. Perfect for all the sports fan families out there, this site is a quick eight-minute drive to Patriot Place, home to the New England Patriots and Gillette Stadium. This campsite has four swimming pools, two playgrounds, a bike park, a dog park, and tons of outdoor games like horseshoe and shuffleboard. Along with its amenities, this campsite has a jam-packed calendar filled with fun family-friendly events.
There's a playground, lawn games, and even frisbee golf—along with water fun—at Tully Lake. Photo courtesy of recreation.gov
Tent-only Tully is located on a 200-acre lake that's only 90 minutes from Boston in Royalston, an area known for its waterfalls. Campers can rent canoes and kayaks for the lake and Tully River or try their hand at mountain biking and hiking on the campground’s woodland trails. Tully Lake also offers numerous family activities, including horseshoes, volleyball, cornhole, and even disc (frisbee) golf. If your family includes a furry four-legged friend, you'll be happy to hear that dogs are welcome!
Mini-golf is a hit at the Boston Cape Cod KOA. Photo courtesy of the campground
For families who don’t care to rough it, the Boston KOA offers tents and RV camping, plus new deluxe cabins that include a private queen bedroom, a bunk bed room, refrigerator, microwave, and private bath. Young campers will enjoy the campground’s pool, along with mini golf, a jumping pillow, arts and crafts, an outdoor cinema, and all kinds of seasonal recreational activities. Kids don't complain about the sundae bar, either!
A gorgeous North Shore beach is right outside your tent at Salisbury Beach State Reservation. Photo courtesy of the Massachusetts Office of Tourism
You want to camp at the beach, you say? This reservation has nearly 500 campsites in more than 500 acres along a 3.8-mile stretch of beach. If the beach itself isn’t enough entertainment, Salisbury offers concerts, a playground, a boardwalk, a carousel, and an arcade. While it’s not shady and secluded like many campgrounds, it is right on the beach. Between April and mid-September, pets are welcome at the campground but not on the beach.
Lakefront fun is on the agenda when camping in Plymouth. Photo courtesy of Pinewood Lodge
Pinewood Lodge is hidden beneath 200 shady acres of pine forest. With a 50-acre freshwater lake, the Lodge’s water activities are endless—swimming, bass fishing, kayaking, and canoeing are all available. And with 300 sites at the campground, visitors have the option to camp in a tent, RV, yurt, cabin, or even a house. Pinewood Lodge also provides a store, on-site laundry, and even—wait for it—a cocktail lounge. Themed weekends include "Christmas in July" and "Luau at Lake Park." For families interested in some history with their camping, Plimoth Plantation is just 20 minutes away, while families with tiny train enthusiasts may find nearby Thomas Land a must-visit!
A little over an hour from the city will bring you to Pine Acres, located on Lake Dean. BYO tent or RV, or choose to rent a cabin or RV for your stay. Families can enjoy boating, swimming, and fishing on the lake, or hit the pool and splash pad to cool off. As if that's not enough to keep your little ones busy, this campsite also offers bike rentals, mini golf, an arcade, a playground, and even an old-fashioned gem mine. For families that include their pup on their travels, Pine Acres has a dog park and pet washing station.
Ipswich River is an absolute gem. The sanctuary is a great experience for first-time campers. Families can enjoy s'mores and treks into the natural surroundings of the sanctuary, either on the river or into the woods.
For a really adventurous experience, try the Boston Harbor Islands. What's cooler than camping on an island you can get to on public transportation and ferry? (Answer: nothing!) Peddocks offers tent sites complete with picnic tables and grills. Families that reserve early enough might be able to score one of the yurts, which sleep a family in style. Be aware that it's a carry-in, carry-out park.
Originally published in August 2017