IT’S HERE! The first day of summer. My favorite time of year. Well, until fall rolls around, then, that’s my favorite. But for now, I want nothing more than some green grass, fresh fruit, grilled food, hot days with cool breezes, lakes, ponds, pools, and sundresses. New York City isn’t always the easiest place to find all of that. The hot seems to feel too hot by the time you trek to a patch of greenery, the breeze (that seems to always be around when you’re trying to use an umbrella) seems to disappear, and grilling is sometimes nicer on a griddle pan on the stovetop in the A/C. Summer in the city has its own highlights–cocktails on rooftops with slinky designer ensembles–but it doesn’t always work just for the country girl in me. For her, city breaks are oh-so important. If you, too, have the urge to skip town for a breath of fresh air, read on to learn about a Connecticut “camping” destination that works for all age groups and all levels of outdoorsmen!
I use the term “camping” loosely. At the Housatonic Meadows Campgrounds, you’re not alone in the woods “Bear Grylls-style, but you’re not “glamping” either. You are in a beautiful nature setting, with several options to make for a manageable, weekend that takes you back to nature.
Located in Sharon, Connecticut, about 2 hours north of New York City, the Housatonic Meadows Campgrounds is hidden among the rolling hills, in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town, hugging a winding river, and full of happy families and determined fishermen. The campground offers three levels of camping which is what makes it so accessible for all levels of campers. You have the traditional campers, pitching a tent on a pre-rented site, or hobbyists searching a beautiful setting to park their fully equipped camper vans, and those that want to experience camping life, but with an actual roof over their heads. This is where the most adorable cabins come in.
Now every site includes access to the bathroom/shower facilities. These are not glamorous, the water is luke-warm, there are bugs hugging every wall and swarming every light, and the walk up to them alone can be pretty creepy. But, I prefer to have an actual place to use the bathroom, wash my face, and brush my teeth. We usually reserve a spot in close proximity to the facilities, so you never have to wander that far during the day or in the middle of the night. Having bathrooms on site, helps make this a very kid-friendly destination. If you can barely explain toilet-training to your child, I doubt temporary “woods-training” would be an easy topic to broach. Aside from bathrooms, all sites include fire pits with grill grates, areas to pitch tents, and room for two cars.
I want to highlight the cabins, which I think are the best feature of the Housatonic Meadows Campgrounds, and what makes this city break SO child-friendly. Each of the four cabins on site hold up to 6 people. They have a double bed, and bunk beds, room for your belongings, room for a pack ‘n play (!), and electricity! They are situated overlooking the beautiful river, and next to the fire pit and tent areas. I have, in my pre-child days, set up a tent right next to the cabin, so I had a contingency plan if the weather decided to test our camping stamina. Nowadays, with a toddler, I think the cabin is the easiest way to go. My daughter does just find napping in new locations, but in a tent, not so much. It’s cramped, it has strange colors, it’s not very good at blocking sound, it’s just straight up confusing. Insert a cabin, and she can comfortably take both naps in a darkened space, with a sound machine. Now, that makes for a peaceful trip for Mom and Dad.
Okay, so you may be cheating with a cabin and bathrooms and showers, and a town nearby that has egg sandwiches and coffee and ice, but so what? You can still experience all the joys that amping has to offer in your weekend away from the city. Those joys for me? Pre-baby: Renting kayaks and tubes to take a leisurely journey down the river. Clarke Outdoors not only supplies equipment, but they will drop you off and pick you up along different areas of the river. If you have multiple cars and your own equipment, that works too. Post-baby, it’s obviously unsafe for a 14-month old to go on a river rapid adventure, so now we just enjoy the waterfront, putting our beach chairs in the water and watching our daughter play with beach shovels, buckets, and mud. There are also manageable hikes for adults and kids, and babies in their baby carriers. You can grill your little hearts out, enjoy a break from technology in an area with NO cell service, and catch up on some z’s. Toddlers may not let you sleep in, but you sure could go to bed early. After hikes, swimming, and sun, the sounds of nature and the crackling of a dying fire will surely put you to sleep as soon as the sun goes down. Heaven.
The price is pretty reasonable, as well.. The basic campsite runs $27/night for non-CT residents, while the cabins cost $60 for non-CT residents (remember they sleep 6!). This means you can have a full weekend away, two nights, cost of gas, food, kayak rentals–whatever–for less than one night in some NYC hotels. Not too shabby to get some fresh air, new experiences for your growing little ones, and quality time with family. Check out this city break, and stay tuned for more summer adventures!