While many of the life-list tourist attractions in the city are free, meal and accommodation costs still keep London ranked as one of the most expensive travel cities in the world. By considering camping as a viable alternative to boutique hotels however, you can manage to save a significant amount of cash. There are a number of campground options in the city of London itself and in surrounding areas. With public transport access and venues like the Tate Modern, Madame Tussauds and the Tower of London standing at the ready, you’re sure to have a getaway that provides the right balance of rustic nature and city chic.
4. Washington, D.C.
With the Smithsonian, historic Ford’s Theater and numerous other things to do in the city, Washington, D.C., is a great place to explore the urban camping option. You have to actually skirt the city to camp, but the attractions are all reachable quickly via shuttle service or public transportation. For example, my husband and I have previously stayed at K.O.A. just outside of D.C. Shuttle service was provided for those wishing to tour museums and other venues in the city, and amenities included private wooded camping spots with fire pits, Internet and easily accessible pool and shower facilities. There were also other nature entertainment options available after a day in the city. Our nightly cost was roughly $30, and we were able to keep up with our freelance writing commitments from the tent. Since it’s close to many amenities, we were even able to schedule pizza delivery one night when rain made cooking outside a problem. Cherry Hill Park is another camping option for those wishing to visit Washington, D.C. The campground sells public transport tokens and passes at the office, and there is a convenient metro stop on site.
Love waterfront nature as much as you love the Louvre? Then camping in Paris is sure to please. Nestled on the banks of the Seine, de Maisons-Laffitte has several options for those wishing for a more natural place to rest their heads while touring the City of Love. Tent spots, RV pull-throughs and even fully equipped mobile homes are all at your disposal a mere 20 minutes from the city center. So go ahead and experience Notre-Dame, the Arc de Triomphe and Musée d’Orsay by day. You’ll be able to kick back with a campfire by the Seine and recharge for the next day of your Paris excursion.
Easily accessible from a number of European destinations and a great place to experience Oktoberfest, camping in Munich brings a touch of the unexpected to your tour of this historical city. Numerous Munich camping options exist, not the least of which is The Tent, which offers the option to flop on a floor mat in a large dorm-style tent if you don’t happen to have your own strapped to your back. My husband and I enjoyed stopping in Munich for a day or two whenever we passed by when we lived in Europe. There’s no shortage of interesting activities in Munich (including surfing in one of the city’s canals), or keep it traditional with stops at the Hofbräuhaus or Olympic Park.
1. New York City
The city that never sleeps makes an exception during the summer months with its free family camping program courtesy of the New York City parks. You’ll need to reserve in advance because space and tents are limited, but the park rangers put on free overnight camping experiences during July and August complete with cookouts, night hikes, stargazing and more. This is also a great opportunity for local families to experience nature without having to leave the city. In addition to having a picture-perfect park experience, there are plenty of budget-minded things to do in the Big Apple as well. Take a free ride on the Staten Island Ferry for an up-close and free view of the Statue of Liberty and New York Harbor, check out the city’s museum scene or consider taking in amateur night at the Apollo.
As you can see, by thinking outside the box a bit, camping can take you to entirely new places and easily blend the traditional nature experience with popular world heritage sites as well. Urban camping can mean more than pitching your tent on an open rooftop.