One of the essential experiences of summer, besides drinking on roofs and in beer gardens, is getting the hell out of Philly. Someplace nearby a body of water or in the secluded woods -- it doesn't matter. Just getting out of the punishing city sun to hit the reset button, whether it's for a half day or a long weekend, always does us some good. Luckily, there are plenty of nearby options to hike, bike, fish, visit a butterfly sanctuary... you name it. Alleviate some of your Philly angst and be one with nature at one of these campsites.
Distance from Philly: 52.6 miles, one hour drive
This is the largest block of forest between New York and DC, and lucky for us, we’re the closest metropolis to the park’s 7,730 acres. Campers can still get a hot shower with nearby facilities (praise be to working toilets), and if you’re a more high maintenance "camper," there are furnished cabins as well. But why would you stay inside when you could be disc golfing or checking out one of the mountain bike trails?
Elk Neck State Park, MD
Distance from Philly: 63.8 miles, one hour and 30 minute drive
If water activities are more your speed, head south to the Chesapeake Bay for boating, swimming, and canoeing. You can reserve your camp space ahead of time online, giving you more time to explore the beaches and marshlands of the 2,188 acres of land instead of fighting over a site to pitch your tent. Don’t leave before taking in the full view from the lighthouse tower.
Distance from Philly: 67.6 miles, one hour and 30 minute drive
Picnics are even better thanks to Allaire’s outdoor grill stations. There’s tons of local history to check out while you're in the Allaire Village, which is part of the park. This means period costumes, actors pretending to be from 1830, and some old-fashioned crafting. Also in the 3,000 acres of the park is the Manasquan River, stocked with trout for great fishing.
Distance from Philly: 25.8 miles, 30 minute drive
It’s crazy how different your surroundings can be even just a quick drive outside the city. Less than 30 miles outside of Center City, Ridley Creek is the exact easy-access getaway you need. Spanning 2,026 acres, find well-manicured gardens and exotic plants throughout its grounds, with a reserved site specific to organized group tent campers. Thirteen miles of hiking trails give visitors an easy way to see the park -- and don’t forget to come back in the fall to get your autumn foliage fix.
Distance from Philly: 79.6 miles, one hour and 20 minute drive
Cheesequake's six-acre creek spans throughout the entire park, making fishing and lifeguarded swimming an option when you're not scoping out some fierce crabs at the Crabbing Bridge. The park holds a diverse set of ecosystems, too -- it at once boasts saltwater and freshwater marshes, as well as a hardwood forest, so you might spot some unique plants and wildlife when you're just south of NYC and north of suburban Jersey.
Jim Thorpe, PA
Distance from Philly: 83 miles, one hour and 30 minute drive
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. Local restaurants and museums cater to the booming summer tourist population, but you don't have to go into town to be entertained. Staying on the campground gives you plenty of lodging options, access to whitewater rafting, and a butterfly sanctuary to wander.
Dingmans Ferry, PA
Distance from Philly: 125 miles, two hour drive
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 to travel down the Delaware River in, which is a perfect way to spend a lazy summer afternoon outside. The campground also houses a 37-mile trail (bike friendly) that passes some waterfalls and creeks.
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1. French Creek State Park843 Park Rd, Elverson
2. Elk Neck State Park CampgroundCampground Rd, North East
3. Allaire State Park4265 Atlantic Ave, Wall Township
4. Ridley Creek State Park1023 Sycamore Mills Rd, Media
5. Cheesequake State Park Camp Ground300 Gordon Corner Road, Matawan
6. Jim Thorpe Camping Resort129 Lentz Trl, Jim Thorpe
7. Dingmans Campground1006 Route 209, Dingmans Ferry
This State Park is an hour outside of Philadelphia and ranges over 7,000 acres. The bucolic environs are home to two lakes (one warm water, one cold water) and over 40 miles of hiking trails. The park is also known for being very mountain-biker friendly, with plenty of technical trails that'll suit both experience bikers and novices.
This seaside public recreation center and park on the Maryland coast offers sweeping views of Chesapeake Bay and the Elk River from the vantage point of the historic Turkey Point Lighthouse. Spacious campgrounds (aka more than 250 of 'em), wide acreage, and more than 12 miles of trails make Elk Neck State Park a great option for a getting away from it all on a weekend trip.
Only an hour and thirty minutes outside of Greater Philly, this rustic State Park located in the town of Farmingdale has a lot more to offfer than just campgrounds and great hiking trails. Allaire State Park also is known for its on-site 19th century Ironworks, Allaire Village, and for hosting the New Jersey Museum of Transportation, which houses a well-curated vintage locomotives and historic railroad equipment.
Located just 30 minutes outside of Philly, Ridley Creek offers a lush and abundant green setting that'll offer a quick fix for your stifled city body. The park spans more than 2,000 acres, and offers over thirteen miles of hiking, gardens and exotic plants, tenting campgrounds, as well as fishing and picnic-ing areas. The trails are short enough to let you see the park in a whole day -- and don't forget to come back in the fall to get your autumn foliage fix.
This lush and pastorally relaxing patch of New Jersey spans six acres, and boasts a diverse selection of frolic-ing settings, including saltwater and freshwater marshes, a hardwood forest, and a grassland fit for a dramatic, old-town America flick. Fishing and lifeguarded swimming is also an option, as is scoping out fierce crabs at the Crabbing Bridge.
Easily connected to the small Jim Thorpe town and the Asa Packer Museum, this camping resort hidden in the mountains draws acclaims of clean outdoor arrangements, plenty of lodging options, and easy access to whitewater rafting. When you're doing checking out the butterfly sanctuary, the town's restaurants, the Harry Packer mansion, bike routes, and other attractions await.
This 133-site campground in the Pocono Mountains offers a slew of outdoor activity options, like canoeing, or kayaking down the Delaware River. Wanderers can also travel toward striking waterfall views, scenic parts of the Appalachian trail, or ride the 37-mile bike-friendly trail that passes through the same sites. The location is just a two-hour drive from Philly, making it a feasible weekend trip.