These days, campgrounds are so much more than rustic tent pads and pit toilets in the woods. From waterparks to outdoor movie screenings to (kid-friendly!) on-site breweries, campgrounds today offer the kinds of perks you'd expect at upscale resorts while still retaining the fun, low-key appeal of camping.
Every kid knows that camping is better when a playground is nearby, and many of today's modern campgrounds don't skimp in this area. While swing sets, slides and monkey bars still rule the roost, so too do jump pillows, basketball courts, horseshoe pits and swinging bridges. Many campgrounds today invest in the kind of playgrounds that have the kids begging to return—and give parents the chance to relax around the campfire while the kids burn some energy nearby.
From swimming pools to sandy beaches, many campgrounds offer exciting ways to cool down in the water. But there are some campgrounds that take the fun to a whole new level by offering their campers access to full-scale waterparks. Take for instance Frontier Town near Ocean City, Maryland. This campground's water park offers fun for all ages, from a splash pad for the little ones with interactive water tables and mini geysers, to water slides for thrill seekers and a lazy river for those that want to enjoy the water at a slower pace. Spend the day at the water park, and then head back to camp to dry off and refuel.
Worried about how you'll pass the time should the weather turn sour while you're holed up at camp? You won't have to worry if you're staying at a campground that offers campers access to a game room—a popular campground perk these days. Campground game rooms often feature places to lounge and watch TV, board games, "arcade" games, ping-pong or air hockey, book exchanges, jigsaw puzzles and other fun ways to pass the time. It's so much fun that you might even find yourself wishing for a rainy day just so you have an excuse to take on your kids in that air hockey rematch.
Business savvy campgrounds are now combing the joys of camping with the laid-back, family-friendly, booming brewing industry. From growler filling stations to full-on restaurants and breweries, a growing number of campgrounds are adding beer to their list of amenities. At Devils Backbone Camp in Virginia, the 71-acre campground is located right on the grounds of Devils Backbone Brewing. In addition to the campground, the entire site consists of a brewpub, distillery, restaurant, outdoor bar and stage.
Concerts in the park are a lovely way to create a sense of community and provide entertainment—and campgrounds have caught onto this fun summer tradition. To the delight of those camping, campgrounds commonly have small stage areas where local musical acts are invited to perform in the evenings. Bring your camping chairs or a picnic blanket and some refreshments, and enjoy the soft sounds wafting through the evening air. Your camping weekend will be better for it.
Looking for a low-key activity to do before you put the kids to bed? Campgrounds often host outdoor screenings of kid-friendly movies after the sun has set. Taking in a movie under the stars is a fun way to entertain the kids before they're ready to hit the hay and will make memories for the entire family. Bring your sleeping bags and a fun snack with you to the movie screening and enjoy catching a classic beneath the twinkling night sky.
S'mores and Ice Cream Socials
Get to know your fellow campers and make new friends by attending a s'mores or ice cream social at the campground. During the high season, many campgrounds will host social events to bring campers together. These family-friendly gatherings are a great way to meet new people, collect some new campground recommendations and just generally have a good time with people who enjoy spending time outdoors as much as you do.
Forget spending money at an adventure park to partake in high-flying adventures like ropes courses and zip lining—an increasing number of campgrounds are offering these fun amenities right on site. At Unicoi State Park in Georgia, campers can fly through the treetops on 19 zip lines and seven suspension bridges while taking in views of the park's lake and wildlife from an all new perspective.
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