Top 5 Favorite Campgrounds from 2019

I recently asked a few favorite fulltime family bloggers if they wanted to share their top 5 favorite campgrounds from 2019 and I am so excited they said yes!  Click on their logos below to see their fave campgrounds this year as well.  Thank you Way Beyond The Norm, Incredible Dash, Prodigal Overland (more coming soon) for sharing!  I am definitely saving these for the future!  Scroll down to see our favorites from 2019!

Way Beyond The Norm Blog
1. Four Mile Creek State Park, New York
collage of photos of four mile creek state park near Niagara Falls

Four Mile Creek State Park is a 248-acre state park located in the Town of Porter in Niagara County, New York. The park is at the mouth of Four Mile Creek on the shore of Lake Ontario, approximately 15 miles north of the Niagara Falls.  While the RV hookups are electric only, the site itself, combined with the location and campground, makes this one of our top picks for 2019.  We stayed for 4 nights and filled up our fresh tanks with water at the park before getting settled in.  We backed in to a very large, well maintained, field for the kids to play in.  It was so nice knowing they had room to move and play soccer, nerf gun wars, etc.  We were there on 4th of July weekend and the park was totally full, but we still had plenty of room.  It really shocked us how quiet the park was even on a holiday.  People were out enjoying themselves in every spot, but nothing out of control or loud parties until 2 am.  We loved that!  It was a short walk down to the shoreline to see the sunset every evening and we definitely recommend taking it in as often as you can.  Niagara falls is just a short drive away, it was so nice to be able to pop over there multiple times during our stay. We also drove out to Tuscarora Beach at Tuscarora State Park to hunt for seaglass.  I highly recommend going in the evening, it was stunning and successful!  See our Niagara Falls YouTube videos here.

Location:  Youngstown, NY 14174
Website:  Four Mile Creek State Park
Cost per night: $36.00

2.  Hershey Thousand Trails in Lebanon, Pennsylvania
collage of photos at hershey rv park thousand trails in pennsylvania

While many people hit this destination for the chocolate themed amusement park, that’s not what we loved about it.  My kids are allergic to milk so we didn’t even go.  Honestly, this campground was so great, we didn’t miss it a bit.  This area of Pennsylvania surprised me!  The green rolling green hills and spring blooms were so beautiful and unexpected.  We loved the heart of amish country!  We had a back in, full hookup, spot with a little hill behind it that the kids loved rolling down.  The weather was perfect and Thousand Trails had a lot of activities in the park over Easter weekend.  The kids quickly made friends and we spent so many hours outside.  The kids also loved fishing.  View our Hershey YouTube video here.

Location:  Lebanon, PA 17042
Website:  Hershey Thousand Trails
Cost per night: $0.00 with our Thousand Trails membership

3. Letchworth State Park in Castile, New York
photo collage of letchworth state park in new york state

Letchworth State Park is a 14,427-acre state park located in Livingston and Wyoming counties in New York. The park is roughly 17 miles long, following the course of the Genesee River as it flows north through a deep gorge and over several large waterfalls.  With abundant hiking trails and overlooks, it is easy to see why this State Park was rated #1 in the nation!  While the spot was electric only, it was spacious, wooded, and felt very private.   We were just passing through and really wish we had planned to stay here longer.  Book early as spots go quickly!  View our YouTube video about this stop here.

Location:  Castile, NY 14427
Website:  Letchworth State Park
Cost per night: $33.50

4. Ocean Lakes Family Campground in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
photo collage at ocean lake rv campground

Our favorite thing about Ocean Lakes Family Campground was the location!  Our RV was parked just steps away from the ocean and we had such easy access.  Myrtle Beach is a great little town and this campground is right in the middle of it all.  This is a true family campground / resort with a big pool, water slides, an arcade and planned activities.  The arcade came in very handy on rainy days!  My favorite part was hitting the beach with our homeschool lessons.  It was easy to just wander over for a bit whenever we felt like it.  This campground is huge and very, very popular so book early!  View our YouTube video about this stop here.

Location: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Website:  Ocean Lakes Family Campground
Cost per night: $44.00

5. Holiday Park Campground in Traverse City, Michigan
photo collage of sleeping bear dunes and holiday park campground

Traverse City was one of our favorite stops of the year!  Close to Sleeping Bear Dunes, it’s a great location.  We loved the friendly people and big spots in this campground.  Total bonus that we had access to the lake and swimming!  One of my favorite memories from the year was watching the little kids (and Jason) paddle around in the little boat provided by the campground.  Not technically inside the campground, but still worth the short drive, is the city park and splash pad, my kids had a blast!  Check out our YouTube video about this stay here.

Location: Traverse City, Michigan
Website:  Holiday Park Campground
Cost per night: $57.00

Honorable Mentions

We visited 69 campgrounds in 2019 and it was so hard to narrow down to our top 5 faves!  We are so lucky to have stayed in some really great places.  I thought I’d share a few more as honorable mentions just in case you want to check them out.  These include:

Tiki RV Resort
We stayed here while visiting Mackinac Island in Michigan.  We loved it so much we extended our stay!  Also, we got 50% off our rate with our Escapees discount!

Cherry Hill
This is the best park close to Washington DC.  It’s not cheap, but it worth it.  Tip:  ask for a spot away from the noisy road.

Gettysburg Farm
This is an awesome farm in the Thousand Trails system.  My kids loved the farm and it was close to Gettysburg National Park.

Rippling River RV Resort
When we hit the Michigan Upper Peninsula we landed at a KOA that was so awful we turned around and immediately left.  We landed at Rippling River RV Resort and I am so glad we did!  Big sites, close to the river and hiking, and if you bike there are tons of trails right next door.

Gulf State Park
This is a gorgeous state park right along the shores of the gulf in-between Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama.  You can easily ride your bike to the beach.

photo collage of laclare creamery harvest host

Harvest Hosts in a membership program that gives you access to businesses, museums, farms and golf courses around the country that allow you to boondock or dry camp on their land for one night for free.  This was such an incredible stop for us!  We were told to park right next to the goats for the night, we visited the viewing area while the goats were milked and shopped for a few items in their shop.  We loved it so much we dedicated an entire youtube episode to it.  Check it out!

Location: LaClare Creamery in Malone, Wisconsin
Website:  Harvest Hosts / LaClare Creamery
Cost per night: $0.00 with Harvest Host Membership

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2020-01-29T22:34:07-06:00January 29th, 2020|My Family, Camping Adventures, National Parks, RV Life|

How are you all going to fit in an RV?!?!

We’ve received some really great questions about our decision to launch in to fulltime RV life and traveling with the kids.  I thought we could start to answer a few of them here! The #1 most asked question is: How are you all going to fit in an RV?!?!

6 of us will be traveling regularly and Ty will visit us occasionally.  We chose a 5th wheel RV.  They are typically larger than your average travel trailer, have more headspace, more storage, etc.  A 5th wheel is towed behind a heavy duty truck, meaning it is not a self contained motorhome that you drive.  We looked at motorhomes but we didn’t feel they offered the storage space or safety for kids in carseats that we needed.  We will trade in our Expedition for a heavy duty dually truck.  We also own a Honda Pilot.  It is very close to being paid off and we haven’t quite decided what to do with it.  We may leave it with Ty as a second vehicle for him so that we can have use of it when we return to life in a house down the road.  We may sell it so we don’t have the added expense of insurance, we just aren’t sure yet.  No matter what, Jason is SUPER excited to get a big truck.  Because we are a family of 6 +2 dogs, we will add what is called a Cowtown Sleeper on to the truck.  This will give us additional seating so that we can all safely travel in one vehicle together with the dogs and not caravan. We want to be in one vehicle as we pass by the world’s biggest spool of yarn lol!  5th wheels are surprisingly roomy.  Our home was 2100 square feet.  The new RV is 430 square feet.  A pretty significant downsize for a big family.  I think most people are surprised when they see it – it has so many comforts of home.  Some of our must haves when shopping included:

  • A kingsize bed.  A must since we will co-sleep with Zachary for quite awhile longer.
  • A washer and dryer.  6 people create a crap ton of laundry.  Especially 6 people who adventure (and use their shirts as napkins ::cough cough:: Jude) regularly.  Plus cloth diaper.  Neither of us has the desire to find laundry mats every couple of days.  We upgraded from an all in one washer/dryer unit to a stackable that will live in the master bedroom cabinets.
  • Space for the kids.  The middle boys will get what is called the “mid bunk” in our RV.  It’s a separate room in the middle of the floor plan.  It comes with a couch, desk and wall of storage.  We will remove the couch and install bunk beds for all 3 boys even though Zachary will co-sleep with us for quite a bit longer.  It’ll be there when he’s ready.  Taryn will have her own loft area and we will put a curtain up to give her some privacy.  The couch in the living room folds out and Ty can stay there or we will put him up in a hotel when he visits.  It’ll depend on the location.
  • A living space that provides everyone a place to sit and room to play.  This was definitely a must.  Our trial run in a travel trailer with only one small love seat just didn’t cut it for our big family.
  • A large residential size refrigerator.  Being a food allergy family, traveling with food that is safe for our kids is super important to us. We don’t have the luxury of driving through fast food places on busy days.  Food was a big challenge to overcome in making this leap – more on that soon!  We also have a nice sized pantry.  Another must for us.
  • A shower and bathroom big enough to actually move in.  The shower in the travel trailer we rented was tiny.  If we are friends on facebook you may have gotten a good laugh (at my expense) when I shared about our public shower experience on our trail run.  I made it public so you can read it but I’ll forewarn you that we were a hot mess.  Big shower = must because my family cannot cope with shower stalls and quarters y’all.
  • We sit and eat almost every single meal as a family.  A table big enough for that isn’t standard with any RV but my super handy hubby is going to put his magic touch on it.  I can’t wait to show you what he’s going to build!  So excited!  We will be set up to eat outside quite a bit as well.
  • Lots of windows.  And boy does the one we ordered fit the bill.  I didn’t want to feel like I’m living in a box.  We are traveling this beautiful country and I want to see it, even if I’m inside!  Our model has tons of huge windows, I love that!
  • Not a must but definite perks include a fireplace in the living room and an outdoor kitchen.

   

You can see photos here.

And take a virtual tour here.

I’m really excited to move in and put our own personal touch on it!  It’s going to require so much organization and really narrowing down what we actually need, instead of all the things we want.  Homeschool items, books, games, just a few toys, clothes, shoes, dishes will fill it up fast!  Our plan is to LIVE outside, sleep inside.  Of course we will have bad weather days where we need to hunker down and we will make it work with games, movies, etc.  Or even a trip to the library.  While there are spaces for 3 televisions in our RV, we opted to only leave 1 in and we will sell the others. So that’s our new RV.  We can’t wait to get it from the dealer and start working on it to make some changes and customize it a bit! Ok, I’ll come back and answer more questions tomorrow!  Including how we will manage food allergies on the road, healthcare on the road and more!

ps – Thank you for all the love, encouragement and support with our announcement yesterday.  I was nervous to put it out there and our tribe showed up to love on us in a big way.  Thank you!

2017-08-23T21:05:29-05:00August 23rd, 2017|Camping Adventures, My Family, RV Life|

stradtner family camping trip | personal

Catching up on a bit of 2016 blogging so please bare with me.  This was actually 2 camping trips ago.  We had a great time, but it was a tough trip for me.  I had a serious foot injury, which meant limited mobility, no hiking, no exploring, no going down to the water to play with the kids (and no water photos this time around with the exception of the ones we took at Garner State Park).  But the trip was still so worth it through the pain.  Camping is our big reset button as a family.  No electronics, reconnecting, outside in nature.  Maggie and her obsession with thinking she’s a people and sitting in people chairs still makes me laugh.  The fireflies.  Oh the glorious fireflies.  They were so magical.  I’ve never seen so many in my life.  Jude called them “God’s glitter” and I can’t think of a better description.  It was very strange to not have Ty with us on this trip.  Camping is his thing and we missed him so much.  We’ve been hitting the Frio and these cabins for the last couple of years but our next trip was to Oklahoma.  I’ll be back to blog that soon as well….camping_1camping_2camping_3

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2017-02-02T20:04:25-06:00February 3rd, 2017|Camping Adventures, Gee, Jonah, Jude, Maggie, My Family, Our dog, Pepper, Taryn|
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