Summertime is the season for baseball, beaches, and for many families, camping. Intrepid explorers may load up an RV and head to iconic spots like Yellowstone or Yosemite. But for the parents who think sleeping in a tent with children is adventure enough, there are plenty of camping spots within an easy drive of Richmond.
With the ocean to the east, mountains to the west, and beautiful scenery to the north and south, Richmond is the perfect jumping off spot for any kind of camping adventure. Whether you’re a camping newbie or a seasoned outdoor adventurer, summer is a great time to pack up the kids and expose them to stars, s’mores, and all the splendor of nature.
Luckily, Virginia has no shortage of camping spots that work for both adults and young ones alike.
To choose the best family camping spots within a few hours of the city, we looked at the following factors:
- Kid-friendly activities and/or playgrounds.
- Bathhouse and bathroom facilities present.
Vacations with kids can easily turn stressful and over-scheduled. Camping offers a chance to get back to basics and spend quality, TV-free time with your children. So once school is out, throw the family in the car, and explore our beautiful state with these five picks. Just don’t forget the bug spray!
In the meantime, if you know of a great camping spot that we didn’t mention, be sure to let us know about it at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Distance from Richmond: 95 miles (1 hour, 30 minutes)
Located in Fairfax County, the 888-acre Burke Lake Park literally has something for everyone. Whether you want to boat or fish the 218-acre lake, bike one of the ten fitness trails, play mini-golf, hang out on a carousel, or go for a ride on the miniature steam engine train, there’s no shortage of things to do. There are also family-friendly camps, classes, and special events like Campfire Saturdays, geocaching workshops, movie showing, and full-moon boat tours. And if all that isn’t enough, there is even a full-service ice cream parlor that’s sure to please even the most outdoor-phobic member of your clan.
Location: 7315 Ox Road, Fairfax Station, VA 22039
Camping Logistics: 100 wooded sites, no electrical or water hookups. Each site has a grill, picnic table, and fire circle. RVs up to 25-feet permitted.
Amenities: Bathhouses with sinks, showers, and flushing toilets. Camp store with ice, wood, and charcoal available for purchase.
Fees: $28 Mon-Thurs, $31 weekends and holidays (per night/per site)
Distance from Richmond: 170 miles (2 hours, 45 minutes)
Set in the heart of some of Virginia’s most beautiful mountain scenery, there are endless activities at this state park for adults, from a 50-acre lake stocked with trout to 43-miles of bike and hiking trails. The good news is that there’s also plenty here for kids, from a sandy swimming area with a snack bar to playgrounds and picnic areas. If beans and hot dogs aren’t your ideas of a perfect meal, you can also enjoy the park’s restaurant overlooking the lake. And with cabin rentals, this is another great park for families who want to explore the great outdoors but come home at night to the comforts of air-conditioning and indoor plumbing.
Camping Logistics: Options include climate-controlled cabins with kitchens and other amenities, five and six-bedroom lodges, and several campsites. All campsites offer bathhouses with showers and flush toilets, and some offer water and electric hookups. RVs up to 50-feet are allowed, dependent on the campsite. Some of these accommodations require advance reservations and have minimum stay requirements, so make sure to plan ahead. All of the specific information about camping at Douthat can be found here.
Amenities: Campsites offer bathhouses with showers and flush toilets. Cabins and lodges include private bathrooms and kitchens.
Distance from Richmond: 79 miles (1 hour, 30 minutes)
If your family is more into the coast than the mountains, head to this family-friendly state park on the Northern Neck with spectacular views of the Potomac River as well as hiking, biking, fishing, and boating. Water babies will love the Olympic-sized swimming pool with a slide and concessions. There are also fun events and programs like ice-cream making, fossil hikes, and shark’s tooth necklace making. Once everyone in your family is good and tired from a day of adventure, you can either sleep under the stars or enjoy one of the cabins available.
Location: 145 Cliff Road, Montross, VA 22520
Camping Logistics: Options include climate-controlled cabins with kitchens and amenities, a lodge that can hold up to 16, rustic camping cabins, and a variety of campsites, some with water and electric hookups. RVs up to 40-feet are allowed at some of the campsites. Some of these accommodations require advance reservations and have minimum stay requirements, so make sure to plan ahead. All of the specific information about camping at Westmoreland can be found here.
Amenities: Campsites offer bathhouses with showers and flush toilets. Cabins and lodges include private bathrooms and kitchens. There is also a camp store with camping and picnic supplies.
Pets: Allowed but certain accommodations require additional fees.
Distance from Richmond: 135 miles (2 hours, 30 minutes)
Located on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River, this 1,600-acre state park is great for families who want to experience extraordinary scenery along with some modern comforts. With a campground featuring water and electric hookups as well as camping cabins, this is a great spot for those who need to ease into the whole “living in nature” thing. There is also plenty of family-friendly fun to be had. Keep everyone in your family busy with river access to boat or fish, 24 miles of trails for hiking or biking, and a Virginia Canopy Tour zip line for those who want to take in the grandeur of the Shenandoah Valley from the treetops. Plus, you won’t want to miss the park’s various events and programs, from an eco-kayak tour to an interactive course about toads, turtles, and snakes.
Camping Logistics: There’s an array of options for every level of comfort: riverfront tent-only sites, sites with water-electric hookups for tents, popups, and RVs up to 60-feet, rustic camping cabins (bunkhouses) that are not climate-controlled, climate-controlled cabins with kitchens and a range of amenities, a six-bedroom climate-controlled lodge with an array of amenities, and even three rustic yurts. Some of these accommodations require advance reservations and have minimum stay requirements, so make sure to plan ahead. All of the specific information about camping at Shenandoah River can be found here.
Amenities: Varies depending on the type of accommodation. Tent-only sites, water-electric sites, and camping cabins are in proximity to a full-service bathroom and bathhouse with hot showers. Climate-controlled cabins and lodge have private, indoor bathrooms.
Fees: $20 per night for standard tent camping, $35 for camping with water and electric. Cabins start at $47/night. All nightly and weekly cabin prices can be found here.
Pets: Allowed but certain accommodations require additional fees.
Distance from Richmond: 23 miles (30 minutes)
There are a lot of great parks in Virginia, but one of the best ones for families is right in Richmond’s backyard. Pocahontas State Park features fishing, boating, picnicking, 64-plus miles of trails, and nature and history programs. And if all that doesn’t entice your children, just tell them about the aquatic center with a toddler pool, fountain wet deck, three-foot and five-foot-deep leisure pools, an activity pool, and two water slides. And just to make sure that everyone’s comfort levels are met to the fullest, Pocahontas State Park offers you a choice of yurts, rustic cabins or good ol’ fashioned campsites.
Location: 10301 State Park Rd., Chesterfield, VA
Camping Logistics: Options include yurts, campsites (all with water and electric hookups), and rustic camp cabins. RVs up to 50-feet allowed at certain campsites. Some of these accommodations require advance reservations and have minimum stay requirements, so make sure to plan ahead. All of the specific information about camping at Pocahontas State Park can be found here.
Amenities: Yurts, campsites, and rustic cabins all have access to shared bathhouses with hot water.
Pets: Allowed except for in yurts.
No matter family’s camping experience levels, these five options are likely to work for everyone. Camping is a great way to unplug, go off the grid, and connect with your loved ones away from the stresses of civilization. So, this summer, don’t be afraid to get a little dirty and head out into the wilderness. Or at least admire it from the comfort of an air-conditioned cabin.
For more amazing venues, activities, and resources in the Richmond area, be sure to see our entire Best of Richmond series.