These U.S. Resorts Feel Just Like Summer Camp — and Are Fun for the Whole Family

Anyone who went to sleepaway camp will always wax poetic about those unforgettable weeks surrounded by nature — which is perhaps why hotels across the country are courting families with the promise of good, clean fun.

From toasting marshmallows over a roaring fire to diving into an ice-cold lake with our closest friends, summer camp generates some of our most treasured memories. At a time when the great outdoors holds a heightened appeal, destinations around the country are playing up camplike activities and accommodations, and encouraging families to bond over wholesome shared experiences.

People tubing on the Guadalupe River in Texas
Tubing on the Guadalupe River at Camp Fimfo, in Texas. Courtesy of Camp Fimfo

"People love any opportunity to relive their childhood, so as they become parents and start growing their own families, they're seeking experiences that feel both unique and familiar," says Tessa McCrackin, chief marketing officer at Northgate Resorts, which operates 24 resorts in the U.S. "Summer camps remind us of a time when we weren't constantly plugged in and life was as simple as 'What are we doing outside today?'"

Last year, the company launched Camp Fimfo (sites from $125, cabins from $206), which has upscale cabins and RV sites, plus a water park, mini-golf course, and restaurants. After a successful first season in New Braunfels, Texas, the company will open a second location this summer in Waco, where travelers can stay in cylindrical cabins inspired by the city's iconic cottonseed silos.

Two photos from camping resorts, including a luxury tent, and guests ordering from a canteen in an Airstream
From left: A glamping tent at Terramor Outdoor Resort, in Maine; the Canteen, housed in a vintage Airstream trailer, at Camp Long Creek. From left: Courtesy of Terramor Outdoor Resort; Courtesy of Camp Long Creek

Another spot putting nature at the forefront is Terramor Outdoor Resort (doubles from $304), in Bar Harbor, Maine, just outside Acadia National Park. Two summers ago, the glamping retreat — a stylish offshoot of Kampgrounds of America — debuted with 64 luxury tents and a farm-to-table restaurant. Guests can expect pre-stocked fire pits, a wellness tent for massages, and complimentary walking sticks.

This summer Camp Long Creek (doubles from $707), the newest addition to Big Cedar Lodge, in the Missouri Ozarks, is adding more one- and two-bedroom cabins to its array of glamping and indoor accommodations, along with a new pool. The Canteen, housed in a vintage Airstream trailer, serves cheeseburgers and treats like Creamsicles to guests eager to refuel after a day of waterskiing on Table Rock Lake.

Two girls running to leap off of a dock at a lake in Georgia
Leaping off the dock at the Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee, in Georgia. Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee

The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee (doubles from $685), in Greensboro, Georgia, is also making big investments in family-friendly amenities. In July 2021 it opened a family pool and the Ritz Kids Clubhouse, which has an aquarium and arcade games. It even runs backyard olympics for campers ages five through 12. Slides and water trampolines are enough to entice campers of all ages to splash around in the lake.

A teacher and two children paint rocks at a resort hotel in Georgia
Rock painting at the Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee. Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee

Another Georgia property, Barnsley Resort (doubles from $319), is already well-loved for its cozy cottages and fire pits. Recently, it doubled down on family-bonding experiences with activities like archery and axe throwing. At the flagship location of Roam Beyond (doubles from $219), which sits right outside Montana's Glacier National Park, guests staying in the retro camping trailers can hike, fish, or play cornhole by day, then watch movies or play board games in the lodge at night.

Historic properties are revamping their programming to ride the nostalgia wave, too. There's never a dull moment at the 150-year-old Mohonk Mountain House (doubles from $1,035), in New Paltz, New York. Its recently launched hiking menu makes the most of 85 miles of trails with six themed excursions, including a survivalist trek that teaches guests about animal tracks and edible plants.

For the ultimate family bash, consider buying out a more deluxe resort like the Point (doubles from $2,050, all-inclusive), in Saranac Lake, New York. It's usually adults-only, but if you reserve all 11 rooms in the four cabins at once, kids are welcome. They can explore the area on complimentary e-bikes or go geocaching, among other activities.

A version of this story originally appeared in the June 2022 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline Overnight Sensations.

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