Summer Places

The Great Outdoors

Summer Places

Here’s my camping conundrum: I want to curl up with my family like a wolf pack in a wooded, secluded spot — that is also accessible by station wagon and within a stone’s throw of running water. In the three years Mark and I have been tenting with our kids, we’ve found plenty of conveniences, but not much solitude, as you can see from this shot of our latest excursion:

These were our closest quarters yet, and probably could have been avoided had we done a bit more research. But we tend to plan our trips last-minute, a practice that leads to quick decision making and less desirable campsites, and limits our travel time. We also like to bring our dog along, so we have missed out on the prime pet-free facilities. (I’m talking to you, Baxter State Park.) When our boys are a little older, I hope to embark on bigger adventures (still talking to you, Baxter) and become a better planner. In the meantime, I am learning to accept the communal camping experience, so long as it continues to accept our carful of air mattresses, pillows, stuffed animals, board games, and other crazy “essentials.”

Despite the fishbowl-like location, we had fun on this last trip. We met some lovely people, felt cozy in the tent while we waited out a morning rainstorm, and had a great hike up Sabattus Mountain in Lovell (pictured at top), which looks out at the layered crests of the White Mountain National Forest. And after a noisy first night at the campground, we appreciated the relative quiet that descended on our second evening. “I slept pretty well,” Mark said in the morning, “after the fireworks died down.”

Do you have a peaceful, family-friendly camping spot to recommend? I could really use your suggestions!


8 Comments

  1. Sarah Nichols

    I absolutely recommend Thomas Point Beach in Brunswick. We’ve stayed there a couple of times and it is somehow this priceless undiscovered gem. There aren’t a lot of hookups, so I think RVers shy away, but it’s a tenter’s paradise. I’ve never needed to make a reservation. It’s huge and you have your pick of sites all over the property, even in June and July which is when we have gone. They have a playground and a tidal sandy beach with lots of horseshoe crabs. I’m hesitant to say anything here because I selfishly don’t want floods of people to show up, but they deserve the business!

    • Sarah Stebbins

      This sounds like heaven — thank you for the recommendation Sarah! Alas, they do not allow pets over 25 pounds but we may have to go anyway and leave our pup with friends. Thanks again!

  2. Cecilia Jenkins

    We go every year to Jackman and stay at Cozy Cove Cabins. It is our favorite place to call our 2nd home! They have great cabins right on the lake and they also allow dogs!! We just got back from our vacation this week, we spend 10 wonderful days there, and it was our 12th year!!

    • Sarah Stebbins

      Hi Cecilia. I would LOVE to get up to that part of the state. Thank you so much for the awesome, pet-friendly recommendation! What a wonderful tradition you have. Hope you had nice weather. 🙂

  3. Edward Carroll

    Within the campgrounds at Lily Bay State Park just north of Greenville, there are some campsite loops that provide waterfront sites with a few that are pretty well isolated from neighbors. I believe you can see the site map online and reserve those that suit you best, but you may need to plan ahead a little.

    • Sarah Stebbins

      Hi Edward. My husband and I stayed at Lily Bay years ago before we had kids and you have reminded me that I really want to go back. We did an amazing hike there (in a downpour but oh well!) and were able to bring our dog. Thank you so much for the recommendation!

  4. Colleen

    We’ve had the same problem as we work our way thru the Maine and NH campground directories. All we want is a little space so you can’t hear your neighbors too much and enforced quiet time. We are childless but love to tent, Checking websites, the pics give the impression of solitude but that’s never the story when you get there. The search goes on. I have always wanted to try lily bay but it’s a long drive from Boston for a weekend trip. We rent at Tomhegan and the Birches though a few times a year. Moosehead is just so beautiful. I’ll be following for more suggestions!!

    • Sarah Stebbins

      Hi Colleen — I hear you, the struggle is real! Do you follow Maine Homes on Instagram and Down East on Facebook? This story was posted in both places and I’ve received some good suggestions there, too. Good luck and please share any gems you find! Thanks so much for reading.

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