Summer is the best time all year to go camping. The sun’s out and the weather couldn’t be any more perfect for hiking, camping and hitting the road. But the real question is, where exactly should you go this season? Some places like Death Valley National Park are better to visit during the winter and spring, while other regions like New England really shine during the fall when you can see foliage. But for most places, June-September is the prime time to get out and explore, like these fifteen incredibly scenic destinations.
1. Lake Erie
Where to stay: Cedar Point – Lighthouse Point Campground
Lake Erie has miles of glistening shoreline in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan and Ontario. The long stretch in Ohio is especially popular during the summer, with beautiful sandy beaches and islands that you can access by ferry.
Drive up to Cedar Point, a peninsula that juts out over the lake, and check out the amusement park that’s dubbed as the “Rollercoaster Capital of the World”. Aside from their 17 thrilling rollercoasters, Cedar Point has an excellent campground where you can park your RV, as well as 150+ other rides and attractions. While you’re by the lake, set a couple of days aside to explore everything the city of Cleveland has to offer, including the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.
2. Finger Lakes, New York
Where to stay: Hickory Hill Family Camping Resort
New York’s Finger Lakes region has everything you need for a great summer: excellent wine, a variety of local food, and plenty of opportunities to get out on the water. The crystal blue lakes are perfect for swimming, boating, kayaking and canoeing.
Restaurants of every type are peppered throughout the region, from diners to taverns and cafes. Or if you’re just looking to kick back and taste Riesling, there’s plenty of places to do that too. Local wineries and vineyards are located all over the area, many of which you can visit in a row on a Wine Trail. Plus, in July, the region hosts an International Finger Lakes Wine Festival where you can try new exquisite blends.
3. Long Beach Peninsula, Washington
Where to stay: Cape Disappointment State Park
Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula is a slice of heaven. In the southwestern corner of the state, the peninsula lies between the ocean, Willapa Bay and Columbia River (which separates the Oregon border). Many small towns are dotted up and down the coastline, but Long Beach draws in the most visitors. In July, the quaint town hosts a Sand-Sculpting Competition, and by August the International Kite Festival features colorful kite designs of all varieties.
The area’s famous for its 28-mile-long sandy beach that you can walk, bike or even drive your car on year-round. There’s a range of fun local shops to browse, including our favorite, Marsh’s Free Museum. The curiosity shop sells an assortment of quirky souvenirs and features antique machines that you can still play with nickels and quarters (like old “Love Tester” machines). There are several RV parks across the area, or you can find hiking and camping on the southern end of the peninsula at Cape Disappointment State Park.
4. San Diego, California
Where to stay: Campland On The Bay
If you’re going to visit any city this summer, San Diego should be it. Pacific coastline and a world-famous zoo are some of its main draws, but this sun-drenched Southern California paradise has much more to offer.
Pull up to a beachfront spot at Campland On The Bay and you’ll be just a short drive from all of the city’s key attractions. We recommend seeing Balboa Park, the beaches in La Jolla, and the dining and shopping options in the Little Italy neighborhood.
5. Lake Tahoe, California & Nevada
Where to stay: Sugar Pine Point State Park
Deep in the Sierra Nevadas along the California-Nevada border, Lake Tahoe has been a popular destination for years. The massive sapphire lake has scenic parks and campgrounds dotted along its pristine shoreline. Everything from boating to fishing can be enjoying on the lake, while miles of hiking trails offer spectacular views of the crystal clear water.
Stopping in South Lake Tahoe is a must. There’s boating, bike trails, and a wide range of local restaurants and bars. Several parks along the lake provide great locations for hiking and camping, like Emerald Bay State Park (pictured), Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park and D.L. Bliss State Park.
6. Traverse City, Michigan
Where to stay: Traverse City State Park
On the shores of Grand Traverse Bay, this town on Michigan’s Lower Peninsula has a lot to offer during the summer: beautiful sandy beaches, excellent local wineries, shops, boating, and the National Cherry Festival every July.
Traverse City State Park provides idyllic camping right by the water. Biking trails are close-by, as well as beach access and tons of local restaurants to choose from.
7. Panama City Beach, Florida
Where to stay: St. Andrews State Park
To be fair, Florida is an oasis year-round. But how could you resist camping here during the summer? With the temps climbing and the sun shining, nothing sounds better than strolling the sugar-white sandy beach and swimming in the warm Gulf water. In northwestern Florida, Panama City Beach draws in people from all walks of life – from retirees to partiers during spring break. It’s easy to see why: the scenery is captivating and there’s a lot to see and do.
The city’s packed with shops, restaurants, and family-fun attractions like Gulf World Marine Park. Saint Andrews State Park serves as a perfect home base while you explore the area. RVers can find water & electric hook-ups, great biking trails and a dreamy sandy beach to watch the sunset.
8. Minnesota’s North Shore
Where to stay: Tettegouche State Park
Thinking about a road trip? Minnesota’s North Shore of Lake Superior makes for a marvelous summer drive.
From Duluth, a scenic waterside drive up Highway 61 will take you past a ton of Minnesota’s most spectacular state parks, like Tettegouche and Gooseberry Falls. The opportunities for hiking, fishing and camping? Pretty much endless.
9. Redwood National and State Parks, California
Where to stay: Jedediah Smith Campground
In northwestern California, Redwood National Park claims home to the tallest trees on Earth, as well as miles of the rugged North Coast. The shade from the towering redwoods makes it a cool place to hike and camp in the blistering summer heat.
The park consists of both federal and state lands. It’s home to Redwood National Park, and three California state parks (Jedediah Smith, Del Norte Coast and Prairie Creek Redwoods). You can go hiking through the woods in all of them, and the coastal section has secluded beaches with amazing ocean views.
10. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Where to stay: Moraine Campground
The cool crisp air of the Colorado Rockies is wonderfully refreshing in the midst of summer heat. This park has in-your-face mountain views and alpine lakes that are so strikingly beautiful they belong on postcards.
There are miles of hiking trails across the park, as well as five campgrounds (four of which can accommodate RVs). Can’t make it by the end of summer? Stop by during the fall and see the famous aspen trees turn golden.
11. Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
Where to stay: Ohanapecosh Campground
Colorful wildflowers bloom across Mount Rainier National Park during the summer. It’s a complete masterpiece – with scarlet and magenta paintbrush, purple lupines, and subalpine daisies lining the trails and meadows.
Aside from flowers, the park surrounding Washington’s tallest mountain has much more to see and do. There are miles of world-class hiking trails and some of the state’s most dramatic waterfalls. Drive up to Sunrise – the highest point in the park – for sweeping mountain views, or take a trail in the gorgeous Paradise area.
12. Olympic National Park, Washington
Where to stay: Hoh Rainforest Campground
A variety of enchanting landscapes make up Olympic National Park. Rainforest, rugged coastline, mountains and ancient forest are just a few of the many features that make this park world-renowned.
In just one day, you can drive from a rainforest to a beach with driftwood and sea stacks topped with trees. Check out our guide here on some of the top places to visit while you’re in the area.
13. Glacier National Park, Montana
Where to stay: St. Mary Campground
Nestled in Montana’s Rocky Mountains, Glacier National Park is a paradise for hikers and photographers alike. Established in 1910, the park preserves glacier-carved peaks, lakes, forests and valleys all the way up to the Canadian border.
Thirteen campgrounds are located across the park total (three of which are primitive), with over a thousand sites total. The sites are mostly first-come, first-served (with no utility hookups), but you can reserve a spot in advance at Fish Creek, St. Mary, and some at Many Glacier. And because the park is in bear country, be sure to properly store all of your food in bear-proof containers.
14. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, California
Where to stay: Hume Lake Campground
Kings Canyon borders Sequoia to the north in California, but the two parks are now just managed together as Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. This photogenic landscape east of the San Joaquin Valley is made up of towering mountains, rugged foothills, and towering old-growth forests.
It’s the perfect place to get lost in the woods. Between the two parks, there are miles of hiking trails and fourteen campgrounds, three of which are open year-round.
15. Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Where to stay: Two Jack Lakeside Campground
Up north in Alberta, Canada, Banff is best to visit from June to August when the weather is nice and warm. The national park has acres of mountain scenery in the Canadian Rockies and breathtaking lakes for kayaking & canoeing (like the lovely Lake Louise, and pictured Moraine Lake).
While you’re in the park, check out the small town named Banff. The main street – Banff Avenue – is lined with shops, art galleries and amazing restaurants.
Of course, this list could go on and on. Where are some of your favorite places to go camping this season?