Couple assembling tent at campsite near mountains

Explore national parks and embrace the great outdoors with nature walks, zip lining and s'mores at these alluring campgrounds. (Getty Images)

Thinking about taking your family camping for the first time? Make the trip a success by booking a stay at a campground that will make your kids' eyes pop when you pull up to check in. Science-loving kids will flip over a stay in Sky Catcher, an astronomy-themed cabin at Herkimer Diamond KOA Resort in Herkimer, New York. Or, for more hands-on activity, stay on a working farm at Gettysburg Farm RV Campground in Dover, Pennsylvania. Whether you plan to pitch a tent or stay in a deluxe cabin, there are campgrounds across the country that are perfect for all types of families. Take a look at eight of the coolest campgrounds to take your clan for wagon rides, s'mores, magic shows and more.

[See: 10 Memorable Camping Trips.]

Lake-in-Wood Camping Resort
Narvon, Pennsylvania

Located in Pennsylvania Dutch Country, Lake-in-Wood Camping Resort offers a wealth of activities. Kids will love mini golf, shuffleboard, basketball and playing horseshoes, and that's in addition to scheduled movie nights, wagon rides and arts and crafts programs. During the summer, look for a "Gnome Quest" scavenger hunt around the campground. Book a stay in a train caboose, a covered wagon, a treehouse, a double decker bus, a yurt or even a gnome home.

Frontier Town
Berlin, Maryland

A stone's throw from Ocean City, Maryland, at Frontier Town, you may forget that you're so close to the beach. Look for daily Wild West-themed shows, like a "Gunfight at OK Corral" and a "Bank Holdup." There's even a cowboy-themed mini golf course and a water park. There are new events every weekend too, including karaoke nights, family Olympics and dress-up contests. Book a cabin or bring your own RV or tent for a stay in cowboy country.

Snow Mountain Ranch YMCA
Granby, Colorado

Snow Mountain Ranch YMCA is in the middle of everything that you'd want to explore in Colorado and is less than an hour's drive southwest of Rocky Mountain National Park. But, given all you can do at the campground, including archery, disc golf, horseback riding, summer tubing and mini golf, you may not want to leave. You'll also want to check the weekly activity schedule for loads of free family programs, such as magic shows and science programs. Look for cabins, tent sites and a dozen on-site yurts.

Herkimer Diamond KOA
Herkimer, New York

You'll find family-friendly cabins and tent sites at Herkimer Diamond KOA, but budding scientists will go crazy for the Sky Catcher, an astronomy-inspired cabin with its own observatory and high-powered telescope. Meanwhile, in the Professor Gadget's Robotics Lodge, a deluxe cabin outfitted with motion-sensing lights, you'll find a vacuuming robot and loads of robotic toys. There's even a brand new Tree House Lodge for families looking to go out on a limb. During the day, check out the National Baseball Hall of Fame in nearby Cooperstown, New York.

[See: 15 Must-Visit National Park Attractions.]

Ventura Ranch KOA
Santa Paula, California

Just under 80 miles northwest of Los Angeles, the Ventura Ranch KOA sits at the foot of Ventura County's tallest mountain, Topa Topa Mountain. The kids will love splashing in the pool, taking nature walks, flying down the zip line, racing up the rock climbing tower and watching movies under the stars. On Saturday nights, go on a Bigfoot Adventure Walk in search of signs of the elusive Bigfoot. Here, you can stay in one of several Sioux Indian-style teepees or reserve an upscale tent that includes a microwave and a minifridge.

Bend-Sunriver RV Campground
Bend, Oregon

At Bend-Sunriver RV Campground, an activities coordinator ensures that every family member is entertained all day long. Look for pickleball tournaments, candy bar bingo and even trail walks and scavenger hunts. Kids can also earn badges as part of the Thousand Trails Club Blazer program for young campers. What's more, the campground offers close proximity to central Oregon's Mount Bachelor, where there are plenty of opportunities for hiking, biking, canoeing and fishing. In the evening, relax in your tent, RV or one of the on-site cabins or yurts.

Jellystone Mammoth Cave
Cave City, Kentucky

Explore the caverns of nearby Mammoth Cave National Park before bouncing on the Jumping Pillow, sliding down the 300-foot water slide and having a water balloon fight with other campers at Jellystone Mammoth Cave. The kiddos will love the theme weekends, which can involve competing in Olympic-style events and turning campground staff into a human sundae. From time to time, there's even chocolate pudding wrestling for younger visitors. There are a variety of cabins and cottages to choose from, as well as tent and hook-up sites for RVs.

[See: 10 Cheap Summer Vacation Destinations.]

Gettysburg Farm RV Campground
Dover, Pennsylvania

Situated on a working farm, kids will love interacting with animals and learning first-hand about the crops at Gettysburg Farm RV Campground. Families will also love all the outdoor activities available, such as shuffleboard, basketball, fishing and horseshoes, among other pastimes. As a bonus, the campground sits just minutes away from the battlefields at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, enabling kids to brush up on Civil War history through ranger and living history programs. Don't forget to earn a Junior Ranger patch and certificate when you visit Gettysburg.

Tags: travel, vacations, family


Erin Gifford is a Washington, D.C.-based travel writer and founder of Kidventurous, an award-winning family travel resource. Her writing can also be found on TravelChannel.com, TravelAge West, FoxNews.com and Fodors.com. You can follow her on Twitter at @Kidventurous, connect with her on Facebook or get the latest tips and tricks for traveling families at Kidventurous.com.

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