By Broadry Newsroom
The most googled question this week by would-be campers: what campgrounds are open?
Simple but hard to answer.
Campgrounds that can keep up with fluctuating COVID-19 health and safety guidelines are open for business. Seasonal campgrounds are in hibernation mode and won’t likely reopen till spring. Other sites, around the country, are either partially restricted or closed entirely due to pandemic mitigation efforts (camp sites at 12 national forests in California are closed till Jan. 29).
While camping has not returned to normal, the demand remains high for close-to-nature escapes, where social distancing is less arduous. Even as we head into the cooler months, families are yearning for activities outdoors. They just want to pitch a tent and roast marshmallows with the kids.
So, where do all these would-be travelers want to set up camp? RVshare.com, a recreational vehicle marketplace for renters, compiled a list of the most searched destinations for camping enthusiasts this season.
- Orlando, Florida
No surprise here. Orlando is always a top spot for families due to close proximity to popular attractions like Disney World, Legoland, SeaWorld, and Universal Studios. When it comes to camping this winter, Central Florida offers a variety of fully-equipped campsites that can accommodate full RV hookups, pop-up campers or a traditional tent.
The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort is one of the top rated options on TripAdvisor. Fort Wilderness Resort is open to guests and offers 750 acres of pine and cypress forest with close-to-nature activities like canoeing, horseback riding, and archery.
- Tampa, FL
Tampa is the second most booked winter camping destination, according to RVshare. The greater Tampa area appeals to campers looking for a beachside experience that also boasts a more tropical vibe. Take a day to go hiking on the Pinellas County fitness trail, or explore John’s Pass Village and stroll the nearby boardwalk. History enthusiasts can stop by the Salvador Dali museum (advanced ticket purchase and masks required). Or, you can spend a day at the beach. The St. Petersburg KOA Campground is one of the larger camping options. The grounds are open with limited recreation.
- Miami, FL
South Florida may be best known for its pre-pandemic vibrant nightlife and sandy beaches, but there are plenty of camping options too. The Larry and Penny Thompson Park and Campground is one of the largest. It has 240 separate campsites with full electrical and water hook-ups and is close to Zoo Miami (one day tickets must be purchased online). Downtown Miami is a short drive away, which is surprising given how close to nature you’ll feel on their bridle and hiking trails.
- Jacksonville, FL
While an average high temperature in the mid-60s for January, Jacksonville continues to draw sun seekers during the winter months. The area, dubbed as having the “largest urban park system in the nation” ranks no. 4 for a top camping destination. Check VisitJacksonville.com for a long list of camping options for families. Many, like Flamingo Lake RV Resort, are just a few steps away from the water.
- Phoenix, AZ
Located in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, Phoenix is the fifth most popular destination for would-be campers. Maricopa County has six regional park campgrounds to choose from. Check Visit Phoenix for outdoor activity suggestions, like hiking. Arizona offers outdoor enthusiasts six national forests, 31 state parks and millions of acres of public land.
- Houston, TX
Houston ranks no. 6 on the list, where campers can find full-service RV sites to visit year-round. The area around Houston offers plenty of opportunities to bike, hike, camp, or fish. Galveston Island State Park is about a one hour drive away. The oceanfront park boasts a richly diverse preserve with all kinds of wildlife — from spoonbills to coyotes.
- Fort Worth, TX
No. 7 is Fort Worth, Texas, home to the region’s largest theme park, Six Flags, and offers a variety of nature parks, gardens, and a large zoo. Campers can take in 1.5 miles of sandy beaches on the Brazos River and explore over 350 acres of land from a riverfront campsite at Bee Mountain River Camp. While it’s more of a barebones camping experience, modern amenities like firewood, ice, and generators are available to rent along with extras for activities like paddle boarding or kayaking.
- San Diego, CA
San Diego ranks no. 8 on the list for top US camping destinations to visit during the winter. Southern California lures campers with warm weather, palm trees, and beachfront campsites. However, the latest COVID rules ordered state campgrounds to close until at least Jan. 29. Private campgrounds may be technically open, but can only accept reservations for essential travelers while a stay-at-home order remains in effect.
Additional reporting by Emmalyn Reid. This is a syndicated article highlighting the latest travel and lifestyle news from Broadry members.