From families that love the outdoors to those who prefer a glamping experience, safety is a requirement that all parents consider. With family-friendly adventure holidays becoming increasingly popular, camping trips can easily go wrong if preparation is not done in advance.
By properly planning a family camping trip, you can make sure the area you are visiting is safe and appropriate for everyone involved and ensure that you have all the correct kit and supplies for a few days in the glorious outdoors.
Even after you have discovered the perfect camping spot, there are other things to think about, like whether the campsite is friendly towards families, offers fun activities for kids, and if the hiking trails nearby are suitable for younger family members.
As children can get tired and hungry during a long hike, you should always bring the best camping snacks to keep them going. You might also consider checking out the best national parks to visit with kids to make sure that the terrain and activities are suitable for everyone.
To help you plan the best outdoor family vacations possible, we’ve updated our original research with new data for 2023, finding the safest (and least safe) campsites in the US. We looked at many factors, such as family-friendly campsites, social media data, child-friendly activities, hiking trails, safety scores, annual temperatures, and crime rates.
The Best States for Family-Friendly Camping
Camping Score: 7.93 out of 10
While almost every state has scenic spots to camp in the great outdoors, Florida offers many opportunites to enjoy some seaside camping. Florida ranked in first place alongside New Jersey for the safest camping spots, scoring 7.93 out of 10 in the ranking.
To enjoy waterfront views, families should look no further than Cayo Costa State Park, where you can pitch up at primitive campsites or enjoy an overnight cabin stay. Florida scored highly for its year-round sunshine, with the average annual temperature sitting at a mild 70.7°F, and the state has a wide range of four-star plus rated campsites available (18.3 per 10,000 km2). The Sunshine State was also among the most popular camping areas on social media, with almost 17,000 Instagram mentions.
2. New Jersey
Camping Score: 7.93 out of 10
New Jersey joins Florida in first place, scoring 7.93 out of 10. Known as the Garden State, you can find plenty of beautiful inland camping spots and many sites closer to the sea, with Jersey Shore campsites, cabins, and glamping rentals offering easy access to the state’s white-sand beaches.
New Jersey offers plenty of fun activities for campers (700.4 per 10,000 km2), including biking the boardwalks or taking part in water sports – like surfing, kayaking, boating, or even cruising along on a floating tiki bar. New Jersey is also a safe state, scoring first in Consumer Affairs’ ranking of the Safest States in the US. The state also has a high number of hiking trails suitable for kids (803.6 per 10,000 km2), making it a great choice for active families.
3. New Hampshire
Camping Score: 7.68 out of 10
In third place for the best camping spots is the state of New Hampshire, scoring a respectable 7.68 out of 10 in the ranking. The state boasts numerous camping parks near natural attractions such as lakes and nature trails with scenic views, Allowing families to experience breathtaking natural beauty without worrying about where they sleep.
New Hampshire scored particularly well for its wide range of family-friendly camping grounds (36.4 per 10,000 km2) and the number of activities it has to offer (328.4 per 10,000 km2). The state has a cooler average temperature than the others in our top three (43.8°F), which could be worth considering when planning your family camping trip.
Camping Score: 7.65 out of 10
Massachusetts ranked fourth place for the most family-friendly camping spots, scoring 7.65 out of 10. In Massachusetts, there are plenty of state parks and grounds to choose from, meaning you could sleep under forest canopies in the Berkshires or near the beach on Cape Cod.
Massachusetts offers plenty of fun activities for campers (977.8 per 10,000 km2), including boat tours, parasailing, and jet skiing. Massachusetts is also a safe state, scoring second in the ranking of the Safest States in the US, according to Consumer Affairs. The state also had among the highest number of family-friendly hiking trails for its size(1,409.9 per 10,000 km2).
5. Rhode Island
Camping Score: 7.53 out of 10
Rhode Island took fifth place in the ranking with a score of 7.53 out of 10. The state is well known for its spectacular coastline, seaside colonial towns, and the Newport Jazz Festival. Beaches span the Rhode Island coast, each with camping areas and tent sites certain to charm all kinds of campers.
Rhode Island offers plenty of fun activities for campers (1,178.0 per 10,000 km2) and family-friendly campsites (25.9 per 10,000 km2). The state also recorded low levels of crime, with a crime rate of 2,722 (per 100,000 people).
The Worst States for Family-Friendly Camping
Camping Score: 1.30 out of 10
Alaska was found to be the least family-friendly camping spot in the US, scoring 1.30 out of 10. However, the state’s vast forested regions and incredible mountain ranges, as well as miles of coastlines, make the state a nature lover’s dream.
Alaska experiences cold winters with snow-draped scenes and has an average annual temperature of 26.6°F, although visiting in July is a great option for families who prefer warmer weather adventures. Alaska also had a higher crime rate than other states (5,359 per 100,000) and had the lowest number of hiking trails that were suitable for kids (3.3 per 10,000 km2).
2. North Dakota
Camping Score: 1.33 out of 10
North Dakota came runner-up as the least family-friendly camping spot in the US, scoring 1.33 out of 10 in the ranking.
The mountainous countryside landscapes that can be viewed across the state make it seemingly ideal for camping, but there is a distinct lack of family-friendly campsites compared to other states (0.7 per 10,000 km2). Of those, only a few were rated four stars and above (0.1 per 10,000 km2), while the number of family-friendly hiking trails was also low (9.6 per 10,000 km2). Additionally, it’s clear that camping in this state is much less popular than in others, as there were only 161 Instagram mentions.
3. New Mexico
Camping Score: 2.04 out of 10
New Mexico came third place in the ranking with a score of 2.04 out of 10. The state’s diverse terrain includes mountains, deserts, caves, and canyons, as well as an abundance of wildlife, making it a rich and interesting area for camping.
However, New Mexico scored poorly for its number of four-star rated camping parks (0.5 per 10,000 km2), the low number of family-friendly campsites (3.6 per 10,000 km2), and its relatively high crime rate (6,462 per 100,000 people).
Camping Score: 2.45 out of 10
Nebraska ranked fourth with a score of 2.45 out of 10 in the least family-friendly states for camping. There are some fantastic camping sights in the state, including across the dunes of Sandhills to the Great Plains. However, Nebraska scored poorly for its number of family-friendly camping parks (1.8 per 10,000 km2) and even less for its four-star rated sites (1.3 per 10,000 km2).
Nebraska scored much better for its number of child-friendly activities, and the state offers many beautiful attractions (20.6 per 10,000 km2), including waterfalls and national monuments.
Camping Score: 2.55 out of 10
Nevada is fifth on the list, scoring 2.55 out of 10. Nevada hosts a range of prime camping spots but has fewer family-friendly amenities than other states. Nevada scored poorly for its four-star rated camping sites (1.3 per 10,000 km2) and for its number of family-friendly sites in general (1.8 per 10,000 km2). However, the state scored higher for its child-friendly activities (20.6 per 10,000 km2) and hiking trails (18.2 per 10,000 km2).
All US states were ranked on a number of factors and were normalized against each other to receive a final score out of 10.
Tripadvisor was used to record the number of family-friendly camping sites before filtering to find the number of campsites rated four stars and above. Tripadvisor was also used to find the number of child-friendly activities in each state. This data is accurate as of 06/04/2023.
The number of Instagram posts was taken by taking the number of mentions with the hashtag (“#[STATE]camping”). This data is accurate as of 06/04/2023.
The safety score for each state was taken from Consumer Affairs, with a lower score indicating it is a more safe state.
The number of hiking trails was taken from AllTrails using the filters to add hiking trails and kid-friendly trails. This data is accurate as of 06/04/2023.
The average annual temperature for each state was taken from Current Results. This data is accurate as of 06/04/2023.
The crime rate by each US state was taken from World Population Review.
More about our TFVG Author
A seasoned traveller, Dad, and avid sports tourist, James foundered The Family Vacation Guide to share his expert vacation experiences- especially when it comes to being a travelling family man.
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