The Three Best Midwest Family Camp Destinations

Family around a bonfire

Exploring the Midwest offers a diverse range of family camp destinations, each providing unique outdoor experiences and amenities. Whether you're looking to paddle through pristine waters, hike among stunning rock formations, or relax on sandy beaches, the Midwest has something for everyone. Here are three of the best family camp destinations in the Midwest that promise unforgettable memories for the whole family.

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) is a premier destination for families seeking a true wilderness experience. Located in the northern part of Minnesota, this vast area offers over a million acres of pristine water, forests, and rugged beauty.

Highlights:

  • Canoeing and Kayaking: With over 1,200 miles of canoe routes, the BWCAW is a paddler's paradise. Families can explore interconnected lakes and rivers, discovering secluded spots and scenic vistas along the way.
  • Fishing: The waters are teeming with fish, making it ideal for family fishing trips. Common catches include walleye, northern pike, and smallmouth bass.
  • Wildlife Viewing: Encounter diverse wildlife including moose, black bears, and bald eagles. The opportunity to see these animals in their natural habitat adds an element of excitement and education for kids.
  • Camping: Numerous campsites are accessible only by water, offering a secluded and immersive nature experience. The campsites are equipped with basic amenities such as fire grates and latrines, but the real luxury is the serene environment.

Why It's Great for Families:

The BWCAW provides a perfect mix of adventure and tranquility. Families can bond over setting up camp, paddling through serene lakes, and sharing stories around the campfire under a starlit sky. The absence of motorized vehicles ensures a peaceful and undisturbed environment, making it an excellent place for families to disconnect from technology and reconnect with nature.

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota

Photo by George Peters/Getty Images

Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

Hocking Hills State Park is renowned for its stunning natural formations, waterfalls, and lush scenery. Located in southeastern Ohio, this park offers a variety of activities that cater to families looking for both adventure and relaxation.

Highlights:

  • Hiking: Trails like Old Man’s Cave, Ash Cave, and Cedar Falls provide breathtaking views and are family-friendly. The well-marked paths range from easy walks to more challenging hikes, suitable for children of all ages.
  • Cave Exploration: Kids will love exploring the numerous caves and rock formations. The park’s unique geology includes impressive features like cliffs, gorges, and waterfalls.
  • Camping: The park offers well-maintained campgrounds with options ranging from primitive sites to full-service cabins. This variety ensures that all comfort levels are met, whether you prefer traditional tent camping or a cozy cabin stay.
  • Adventure Activities: For those seeking more excitement, Hocking Hills offers zip-lining, horseback riding, and canoeing. These activities provide a fun way for families to experience the park’s natural beauty from different perspectives.

Why It's Great for Families:

Hocking Hills is accessible and offers diverse activities to keep every family member entertained. Its well-marked trails and variety of lodging options make it convenient for families with children of all ages. Whether you’re hiking to a scenic waterfall or exploring a dark cave, there’s always something new to discover.

Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

Photo of Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio from Ohio Traveler

Door County, Wisconsin

Door County, often referred to as the "Cape Cod of the Midwest," is a family-friendly destination located on a peninsula between Green Bay and Lake Michigan. This area is famous for its charming small towns, scenic beauty, and outdoor activities.

Highlights:

  • State Parks: Peninsula State Park and Newport State Park offer hiking, biking, and water activities. These parks feature diverse ecosystems, from dense forests to open meadows, providing a variety of landscapes to explore.
  • Beaches: Sandy beaches and calm waters are perfect for swimming and picnicking. Families can spend a relaxing day by the water, building sandcastles, and enjoying the sunshine.
  • Fishing and Boating: Abundant opportunities for boating and fishing on Lake Michigan and Green Bay. The coastal waters are ideal for sailing, kayaking, and fishing, making it a water enthusiast’s dream.
  • Cultural Attractions: Visit lighthouses, museums, and local art galleries. Door County’s rich cultural scene includes historical landmarks, art studios, and live performances, adding a cultural twist to your camping trip.

Why It's Great for Families:

Door County combines outdoor recreation with cultural experiences. Families can enjoy a day at the beach, followed by exploring a lighthouse or attending a local festival. The variety of accommodations, from campgrounds to cozy cottages, ensures a comfortable stay for everyone. Additionally, the area's numerous family-friendly restaurants and shops make it easy to find something for everyone.

Door County, Wisconsin

Photo of Door County, Wisconsin from Outdoor Families Magazine

These three Midwest family camp destinations offer a mix of natural beauty, outdoor adventure, and family-friendly activities. Whether you prefer the wilderness of the Boundary Waters, the geological wonders of Hocking Hills, or the coastal charm of Door County, each destination provides a memorable backdrop for family bonding and exploration. Pack your bags, gather your loved ones, and embark on an unforgettable camping adventure in the heart of the Midwest.