Camping under New England's Stars
159 Macedonia Brook Rd. 860-927-3238.
October Mountain State Forest, Lee, Massachusetts
Sprawling across more than 16,000 acres and encompassing mountains, lakes, rivers, and reservoirs, October Mountain State Forest is the largest state-owned tract of land in the Bay State. Make it your playground for all sorts of woodland adventures (the extensive trail system is popular with ATV users and mountain bikers) or use it as a launching pad for cultural forays into the Berkshire hot spots of Lenox and Stockbridge, home to Tanglewood and the Norman Rockwell Museum. Set up camp on shady, grassy plots across the street from the Housatonic River — and know there will be a hot shower waiting for you in the morning.
Woodland Rd. 413-243-1778.
Paine’s Campground, South Wellfleet, Massachusetts
To show your family a Cape Cod without traffic jams and body piercings, muscle through the gridlock all the way out to South Wellfleet and stay at Paine’s Campground. For more than 45 years, the Paine family has been offering guests the best of both worlds: tidy wooded sites within spitting distance of both freshwater kettle ponds and the salty beaches of the Cape Cod National Seashore. The Paines know a thing or two about campers, so they’ve sectioned off their plots into distinct demographic areas: family campers, quiet couples, and young couples and singles. A few ultra-private hike-in sites are available for those who ask nicely.
180 Old County Rd. 508-349-3007.
Salty Acres Campground, Kennebunkport, Maine
This very large (225 sites), full-service campground takes full advantage of one of southern Maine’s prettiest stretches of coastline. Families use this mostly as base camp for forays to nearby Goose Rocks Beach, a three-mile swath of white sand with a shallow grade and lack of surf that make it perfect for the sand-pail set. Its tidal pools keep budding naturalists entertained for hours.
277 Mills Rd. (Rte. 9). 207-967-2483.
Whispering Pines Campground, East Orland, Maine
Fifty campsites hug the shoreline of Toddy Pond, a wild and undeveloped 10-mile-long lake only 30 miles from Acadia National Park. Explore Toddy by canoe (free of charge to campers) or stay cool on the campground’s swimming beach. The gradual, sandy grade makes it safe for children to swim and wallow. This is Thoreau’s unspoiled Maine woods, but, thankfully, it’s retrofitted with flush toilets, fireplaces, and horseshoe courts. If your family tires of wildlife (keep your eyes peeled for moose, loons, and deer), venture to nearby Bar Harbor for shopping, sightseeing, and a saltwater fix.
Rte. 1. 207-469-3443.