12 Jan

RVFTA #124 8 More Tips for Campground Owners

On this episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are talking about our top eight tips for campground owners, developed after spending hundreds of nights at campground over the last few years. We have had some fantastic experiences, but also quite a few that could have been improved.

We first covered this topic all the way back on episode #5 of RV Family Travel Atlas, over two year ago. It was definitely time to revisit the issue with fresh eyes, and chat about some of the bigger campground features that make the difference between an average camping visit and an amazing one.

Segment One: Revisiting the Original 8 Tips for Campground Owners

On our older episode titled 8 Tips for Campground Owners, we addressed the following topics:

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06 Dec

5 Reasons Seasonal Camping Might Be Right For You!

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We got a ton of response after our recent podcast episode on Seasonal Camping, featuring the awesome Jon and Heather Anderson, who signed up for their own seasonal campsite two years ago and absolutely love it.

So we want to make ourselves perfectly clear…if you are thinking about a seasonal spot for next year, NOW is the time to book. If you wait to search for your own perfect getaway until next spring, it might just be too late.

Seasonal camping is when you reserve one campsite for an extended period of time, and you are free to come and go at your own convenience. Seasonal camping rates and schedules vary greatly from one campground to another, so you will have to do a bit of research to find one that suits your family.

Why would any self respecting RV travelers choose to reserve a single campsite at a single campground for an entire year?

Here are five reasons why seasonal camping might be a perfect fit, even if you have an unstoppable urge for adventure…

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20 Oct

RVFTA #111 Seasonal Camping 101 with Jon and Heather Anderson

seasonal-camping-101On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are talking about seasonal camping with some experienced experts, Jon and Heather Anderson. We first met Jon and Heather at the Hershey RV show in 2015 when they purchased their Class A Winnebago Brave. Since then, we have been impressed with how much time and research they put into all their RV decisions.

So we invited them onto the show to teach us the ins and outs of seasonal camping. Why did they decide to take the plunge? Are they happy with their choice? And perhaps most importantly…how much does this cost???
listen-on-itunes-hoverIn the first segment, Jon and Heather walk us through their journey from buying a travel trailer to investing in a seasonal campsite. Then in the second segment, they share five tips for finding the perfect seasonal campground for your family.

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25 Aug

RVFTA #103 Greetings from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Greetings from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, and telling you all about the amazing Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in the great state of Michigan.

Voted one of America’s most beautiful places by Good Morning America, this truly is a magical destination that demonstrates why the National Parks might be our country’s greatest idea ever. We will talk about the best drives, hikes, swims, and even shopping in the Sleeping Bear Dunes park.

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This episode goes along with two different Campground of the Week episodes: #41 about Holiday Park in Traverse City and #42 about the Platte River Campground in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Both are amazing places to stay while visiting the region. We cover completely different activities and food options in the different episodes, so be sure to listen to all three if you are planning a visit of your own in the future!

Subcribe to Campground of the Week here…

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04 Aug

#NPS100: Yellowstone National Park with Kerri Cox

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On this episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are so excited to be joined by Kerri Cox of TravelswithBirdy.com.

Kerri and her family took Birdy (their Jayco travel trailer) on another epic road trip this summer, celebrating the National Park Service centennial. One of the trip’s highlights was Yellowstone National Park, where they were able to appreciate first hand why this place is basically on everyone’s bucket list.

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10 Jul

Camping Near Acadia National Park: Our Oceanfront Slice of Heaven

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If you are a longtime reader and podcast listener, you know that we believe Acadia National Park is RV heaven. It holds a very special place in our hearts, and no matter what, we end up back there again and again.

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Many other RVers feel the same way, and there is no shortage of campground options available when planning your stay. But again, if you are part of the RVFTA community, you know that we return to the Bar Harbor/Oceanside KOA time after time.

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The real question is, what’s the draw? What makes this the place that we want to park our rig, even after touring and inspecting many other campgrounds on Mount Desert Island?

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09 Jun

RVFTA #92 What’s New at Camp Jellystone?

What's New At Camp Jellystone? Read More

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10 Apr

Celebrating a Birthday at the Campground With Friends…and Bad Weather?

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We used to scoff at camping close to home and would never have celebrated a birthday or holiday at the campground.  But things have changed.  Last year we realized that we could camp close to home and still get the kids to their baseball games (read about it here).  This year we realized that we could camp close to home and have a slam dunk birthday party with family and friends. When the campground calls us, we must go! Even when other responsibilities are calling our names.

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09 Feb

Tips and Resources for Finding the Perfect Campground and the Ideal Campsite

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We cover a ton of information in this week’s podcast, Booking the Perfect Campground, and wanted to place all the suggestions and resources in one spot. For a full discussion of all these points, make sure you listen to the complete episode here. And of course, you can always get your fill of campground reviews on our weekly podcast Campground of the Week.

After researching, visiting, and reviewing hundreds of campgrounds over the last 6 years, we strongly believe that there is no perfect campground. One size definitely does not fit all. However, there is a perfect campground for you…with an individualized set of characteristics that will get your camp mojo humming. The key to finding RV bliss is knowing what look for and how to find it.

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04 Feb

RVFTA #74: Booking the Perfect Campground

Booking the Perfect Campground blog

On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are dishing all our tips for finding the perfect campground and booking the perfect campsite. It’s trip planning season and if you want the magic to happen, better make those reservations now. We have given seminars on this topic and written articles, but this is the first time we put in all in one podcast.

And we have a giveaway to help you plan those trips! Good Sam has given us 5 copies of the Travel and Savings Guide (chock full of awesome articles, wink, wink). What do you have to do to win?

  • Head over to our forum, register, and introduce yourself on Roll Call forum thread. Three people with introductions will win copies of the Guide! Don’t fret if you have already said hey. You are in it to win it.
  • Look for a contest photo to be posted this week on Instagram. Like the photo and tag a friend who might think that RV Family Travel Atlas has got it going on.

There are two segments that center on tips for booking your campground reservations. First we talk about picking through the catalogs, apps, ratings, and reviews to find a campground that will suit your style. Then we move on to all of the questions you should ask yourself before booking your campsite.

Do you want every campground to be a #win? It’s gonna take a little work, but the payoff is worth it.

And we don’t completely ignore RV shopping because many of our listeners are right in the thick of it. On this episode, you will also hear a great interview with Jim Waters, the marketing coordinator for Lance Campers. He will share some information about the 50 year old RV company and talk about the newest, lightest Lance truck camper release for 2016. The 650 is built for a half-ton short-bed truck, so it should be of interest to anyone looking for a comfortable camper with a small footprint.

You might think that you have oodles of time to plan those summer vacations. But we know that the best campsites are selling like hotcakes. You are listening to Episode #74: Booking the Perfect Campground!

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02 Feb

A Case for the Campground (or, why it’s okay if you don’t plan on boondocking this year)

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If you hang out in RV social media circles, you probably have noticed the increase in boondocking, or wild camping, content. You might see an Airstream in the middle of a desert with snow-capped mountains in the distance. Or a Class C sitting at the edge of a rocky shoreline without another RV in sight. Blog posts offer GPS coordinates for remote, wooded locations, and many apps help you find isolated BLM lands on which you can park your rig.

The appeal is obvious. First of all, wild places are beautiful. RVers generally have a healthy appreciation for the natural world, so the more of it, the better. What is more romantic than having a beautiful place all to yourself? Secondly, these spots are free. For people like ourselves who want to camp as much as possible, a free campsite is a very attractive option.

And then there are the photos. In our increasingly visual social media landscape, how awesome is it to get pictures of your RV smack dab in the middle of nowhere, without the clutter of other rigs and people?

As solar energy becomes more ubiquitous, tanks become bigger, WiFi becomes stronger, and generators become cheaper, it is easier for the average RVer to enjoy the comforts of the RV lifestyle without the drag of a campground price tag.

The conversation about boondocking pops up in the RVFTA world on a regular basis. People ask us, when are you going to start boondocking? Why don’t you do it already? Don’t you think you are missing out on an amazing experience? Is what you are doing really authentic?

We have discussed this issue many times on the podcast, and in emails with our listeners. But most of the time, the question is framed in terms of what we are not doing…i.e. boondocking. But we actually look at the issue differently. Instead of believing that we are giving our kids a less authentic camping experience, we actually think we are giving them exposure to a remarkably valuable environment, and one that is difficult to find in our present day culture.

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Many people who boondock want to get away from it all, disconnect, unplug. Most of us feel this pressing need on a daily basis. We crave a break from the busyness, a bit of quiet amidst all the noise. The irony is, of course, that as we have become more connected on social media we have become less connected with our neighbors, our community members, and even our co workers.

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A recent article I read in the New York Times, Friends at Work? Not So Much, was talking about how as a culture we are underestimating the value of forming new friendships at work. When I can stay connected with my old friends on Facebook, why bother going through the hassle of getting to know Bob in the break room?

I, of course, immediately thought of the campground. In our opinion, campgrounds are not a necessary evil, a place to stay now until we can build up our courage to take our children out into the middle of nowhere. Campgrounds are actually places where a lot of things operate according to the pre-technology norms of 20 years ago. You are pretty much expected to wave and say hi to someone as they walk by. It is still considered polite to strike up friendly conversation with a stranger. And kids are constantly forming pick up games with children they met five minutes ago.

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Playdates? Not at a campground. You’ll just see a mob of kids moving from campsite to campsite. Sharing toys, making up games, and getting really dirty.

I understand the desire people have to get away from it all and find some peace and quiet. But in a way, I believe we have a little too much peace and quiet in our lives already. Too much time spent in front of screens with headphones in our ears, looking at pretty pictures that other people have posted on social media.

We don’t just love our RV. We also love and appreciate our time at public and private campgrounds, meeting  new people, having pleasant conversations, and connecting more with each other.

The pictures aren’t as pretty perhaps, but I’ve got the squeals of my happy boys as they enjoy an epic water gun war with a bunch of friends they just met. And that’s a pretty authentic experience to me.

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Have an opinion about the campground versus boondocking? We would love to hear it! Share away in the comments below…

See you at the campground. ~Stephanie

11 Dec

Special Announcement: Campground of the Week is Released!

We are thrilled to announce that the RVFTA Podcast Network has released its third podcast: Campground of the Week, available RIGHT NOW in iTunes and Stitcher.

This new weekly podcast will be released every Thursday morning and will feature one complete review of a campground brought to you by our team of correspondents from all around this big and beautiful country. Interviews will also include the best activities and attractions in the area.

From state parks to resort campgrounds, Campground of the Week will cover everything. Tune in every week and build your own personal campground bucket list.

Visit CampgroundoftheWeek.com to read our correspondents’ bios and explore the show notes for individual episodes.

And of course, if you subscribe, listen, rate and review, we sure would appreciate it.

subscribe on iTunes

See you at the campground!

Play
03 Dec

RVFTA #65 Opting Outside in Washington DC

#OptingOutside in Washington, DC blog

On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are heading back to Washington DC, one of our favorite urban RV destinations. The combination of outdoor activities and historical interest make this one of the most family friendly vacation spots on the East Coast.

imagesWe decided to join at least a million other Americans on Black Friday who skipped a day of shopping to #optoutside. Instead we chose to enjoy a different kind of mall…our National one.

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03 Nov

RVFTA 2015 Fall Rally: Fun Times, New Friends!

A fantastic group of RVFTA podcast listeners gathered last weekend at the Philadelphia/West Chester KOA for our second go around at this whole rally thing.

Rallies aren’t so popular with our generation, so we felt like we were taking a risk last spring when we decided to host one for the first time. In short, it was a smashing success and everyone refused to wait an entire year to gather again.

Enter the RVFTA 2015 Fall Rally.

We are pretty convinced that the heart of a successful family camping rally is lots of free time for kids to run around and play together, while parents get to sit around and talk. Keeping the schedule loose and flexible worked like a charm once again, and while we offered plenty of suggestions for activities, families were free to figure it out as they went.

Some went fishing, while others walked the nature trails. And someone loved his afternoon canoe ride on the Brandywine.

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While some enjoyed the fine arts…

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Others appreciated life’s simpler pleasures.

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Rally attendees–and area locals–Bill and Karen led a class trip to The Market at Liberty Place in Kennett Square where we enjoyed ridiculously good fare at Buddy’s Burgers. The kids claimed a table for themselves and we were happy to oblige.


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Then there was coffee (of course) at the local craft roaster, Philter Coffee.

And the organized festivities…

We celebrated our podcast’s 1st birthday with an adorable craft organized by listeners Leslie and Philip.

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And then they put hats on our heads, lit candles, and sang Happy Birthday because our listeners are just that awesome.

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A White Elephant game followed with some serious trading and back room deals. The Toas Tite was a popular pick, but a dark horse favorite was a Camp Casual t-shirt that all the men seemed to want.

And Darryl won the grand prize of a two-night stay at any KOA by knowing virtually everything there is to know about our podcast.

Potluck dinner, our own special craft brew, movies under the stars, trick or treating, and (of course) roaring campfires.

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The activities were fun. The food was delicious. The weather was mostly spectacular. But ultimately, the magic is because of the people.

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Maybe we have just been super duper lucky to gather some of the chillest folks around who happen to dig camping podcasts. We left both rallies amazed at what a wonderful time we had with a bunch of families that barely knew each other and yet were united by a common commitment to venturing out and connecting with their kids in the great outdoors.

We have decided there is something to be said for this old-fashioned rally tradition. Social media may help us connect and find people who share similar interests and passions. But relationships really develop when you share a meal…and some s’mores.

We can’t wait to hang with old friends and new at the RVFTA 2016 Spring Rally at Lake in Wood Campground in Narvon, PA. Hope to see you at the potluck!

To hear more about our rally, and to hear some great interviews with rally attendees, listen to podcast episode #60: Fall Rally Roundup!

30 Oct

RVFTA #60: Fall Rally Roundup!

On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are talking about the fun times had by all at the RVFTA 2015 Fall Rally.

We spent last weekend hanging at the Philadelphia/West Chester KOA with an awesome group of podcast listeners.

Hayrides, fishing, canoeing, pumpkin painting, trick or treating…and plenty of yummy food! We will touch on all the highlights and get you excited for the 2016 Spring Rally just around the corner.

You will also hear Stephanie interview three fall rally attendees–Chris, Laura, and Phil–who share a few tricks for making your next camping trip a bit more special.

Plus, we will spend a bit of time discussing a recurring topic in our email from listeners. Should we be aiming for a more secluded campground experience? Is boondocking really better? Watch out folks, we are stepping up on the soapbox and opining away.

You might think you can wait until April to join our rally fun. But we here at RVFTA believe in booking campsites early and often. You are listening to Episode #60: RVFTA Fall Rally Roundup!

 

 

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08 Oct

RVFTA #57: Greetings from Lake Placid, New York

Greetings from Lake Placid

On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, Greetings from Lake Placid, New York, we are delighted to share all the details of our recent visit to the Lake Placid region in the Adirondack Mountains. The stunning fall foliage created the perfect backdrop for experiencing outdoor adventure and a bit of Olympic history.

We start the episode by sharing eight interesting facts about the Adirondack region. With 6 million acres of protected and privately owned land, Glacier, Yosemite, Great Smoky Mountains, Yellowstone, and Grand Canyon National Parks could ALL fit inside this area. Listen to hear some other fascinating trivia that will pique your interest.

Then we move on to our recommended activities in the Lake Placid and Whiteface Mountain area. We review:

  • The Olympic Passport activities
  • Downtown Lake Placid
  • Hiking Mount Jo
  • The Wild Center

You can read more about these highlights in this post on the campground and activities.

Plus, we were lucky enough to interview two of the most charming campground managers of all time, Chip and Julie Grundon, who share all about the Lake Placid/Whiteface Mountain KOA in Wilmington, New York.

And we walked away with Julie’s amazing recipe for Michigan Sauce. What the heck is that? You will have to listen to find out! (Or stay tuned for the blog post next week with the recipe)

You may be counting down the days until camping season comes to an end. But we here at RVFTA are seriously considering heading back to Lake Placid for a winter RV adventure.

You are listening to Episode #57: Greetings from Lake Placid, New York!

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05 Oct

Falling in Love with the Adirondacks at the Lake Placid/Whiteface Mountain KOA

The Adirondack Park in New York State is our newest favorite place. Why?  Maybe because of its fragrant and thickly wooded forests of spruce, maple, beech, and birch.

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Maybe because of its sparkling lakes, winding rivers, and rocky streams.

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Maybe because of its charming lakefront towns such as Lake Placid and Saranac Lake.

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Or maybe because the region hosted the Winter Olympics in 1932 and 1980 and the sounds of supreme, almost mythological, athletic greatness still can be heard if you listen closely. “Do you believe in miracles?”  We sure do.

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The Lake Placid/Whiteface Mountain KOA is our newest favorite campground. Why? Maybe because we saw deer running through the campground during the Friday night hayride.

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Maybe because you can hike from your campsite down to the rushing waters of the Ausable River.

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Maybe because of the pancakes and hot coffee served up every morning in the warm and cozy lodge.

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Or maybe because this KOA serves as the perfect base-camp for exploring a magnificent region of our magnificent country.

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The Lake Placid/Whiteface Mountain KOA is a short, river and tree-lined drive into downtown Lake Placid, where we sampled some great food and culture, and more importantly where we started to learn about the region’s incredible Olympic history.  We highly recommend purchasing the Olympic Sites Passport which is a tremendous bargain at $35 and gives you access to the Olympic Museum, the Sports Complex, the Jumping Complex, the Whiteface Veteran’s Memorial Highway, and more.

We headed out early one morning for the drive on the Memorial Highway up to the castle at the top of Whiteface Mountain. There were numerous scenic overlooks on the way up and we stopped at each one to take in the sweeping views of the mountains.

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The view of Lake Placid from the top, looking down on the clouds, was nothing short of stunning.

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There was ice on the sides of the mountain that morning and it was windy and cold. The boys finagled three cups of hot chocolate from the cafeteria in the castle.  We sampled the coffee, of course.

Later that morning we headed over to the Olympic Jumping Complex.  We all loved taking the ski lift and the elevator up to the jump tower and looking out at the mountains around us and down at the jump below us.  If you are not in awe of our Olympic athletes, you should be.  Standing at the top of the jump tower brought their extreme skill and bravery into sharp focus for all of us. For Theo and Max it was the highlight of the trip.

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The Lake Placid/Whiteface Mountain KOA is surrounded on all sides by endless opportunities for outdoor adventure. If you love fly fishing, then this is the place. If you love kayaking or canoeing, then this is the place.  If you love skiing or snowmobiling, then this is the place.  If you love hiking–and our family loves hiking–then this is the place.

We decided to tackle nearby Mount Jo on our last full day, and it was wonderful.  Our AMC Guidebook called it an easy hike, but clearly the author didn’t do it with children.  Stephanie had Wesley on her back, which made the trail quite a challenge. But Max and Theo were in good spirits and practically raced up the mountain.  They love a hike with lots of rocks and water…this one didn’t disappoint.

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The “Short Trail” up and the “Long Trail” down were both lovely–like something out of a book of poetry by Wordsworth or Coleridge.  The summit view of Heart Lake surrounded by increasingly magnificent fall foliage was worth every single step.

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After a brief snack the boys got on their hands and knees and howled like wolves as the sun began to set.  It was getting late. We needed to double-time it down the mountain, and we did.

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We come home exhausted that night–but deeply satisfied.  Our time at the Lake Placid/Whiteface Mountain KOA was coming to an end. But our newfound love for the history, culture, and geography of the Adirondack Park was just beginning.

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13 Sep

4 Fall Beach Camping Favorites on the East Coast

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On Episode #51 of the podcast–Fall Camping Rocks!–we talked about how our family adores beach camping in September and October. The crowds have thinned, the weather is cooler, and the water is still warm. We love wearing our bathing suits during the day and our hooded sweatshirts at night.

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Here are a few favorite spots for beach camping on the East Coast…

Cape Cod  

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The summer crowds disperse at the end of August and the bike trail, national seashore, kettle ponds, and Provincetown are yours to enjoy. Plan a trip around one of the many fall festivals such as the Scallop Festival in Bourne, Eastham’s Windmill Weekend, or the Cape Cod Brewfest in Falmouth.

Park your RV at Nickerson State Park, Atlantic Oaks Campground, or Cape Cod Campresort and Cabins.

Cape May

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This is our family’s favorite New Jersey destination, and we always try to squeeze in a September visit. Early morning bike rides on the boardwalk should be followed by big pancake breakfasts. You can make every dinner a special occasion with all of the amazing culinary options in this town. Peter Shields Inn, 410 Bank Street, and Freda’s Cafe are a few of our long-standing favorites. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride to end your day.

Seashore Campsites is the best place to camp near Cape May, and Holly Shores Camping Resort is a close runner up.

Assateague Island State Park

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This island in Maryland is only 10 miles outside of Ocean City but it feels like you are in the middle of nowhere. Huge dunes, wild horses roaming free, empty beaches, and tons of great crabbing and fishing make this the perfect place to say goodbye to summer. They joke that the state bird is the mosquito, but there are noticeably fewer this time of year. Assateague Crab House is a nearby favorite, or drive into Ocean City and eat at Tequila Mockingbird. The food is good and the name is fabulous.

There is only one loop with hookups in the Assateague Island State Park campground and it sells out FAST. So unless you are good with dry camping, book a site one year in advance of your trip.

The Outer Banks

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The ocean can still be in the 70s in September, making this the perfect beach camping spot for surfers and kayakers. Of course, the 70 and 80 degree days are also perfect for those looking to lounge around and do nothing in particular. If you are feeling inspired to explore something other than the beach, walk to the top of the Hatteras Lighthouse, visit the Wright Brothers Memorial, and take a ferry over to Okracoke Island.

Our boys’ number one favorite campground ever is the Cape Hatteras KOA, where they get to run from the beach to the pool to the hot tub and then repeat the whole process over and over again. Ocean Waves Campground is a great option if you are traveling on a tighter budget.

Those are our top picks for fall beach camping on the East Coast. We would love to hear about your favorite spots. Leave a comment below or send us an email, and we will share your recommendation on the podcast!

22 Aug

RVFTA #49: Why is KOA Rebranding?

On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are talking about the rebranding initiative of KOA campgrounds, the largest franchise system of campgrounds in America.

Most campers have heard of KOA, and many have strong opinions. This week we will talk about the KOA franchise and more specifically, its new rebranding campaign that identifies campgrounds as Journey, Holiday, or Resort.

We will explain what each designation means and give some examples from our own travels. Hear about our time at…

And although we have partnered with KOA on their Greater Outdoors Blog and on sponsored trips, this podcast is not sponsored in any way. This is our exploration of a topic that we believe is very relevant for many of our listeners and readers.

We also invited Toby O’Rourke, the Senior Vice President of Marketing at KOA, onto the show to give you all the inside scoop on this rebranding effort. Listen to hear why KOA embarked on this project and some of the company’s plans for the future.

Plus, a serious *serious* scoop that will be of high interest to our East Coast listeners!

You may swear by KOA or maybe you have never even looked behind that yellow sign. Either way, you’ll want the serious campground intel we are gathering on Episode #49: Why is KOA Rebranding?

We are delighted to have Go RVing as our RVFTA sponsor. Listen for a message from them just a bit later in our show. To find your AWAY head over to gorving.com/rvfta.

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18 Aug

Catching the Spirit of Vermont at the Quechee/Pine Valley KOA

The Green Mountain State calls us back again and again in the summertime.  The days are warm enough for swimming in lakes and rivers, and the nights are cool and comfortable.  It’s perfect weather for curling up around the campfire with a blanket and book…and sleeping with all the windows open.

But this heavenly New England weather doesn’t last long, and if you blink you will miss it.

So where do we camp in Vermont when we want to escape the humidity of the Mid-Atlantic states?

Two years ago we discovered a little gem of a campground called the Quechee/Pine Valley KOA, and we fell in love.  The property is filled with towering and fragrant pine trees, and it is immaculately clean and lovingly managed.   It also served as a perfect base camp for exploring an area that is rich with options for family adventure.

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The owners, Michael and Cindy Scruggs, make great recommendations for their guests–and they did just that for us two years ago.  I emailed them before arriving and Cindy sent me back a great list of hikes and activities that were perfect for our family:

We climbed to the top of Mount Tom and enjoyed looking down at the picture perfect town of Woodstock in the valley below.

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And we hiked down into the Quechee Gorge, known as Vermont’s Little Grand Canyon, and splashed around in one of the dozens of small, rocky pools at the bottom.

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And we visited the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) and watched a falconry display.

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So when Vermont started whispering our names again, we knew a return trip to the Quechee/Pine Valley KOA was in order.  We left last time feeling like there was so much more to explore, and we were right.

Before trying anything new we headed back to the Gorge. The boys had so much fun there last time.  This time was even better. The water was running higher and it was perfect for a gentle float down the Ottauquechee River.  We must have floated down the river and swam back upstream over a dozen times. By the end of the day my arms felt like spaghetti.

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The next morning Cindy recommended that we visit the Montshire Museum of Science and, like all of her recommendations, it was amazing.  We could barely rip the boys away. They loved the gigantic building blocks and quickly became engrossed in the hands on (and very kid friendly) class on batteries and motors.  If you go, plan on exploring the indoor exhibits first, and then head outside to get wet in the “water and how it moves” exhibit.

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The next day was all about cheese and maple syrup.  We arrived early at Sugarbush Farms and were delighted to walk into their country store and find copious amounts of free samples.

Employees are there to give individualized tastings of the syrup and cheeses. Our family stood around a small butcher block and learned about lighter and darker syrups. Then we got to taste our way through 12 different cheddars and jacks.  The young lady helping us was kind enough to end with another round of syrup shots for the boys.

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As always, Max and Theo enjoyed their time back at the campground the most.  This trip ended up being extra memorable because they learned to ride their bikes during our time here.  After less than a half hour of “training” with mom and dad they were whipping around the campground with complete confidence and joy.

Many other campers applauded them and gave them high fives throughout the day.  The bottom loop of the campground became their own personal bike trail. Wesley had to join in of course.  He must have done about 50 circuits on his pedal free balance bike.

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At one point Cindy came out of the camp store to watch the boys riding their bikes.  She said, “I just had to come outside and take a look! It’s so nice to see kids playing outside these days.”

I knew exactly what she meant.  It is so nice watching kids play outside these days.  Especially when it’s at a great campground, in the summertime, in Vermont.

We didn’t blink and we didn’t miss it.

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