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Pop-up vacations: Weekends in Central Pennsylvania are made for camping


Happy Campers Lying in a Tent

From state parks to family campgrounds, mountain cabins and streamside tent sites, an overnight adventure is within a two-hour drive from home.  Here’s our shortlist of favorite family-friendly places to set up camp to enjoy a weekend under the stars!

Family Campgrounds

With kid-friendly activities, themed events and a variety of on-site amenities (yes, even Wi-Fi), family campgrounds are a perfect entry-point to the great outdoors. And if you love spending a day in the wilderness but the thought of sleeping in a tent leaves you cold, look into renting a cabin or cottage. You can bunk in comfort and tell the critters (your children and the wild animals) you’ll see them in the morning.

Twin Grove RV Resort and Cottages
1445 Suedberg Road, Pine Grove
Twin Grove is chock full of kid-friendly amenities, including an arcade, swimming pool, mini golf and amusement park rides. Nearby Swatara State Park offers miles of hiking, biking and waterways to explore, including a stretch of the Appalachian Trail.

Paradise Stream Family Campground
693 Paradise Stream Road, Loysville
With a creek to explore, a lake to fish in and swimming pool to jump into, “I’m bored” will be a forgotten phrase. Other activities include mini golf, basketball, volleyball, playgrounds, hiking and a pedal go-kart track. Cabin rentals are available, and the sites along Sherman Creek are spacious.

Buttonwood Campground
1515 E River Road, Mifflintown
Campground attractions include mini-golf, pedal karts, nighttime laser tag and a giant trampoline “jumping pillow.” Launch a canoe – or kayak or tube – into the Juniata River and meander downstream. Juniata River Adventures offers rentals and shuttles to and from the campground.

Mountain Creek Campground
349 Pine Grove Road, Gardners
Location, location, location – Mountain Creek Campground is situated at the entrance to Pine Grove Furnace State Park, with Michaux State Forest and Caledonia State Park just down the road. Activities at the campground include hayrides, horseshoes, corn hole and shuffleboard.

State Park Campgrounds

Pop quiz: How many state parks are in Pennsylvania? Answer: A lot. 121, to be exact, with over 200,000 acres on hand for outdoor adventures. Make a reservation online, pack your camping gear and start exploring. Here are a few local-ish favorites to check out.

Codorus State Park
Marina Drive, Hanover
Activities include hiking, mountain biking trails, disc golf and boating. No swimming is allowed in the lake, but the park features a large swimming pool with slides. The 1,275-acre Lake Marburg offers an ample shoreline for fishing and East Branch Codorus Creek is an approved trout stocking stream.

Caledonia State Park
101 Pine Grove Road, Fayetteville
Perfect for a walks in the woods, Caledonia State Park is surrounded by over 84,000 acres of state forest land. Tent and trailer camping is available at two campgrounds within the park: Chinquapin Hill Campground is closer to the swimming pool; Hosack Run Campground is pet-friendly and near the Hosack Run creek. Check out the nearby Totem Pole Playhouse for an evening of summertime theater.

Black Mashannon State Park
4216 Beaver Road, Philipsburg
Among the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ 25 Must-see Parks, Black Mashannon State Park is one of the largest wetland areas in the state. Twenty miles of hiking trails and boarded walkways allow for easy exploration of the park’s diverse habitats for a wide variety of birds, animals and plants. Tent camping as well as both rustic and modern cabins are available.

Little Buffalo State Park
1579 State Park Road, Newport
An award for walking? Little Buffalo State Park is an American Volkssport Association trail site where hikers can log miles toward achievement awards. After hiking on the park’s eight miles of trails, take a dip in the swimming pool or just cool off in the sprayground. The 88-acre Holman Lake offers warm-water fishing, and boats, canoes and paddleboats are available to rent

Amusement Park Campgrounds

Whether trailer camping or setting up a tent, staying the night at a campground can be both a cost-savings and a great way to extend the fun after a day at the amusement park. These three campgrounds are a short drive (or walk!) from the cotton candy and coasters.

Hersheypark Camping Resort
1200 Sweet Street (formerly Matlack Road), Hummelstown
As a guest at one of the official resorts of Hersheypark, campers enjoy Sweet Start early access to select rides within Hersheypark. On-site recreation includes two swimming pools, sports facilities and movie nights. Both cabins and campsites are available.

Knoebels Campground
391 Knoebels Boulevard, Elysburg
Park your car, set up the tent and walk to the rides. The campground at Knoebels is adjacent to the amusement park making it extra easy to take mid-day breaks from the action. Campground amenities include the Trading Post campground store, playground and a small swimming pool.

Lake Glory Campground
96 Eisenhower Road, Catawissa
Located a few miles from Knoebels, there’s a small lake, woods, a scenic stream and more. With some cabins, RV hook-ups, and tent sites, along with a Trading Post campground store and a playground, and free shuttles to the amusement park.

Old Mill Stream Campground at Dutch Wonderland
2249 Lincoln Highway E, Lancaster
Tree-lined and set against the pastoral landscape of Lancaster County, the Old Mill Stream Campground is steps away from Dutch Wonderland and close to other local tourist attractions and outlet shopping. Campground amenities include Wi-Fi, a camp store, game room and playground. Tent sites and cabins available.

33 family-fun destinations within 90 miles of Central PA

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