America’s Best Campgrounds & RV Parks For Family Fun

RV camping can fill our lives with great memories of outdoor adventures.

A top rated RV resort, Lake Osprey RV Park is located on the Alabama Gulf Coast. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
A top rated RV resort, Lake Osprey RV Park is located on the Alabama Gulf Coast. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

We all want our camping trips and RV travels to be enjoyable and fun for the entire family.

Numerous factors can determine the outcome of a camping trip. Factors that we can control include campground choice, route we take to get there, and when to travel.

A key factor in planning any vacation is the RV park or campgrounds. Choosing an RV park sight unseen can be like playing the lottery. Many parks and resorts feature a variety of amenities, entertainment, and fun activities for the entire family and cultivate an atmosphere that’s welcoming for all ages enabling families to enjoy quality time together. But not all RV parks and campgrounds are created equal and no park is perfect for everyone.

Before leaving on your RV vacation, take the time to check out the best camping parks along your intended route and at your camping destination.

A top rated RV park, Columbia Sun RV Resort is located in the Ti-Cities at Kennewick, Washington. © Rex Vogel, all rights
A top rated RV park, Columbia Sun RV Resort is located in the Ti-Cities at Kennewick, Washington. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Citing GuestRated as the source, Wicked Good Travel Tips notes that only 34 of an estimated 4,000 campgrounds and RV parks earned an ‘A’ rating in 2014—less than one in 100 parks.

GuestRated.com surveys guest satisfaction using an online process for RVers to review and rate their camping experiences and provide feedback available to other campers and park owners. Of those campgrounds and RV parks, eight emerged as super-stars by earning an ‘A’ rating for 6 years or more.

What we like and prefer in an RV park may totally different from what your family desires. Given different personalities and wants and needs of RVers, no one park can be all things to all people, but many can fulfill the majority of wants and needs.

While social media has a meaningful role to play in assisting campers select the “perfect camping site” a less subjective, opinion-based rating scale is still a key determinant of quality RV parks and campgrounds.

A top rated RV park, Seven Feathers RV Resort is located in southern Oregon off I-5. © Rex Vogel, all rights
A top rated RV park, Seven Feathers RV Resort is located in southern Oregon off I-5. © Rex Vogel, all rights

Our go-to resource in selecting RV parks and resorts, the Good Sam Campground Directory uses a three-number rating that assesses the park’s amenities, cleanliness, and environment with each rating category measured on a scale of 1 to 10.

Less than 1 percent of parks or campgrounds receive a 10/10*/10 rating which indicates superior facilities that are well maintained, clean, well-appointed restrooms, and a highly appealing appearance. Campgrounds are inspected annually by RVers for RVers.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the GuestRated eight superstar RV parks and campgrounds along with a comparative rating from Good Sam:

Cherry Hill Park, College Park, Maryland: The closest RV and Camping Park near the nation’s capital of Washington, DC. (2015 Good Sam Rating: 9.5/10*/9.5)

Lake George RV Park, Lake George, New York: A beautiful resort in New York’s Lake George Adirondack Region. (2015 Good Sam Rating: 10/10*/10)

Mountain Vista Campground, East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania: An easy drive from the George Washington Bridge in New York, and has a beautiful Pocono Mountain location close to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. (2015 Good Sam Rating: 9/10*/10)

A top rated RV park, Buckhorn Lake RV Resort is located in the Texas Hill Country at Kerrville. © Rex Vogel, all
A top rated RV park, Buckhorn Lake RV Resort is located in the Texas Hill Country at Kerrville. © Rex Vogel, all rights

Ocean Lakes Family Campground, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: The largest campground on the East Coast and enjoys one mile of oceanfront beach. (2015 Good Sam Rating: 10/10*/10)

Pioneer Campground, Muncy Valley, Pennsylvania: The campground has 80 mountain top acres at a 2,000 ft elevation offering scenic outlooks in a wooded setting. (2015 Good Sam Rating: 9/9*/9.5)

Red Apple Campground, Kennebunkport, Maine

This campsite enjoys a grassy, well manicured setting with lovely flower gardens. (2015 Good Sam Rating: 9/10*/10)

Sunny Brook RV Resort, South Haven, Michigan: Just minutes from Lake Michigan, the Sunny Brook RV Resort has 65 acres along the sandy shore of a 5+ acre lake. (2015 Good Sam Rating: 10/10*/10)

The Vineyards Campground & Cabins, Grapevine, Texas: Located along the shores of Grapevine Lake, the Vineyards Campground offers both lakefront and forest views. (2015 Good Sam Rating: 9.5/8.5*/10)

You decide. Remember, getting there is half the fun.

Worth Pondering…

I find that a great part of the information I have was acquired by looking up something and finding something else on the way.

—Franklin P. Adams

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RV Camping During the Holidays

Thanksgiving to New Year’s is a special time. This holiday season presents special challenges for those who travel in a recreational vehicle, but the benefits and rewards are numerous.

Newport Beach Boat ParadeMake the most of your holiday by celebrating with family and friends—new and old. And remember how blessed you are to be able to live the RV lifestyle.

To ensure your RV camping holiday is as fabulous as possible, take some time to brainstorm ways you can adapt your at-home rituals to the camping environment. Can you re-create your Thanksgiving dinner with dishes made over the campfire or in a Dutch oven?

Maybe this will be the year when you hearken back to old-fashioned Christmas traditions including baking apples, roasting chestnuts, and decorating with paper chains rather than lights. You can sing carols over the glow of your lantern, take a hay ride at Thanksgiving, or sleigh ride during Christmas or New Years.

Be prepared for the unexpected. RVers should always carry an emergency kit on board including items such as blankets, fully stocked first aid kit and manual, LED flashlights, emergency flares, spare batteries, matches, and an ample supply of drinking water. But, it’s even more critical during the holiday season, when poor weather is common throughout much of the country. Check your carbon monoxide detector and smoke alarm for proper operation before leaving home and change the batteries as needed.

To make your RV feel more like the holidays, you can decorate the exterior and interior of your RV. You can also make your RV more festive with garlands, wreaths, holiday lights, and smaller decorative touches. Opting for a 12-foot tree just isn’t going to work in an RV. However, you can put up a small, tabletop Christmas tree inside your RV and decorate simply—hang some of your favorite ornaments from home or collect RV Christmas ornaments on your travels.

Fantasy in Lights
Fantasy in Lights set amidst the wooded landscape of Callaway Gardens, sets Pine Mountain, Georgia, ablaze from November 21-December 30, 2014

If you’re heading to a southern campground for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s, you can enjoy the sunny weather while you check out the local display of lights or join in the campground’s potluck Thanksgiving dinner. Nearly all campgrounds that are open for the holidays host special holiday events and put on a special meal.

Many use their RV during the holiday season to escape the cold weather and snow. They follow the sun to snowbird hotspots in Florida, Texas, Arizona, and California. Less familiar snowbird roosts attract others to Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Nevada.

There are numerous unique ways to celebrate the holiday season and create lasting memories.

More than 100 years in the making, the Newport Beach (California) Christmas Boat Parade is an event not to be missed. Held annually from the third Wednesday to the third Sunday in December (December 17-21, 2014), you will see hundreds of boats including multimillion dollar yachts, fishing boats, kayaks, canoes, and other boats of varying sizes.

Even the homeowners and dock owners get involved, decorating all along the shore.  Holiday Season Cruises are also available December 4 through 16 and December 17 to January 4.

This holiday season marks the 23rd anniversary of the Fantasy in Lights—named one of the “Top 10 Places to See Holiday Lights” by National Geographic Traveler—at Calloway Gardens. The Southeast’s most spectacular holiday light and sound show, Fantasy in Lights features eight million lights stretching more than five miles creating 15 larger-than-life holiday scenes.

Fantasy in Lights set amidst the wooded landscape of Callaway Gardens, sets Pine Mountain, Georgia, ablaze from November 21-December 30, 2014. The resort’s onsite Christmas Village features shopping, dining, and Santa.

During Nights of Lights, St. Augustine glows with holiday magic
During Nights of Lights, St. Augustine glows with holiday magic

You’ll never forget Nights of Lights in St. Augustine on Florida’s Historic Coast! Nights of Lights traditionally begins the Saturday before the Thanksgiving holiday. This year, Nights of Lights “turns on” November 22, 2014, and continues through February 1, 2015. During Nights of Lights, St. Augustine glows with holiday magic—from the ground to the rooftops.

Selected by National Geographic Traveler as one of the “Top 10 Places to See Holiday Lights” in the world, St. Augustine’s Nights of Lights feature millions of tiny white lights that create a magical atmosphere in the Nation’s oldest city.

Tracing its origins to the Spanish tradition of displaying a white candle in the window during the Christmas holidays, the spectacular lighting reflects the city’s 449-year history and illuminates the beautiful setting for lasting holiday memories. Enjoy the sights on foot, by bicycle or pedicab, on the Old Town Trolley or the Ripley’s Red Train, or by horse and carriage.

Worth Pondering…
Too many get caught up in the noise of everyday life to hear the symphony of what life is really all about.

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Thanksgiving Travel Weather

A Pacific storm train may bring the biggest travel problems for Thanksgiving to the Northwest, while another nor’easter will put travel in jeopardy for the holiday.

A nor’easter may form over the western Atlantic by Sunday, sending rain and wind into parts of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast through at least the middle of the week, AccuWeather.com reports.

There is potential that the nor’easter could strengthen and move farther inland into New England at midweek. In this scenario, there is some potential for a wintry mix or snow over the mountains of northern New England.

“How close to the coast the storm tracks will determine how unsettled the weather gets in the I-95 corridor to the Appalachians,” AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.

Between the East and West coasts, fewer widespread weather-related travel delays are forecast.

AccuWeather’s region-by-region breakdown of how weather might impact Thanksgiving travel follows.

Northeast
There is the potential for a nor’easter to form off the Atlantic coast by early next week. It is still unclear whether the storm will shift out to sea or move northward up the Eastern Seaboard.

If the storm shifts out to sea, then there may be no impact to Thanksgiving travel. Partly to mostly sunny skies and seasonable temperatures would be expected in this scenario. At this time, AccuWeather meteorologists are leaning toward this forecast.

However, rain, low clouds and gusty winds could cause slow travel both on the ground and in the air from Washington, D.C., to Boston if the storm moves up the coast.

Southeast

2012 Thanksgiving weather forecast. (Source: accuweather.com)
2012 Thanksgiving weather forecast. (Source: accuweather.com)

With another potential nor’easter brewing off the coast by early next week, an onshore flow could deliver low clouds to eastern portions of the Carolinas to Florida on Monday and Tuesday.

The east coast of Florida may even be dealing with some showers, including Miami.

Meanwhile, the interior Southeast should remain dry through the beginning of the week.

Another storm will move from west to east across the South through midweek, spreading showers and thunderstorms across the region. The showers may target the lower Mississippi Valley on Tuesday before shifting east across the Tennessee Valley and portions of the Deep South on the biggest travel day of the year, Wednesday.

Locally torrential downpours may slow motorists traveling across portions of the I-10, I-20 and I-40 corridors on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Midwest
For the most part, there are not too many weather-related travel problems anticipated across the Midwest Thanksgiving week. Generally dry and seasonable weather is in store for the Dakotas through the Great Lakes.

However, a few showers may pass quickly through, from the Dakotas and Minnesota on Monday to the Great Lakes on Tuesday.

Rockies/Plains
Much of the Rockies and the Plains will be dominated by dry weather under the influence of high pressure. Very few weather-related travel issues are predicted.

The one exception may be a moist flow from the Gulf that could trigger a few showers across Texas and the southern Plains.

West
The Northwest is likely to turn out to be the stormiest part of the nation for Thanksgiving travel. Significant travel problems could result low-elevation rain, mountain snow, and wind.

Seattle to Portland are forecast to be soaked by heavy rain through the first half of next week. High winds will drive the rain sideways at times, possibly making it hard for motorists to see while driving along the I-5 corridor.

Snow levels will drop as low as major mountain passes, such as Snoqualmie along I-90 in Washington, by Tuesday and Wednesday. Motorists traveling for Thanksgiving can run into slippery and hazardous travel.

At times, the rain will reach southward into northern California. Wet weather is most likely to disrupt travel in San Francisco on Monday and Tuesday. By Wednesday, there is potential that drying will occur in San Francisco.

Farther south, dry and mild weather is in store for Southern California and the interior Southwest.

Details

AccuWeather

AccuWeather, established in 1962, is the World’s Weather Authority.

AccuWeather provides local forecasts for everywhere in the United States and over two million locations worldwide.

Headquarters for AccuWeather is State College, Pennsylvania, home to the greatest number of forecast meteorologists in one location anywhere in the world.

Website: accuweather.com

Worth Pondering…

Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.
—Mark Twain

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More Drivers to Take Memorial Day Road Trip

More Americans will take to the roads during the upcoming Memorial Day weekend this year as they benefit from a recent drop in pump prices, heralding a summer of strong fuel demand.

Approximately 30.7 million Americans plan to drive to destinations 50 miles or more away from home between May 24 and 28, the start of the peak driving season in the United States, according to a survey released Tuesday (May 15) by AAA.

This represents an increase of more than 500,000 travelers on the road or 1.2 percent from the 30.3 million who drove last year, which serves as an early gauge of summer gasoline sales at pumping stations.

Almost nine out of ten holiday travelers (88 percent) will take to the nation’s roadways during the Memorial Day weekend keeping automobile travel in the traditional lead as the dominate mode of holiday travel transportation, according to the organization, which provides roadside and travel services.

“The overall domestic economic picture continues to improve slightly, however, American consumers faced a new challenge this year as steadily increasing gas prices throughout the spring significantly squeezed many household budgets,” said AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet.

“Americans will still travel during the Memorial Day holiday weekend but, many will compensate for reduced travel budgets by staying closer to home and cutting entertainment dollars.”

A survey of intended travelers found that 53 percent said recent increases in gasoline prices would not impact their Memorial Day holiday travel plans. Of the remaining 47 percent of travelers who said gas prices would impact their travel plans, nine percent are planning to take a shorter trip, four percent will travel by an alternate mode of transportation, and 34 percent will economize in other areas.

Approximately 30.7 million Americans plan to drive to destinations 50 miles or more away from home during the upcoming Memorial Day weekend. (Source: wsj.com)

National gasoline prices may have peaked in April despite seasonal highs in early spring when motorists experienced average price increases for all but four days in February and March.

April experienced a full reversal as prices fell for 23 of 30 days during the month, helping to break a streak of 911 days since the national average price was lower than the previous year.

The current national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is approximately 25 cents lower than this time last year. U.S. gasoline prices averaged $3.73 a gallon on Tuesday, compared with $3.96 a year ago.

According to a survey of traveler intentions, the average distance traveled by Americans during the Memorial Day holiday weekend is expected to be 642 miles, which is 150 miles less than last year’s average travel distance of 792 miles. With high gas prices squeezing consumers’ spending power this spring, consumers are responding by traveling shorter distances this Memorial Day holiday.

The decline in expected air travel is a factor in the travel distance decrease as fewer flying miles can be contrasted with the slight growth in automobile travel. Miles flown for weekend travel are typically longer than those driven.

Median spending is expected to be $702, only slightly more than the $692 median spending last year.

Details

American Automobile Association (AAA)

The American Automobile Association (the “AAA” or “Triple-A”) was founded on March 4, 1902, in Chicago, when, in response to a lack of roads and highways suitable for automobiles, nine motor clubs with a total of 1,500 members banded together to form the Triple-A.

Travelers get an early start on the Memorial Day holiday weekend. (Source: msnbc.msn.com)

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial, and automotive-related services.

Its national headquarters are in Heathrow, Florida.

AAA’s digital tools for travel planning ‘on the go’ include eTourBook guides for 101 top North American destinations, free to members at AAA.com/ebooks. Choose from city titles, like Orlando, New York, and Las Vegas, as well as National Parks.

Free AAA apps for iPhone and Android devices use GPS navigation to help travelers map a route, locate nearby member discounts, and find current gas prices.

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

BURMA SHAVE

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