UPDATED OCT 30, 2019
Sometimes you just gotta get away. And if you're looking to pitch a tent, cook over an open fire, and fall asleep under the stars, here are some of the best spots nearby perfect for escaping the city.
When most people picture going camping, they envision loading a car up with gear. But not if you head to the Boston Harbor Islands. Instead of a car, you’ll be taking a ferry to your destination. There are four islands that allow tent camping: Grape, Bumpkin, Lovells, and Peddocks (which also has a few yurts for rent). Spending the night on the islands is a totally unique experience, and watching the sunrise over the harbor is a sight you won’t soon forget.
If you’re looking for a lot of recreation with a side of camping, Tully Lake Campground is for you. The tent-only campsites sit on a 200-acre lake in Royalston that’s just begging to be explored on a canoe or kayak (you can rent on site). Keep the action going when you hike the nearby trails or cycle the 7.5-mile loop at Long Pond. This picturesque campground is even dog-friendly!
We’ve written about how much we love the Blue Hills Reservation a few times (it’s one of our go-to hiking spots). So, it’s no surprise to see it pop up here. This 6,000-acre park is only 13 miles south of the city, making it a very easy destination for a quick escape. Though, don’t just unload anywhere — the only camping in Blue Hills is run by the Appalachian Mountain Club at Ponkapoag Pond. There are two campsites and 20 cabins available, and those with wood stoves can be rented year-round.
Getting out in nature near Boston usually means either heading to the woods or to the beach. But at the Cape Ann Camp Site, you can have the best of both worlds all in one. Pitch a tent at one of Cape Ann’s 200 campsites then head to the popular Wingaersheek Beach, which is less than a mile and a half away. At night, return to your site to roast marshmallows over a campfire in the woods.
Head north of Boston for about 20 miles and you’ll find yourself at Harold Parker State Forest. This 3,000-acre outdoor-lovers' playground has dozens of trails perfect for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, or even cross-country skiing. The forest is also dotted with ponds where you can swim, fish, or boat. When you’re worn out from all that activity, pitch a tent at one of Harold Parker’s many campsites.
After a short drive south of Boston to Plymouth, you’ll find Myles Standish State Forest, the perfect spot for an overnight or weekend trip. Myles Standish has a ton of campsites, many of which are pet-friendly. You can opt for traditional tent camping, bring an RV, or even spend the night in one of the forest’s yurts. And you can be sure you won’t be bored because Myles Standish has tons of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Plus, you can swim, fish, and canoe in the many lakes and ponds.
Believe it or not, the Boston Harbor Islands aren’t the only local campground accessible by ferry. Take the boat to Provincetown on the tip of Cape Cod and pitch your tent at Dunes’ Edge Campground. Despite downtown P-Town being steps away from Dune’s Edge, the wooded campsites are super peaceful. Fitt Tip: you wouldn't be doing it right if you didn't take advantage of the area’s fantastic beaches and bike trails.
A weekend on Cape Cod can cost a pretty penny, but not so if you camp at Nickerson State Park in Brewster. It’s right on the Cape Cod Rail Trail, so you can ditch your car when you arrive and get around by bike during your stay. You can also opt to swim, fish, or canoe in one of the nearby ponds. And, of course, there's reason to escape to the spectacular Cape beaches, which are only minutes away.
If you want to fall asleep listening to waves lapping at the shore, camping at Salisbury Beach State Reservation is for you. Salisbury Beach is one of the area’s most beloved beaches and it’s easy to see why with its nearly four miles of sand facing the Atlantic Ocean. So, bring your tent and towels for a weekend of camping that’s practically on the beach. At this site, you won’t get sand in your sleeping bag, but you’ll have first dibs on a killer spot to soak up the sun the next day.