The Pennsylvania and New Jersey countryside near Philadelphia boasts a number of excellent camping destinations that draw thousands of outdoor enthusiasts each year. From breathtaking mountainous landscapes to sand-swept beach vistas, there are settings ideally suited to each and every taste. When it comes to finding the best spot to set up camp, however, activities are also an important consideration, and can range from fishing, swimming, canoeing and hiking to horseback riding, off-roading and even sightseeing to check out local attractions. From the best spots to pitch a tent listed in Top Campgrounds In The Philadelphia Area to these top camping sites, you won’t have to venture more than an hour or two to find your top pick.
Cape Henlopen State Park
15099 Cape Henlopen Drive
Lewes, DE 19958
Combine the best of both worlds with camping at the shore, or, more accurately, near the shore. Cape Henlopen’s pine-covered sand dunes are equipped with more than 150 campsites that come, for the most part, equipped with all of the modern conveniences of home, including water and electrical hookups. Surfers love the nearby beaches for their waves and are also fond of the savings they are able to realize when they opt for camping rather than reserving a hotel room.
2375 Benders Drive
Bath, PA 18014
(610) 837- 6401
Evergreen Lake is nestled on 300 scenic acres at the foot of Blue Mountain in Bath, Pennsylvania, which is located in the Lehigh Valley (about 90 minutes outside of the Philly area). Wooded campsites are available for tents, campers and RVs, and campsites can be reserved for the night, weekend, week, monthly or for the season, which runs from April through October. Activities at this family-friendly destination include a 25-acre lake stocked with a variety of fish just waiting to be caught, and a little shop that sells bait and tackle along with assorted refreshments and also does rowboat and paddleboat rentals. If you just want to swim or sunbathe, there’s a spot for that too. It’s right on the lake and is complete with a little sandy beach, picnic tables and playground for the kids. Not a fan of roughing it but still want to partake in the fun? No worries, this venue has water, sewer, electric and cable hookups for those who want them. Evergreen Lake also houses its own miniature golf course, arcade, showers and modern bathrooms as well as laundry facilities.
Related: Top Hiking Trails in Philadelphia
French Creek State Park
843 Park Rd
Elverson, PA 19520
If you love the outdoors and can’t get enough of wildlife in its natural setting, then French Creek is for you. With 7,730 acres of rich biodiversity that includes a number of rare animals and plants, campers will find over 200 wooded sites, many of them equipped for the everyday needs. If tents are a little too rustic for your taste, try one of the cabins or yurts out for size. Want to try camping in the winter? You can do it at this location, where year-round campsites include warm showers. Activities at French Creek include fishing, hiking, birding and horseback riding.
Ridley Creek State Park
1023 Sycamore Mills Road
Media, PA 19063
Ridley Creek State Park in Delaware County boasts 12 miles of hiking-only trails that loop into a seemingly endless number of variations, making it a new experience each time you set out on a path. Five miles of paved multi-use trails are perfect for walkers, cyclists and equestrians alike, and the park is reportedly well-kept and clean. Other activities to engage in at Ridley Creek State Park include biking, picnicking and fishing. Most folks also recommend visiting the Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation. Camping is allowed at this location, but only as part of a group. Organized group tenting reservations can be made for up to 120 individuals, making it an ideal location for scouts, backpacking clubs, family reunions and church groups.
Wharton State Forest
31 Batsto Road
Hammonton, NJ 08037
In addition to abundant hiking and plenty of fishing, the Wharton State Forest, the largest slice of land within the New Jersey Park System, offers up some idyllic spots for camping. You can trek along the 4.2-mile Batsto Lake Trail or head over to the Batona Trail, a 50-mile trail that winds through the nearby Pine Barrens. Activities at this location include canoeing, bird watching, mountain biking, horseback riding, interpretive programs and more. For history buffs, there is the site of Batso Village, which used to house the former bog iron and glass making.
Christy Ayala covers sports, recreation, the outdoors, and leisure activities in the Philadelphia area. She earned a masters degree in recreation administration from George Williams College and managed programs in the Midwest, Hawaii, and Pennsylvania. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.