Travel

The Most Secluded Camping Spots Near Philly

Because sometimes you just want to pack up and head for the woods.

Skipping town for the weekend is a little more -- a lot more -- complicated this summer. But fear not: You can still take a break from city life and get in touch with nature at one of the many open campgrounds outside Philadelphia. While new guidelines are in place, including all Pennsylvania state park beaches needing to cap at 75 percent capacity, as well as strong mask and social distancing restrictions, a little trip to the forest or the lake or even the Delaware shoreline could make you forget about the hot mess of 2020 for a bit. Check out our picks for camping sites you can drive to from the city.

Delaware Seashore State Park

Sussex County, Delaware
Distance from Philly: 1 hour, 15 minutes
For camping with a bit of ocean, Delaware Seashore State Park is walking distance to the Atlantic with campsites accommodating tents, RVs, and anything in between. You can expect laundry facilities, a camp store, water and sewer hook-ups, and 30- to 50-amp electric. Surfing, fishing, and paddling all are on the menu at this ocean-side camping destination.

Ricketts Glen State Park

Benton, Pennsylvania 
Distance from Philly: 3 hours
Like so many other beautiful state parks in Pennsylvania, there’s plenty of hiking and picnicking to be done here -- with a slew of other outdoor activities ranging from boating in warm weather to skiing and snowmobiling in colder weather -- but keep in mind current rental regulations as a result of COVID-19. This park has some elevated overnight options, including year-round cabins, cottages, tents, and trailer sites, as well as campgrounds with 200-amp electric service and water hookup.

Cherry Springs State Park

Potter County, Pennsylvania
Distance from Philly: 4 hours, 30 minutes
If you’re in the mood to buckle up for a nice little road trip, head north -- very north -- to the New York-Pennsylvania state border where you’ll find Cherry Springs State Park, a place known for good stargazing, as well as some beaches and hiking trails (as long as you have a mask on hand). To stay the night, you have a couple of options: rustic non-electric campground reservations or the Overnight Astronomy Observation Field.

French Creek State Park

Elverson, Pennsylvania
Distance from Philly: 1 hour
On pace with all Pennsylvania state parks in the age of COVID-19, group cabin camps are closed for 2020 at French Creek State Park, but there are still plenty of ways to enjoy this wide block of forest that spans 7,730 acres. Smaller yurts, cottages, and tenting grounds are just a few options at French Creek, where you can also spend your time disc golfing, mountain biking, or wander through the trail on horseback.

Jim Thorpe Camping Resort

Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania
Distance from Philly: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Jim Thorpe is an interesting place, a small town nestled in the mountains on the way to the Poconos and centered around its main commercial strip. Though 2020 has meant less of a booming summer tourist population than usual, the Jim Thorpe Camping Resort has remained open for lodging, rafting, and other outdoor activities until the season ends on Halloween.

Dingmans Campground

Dingmans Ferry, Pennsylvania
Distance from Philly: 2 hours
This gem in the Poconos has a lot nearby, like striking waterfall views and particularly scenic parts of the Appalachian Trail. The main attractions, though, are canoe and kayak options traveling down the Delaware River. The campground houses a 37-mile bike-friendly trail that passes some waterfalls and creeks. The site is also carefully adjusting its offerings to ensure safe stays during COVID-19.

Pequea Creek Campground

Pequea, Pennsylvania
Distance from Philly: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Pequea is open with reservations for RV and tent campsites, which offer water, electric, and pit toilets (though showers, laundry, picnic area, and playgrounds are closed for now). Group activities have been canceled for 2020, but you can still head to the Pequea Boat Ramp less than a mile from the campgrounds, or wander the trails and spot covered bridges in the area.

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Marielle Mondon is a writer from Philadelphia who enjoys tubing down the Delaware River for four hours. Follow her @MarielleMondon on Twitter and Instagram.