IMAGE VIA JAKE SLOOP | UNSPLASH
When people think of camping, they think of s’mores, setting up tents, and ghost stories around an open flame. Just the smell of melting chocolate and the crackling of burning bark makes us want to hit the road and set up camp! So, why wait, right?
Cleveland and the surrounding area is filled with campsites ranging from spots for luxury campers to snoozing with the serenade of crickets. So grab a tent—and the bug spray—pack the car, and hit the road for these 9 campsites.
Most people aren’t aware that you can camp inside Cuyahoga Valley National Park, but we’re here to fill you in — you absolutely can, and it’s awesome. There are five distinct campsites along the Towpath that can be reserved until late October. And while you’re camping, you’ll get to appreciate the winding rivers where you can kayak or explore the natural canals, 125 miles of trails, and waterfalls — it’s practically a camper’s paradise.
Going camping “off-the-grid” is kind of hard to do in the greater Cleveland area. So we gotta make do and utilize what we’re given, and that’s Mohican State Park. Hear us out — Loudonville might be a good distance outside of the city, but this state park is the real deal. Campers can finally rough it at this 1,110-acre park surrounded by over 4,000 acres of forest. Grab a map and take a hike on the trails before setting up shop for a DIY picnic (what’s camping without a few s’mores?).
You could say there’s a lot of wild in Cleveland, but Punderson State Park is actually the wild surrounding The Land. Right in Newbury Township, Punderson and its 741 acres are a quaint and family-friendly place to get to know nature on a whole new level. Find yourself on one of their seven trails, take a dip in the lake, and try out some disc golf while you’re at it. And since Punderson is known for their “big pond” (as they call it), set up a hammock and enjoy some time in and around the water.
Fun fact: Cedar Point is more than just a theme park. It’s also a campground. Sure, it’s a little more urban than your typical forest-y campground, but it’s a campsite nonetheless. Lighthouse Point is THE spot to park your RV (if you’re not into dirt, animals, or you know, nature). But they also have cabins, cottages, and even ‘deluxe cabins’ that can hold up to 10 fun-loving campers. Not ‘true camping’? Give it a chance! The cottages and cabins are all lakefront, giving you the ‘outdoorsy’ camping feel. Make you sure you call in advance to reserve your spot, though!
Clay’s Park Resort is a great spot for the “modern day” camper. If you love nature but aren’t really into roughin’ it, this could be your spot. Right in Lawrence (not even an hour’s ride from downtown), you can do more here than just set up a tent. You can jump in their 10-acre lake (they even have a waterpark!), rent kayaks or canoes, play some golf, go for a hike, and play some beach volleyball. And unlike most campgrounds, this site even has shower facilities, which means no scrub-a-dubbing in the lake. Oh, and don’t miss their festival weekends when they have live music and events for all!
Finding a place to camp that has activities, trails, and fun in the water is kind of tough to do in the Northeast Ohio area. But not at Tinkers Creek State Nature Preserve. Just 40 minutes south of the city, you can camp among swamps, marshlands, and 15 acres of Mother Earth’s real estate goodness. Plus, Tinker’s Creek is known for their wetlands, so be sure to bring a fishing pole!
Okay, so Lakeside might be almost an hour and a half away from Cleveland, but it’s a solid getaway for the novice camper. From May to October, amateur wilderness scouts can pitch a tent, light a fire, cook a hot dog, and have a night serenaded by crickets (you can also rent a cabin if you’d prefer). Jump in the lake, go fishing, go for a run on the trail, and dive into everything this campsite can offer you.
Grab the hot dogs and maybe a couple of cold ones and head over to Streetsboro to camp out at Woodside Lake Park. This 100-acre campground has enough space for all — so don’t worry about being too close to the next neighborhood camper. This campsite has all the trails you can imagine, along with biking, paddle boarding, fishing, and a whole lot of outdoor fun. Set up shop by the lake, light a fire, and get those campfire stories ready.
While the American Wilderness Campground is well-suited for RV-lovers, they do have primitive campsites you can rent where you won’t be surrounded by neighbors or smell of motor oil. On the plus side to this campground in Grafton, they have a bunch of activities and amenities to make this a family affair. With trails, pavilions, beaches, and water, American Wilderness Campground can pretty much meet everyone’s needs — from the true wilderness-lover to those who just like a day in the woods.
Spending time outdoors has never been easier than a getaway at Roundup Lake Campground. You’ll always have that one friend who hates bugs or even can’t live without technology, but this modern campsite meets them in the middle. Just 45 minutes away from downtown, campers can swim in the spring-fed lake, go kayaking, and even rent rowboats. But if water isn’t their thing, there are over 350 campsites and nightly bonfires.