The Best Campgrounds Near Philly to Escape the Urban Grind

You don't have to drive far from Philly to find some excellent overnight camping opportunities
You don't have to drive far from Philly to find some excellent overnight camping opportunities iris
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It's easy to get stuck in the city during the fall, taking advantage of Philly's wonderful autumn festivals and seasonal gatherings. But sometimes, these urban escapades are simply not enough to fill your need for nature during the region's prettiest season.

If you're a city-dwelling outdoor enthusiast looking to get in a fall camping trip with friends in 2015, the time is now—fall foliage is peaking, and chilly nights lend themselves perfectly to piping hot bonfires.

Luckily, Philadelphia is nestled snugly at the base of the Delaware River Valley within a stone's throw from some of Pennsylvania's most scenic campgrounds. So lace up your hiking boots, dig out your tent and sleeping bag, and head to one of these top campgrounds near Philadelphia before it's too late.

French Creek State Park

A pine forest along Scott Run Lake in French Creek State Park
A pine forest along Scott Run Lake in French Creek State Park Richard Bonnett

French Creek is one of the Philly area's largest state parks, and naturally, offers some spectacular camping options. Located about an hour northwest of Philadelphia, 7,730 acre French Creek State Park is your best bet for getting away from it all while not being too far from home. The state park offers a variety of camping choices for any group including tent camping, cottages, yurts, modern cabins, and group cabins. During your stay, explore more than 35 miles of trails on foot, fish at Hopewell Lake, or Scott's Run Lake, and maybe even consider partaking in one of the many other activities on tap at French Creek like mountain biking, orienteering, horseback riding, or disc golfing.

Bayshore Campground

View from a campsite at Bayshore Campground.
View from a campsite at Bayshore Campground. Dani Graham

Have you ever wanted to wake up, zip open your tent door, and see the ocean while still lying in your sleeping bag? Well, you're in luck. If you're looking for an autumn escape to the beach, head to Maryland's Bayshore Campground , where you can get your fix of salty air and outdoor sleeping. Located at the southern end of Maryland's eastern shore on the Chesapeake Bay, this is a can't miss spot to pitch a tent less than two hours from Philly. During the day, head a few minutes down route 445 to the Eastern Neck Wildlife Refuge to catch a glimpse of bald eagles and native wildlife.

Ricketts Glen State Park

Adams Falls is just one of more than 20 waterfalls located in Ricketts Glen State Park.
Adams Falls is just one of more than 20 waterfalls located in Ricketts Glen State Park. Nicholas A. Tonelli

You can't talk about epic camping in Pennsylvania without mentioning Rickett's Glen . This 13,050 acre state park is located about 2.5 hours from Philadelphia, but it's definitely worth the drive. Claim a tent spot on the lake for the best sunset views, or reserve a cabin for more modern amenities. Regardless of where you stay, be sure to check out one of the more than 20 waterfalls in the park on the popular 7.2 mile Falls Trail. Bring proper hiking boots for this hike, which is often rocky and wet. For the equestrian or angler, horseback riding and fishing are also available.

Peaceful Woodlands

Peaceful Woodlands

If you're looking for a weekend "glamping" getaway—perhaps with a couple of friends that haven't been camping before—head to Peaceful Woodlands Campground in Blakeslee, PA. This private campground is only 90 minutes from Philly, and is located near Pocono Raceway and the popular Jack Frost/Big Boulder Ski Resorts. Each tent site conveniently boasts it's own electric hookup and water spigot. There are also plenty of RV sites and modern cabin rentals, as well as a general store with supplies such as firewood, batteries, ice, and more.

Peaceful Woodlands  provides immaculate restrooms with piping hot showers and flush toilets, which any new camper would find appropriate. For a daytime adventure, head to the Dixon Miller Recreation Area, located just behind the campground, which contains many ATV trails and hiking trails. For a more difficult hike, drive 30 minutes to Glen Onoko Falls near Jim Thorpe and see a multitude of spectacular waterfalls.

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