As the father of two daughters (ages 9 & 6), I know that camping with young children can be difficult but it is also a lot of fun. We took our first daughter camping at 3 months old and the second one at 6 months old. Those early camping trips have helped to pave the way for a family who enjoys spending a lot of time in the outdoors.
The biggest thing we take into account when looking for a place to camp as a family is what are we going to do to keep ourselves busy all day long. Camping is a lot of work, you have to set up tents, cook and clean in inconvenient places and it feels like you are always fixing or cleaning something or someone. So you have to find fun activities to do during the day to make it worth the effort.
I've found that entertained kids are happy kids. If kids have a lot of fun on a family camping trip they will be begging to go again. Ensuring a good time for everyone in the family will make the weekend more fun but also help create fun family memories. Below are some tips for choosing the perfect family camping site.
Top 5 Ideal Family Camping Sites
- Camp near many large rock outcroppings. Kids naturally love climbing on rocks. We like to camp near safe places where the whole family can try some light rock climbing and safe scrambling. This requires some adult supervision but is a fun activity for all.
- Camping on a lake is always a success. We love to swim, skip rocks and take turns paddling the kayak all afternoon long.
- Camping near many different hiking trails is also a hit. Having more than one way to go exploring helps to break up the time. After the kids have been down one hiking trail you can take a break then go a different way later in the day. Kids usually enjoy hiking short distances but its better to have multiple short hiking options that one long hiking trail.
- Camp near a small river or stream. My girls have spent entire afternoons trying to catch tadpoles or minnows. Give them a safe place to play and a plastic cup and the hours will just fly by.
- Camping on sand is fun too. Some of our favorite camping spots include The Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado or Moab, Utah. Both of these car camping destinations provide opportunities for children to build sandcastles and other fun sand projects right at the campsite.
Instead of heading to a campground and then trying to find something to do, we like to start with picking a place that we know we'll have fun playing all day long then figure out where we can camp. I look at the camping portion of a weekend trip as just a necessary part to keep the fun going all weekend long. If you find a really fun place to play, your whole family will love spending a entire weekend at the campsite.
Do you like any of these family camping tips? Do you have any car camping tips of your own that you'd like to share? Enter your own tips in the comments below.
Check out more of our Family Camping Tips
Tips for Making Camping Fun for the Whole Family
Family Camping 101
Car Camping Gear: Bring These 5 Luxury Items