There are so many fantastic places to camp on the east coast that you could go camping every weekend and not run out of destinations.
Whether you’re in a campground or you’ve gone into the backcountry there is really nothing like sleeping out under the stars. There are so many options from national parks, state parks, campgrounds, and so much more.
My camping trips are usually in North Carolina or Tennessee so when I asked other travel bloggers for their recommendations on camping along the east coast, I was super excited with all the fun responses!
I’ve put a lot of these camping spots on my bucket list and I hope that you’ll find a few to add to your own as well. Don’t forget all of your tent camping essentials when packing!
If you would rather look at hiking trails, I’ve also put together a list of the best hikes in the Southeast US.
15 of the Best Places to Camp on the East Coast
1. Acadia National Park (ME)
Camping in Acadia National Park is an incredible way to experience the park. Located on the northeastern coast of Maine, Acadia is home to beautiful, wild ocean views and stunning sights.
At night, Acadia’s dark skies light up with the light of thousands of stars, and sleeping directly underneath them is an experience unlike any other.
The main campground in Acadia is the Blackwoods Campground. It’s located in the main part of the park on Mount Desert Island, just a few miles away from nearby Bar Harbor. Campsites offer a good amount of privacy, plenty of shade, firepits, and are a short walk to the ocean.
There are many things to do here, so plan to spend at least two days in Acadia. Highlights include watching the sunrise at Cadillac Mountain, exploring Jordan Pond, relaxing at Sand Beach, and exploring the miles of carriage roads. In autumn, Acadia is a great spot to see the fall colors!
Staying in Blackwoods will not only place you close to most attractions in the park, but it’ll also save you money. Hotel prices in the nearby area tend to be quite pricey, and the campground only charges a $30 per night fee (for tent-only spots).
The coast of Maine is stunning, and there’s no better way to experience it than by sleeping in the woods of Acadia. It’s some of the best camping on the East Coast!
Contributed by Ale of Sea Salt & Fog
2. Maine Island (ME)
Imagine having a campsite with an ocean-front view on a remote island. Camping on one of the many islands on the coast of Maine will fulfill this dream.
The Maine Island Trail is a 375-mile water trail for boaters extending from the New Hampshire border to Canada. There are over 200 islands to visit and you can backcountry camp on many of them.
The camping sites are primitive with no facilities. As the islands are sensitive to human impact, you need to practice good Leave No Trace camping and carry in and carry out everything.
To have access to these fee-free camping islands, join the Maine Island Trail Association. Upon signing up with the $45 registration fee, you will receive a guidebook listing descriptions and directions to all the islands.
You will need a boat to access the Maine islands. Small boats or sea kayaks are the best way to transport your camping gear.
Base camp on one island and go on day paddling trips to explore deserted rocky beaches, tide pools, and spectacular coastal scenery. You might even be able to visit a lighthouse in some areas.
The Cape Porpoise Islands near Kennebunkport is just one example of these excellent East Coast camping islands. There are boat rentals or guided sea kayak overnight trips from Kennebunkport to the islands.
Enjoy the beauty of an ocean sunset and then drift asleep in your tent with the sound of lapping waves.
Contributed by Karen of Outdoor Adventure Sampler
3. Watkins Glen State Park Six Nation Campground (NY)
Enjoy the outdoors by camping at Watkins Glen State Park Six Nation Campground, one of the most famous State Parks to visit in New York, located in the heart of the beautiful Finger Lakes region.
You will be surrounded by amazing hiking trails, wineries, tons of waterfalls, and other fabulous New York state parks.
Within minutes you can be hiking the stunning Gorge Trail and admire the dramatic cliffs and various impressive waterfalls of Watkins Glen. Also plan to explore the scenic Seneca Lake.
Here, you will find unforgettable experiences for all ages. Explore the lake on a boat or kayak, or enjoy some of the 31 wineries along the one-of-a-kind Seneca Lake Wine Trail.
Just a little bit further out, about 30 minutes, you can enjoy two more of New York’s state parks.
Don’t miss the epic waterfalls in Robert H. Treman State Park, roughly 24 miles to the west, and Taughannock Falls State Park, 21 miles to the northwest towards Cayuga Lake. Taughannock Falls is even taller than the famous Niagara Falls.
The location of the Watkins Glen State Park Six Nation Campground is convenient for a trip to the Finger Lakes. The campground is equipped with everything a happy camper needs: clean restrooms, hot showers, dumping stations, playgrounds, playing fields, and a swimming pool. Each campsite has a picnic table and firepit.
What better way than to enjoy the beautiful New York outdoors with a camping trip at Watkins Glen State Park Six Nation Campground.
Contributed by Rachel and Dana of Traveling Found Love
4. Mongaup Pond (NY)
Mongaup Pond is one of the best places to go tent camp on the East Coast! It is located in the Catskills region of New York.
There are many campsites for camping at Mongaup Pond and hiking trails that go around the pond and out to the surrounding areas. Exploring this beautiful green oasis is definitely one of the most magical things to do during the summer time!
The campground has primitive campsites that are perfect for car camping. Each comes with a grilling platform, and you can purchase local firewood onsite.
There are water filling stations scattered throughout the campground. In addition, the restrooms are well maintained.
The main feature of camping at Mongaup Pond is of course being able to access the pond! Mongaup Pond has a huge day use area with many picnic tables and grilling stations.
There are easily accessible restrooms and changing rooms near the pond. Families can spend the day enjoying the pond and then retreating to the shady picnic area.
The pond offers both a beach for swimming and boat rentals. You can rent a rowboat, kayak, or canoe! However, make sure to reserve these early in your stay because they book up fast!
Contributed by Daphna of A Tiny Trip
5. Four Mile Creek State Park (NY)
Looking for a family-friendly campground near Niagara Falls? Located only 15 miles north of the mighty Niagara, Four Mile Creek State Park makes the perfect base from which to explore the falls and surrounding area.
The park is also minutes away from Old Fort Niagara, the oldest continuously occupied military site in North America. Here, families can step back in time by watching re-enactments of American and Canadian historical events.
Trails along the Lake Ontario shoreline offer spectacular panoramic views across the lake and all the way to Toronto on a clear day. A marshy area near the mouth of Four Mile Creek is a fun place to explore and home to a variety of animals including great blue herons and white tail deer.
While there is no swimming available at Four Mile Creek State Park, beach swimming is available nearby at Wilson Tuscarora State Park and pool swimming at Fort Niagara State Park.
Four Mile Creek State Park offers 275 campsites in both shady and sunny areas along with basic amenities such as showers, flush toilets, and laundry facilities. A modern playground is also available as well as yurts and a camp store.
Advanced reservations are recommended and can be made on the Reserve America website. (Note: due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the campground is currently only accepting reservations made in advance. No walk-ins are permitted).
Contributed by Katy of A Rambling Unicorn
6. First Landing State Park (VA)
One of the best places to camp on the East Coast is First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach, VA. First Landing State Park is actually Virginia’s most visited state park and it is one of the most historical places in Virginia (and the United States) as it is where the first colonists arrived on new land.
This is a wonderful park because you can stay overnight with a variety of options and have beach access and hiking trail access when you wake up. And, you’re not far from the main resort area of Virginia Beach, which makes this a prime spot for families camping in Virginia Beach.
At First Landing, you will find over 200 different overnight camping spots. There are three main types of accommodation there – camping plots, cabins, and yurts. The plots are perfect for tents and RVs both and the season runs from March until the first weekend of December.
Additionally, you will find 4 yurts inside of First Landing. Available from the first weekend of March until the first weekend of December, this is a great option for those looking to do a bit of glamping and not sleep in a tent.
The cabins are the coziest and most comfortable option and they sleep between 4-6 people. There are merely two of them – so reserve early! They are open year-round.
First Landing State Park is a great place for all travelers regardless of whether or not they are local or coming from afar. Some of the best hiking trails in Virginia Beach are located inside of the park.
And, if you end up there in mid-February on the right year, you may even get to witness the famous rainbow sheen across the swamp!
Camping in First Landing State Park is an excellent choice of places on the East Coast to call home for a weekend (or longer)!
Contributed by Megan of Virginia Travel Tips
7. Charlottesville Hipcamp (VA)
A mere five minutes away from downtown Charlottesville, Virginia lies this unique camping spot. Here, you can easily tour the city and nearby wineries and breweries, and then come home to a place that will have you dreaming of the childhood summers in the country you never had.
There are some great breweries near Shenandoah National Park which is also nearby.
This dreamy spot is a HipCamp, which is basically Airbnb for campers. HipCamp hosts allow travelers to set up camp on their property, often providing them with unique experiences, great locations, and more private accommodations.
The property features a pond to play in, and the host even provides a canoe, kayak, inflatable rafts, a zipline, and a rope swing. The gazebo has a grill and picnic table, and connects to a platform right on the water.
Horses gallop on the other side of a white picket fence, the weeping willows add scenic ambiance, and you’ll call frogs and turtles your neighbors.
The host provides four spots to camp, and you choose which one to book. They’re all decently spaced from each other, and you share use of the pond and all the toys that come with it.
Only the site near the gazebo comes with a grill, but when you’re so close to all the delicious restaurants downtown, who wants to cook?
The bathroom reserved for campers is in the host’s home, and has a separate entrance from the outside. While this isn’t your typical camping experience, it’s definitely one worth having.
Contributed by Alyssa of Lyssy in the Sky
8. Fox Fire Riverside Campground (TN)
In the tiny town of Hartford, Tennessee there is a cluster of campgrounds along the Pigeon River. People come here for adventure – it’s one of the best rivers for whitewater rafting in Tennessee.
Many come to raft or kayak the Pigeon River and some come to zipline or hike in the area. No matter what you’re here for, the perfect place to stay is at Fox Fire Riverside Campground.
This campground has primitive tent sites as well as RV sites with water and electric hookups. They even have cottages and cabins if you want a more upscale vacation.
We spent a weekend at one of their riverside tent sites and it could not have been a more beautiful place.
Our site was right along the river and there are plenty of shady trees where you can hang up a hammock (a great gift idea for outdoorsy women).
Their amenities are great too as they have a clean bathhouse, picnic shelters, and each tent site has a picnic table and fire pit. Plus they sell firewood.
If you’re looking for an adventurous weekend getaway then this is the place for you!
9. Great Smoky Mountains (TN/NC)
Running elegantly along the Tennessee–North Carolina border is where you’ll find the Great Smoky Mountains. A varied subrange of the Appalachian Mountains, they are one of the best places to camp on the East Coast, full of picturesque landscapes and wonderful wildlife.
There are several different campsites in the Park including specific ones for backpackers and people with horses. Most have restroom facilities, cold running water, and fire pits although some are more primitive if you’d prefer to get back to nature. You will need a permit to camp here.
There are also plenty of interesting activities in the National Park. A few of the best things to do there include a walk up to the top of Clingmans Dome, a 6,643-foot round peak where you can find spectacular views across the park or a visit to Fontana Lake, a slim lake along the park’s southern border where you can kayak canoe or paddleboard.
You can also go chasing the over 100 waterfalls that are hidden amongst the greenery and hike along all (or some) of the impressive 71-mile Appalachian Trail.
Overall, I recommend spending between 2 to 4 days camping in the mountains, depending on how many additional attractions you feel like doing. The best times to visit are June and July when there is an explosion of wildflowers.
It’s also a perfect place to travel in October when the gorgeous red and gold fall foliage is at its peak.
Contributed by Alice of Adventures of Alice
10. Sawtooth Campground at South Mountains State Park (NC)
The Sawtooth Campground at South Mountains State Park is one of my favorites. There are three sites along the edges of a large meadow, each with its own picnic table and fire pit. A small stream where you can filter water or splash around on hot summer days is a quarter-mile away.
Each site is reserved using Reserve America, and it’s a 4-mile hike, mainly uphill, to get there. But this means you won’t be on crowded trails or camping with 50 people.
If you’re by yourself, I’d go for campsite one. There’s a great spot for the tent, and it’s a little further away from the other campers. While the entire area is a bit hilly, you can find flat spots if you know where to look.
But the campsite itself isn’t the draw, you’re here for the stargazing and nearby views. On clear nights, the open meadow provides some of the best stargazing around. You can lay down in the meadow and really enjoy being on the rim of the mountain, away from the crowds and city lights.
Another advantage of this particular campsite is its proximity to Chestnut Knob Overlook, one of the best views in the entire park. It’s an easy 1-mile hike, perfect for heading out near dusk for a fabulous sunset or getting up a bit early to catch the sunrise with a cup of coffee. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.
Contributed by Alison of Exploration Solo
11. Hammocks Beach State Park (NC)
Hammocks Beach State Park (also known as Bear Island by locals) is one of the most untouched beaches in North Carolina and a perfect place to camp.
The island is accessible only by boat, kayak, or passenger ferry, making it the perfect place to truly unwind. Camping here means being surrounded by wildlife like local birds and dolphins, wading through tide pools, fishing, shell hunting, walking on the beach in the moonlight and falling asleep to the sound of the waves.
There are roughly a dozen small campsites tucked away in the dunes of the island with a picnic table and post to hang food. About a half-mile from the ferry access point you’ll find a building that houses a restroom, water spigot, picnic area, and outdoor showers (water is often turned off in the off-season).
Make sure you are prepared for a short walk along the dunes to your campsite and bring all the food, water bottles, and supplies you’ll need. The Bear Island Water Trail is one of the best kayaking places in the area and three of the campsites can only be reached by paddle.
The absolute best time to travel here is the late spring and early fall before it gets hot on the island and the mosquitoes come out.
Bear Island is secluded and perfect for anyone looking to explore the southern outer banks in its pristine condition.
Contributed by Ashton of It’s AAAllgood
12. James Island County Park (SC)
The Campground at James Island County Park is a great place to camp on the East Coast. It is located close to Charleston, and that city is worth visiting as well because there are lots of great things to do.
The nature at James Island County Park is phenomenal, which is one of the reasons why camping here is great. It is a great place for hiking, skating, or biking, as there are many paved trails for this at James Island County Park.
What’s great is that you can rent bikes here, so you don’t have to bring a bike with you when you go here. This is the perfect place to relax in nature. Another great thing to do here is rent a boat. You can choose a pedal boat, kayak, or paddleboard.
Furthermore, the park is great to visit with kids as well, as there is a large playground area and a spray play fountain. The campground has some great facilities. This includes 24-hour staffing, bathhouses, laundry facilities, free wifi, and a campground store. Also, you can use the shuttle service of the campground to get a roundtrip to Folly Beach.
Contributed by Dymphe of Dymabroad
13. Edisto Beach State Park (SC)
One of only two beachfront South Carolina state parks, Edisto Beach State Park features a beachfront campground and is only an hour away from Charleston!
Wake up to sunrise on the beach. Enjoy playing in the Atlantic Ocean and relaxing in the shade under live oaks and palmetto trees at the campground. Watch the sun set the sky on fire in the evening.
Cheer on baby sea turtles making their way to the ocean for the first time (if you time your trip right!). And finally, drift off to sleep to the sound of gentle waves on a sandy beach. Live your best life here!
The beach campground has 67 campsites, each with water and electric hookup but open to both tent or RV campers. Verify a campsite’s RV length restrictions directly from the camping reservation website, and grab your spot up to 13 months ahead of time.
If you’re on a budget, snag a slightly cheaper campsite at the Live Oak Campground. It’s 5 minutes away, on the creek/salt marsh instead of the beach, but arguably the better fishing spot.
Seven cabins are also available for rent near the Live Oak Campground: fully furnished home away from home with air conditioning to beat that summer heat!
Bonus: there’s more to do here than just the beach! Check out this complete guide to Edisto Beach State Park for all the details about hiking, biking, fishing, and boating as well as the best time to see the baby sea turtles!
Contributed by Rachel of Means to Explore
14. Big Cypress National Preserve (FL)
Big Cypress National Preserve is a 729,000-acre swamp above Everglades National Park. It’s massive and remote, perfect for everyone that loves the outdoors. It’s even better for camping because it’s so big.
There are eight campgrounds in the park of varying sizes and facilities so no matter what you like, you can find something.
Monument Lake Campground is a great option because of its location. It’s about halfway through the park (almost) making it nice and central. It makes driving the Loop Road easy and convenient, it’s close to the Oasis Visitor Center, Gator Hook Trail, and the Clyde Butcher Gallery.
It’s also just a short drive to Shark Valley in Everglades National Park to the east or Everglades City to the west. Near Everglades City you can also visit the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park, the Marsh Trail, Collier-Seminole State Park, or the town itself.
The campground has 10 tent sites and 26 RV sites, available to reserve or for walk-ins (depending on availability.) It’s open August 15-April 15 and is $24/$28 per night. Bathrooms and drinking water are available but there are no RV hookups or dump stations.
It’s a nice, open campground with quite a bit of room at the tent sites (minimal shade, though) set up around Monument Lake where you may even spot a gator or two hanging out.
Contributed by Megan of Red Around the World
15. Everglades National Park (FL)
If you’re looking for a completely unique camping experience on the east coast, go camping in Everglades National Park, for the unique experience of chickee hut camping in one of the most pristine wilderness environments in the country.
Chickee huts were originally designed by the Seminole natives who still call this home, and are now a backcountry favorite for those wanting a rustic wilderness experience. A permit is required for all backcountry camping, and although not required, reservations can be made online.
Reservation or not, you’ll pick-up your permit in person at the Flamingo Visitors Center. The Everglades chickee huts are raised wooden platforms over the water with a thatched roof and open on all sides.
These backcountry sites are mostly accessible by kayak or canoe, and some reachable by hiking through the Glades. The chickee accommodates only free-standing tents, and nails, stakes, or fires are not permitted on the platform.
This is true wilderness camping so amenities are what you bring with you. Usually, a walkway will lead to an enclosed toilet, and it’s a good idea to bring your own toilet paper.
Without question, paddling is the best way to explore the Everglades. From your chickee hut, you can paddle all day, and you’ll enjoy the unique native wildlife of the Everglades — alligators, manatees, herons, egrets, bald eagles and more.
Go fishing, take memorable photos, and watch the sunset over the Glades. Chickee hut camping is a camping experience you’ll never forget.
Contributed by Lori of Naples Florida Travel Guide
East Coast Camping FAQs
Which state has the best camping?
Based on data from Insuremytrip, the top three states for camping on the East Coast are Rhode Island, Maryland, and New Hampshire.
Honestly, I think it depends on the season, what you like to do, and a variety of other factors. Each state has its pros and cons, especially throughout the different seasons.
Where is the most beautiful place to camp?
In my opinion, the most beautiful places to camp are in the National Parks, other nationally protected lands (wildlife refuges, national forests, BLM land), and State Parks.
The remote locations typically give the best views.
What is the largest campground on the East Coast?
Ocean Lakes Family Campground is the largest campground on the East Coast. There are many activities here, but lots of people too.
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