America’s east coast is home to miles and miles of coastline, and it features almost every landscape you can think of along the way – rocky outcrops, historical islands, picture-perfect beaches, swampy mangroves… you name it!
Unsurprisingly, camping trips along this breathtaking coastline are extremely popular, and some places need to be booked months (or even years) in advance – but it’s definitely worth it for a chance to really soak up the scenery of this stunning part of the world. There’s a range of camping options available, from rugged backcountry sites to super easy resort-style ones (and everything in between), so you can be sure to find a site that’s right for you no matter what your style.
So, buckle up, we’re about to take you on a whirlwind tour of the best east coast campgrounds starting in Maine and heading all the way down to Florida!
Open: Mid-May to Mid-October
Address: Hermit Island Rd, Phippsburg, ME 04562, United States
So, we’re kicking off our list of the best east coast campgrounds right up in Maine with the Hermit Island Campground. Located at the tip of the southern end of the Small Point peninsula in Phippsburg, Hermit ‘Island’ itself is actually linked to the mainland, so access isn’t as tricky as you might think.
The island has a rugged feel about it, and the wild landscape features rocky outcrops, luscious greenery, as well as its famous golden sandy beaches. There are tonnes of trails available for hikers, although they’re fairly short given the small nature of the island, making it a popular choice for families with younger children. The beaches are spectacular, and many people opt to take their own kayaks or hire a canoe or paddleboard to explore the island from the water. Oh, and there are docks for keeping small boats too, but get in there quick because it’s first-come-first-serve.
To reach the so-called island, you’ll have to drive over a sand causeway from Phippsburg and register on arrival. There are 271 sites scattered across the southern half of the island, and you can take your pick from charming seafront spots to shaded woodland areas. Although the campsite isn’t open to RVs or hard-topped campers (or dogs, sadly), it does welcome visitors with tents, trailers, and truck campers. Plus, each campsite comes with a fire pit, table for picnics, parking space, and even an equipment room. In terms of facilities, they don’t come much better than this – there are flushing, compost, pit, and portable toilets (phew) and you can enjoy the luxury of a hot shower free of charge. Booking and registration occur at the Kelp Shed, which features a games room and an all-important snack bar, so you can make friends while you stock up on supplies.
Overall, this campsite offers a unique blend of rustic camping combined with excellent facilities, and it really should be high on anyone’s east coast camping agenda.
Open: Mid-June to September
Address: 191w Atlantic Ave, Boston, MA 02109, United States
The Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area is comprised of over 3o islands and peninsulas, and it’s the perfect place to head if you need a break from the hustle and bustle of city life. Located just a stone’s throw away from Boston’s city center, this area is teeming with fun-filled activities to suit all ages. Water enthusiasts will love the chance to explore the islands by boat, and there are public mooring sites and boat ramps available in the harbor and park if you want to charter your own course. If you’re looking for a way to entertain the kids, then we’re sure they’ll relish the chance to earn their Junior Ranger badges through a range of fun-filled activities. There’s even something for history lovers – the islands were inhabited way back in the 1800s, and there are plenty of historical remnants remaining for exploration, including forts, the oldest lighthouse in the US, and the foundations of long-gone buildings. Combine this with tide pools, hiking trails, and fishing spots, and there really is something for everyone.
To camp on the islands, you’ll have to either set sail in your own vessel or hop aboard one of the scheduled ferry rides that depart from Long Wharf North (check online for the latest schedule and to see which islands you can access). The Bumpkin, Grape, Lovells, and Pedocks Islands are all equipped to cater to campers, and you can reach these via the inter-island park ferry. They offer both large (up to 30 people) and small (up to four people) site options, and there are compost toilets and picnic tables at all sites (and you’re never far from a grill either if you fancy a BBQ while you’re out there). Plus, if you really fancy living it up, there are yurts available to hire on Peddock Island (which is also the only island with running water). Whether you go for a grassy campsite or one close to the shore, all sites make an excellent base from which to explore these diverse islands.
Open: May to Mid-October (Watch Hill Family Campground)
Address: Fire Island, New York, United States
With all the fame and glory associated with the streets of New York, it’s probably not the first place that springs to mind when you think of a camping getaway… But trust us when we tell you that Fire Island is an incredible place to head for wild camping trips as well as people wanting a laid-back family vacation.
The island itself is a long, thin sand bar that runs along the southern side of the larger Long Island. Long Island can be reached by air, rail, land, or sea, and it’s here that ferries depart bound for Fire Island. Although this might be a longer journey than some, it’s definitely worth the trip.
The island is teeming with wildlife, and nature lovers will rejoice at the chance to spot some of the world’s most exciting marine mammals in the surrounding waters (including whales, dolphins, and seals… just to name a few!). It’s also an idyllic surf-fishing location, and anglers can hope to catch striped bass, bluefish, and luke from the shores (but make sure you brush up on the regulations first). On land, there are winding trails. a great view from the top of the lighthouse, a historic estate to explore, and you’ll even spot white-tailed deer roaming around.
The Watch Hill Family Campground is a very popular choice for, well, families, and has a range of traditional and more luxurious glamping sites. Bear in mind that you’ll have to walk here from the dock, as there are no cars on the island. Almost all sites are on the sand itself, so you’ll really have that ocean-front camping experience. If you’re feeling more adventurous, then why not check out one of the backcountry camping sites. Either way, you’re going to love exploring this relaxed island and making friends with all the wildlife you encounter.
Open: All year (rates vary)
Address: Assateague State Park, 7307 Stephen Decatur Highway, MD 21811, United States
Next up is a fantastic option for anyone hitting the road in an RV, the Assateague Island State Park. You can park your rig right by the shore and experience the joy of waking up to the sounds of waves while wild horses roam freely around the campsite – sounds idyllic doesn’t it? Laidback hikes, casual swims, and lazy kayaks are the name of the game here, and it really does make an excellent getaway when you’re in need of some peace, quiet, and fresh air.
There are 342 camping sites to pick from (most with hook-ups available) and they each have their own fire pit and picnic table. Although this is our top recommendation for families, if you don’t mind giving up the luxury of hot showers, then why not check out the Assateague Island National Seashore campsite in the south of the island.
It’s a little more rustic (there are no hook-ups here though, I’m afraid), but it has tonnes of campgrounds to choose from as well as oceanside and bayside backcountry camping options. Whichever option you go for, you can look forward to one ultra-relaxing getaway.
Open: All year (rates vary)
Address: 6001 S Kings Hwy, Myrtle Beach, SC 29575
We’re moving further south again to bring you the Ocean Lakes Family Campground located at Myrtle Beach, South Georgia. This enormous campground has a resort vibe and is perfect for anyone looking for a hassle-free way to enjoy the great outdoors.
The site covers 310 acres of land located right by the seashore, making it one of America’s largest campgrounds, although it’s surprisingly relaxed for its size. Plus, the campground has hundreds of employees to look after you, so you’ll want for nothing during your stay.
Although it’s primarily catered to RVs, tent campers are welcome too, and the park features plenty of entertainment, including a pool restaurants, and even fitness classes. It also makes a great base for exploring the rest of Myrtle Beach, which stretches along the coast for more than 60 miles.
Unsurprisingly, this campsite is very popular, so if you’re planning a family vacation, you might need to book up t 18 months in advance to avoid disappointment.
Open: All year
Address: 1197 Riverview Dr, Jekyll Island, GA 31527, United States
As much as we’re fans of islands in general, there really is something extra special about Jekyll Island. It offers a unique combination of lush greenery combine with stretches of endless beaches (well, 10 miles worth). It’s teeming with wildlife that will keep both marine and terrestrial biologists appeased (bird and turtle lovers especially), and there are plenty of historical attractions too, including a museum, ruins, and historical tours.
Overall, the island does an excellent job of offering up enough amenities to ensure that you have a pleasant stay (there are a few restaurants, shops, and even a casino) scattered around the island) without making you feel like you’re in the midst of a tourist trap.
There are various accommodation options on the island, but the tent- and RV-friendly campsite is definitely our top choice – after all, how often do you get the chance to camp among towering oak trees yet wake up for a refreshing dip in the ocean? Although the site has a lovely natural feel about it, this is by no means slumming it – you’ll have access to flushing toilets, hot showers, electricity, and free WiFi while you’re there.
Address: 56200 Overseas Highway, Marathon FL 33050
Open: All year
And finally, we made it all the way down to Florida! And where else would you want to camp in Florida except for the Florida Keys? Fortunately, Curry Hammock State Park is located in the heart of the Florida Keys and boasts gorgeous stretches of coastline on each side.
The park itself is somewhat of a rarity along this stretch of coastline as it’s completely uninhabited and has been undisturbed by nearby coastal developments. This makes it a great place to kick back, unwind, and take in the varied scenery – as well as beaches you can enjoy mangrove swamps, rocky outcrops, and seagrass beds.
The varied landscapes and lack of human interference have made this park a haven for wildlife and, as you paddle your way along one of Curry Hammock’s two excellent kayak trails, be sure to keep your eyes open for manatees, dolphins, rays, and more. Plus, any anglers out there will snap up the chance to go after the permit and bonefish that hang around the flats. No matter what you’re into though, you’ll be struck with a deep appreciation of the outstanding natural beauty of the area.
The campsite itself isn’t the cheapest we’ve come across ($36 per night plus fees), but it’s totally worth it for a chance to explore this magical part of the keys. Oh, and you’ll get electricity, water, and a hot shower included in the price too.
So, there you have it, an eclectic mix of the finest campgrounds on America’s east coast. There really is something for everyone to enjoy – in fact, with so many state parks, sandy beaches, and wild islands to explore, you might find yourself hard-pushed to see it all in one trip!
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!