First Time Family Camping Campgrounds

First Time Camping Family-Friendly Campgrounds

First Time Family Camping Campgrounds

Tent, camp stove, lantern, oh my! The list of gear a family needs to begin camping can seem daunting. First Time Campers may not want to make these purchases without having a camping experience. On top of that, if you're not experienced or haven't built a strong bond with Mother Nature, you have a lot of other concerns - bugs, boredom, safety, wildlife, comfort. I wish to inspire other families to build strong bonds with nature and create lasting memories in the great outdoors.

My boys and I have been camping, together, for a decade. They are 10 & 11, so that equates to their entire lives. Yes, I was changing diapers in the forest and, at times, hauling two tired toddlers - one on each hip - along the trails of the North Georgia Mountains. The boys have grown up camping. Their experience level makes it possible for us to explore more challenging outdoor conquests - like camping Cumberland Island National Seashore & planning backcountry kayak tours.

But, we had to start somewhere. My husband and I already had camping experience before the boys were born and were comfortable leading a family camping trip into areas with no running water/electricity or restrooms. I realize this may not be the case for all families and have sought out the perfect campgrounds, in the Southeast US, for first time family campers to get their feet wet.

First Time Family Camping in... Georgia | Alabama | Florida | North Carolina & South Carolina | Tennessee

First Time Camping Georgia

Georgia State Parks First Time Camper Parks
Georgia State Parks have teamed up with REI & The North Face to make family camping more accessible to families with little or no experience & gear. The First Time Camping Program provides families with all the gear they need, expert advice, and two nights accommodations at a participating park for just $50.

There are eight "First Time Camper," parks spread across the State of Georgia. The parks offer a wide variety of environments from mountains to lakes and even the coastal region. Many of these parks offer a variety of accommodations, in addition to First Time Camper, that can make easier the transition to outdoor family! With this range, you'll definitely be able to find a first time camper park near your home or your desired vacation destination.

  • A. H. Stephens State Park - East of Atlanta
    Visit this historic park just west of Augusta to enjoy hiking, biking and boating. Boat rentals include fishing boats, canoes and pedal boats for your family. You can carry your own bikes or conveniently rent them at the park. You'll enjoy 4 miles of hiking trails, volleyball, horseshoes & a playground. A. H. Stephens also offers the opportunity to learn about key figures in the United State Civil War with a fine collection of artifacts & an historic home tour. Other attractions nearby include Lake Oconee, Hard Labor Creek State Park & Hamburg Outdoor Recreation Area. Visit the Official AH Stephens State Park website for more info & reservations.
    Other Accommodations: The park also offers 4 cottages.

  • F.D. Roosevelt State Park - West Georgia
    This heavenly place is Georgia's largest state park. The 40 miles of trails will take you wandering through great hardwoods, Georgia's pines, over creeks and past waterfalls. The park offers a wide variety of activities that will easily fill a vacation itinerary that will please everyone in your family. There are the historic sites for the history buff, a playground for the kids and a spring-fed swimming pool for everyone to cool down. Enhance your visit by renting a fishing boat, canoe or kayak and taking a horseback ride with the nearby stables. Nearby attractions to fill up your days include Wild Animal Safari and Callaway Gardens. Visit the Official FDR State Park website for more info & reservations.
    Other Accommodations: The park also offers 22 cottages.

  • Fort Mountain State Park - North Georgia Mountains
    A refreshing getaway to the mountains will renew your senses of wonder & adventure. Hike up to 14 miles of trail or bring your bike and explore 27 miles of mountain bike trails. Rent fishing boats, canoes and pedal boats or just lounge at the swimming area. Other activities include geocaching with your family, mini golf and playgrounds. You can also visit nearby stables for horseback riding tours. Some of the nearby attractions to visit are Amicalola Falls State Park, Funk Heritage Center, and several historic sites. Visit the Official Fort Mountain State Park website for more info & reservations.
    Other Accommodations: The park also offers 15 cottages.

  • Fort Yargo State Park - East of Atlanta
    Fort Yargo is a beautiful location to begin your family camping adventures. Enjoy 18 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails. You can carry your own bikes or rent them from the park. The lake provides opportunities for swimming, fishing and boating. The park offers rentals of fishing boats, canoes, kayaks and pedal boats. Play the family in a round of mini golf, basketball, tennis or just get the kids on the playground. Nearby attractions include Stone Mountain Park and Lake Lanier.
    Visit the Official Fort Yargo State Park website for more info & reservations.
    Other Accommodations: Take your pick of 3 cottages or 6 yurts. Yurts are an excellent way to help beginners transition to camping without overwhelming them. These yurts are lakeside and made of canvas. They offer your new campers furniture & electricity.

  • General Coffee State Park - South Georgia
    A great place to get in touch with nature, Seventeen Mile River & a boardwalk will take you through the cypress swamp. There, you'll have excellent opportunities to view endangered plants and get closer to the area wildlife. Known for it's agricultural history, the park has several exhibits pertaining to farm life. Rent bikes, canoes or pedal boats to further explore the park in different ways. Other attractions nearby include Stephen C Foster State Park where you can rent boats to explore Okefenokee Territory.  Visit the Official General Coffee State Park website for more info & reservations.
    Other Accommodations: The park also offers 5 cottages.

  • James H. Floyd State Park - Northwest Georgia
    Take your family to this quiet park to bond & make some lasting memories. Rent canoes, kayaks and pedal boats to explore the two stocked lakes. You're sure to create a lasting memory with a great fishing trip. Go geocaching, play on the playgrounds and wander the 5 miles of trails. You'll be nearby Cloudland Canyon & Etowah Indian Mounds for more adventures. Visit the Official James H. Floyd State Park website for more info & reservations.
    Other Accommodations: The park also offers 4 cottages.

  • Reed Bingham State Park - South Georgia
    If viewing wildlife and getting close to nature is your thing, this park boasts one of the most diverse habitats in the country.  Exploring this park will bring you opportunities to view tortoises, turtles, snakes, bald eagles and alligators to name a few.  Canoe, kayak & bicycle rentals makes it a breeze to experience all this park has to offer. You'll also be able to relax while the kids play on the playground or join them for a round of mini golf. If that's not enough, you'll be nearby Wild Adventures Theme Park & Banks Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Visit the Official Reed Bingham State Park website for more info & reservations.

  • Skidaway Island State Park - Coastal Georgia
    Enjoy your coastal getaway with bike rentals, 4 miles of trails and wildlife observation tower. Inside the interpretive center, you'll find binoculars and bird books to help identify your sightings along with a reptile room that children will enjoy. Take the famiy hiking, biking or participate in one of the many events hosted by the park. Nearby you can tour historic Savannah or cool down at Tybee Island beaches. Visit the Official Skidaway Island State Park website for more info and reservations.
    Other Accommodations: The park's Camper Cabins make camping easy!  Guests rest easy in a fully sheltered cabin with showers, kitchen, sleeping quarters, screened porches and air conditioning. Just bring your own linens, towels, dishes and utensils. 

Other great programs in Georgia for First Time Family Campers.

Stone Mountain Park - Ready, Set, Camp! 
The Stone Mountain Park Ready, Set, Camp program takes the challenge out of that first camping trip by providing you with a 4-person tent & 4 sleeping pads already set up for you when you arrive. When you're ready to leave, you pack up your new gear and take it home with you. The $99 cost of the Ready, Set, Camp program does not include campsite rental or parking fees for the park. Visit the Stone Mountain Park Ready, Set, Camp page for more information.

North Georgia Canopy Tours
In addition to many awesome activities such as ziplining and disc golf, NGCT offers teepee camping. This is a great middleman from hotel/motel lodging & tent camping. The teepees include electricity & heating/air conditioning. Visit the NGCT Website for more info on the teepees and other activities.

First Time Family Camping in... Georgia | Alabama | Florida | North Carolina & South Carolina | Tennessee

First Time Camping Alabama

In Alabama, there are several state parks offering alternatives to traditional tent camping. These rental campers & camper cabins will give you an idea of what it's like to have the conveniences of an RV/camper on your camping adventures.

  1. Blue Springs State Park
    For $50/night, your family will stay in a rental camper with sleeping quarters & kitchenette for preparing meals. This parks prize is a pool fed by an underground spring. You'll also enjoy fishing, hiking & playgrounds. The park office also offers free wi-fi connections. Visit the Official Blue Springs State Park website for more info.

  2. Buck's Pocket State Park
    This secluded park offers natural canyon vistas in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. Camping in the rental camper, your family will have a kitchenette and sleeping quarters along with a private picnic table & outdoor grill for cooking. You'll also enjoy the many nature trails and a nice playground. Find out more at the Official Buck's Pocket State Park website.

  3. De Soto State Park
    De Soto offers many programs and opportunities for visitors including a nature trails, canoe rentals, playgrounds and mountain bike trails. They also accommodate a wide range of comfort levels from back country & primitive sites to more modern sites. They've begun construction on a new addition, camper cabins, which will offer visitors a primitive shelter. Keep an eye on their website to find out when these new cabins are made available!

First Time Family Camping in... Georgia | Alabama | Florida | North Carolina & South Carolina | Tennessee

First Time Camping Florida

Heading to Florida? There are options for first time & newbie family campers, even at Walt Disney World!

  1. Fort Wilderness at Walt Disney World
    Camping is a great way to keep things down to earth and experience a little more nature while visiting Walt Disney World. Nestled in 750 acres of pine & cypress forests, you'll love getting away from getting away from it all as you walk the trails with deer, rabbits & ducks. Don't worry about having a tent, you can rent one here! Visit the website for rates & more info.

  2. Torreya State Park
    One of the only state parks in Florida to offer families the option of staying in a yurt, this park is popular for it's scenic views. Your family will have the opportunity to hike the trails, go geocaching, view wildlife & play on the playgrounds. For more information on the Torreya State Park yurt, visit this page.

  3. Quiet Waters Park
    With countless opportunities for family fun, this park is anything but quiet! Rent a campsite with a tent or teepee already setup and waiting for you so you & your family can hit the ground running. You'll be boating, mountain biking and enjoying Splash Adventure water park among other activities. Check it out, here.

First Time Family Camping in... Georgia | Alabama | Florida | North Carolina & South Carolina | Tennessee

First Time Cmaping North Carolina & South Carolina

North & South Carolina
Is your destination a little closer to the mountains? North & South Carolina have you covered with several opportunities for easy camping and family adventures.

North Carolina

  1. Ash Grove Cabins & Camping
    Choose between primitive or full-service modern campsites to have the Ash Grove staff set up a tent for you and your family. Sit back and relax or venture out to explore the nature of North Carolina. Click here for info on tent rentals at Ash Grove.

  2. McDowell Nature Center & Preserve
    Get close to nature by renting a tent at McDowell Nature Center & Preserve. You'll find miles of trails, acres of peace & quiet, and several fishing platforms. With playgrounds, wildlife viewing and a nature center - you probably won't get bored. But, if you do, CaroWinds Theme Park is just a stone's throw away! Get more info on renting a tent and camping McDowell.

  3. Tabor City Jellystone Park
    A very "civilized" way to introduce your family to camping, this Jellystone offers yurt rentals. In addition to exploring nature on the hiking trails and fishing stocked ponds, your family will enjoy a small water park, bike riding and an arcade. Find more info on renting yurts at this Jellystone Park, here.

South Carolina

  1.  Lake Hartwell State Park
    The not-entirely-primitive rustic camper cabins at Lake Hartwell will provide your family with lakefront shelter, lights, electricity, heating & air conditioning, and sleeping quarters - although, you must provide your own bedding. Although there is no running water or cooking inside the cabins, right outside your door you will find a spigot, fire ring and grill. Recreational activities at Lake Hartwell include fishing, boating, hiking, a visitors center & a basketball court. View more information about Lake Hartwell State Park or jump right to the camper cabin info.

  2. Wildwater Chattooga (South Carolina) or Wildwater Nantahala (North Carolina)
    Wildwater Rafting offers an abundance of adventure for your family to enjoy. Choose one of the vacation packages to make your stay quick & easy, or pick and choose between whitewater rafting adventures and zip line thrills. The option of staying on location, in one of the unique yurts, provides your family with shelter, kitchen, grills, and a bathhouse within walking distance. You bring your own bed linens & sense of adventure! Check out more information about vacationing at one of the Wildwater destinations.

First Time Family Camping in... Georgia | Alabama | Florida | North Carolina & South Carolina | Tennessee

First Time Camping Tennessee

Tennessee has some excellent opportunities for families just getting started with camping along with some of the most beautiful scenery in the country and lots of activities for family bonding.

  1. Ballyhoo Family Campground
    If your family is searching for peace & relaxation, look no further. Stay in one of the rustic camper cabins . You'll enjoy clean restrooms, hot showers, volleyball, fishing and a playground for the kids. Near the town of Crossville, you'll find great area attractions like waterfalls, state parks, and several small town museums. View more information about Ballyhoo!

  2. Blackberry Blossom Campground
    One of the few campgrounds offering true-to-camping tent rental. Their rent-a-tent package includes a camp stove, cookware, dishes & utensils for 4 people. Located in the mountains of East TN, the campground offers privacy with spacious campsites, a mountain creek for exploring, and clear night skies for stargazing. In the surrounding area, you'll find plenty of opportunities to connect with nature at natural areas and learn about the region at small town museums. Visit the Blackberry Blossom Campground website for more information.

  3. Cherokee Adventures
    This is the place to stay if you want to add adventure to your family campout. In addition to offering riverside cabins/bunkhouses, Cherokee Adventures will also guide your family on a scenic rafting trip, mountain biking or fun ropes course. The rustic bunkhouses provide you with shelter & bunks, you provide your bedding and sense of adventure. You'll enjoy clean restrooms, hot showers, volleyball and BBQ/Pizza eateries within walking distance. Get more information about staying with Cherokee Adventures in NE Tennessee.

  4. Great Smoky Jellystone
    With a variety of lodging options, you're sure to find a comfortable fit for your family. Choose between bringing your own tent or spending the nights in a yurt, rental camper, or rustic cabin. You & the kids will enjoy rounds of minigolf, an arcade, swimming pool, pizza & ice cream cafes, playgrounds & National Park hiking trails! Near Gatlinburg, there will be no shortage of area attractions to visit during your stay. Read more about Great Smoky Jellystone Park!

First Time Family Camping in... Georgia | Alabama | Florida | North Carolina & South Carolina | Tennessee

That's All, Folks! If you have experienced an excellent first time camping trip with your family, please share the destination with the rest of us in the comments.

About Candy Cook

I'm a homeschooling mom of two boys, blogging family travel & adventure, homeschooling, exploring nature and getting dirty in the great outdoors.

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