Camping is a fun, affordable way to travel with children. Our family has made wonderful memories around the fire pit, making s’mores, and telling ghost stories in our tent. If your family would like to camp, but you don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered.
Family-friendly campsites in Virginia:
Virginia State Parks
My family has had such positive experiences camping at Virginia State Parks. We especially love Pocahontas, which is the closest to RVA. VSP has a variety of options for camping: tent, RV, and cabins. The camp store is essential for families like mine, who inevitably forget something essential (gotta have chocolate for those s’mores!). In addition to hiking trails, the state parks are ideal for families who love to explore: boats to rent, bike paths, playgrounds, and more.
Tip: At Pocahontas, your camp registration includes admission to the Aquatic Center. This is a large savings, so be sure to pack swimsuits!
LoveRidge Mountain Lodging
Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, LoveRidge Mountain Lodging offers both cabins and tent camping. We recently stayed in one of their cozy cabins and absolutely loved it. Complete with a full kitchen and grill, we enjoyed cooking our meals while our children played in the kid’s area, just across from our cabin. If your goal is to appreciate nature and family time, I highly recommend LoveRidge.
Misty Mountain Camp Resort
My friend Margaret Raigins, who camps several times a year with her family, highly recommends Misty Mountain for what it offers children. Located in the clutches of the Blue Ridge, Misty Mountain offers a large jumping pillow, pool, live music, and a nightly bonfire.
The campground’s location is ideal for taking excursions to various vineyards, and historical homes and properties. One reason why Margaret especially loves camping here is that thanks to the layout, the kids are never truly out of her sight.
Sun Outdoors Cape Charles Campground
Another suggestion from the Raigins family is Sun Outdoors Cape Charles Campground. Not only are there three full size pools; there’s also a splash pad. Additional fun includes mini golf, jump pillows, playground, paddle boating, and regular dance parties at dusk. This campground is ideal for families with younger children because the bay water is brackish and low wake, so no need to worry about big waves toppling little ones. Margaret suggests exploring nearby Kiptopeke State Park during your stay. Tip: This is a popular campsite and it is in a beach town. You must book far in advance.
Walnut Hills Campground & RV Park
Located in the charming town of Staunton, Walnut Hills is more primitive than the “resort” style campgrounds. A stream runs through the entire campsite, so there are always ducks to feed. The camp store sells wildlife-safe food for $.50/half pound. If your family values green space and play areas this will be ideal. The pirate ship playground is directly beside the bathhouse which makes tag teaming cleaning a cinch! Margaret and her husband swap supervising the kids while the other parent showers; this way the children are supervised the entire time. While camping at Walnut Hills, be sure to check out Gypsy Hill Park and Montgomery Hill Park. Both are large public parks that host events like movie nights, craft activities, and more.
Now that you know where to go, let’s get prepared!
Here are a few tips for your camping trip:
Make it Feel Less Like a Chore
Camping is work, but there are a few things you can do to make it feel more like play. Bring a wagon to carry your items across the grounds. And, bring bikes to move your family back and forth across the grounds. Importantly, always wear comfortable shoes.
Keeping your Children Safe
When choosing your campsite, consider your comfort level. I do not want my kids out of my sight, so I study the campground’s map carefully before choosing our site. I typically choose the site closest to the bathrooms. If my children want to ride their scooters on the paved path, they must stay together. Margaret says check the map and ask yourself, “how far away are the play areas?” This can help you determine what site is best for your family.
Pack a backpack for each of your children that includes: a water bottle, a hat, a piece of paper with your phone number, and a communication device, if they have one.
For children who are permitted to explore independently, bring walkie talkies or communication tools like Gizmo or Gabb watches.
Bring the Essentials
A portable folding table, sunscreen, bug spray, table cloth, and an outdoor snack box are imperative for the Raigins family camping trips. As a family camping pro, Margaret advises, “never use a picnic table without a cover. I’ve seen people change diapers or put plumbing pipes from their RVs on those tables!”
Another essential you may not have considered is a folding drying rack. Margaret says, “the drying rack allows us to reuse our towels. We also use it to dry our clothes before putting them away.”
Now that you know where and how to camp, read more about the joys of camping from Christen McKey, a Midlothian mom who’s camped at nearly every Virginia State Park.
If your family goes on a camping trip, tag us on social media: @RFMToday. We’d love to see the fun your family has while camping!
Thanks to Margaret Raigins for contributing her expertise and photos for this piece.