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14 Destinations for the Best Camping on the East Coast

14 Destinations for the Best Camping on the East Coast

The East Coast is a dream for outdoor enthusiasts, whether you like the swamps of Florida or the rocky shores of Maine. America’s biodiversity lets you enjoy numerous terrains for fun camping adventures throughout the year. While you’ll have a great time throughout, some places stand out as the best camping on the East Coast.

These days, there are so many ways to camp. Families can pop up a tent, sleep in a camper van or even rent an RV from great sites like RVshare where you can even have an RV delivered directly to your campsite!

Where should you head on your next adventure? Here are 14 destinations to put on your radar.

Best Camping on the East Coast

1. Acadia National Park

Some of the best camping on the East Coast can be found at Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park is in the northeast corner of the United States, resting in the middle of Maine’s Atlantic Coast. Here, you can find lakes, ponds, mountains and plenty of forestland. You’ll even come across glacial erratics and cobblestone beaches as you enjoy the natural beauty of New England.

Read our full guide to visiting Acadia National Park with your family.

The National Park Service (NPS) says June through September are the most popular months to visit, so plan for May or early October to beat the crowds and enjoy pleasant weather. Late September is an excellent time to visit because that’s when the Acadia Night Sky Festival takes place.

Camping at Acadia National Park is plentiful on Mount Desert Island, with sites open on the southwest, northwest, bar and bass harbors. You can also head to Deer Isle to camp on Duck Harbor or the Schoodic Woods to find Winter Harbor.

Blackwoods Campground in Acadia National Park
Blackwoods Campground site via Flickr

Camp here: Blackwoods Campground is set in a forest of pine and spruce and conveniently located on the eastern side Mount Desert Island. Many campsites are shaded and secluded and it is one of the few campgrounds that can also accomodate RVs (up to 35 feet). Several trails originate nearby including the famed Cadillac Summit Loop Trail.

The season for camping at Blackwoods is early May through the end of October and reservations can be made up to two months in advance.

2. Adirondack Mountains

One of the best places for camping o nthe East Coast is the Adirondack Mountains
Adirondack Lake

Do you want to see New York without the hustle and bustle of the cities? The Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York are a terrific place to enjoy nature and escape it all. A trip to these mountains needs more than a weekend vacation, considering they encompass about 5,000 square miles.

The Adirondacks provide some of the best camping on the East Coast, no matter which region you choose for your trip.

Lake Placid is a popular area, as it’s hosted the Winter Olympics twice. Head to this region between November and April to take advantage of the skiing and other winter sports. Summer is just as fun at Lake Placid, with kayaking, canoeing and rock climbing highlighting the fun.

Another fantastic place to camp in the Adirondack Mountains is Lake Lila. This body of water remains tranquil all year because most campsites are only accessible by motorless boats. You’ll take a short hike to the launch and enjoy incredible views.

Lake Placid Whiteface Mountain KOA
Photo via KOA

Camp here: Lake Placid/Whiteface Mountain KOA Holiday is such an amazing place for families to camp! This family-friendly campground is located in Wilmington, just a short drive from Lake Placid and Whiteface Mountain. The campground has tent sites, RV sites, and even camping cabins.

Amenities on property include a playground, bike rentals, kayak and paddleboard rentals, game room, and easy access to area trails for hiking and mountain biking.

3. Assateague Island State Park

Assateague Island Lighthouse
Assateague Island Lighthouse

If you enjoy relaxing on the beach, Assateague Island State Park in Maryland should be on your list for East Coast camping fun. This destination is unique because it has Chincoteague ponies running freely on the shores. These wild horses are an exceptional sight you might not get to see anywhere else in the eastern United States. Besides the ponies, you’ll spot ghost crabs, sika deer and other unique wildlife.

Camp here: Camping on Assateague Island is only allowed on the Maryland side of the park, so ensure your spot isn’t on the Virginia section. Most campsites here are primitive, as there are no hookups for your recreational vehicles. The fall, winter and early spring present opportunities for horse camping — you can go horseback riding on the scenic island with up to six people.

4. Big Cypress National Preserve

Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida
Big Cypress National Preserve

South Florida is a popular winter travel destination because you won’t see blizzards here. The Big Cypress National Preserve — just north of Everglades National Park and west of Miami — stays warm year-round.

This area stands out because of its cypress forests, swamps, sawgrass prairies and diverse wildlife. Alligators, bobcats, river otters and black bears steal the spotlight among the 700,000 acres of undisturbed nature. Besides camping, this national preserve features off-road trails, canoeing, kayaking and ranger-guided activities.

Big Cypress Preserve Boardwalk

Camp Here: Big Cypress National Preserve permits different kinds of camping, depending on your location in the park. The Midway Campground has electric hookups, toilets, picnic tables and grills, whereas Mitchell’s Landing and Burns Lake have primitive camping without water.

5. Cape Henlopen State Park

Hawk in Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware
Cape Henlopen State Park

Cape Henlopen State Park is on southern Delaware’s Atlantic Coast and overlooks Delaware Bay. This site is on a former military base and features numerous fun things for the family, with hiking and disc golf being two popular recreational activities here. You’ll also enjoy wind-surfing, clamming, paddle-boarding and other fun water sports.

Cape Henlopen may be the best site for camping on the East Coast if you’re a history lover. Head to the Fort Miles Museum and Historic Area to experience American history on Delaware’s Atlantic Coast. This fort was integral to the United States’ Atlantic defense against the Axis powers, protecting nearby Philadelphia and Wilmington.

Submarine Towers at Cape Henlopen
Submarine Towers at Cape Henlopen

Camp here: The state park allows camping year-round, so head to this treasured Delaware spot anytime for a fun-filled trip. It has cabins, pavilions, and primitive camping facilities to fit any camper’s needs. The nearly 200 campsites aren’t far from the Bay Lighthouse, the Cape May-Lewes Ferry and other beautiful attractions.

6. Cape Lookout National Seashore

14 Destinations for the Best Camping on the East Coast 1
Cape Lookout Lighthouse

The Outer Banks provide one of the best and most unique camping experiences on the East Coast, with Cape Lookout National Seashore occupying the southern end.

Shackleford Banks and the Core Banks constitute the 55 miles of beaches, and each barrier island is undeveloped and undisturbed by outsiders. Head to Shackleford Banks for another place to see wild horses running along the Atlantic Coast.

Cape Lookout Camping
NPS Photo by Sabrina Godin

Camp here: Camping at Cape Lookout is an adventure because there aren’t designated areas for your nightly stays. You’ll need to bring all your supplies when setting up camp, and prepare for the limited water pumps and available toilets.

The primitive camping opportunities are for those who want to connect with nature at its purest. You’ll take a 3-mile boat ride to get here, so you won’t see cars driving around Cape Lookout. 

7. Carolina Beach State Park

Cape Lookout State Beach
Carolina Beach State Park

Head 150 miles south and stay in the Tar Heel State to see Carolina Beach State Park. This Atlantic Coast destination is south of Wilmington and covers about 761 acres along the famous Carolina shore. You’ll find pocosin wetlands with deep soils supporting unique carnivorous plants, such as the Venus flytrap, which is native to the Carolinas.

This recreational area is great for hiking, as you’ll trek 9 miles through the Carolina wilderness. Other Carolina Beach State Park activities include paddling, fishing, picnicking and biking. Bicycles, kayaks, canoes and paddleboards are available for rent inside the facility.

Flytrap Cabin at Carolina Beach State Park
Flytrap Cabin at Carolina Beach State Park

Camp here: Carolina Beach State Park offers numerous places to camp, including RVs, trailers, cabins and tents. Most campsites don’t have hookups, but 10 have water, electricity and sewage available. The campground has bathhouses with hot-water showers and bathrooms available for guests, and you can purchase firewood if you want a comfortable nighttime blaze going.

8. Cumberland Island

14 Destinations for the Best Camping on the East Coast 2
Cumberland Island

Like the Outer Banks, Cumberland Island is a barrier island in the Atlantic Ocean. This piece of land is the largest barrier island in Georgia and its undeveloped nature makes it a must-see camping destination.

You need a 45-minute ferry ride to get here because cars aren’t allowed on the island, so enjoy nature at its finest with maritime forests, marshes and more wild horses.

Cumberland Island features 17 miles of white-sand beaches, so there’s plenty of room for relaxing by the shore, biking and other fun activities. The island has five campgrounds for overnight stays, which ask for a permit within 10 days of your trip.

Each site has separate requirements, so find the one best suited for your trip. For instance, only Sea Camp and Stafford Beach have drinkable water on-site.

While on Cumberland Island, take advantage of the numerous guided tours from the National Park Service. The Land and Legacies tour takes you to Plum Orchard Mansion, the Cumberland Island Wharf and other local historic sites.

14 Destinations for the Best Camping on the East Coast 3

Camp here: Sea Camp Campground is the most accessible campground on Cumberland Island, and is located just a short walk from the ferry dock. The do have some facilities such as restrooms, showers, and potable water.Many of the campsites are shaded and the proximity to the beach a big perk.

9. First Landing State Park

First landing state park is one of the best places to camp on the East coast
First Landing State Park

Have you ever wanted to live as settlers did in the 1600s? Head to First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach, Virginia, to see what the Virginia Company saw when they arrived on America’s Atlantic Coast.

This site is one of the best for camping on the East Coast because it includes fishing, swimming, public beaches, and hiking and biking trails. Plus, you’re only a short drive from Chesapeake, Norfolk, and other metro areas.

History is a significant part of First Landing State Park, so visit the Chesapeake Bay Center. This museum offers information about the local ecosystems and how the settlers lived when they arrived. The park also features replica Native American communities along the Cape Henry Trail with information about Virginia’s native tribes.

Camp here: The camping opportunities in the park are abundant, with more than 200 sites across the 2,888-acre facility. Campsite amenities vary, with some supporting water and electric hookups for RVs, and others offering primitive camping. First Landing State Park has cabins with a one-week minimum requirement when the summer arrives.

10. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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Clingman’s Dome in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an excellent destination if you enjoy lush forests, beautiful streams and scenic waterfalls on your camping trips. This is the most-visited national park, with the NPS reporting 13.3 million visitors in 2023. The superb visitation numbers are likely to stay high, as research shows 64% of campers have already made reservations this year.

While you may associate the Great Smoky Mountains with Tennessee, this large recreational site crosses the border into North Carolina. The outdoor activities are endless here, with 2,900 miles of fishing streams, cycling loops, waterfalls, horseback riding and wildlife viewing. Take the opportunity to see black bears, raccoons, turkeys and white-tailed deer.

Check out this amazing Great Smoky Mountains road trip itinerary.

Camping opportunities vary at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with backcountry, frontcountry and horse camps available for guests. You can even book group campgrounds for eight or more people. Gatlinburg is a popular option for lodging, as its 30 cabin rentals are a comfortable stay nearby this national park.

Cades Cove

Camp here: Cades Cove is one of the most popular and scenic areas of the park and Cades Cove Campground offers tent and RV camping surrounded by mountains and meadows. Amenities include restrooms, drinking water, and easy access to hiking and biking trails.

11. Hampton Beach State Park

Hampton Beach STate Park
Hampton Beach State Park

New Hampshire doesn’t have much of a coastline, but it takes advantage of the small area with Hampton Beach State Park. This camping opportunity lies on a peninsula with the Atlantic Ocean and Hampton River on either side. The park’s Main and South Beaches are open year-round unless weather conditions deem them unsafe.

Hampton Beach State Park offers swimming, horseback riding, fishing, picnicking, and the unique opportunity to charter a boat and watch minkes and humpback whales. This New Hampshire State Park is excellent for RVs, as the all-RV campground has full hookups for your crew.

Are you new to RVing? has great tips for beginners.

12. Shenandoah National Park

14 Destinations for the Best Camping on the East Coast 5
Shenandoah National Park

Are you heading to the nation’s capital anytime soon? Stop by Shenandoah National Park, a 75-mile drive from Washington, D.C. This sizeable recreational area is part of the Blue Ridge Mountains and contains some of the most beautiful views in the eastern United States.

Shenandoah National Park might be most famous for its hiking, as it gives you 500 miles of trails ranging from easy to difficult. If you don’t want to hike, you can drive your car on the iconic Skyline Drive — a 105-mile path through the incredible Virginia forests. As you trek the wilderness, you’ll see Shenandoah salamander, big brown bats, white-tailed deer and other native species.

Camping is plentiful at Shenandoah National Park, which has five different campgrounds to set up your tent or RV. The park’s popularity means you should reserve a spot in advance — the staff lets you reserve up to six months before your visit.

Shenandoah National Park is one of the best places to camp on the East Coast

Camp here: Big Meadows is one of the largest and most popular campgrounds in Shenandoah National Park. It has both tent and RV camping and is centrally located along Skyline Drive. Amenities include restrooms, showers, access to hiking trails, and even ranger-led programs.

13. Silver Springs State Park

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Silver Springs State Park

Silver Springs State Park is a Central Florida staple halfway between Gainesville and Orlando. This facility is home to Silver Springs — the Sunshine State’s first tourist attraction — which opened in the 1870s. The area is famous for its wildlife, including alligators, gopher tortoises and wild turkeys. However, it might best be known for its manatees from November through March.

Check out our bucket list guide to swimming with the manatees in Florida.

Silver Springs State Park is 4,000 acres and has nearly everything you’d want from a camping facility. Hiking, birdwatching, geo-seeking and mountain biking are popular attractions on the abundant land. The site is also famous for weddings, family reunions, birthday parties and other occasions.

Silver Springs State Park

Camp here: Camping is flexible at Silver Springs State Park, with electric and water hookups available for RVs and tent campers. Barbecue grills, picnic tables and fire rings make camping a little easier at the 59 spacious sites. You can also go primitive camping along the Silver River. 

14. Watkins Glen State Park

Watkins Glen
Watkins Glen State Park trail entrance

While the Adirondacks steal the show in upstate New York, Watkins Glen State Park holds its own with incredible scenery in the Finger Lakes region. This park provides some of the best camping on the East Coast if you like older sites, considering this facility opened in 1863.

If you like waterfalls, this park is where you want to be. Watkins Glen State Park features 19 waterfalls that require only two miles of hiking to see. The Gorge Trail will feature New York’s natural beauty, but steep hills make this hike challenging. Buses can carry you to the top and give you a leisurely stroll down the trail. 

Camp here: Watkins Glen State Park features nearly 300 campsites with accessible restrooms and hot showers for campers. It also has an Olympic-sized swimming pool, hunting, fishing and many other fun activities. Check out Watkins Glen International Raceway outside the park for motorsports fun in the summer.

Jack Shaw