Even though Labor Day is behind us and homework days lie ahead, it’s not too late to slip in one more weekend away.
Autumn is beautiful in this part of the world, Camping is a great way to enjoy the crisp days and fall foliage (admittedly with a good fleece and warm sleeping bag). And it’s easier to do from Brooklyn than you might imagine.
If you can’t borrow gear or haul it out of storage, look for end-of-season sales at Paragon and EMS. Here are a few ideas for places to go, how much they cost, what they offer and how far they are from Park Slope.
Don’t forget the marshmallows!
The Hudson Valley
The Hudson Valley is an easy drive, if you get a rainy day there are nearby towns with diners and indoor things to do.
The Newburgh KOA is about 75 miles from park slope. It’s camping light (very light) but it will make the kids happy. There’s a pool, playgrounds, convenience store and lots of other resources and activities onsite, but the drive-up campsites themselves are away from all this and reasonably wooded. There are a few cabins if you want them. With all these amenities, it’s also pricier than state park options. Figure on $50 a night for a tent site with water.
Lake Taghkanic State Park is a little further north and more rustic but with enough activities to keep everyone entertained. It has lakeside beaches, rowboat, paddleboat and kayak rentals, playgrounds, sports playing fields and hiking and biking trails. You can fish in the lake. Rates range from $15 for a tent site to $157 for a cottage, plus a reservation fee.
New York state has a website where you can find more information and make reservations for all of its state parks.
Kent is 98 miles from Park Slope and the area has more to offer than you might expect. Kent and Litchfield are small but nice and New Englandy. The Housatonic is great for kayaking and the Appalachian trail swings through (among other hiking spots).
Hemlock Hill Camp Resort is also camping light, as the name might imply. It has a few tent sites and a lot of RVs. It also has two swimming pools, a hot tub for parents, an arts & crafts area, a playground, horseshoes, basketball and frog ponds. Rates go from $29 for a basic tent site to $156 for a group area with multiple tents.
The best thing about Lake Waramaug State Park is that it’s on Lake Waramaug, which is very nice and very family friendly. The beach is good for swimming and you can rent kayaks and canoes. You can walk or bike around the lake. If the kids are making you crazy, you can pick something up to soothe your nerves at nearby Hopkins Vineyard. Parking is $15 a day and camping $27 for Connecticut non-residents
Long Island is not the first place people think of for camping, but somewhere between the Nassau suburbs and highfalutin Hamptons is a surprising amount of farmland and country roads. Plus camping near the beach is kinda novel and has inherent entertainment for kids.
Wildwood State Park is just under 75 miles away in Wading River and Hither Hills State Park is way out in Montauk, nearly 120 miles away from Park Slope. Long Island isn’t woodsy, so don’t expect a lot of privacy at your campsite. But Wildwood has 2 miles of beach on the Long Island sound where you can fish and swim ((it’s a little more kid friendly than the ocean) as well as hiking trails and a playground. Hither Hills has sites with a view of the water, 2 miles of ocean-facing beach and a lake. Camping fees start at $15 for Wildwood and $28 at Hither Hills, plus reservation fees.
If you would like to mix some woods with your beach camping, try Fire Island National Seashore Visitor's Center on Watch Hill. This is best for kids old enough to handle more rustic camping and to help you tote your gear from the ferry or parking lot. If you go while in the summer bring plenty of bug repellant. Because it is woodsy the island is notorious for its mosquitoes and tick-infested (though cute) deer. The camping is free (three night limit) but you’ll have to pay for parking and the ferry.
Check out Newsday.com for other camping options on Long Island.