A big city visit doesn’t have to mean checking into a hotel. For many travelers, RV urban camping is an excellent way to explore a city without the hassle and expense associated with hotels, rental cars, and restaurant meals.
But where can you camp when visiting large cities? Will there be utility hook-ups and access to public transportation? What about security? Never fear! This handy guide will outline all you need to know for successful RV urban camping.
If you don’t mind shelling out the big bucks, an RV park located in or near a large city is a great option for RV urban camping. Offering utility hook-ups and 24-hour security, a centrally located RV park with easy access to public transportation is an excellent way to explore a city.
Here is a small sampling of RV parks in or near major cities.
- Campland on the Bay & Mission Bay RV Resort – San Diego, CA: Both campgrounds offer RV camping in the heart of an urban area. With views of the bay, numerous bike paths, and nearby restaurants, these parks are the epitome of RV urban camping.
- St. Louis RV Park – St. Louis, MO: As the only RV park in downtown St. Louis, this park puts you smack in the center of the action. While the park itself is not much more than a paved lot, it does offer utility hook-ups, WiFi, and a laundry room. What the RV park lacks in ambiance is more than made up for by its convenient location.
- Liberty Harbor RV Park – Jersey City, NJ: A 15-minute drive from the Big Apple, Liberty Harbor is the nearest RV park to NYC. The park boasts views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, along with easy access to public transportation.
- Candlestick RV Park – San Francisco, CA: This basic parking lot style RV park offers a place to park your RV and an efficient shuttle service to downtown San Francisco.
Think outside the RV park: Alternate options for RV urban camping
Centrally located RV parks are a great option when visiting a city, but what if you only want to stay a night or two and don’t want to shell out upwards of $100 a night for all the bells and whistles? Fortunately, cities have a bevy of options for RV urban camping that won’t break the bank.
Keep in mind that we’re not talking about stealth boondocking on city streets. These are places where camping can be comfortable and affordable while putting you within easy reach of city attractions.
With large parking areas often set aside for RVs, casinos are the perfect place to spend a few nights in or near a city. Furthermore, many casinos offer vouchers and coupons to overnight RVers.
Casinos are often located on the outskirts of cities, but in some cases, a casino can be found inside the city limits. One such case is the Casino Arizona in Scottsdale, AZ. Not only do they offer up to three days of parking for free, but they also have 24-hour surveillance and a spacious RV-only parking area near the back of the casino.
Visitor Centers & Chamber of Commerce facilities
Most major cities have Visitor Centers or Chamber of Commerce facilities. These large buildings with even larger parking lots sometimes offer overnight RV parking.
For example, the Savannah, GA Visitor Center parking lot allows RVs to park for up to 48 hours. There are a limited number of spaces, longer RV towing cars will have to disconnect, and it’s not free. However, the location is fantastic for exploring the city on foot or on one of the trolley tours.
As is the case with the Savannah Visitor Center, information about overnight parking is not always found on the official government websites. Therefore, it’s always a good practice to call ahead and ask about overnight RV parking.
Another great option for RV urban camping is a convention center. Not all convention centers offer overnight parking, but it’s worth doing a little research.
One convention center where RV parking is a sure bet is the McCormick Place in Chicago. This convention center allows overnight parking for RVs in a stellar location near both the Lakeshore Trail and Grant Park.
At $35/day for dry camping (no utility hook-ups) it’s not cheap, but for many, the convenience factor of parking in the city with easy access to public transportation is worth the price.
There is no shortage of large parking lots in and around cities. While many have restrictions on overnight parking, a little research reveals that some cities have RV-friendly overnight parking lots.
Here are a few examples.
- Washington, D.C.: The Union Station Parking Garage has 32 oversize spaces that will accommodate vehicles up to 13’3″ in height. Prices are determined by the time of day you arrive and if you make a reservation. The garage has 24-hour security and puts you right in the heart of the city. Visit the garage’s Facebook Page for more information.
- Charleston, SC: The parking garage located at 63 Mary Street allows RV parking. Normally parking garages and RVs don’t mix, but in this case, the garage has ten RV-sized spots. The length limit is around 35′ and the height restriction is 12’8″. Fees are based on how long you stay and vary depending on the time of day you enter and exit. *One important note: there are two entrances to the garage. The one on Meeting Street only has a 6’7″ clearance so be sure to use the Mary St. entrance!
- Philadelphia, PA: The Campus Park & Ride is a combination parking lot and RV park. Here you will find a paved lot with water and electric hook-ups, restrooms with showers, and a dump station. In addition to the amenities, the park has a shuttle that will transport you to Philadelphia’s transit system.