Camping under New England's Stars
Lost River Valley Campground, North Woodstock, New Hampshire
Sleep here and you’re a stone’s throw from all the attractions of the White Mountains: swimming, hiking, biking, the Flume, the Cog Railway, theaters, golf. But with two rivers (Lost River and Walker Brook; be sure to bring every family member his or her own inner tube) and thousands of acres of national forest just outside your tent flap, plan a few days to stay put. Whether you pitch a tent or park an RV here, you’ll be happy campers, but call early and reserve a brook-front site for the best views.
951 Lost River Rd. 603-745-8321.
Macedonia Brook State Park, Kent, Connecticut
If your brood wants its MTV, this spot is not for you. But if The Swiss Family Robinson graces your bedside table, look no further. What Macedonia Brook lacks in amenities, it makes up for with the wonders of nature: the Appalachian Trail passes right by the campground as it cuts across the northwestern corner of Connecticut. Some campsites are set along the campground’s brook. Views of the Catskill and Taconic Mountains are a vigorous hike away; the Blue Trail summits Cobble Mountain and other nearby peaks. Bring binoculars, a bird identification guide, plenty of bug repellent, and extra moleskin. Best leave the 35-foot-long land yacht at home and opt for a pop-up trailer or tent.
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.