Last summer we spent relocating to the Triangle area from Beijing. We arrived five weeks before school started and spent most of the time sorting out the various logistics associated with any move. This summer, with all of that behind us, we bought a tent and have taken to the road to explore all that North Carolina and the North East Coast has to offer. One of the highlights has been re-discovering Kampgrounds of America (aka KOA) and becoming card carrying "Kampers".
I say re-discovering because when my family moved to California, when I was 10, we explored the West Coast and stayed in many KOA spots. I seem to remember being particularly fond of these as a pre-teen and teenager because you were always guaranteed electricity and I insisted on curling my hair (it was the 80's). I no longer bring a curling iron with me but now that I am traveling with my own kids I can see a whole other side to all that KOA has to offer. I realize that for camping purists the idea of the amenities on offer such as laundry rooms, hot showers, candy bar bingo, trampoline pillows, playgrounds, morning coffee, swimming pool, garbage pick up at 10am, and wi-fi, may not be their idea of heaven but for my family these spots provide the most relaxing vacation spot ever. I also think they are great value for money when compared to staying in a hotel, or renting a house, neither of which were in our budget this year.
In NC, at the Asheville East KOA, we set up our tent right next to a lake that provided the kids with their first fishing experience (and we could buy the fishing equipment at the on-site store). During the day we toured The Biltmore House (kids get in free all summer) and all that Asheville has to offer. In Mystic, CT we have done day trips to Boston and Providence, RI returning each night to enjoy smore's around the campfire. The kids have been sleeping in until 10am! On our way back home we are taking in DC at the Capitol Area KOA and Luray Caverns at the Harrisonburg/Shenandoah Valley KOA in Virginia. Thanks to years of airmiles accumulation we are doing an end of August trip to Arizona and will be staying in a teepee at the Flagstaff KOA.
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Cabins are also available if you don't have a tent
or camping equipment or just want to try something else for an easy getaway that won't break the bank. The staff at each location we have visited has been fantastic and ensures high standards and well maintained sites.
As I enjoyed my morning coffee today I perused the KOA directory while the kids bounced on the trampoline pillow. I see Wilmington NC, Nashville TN, St. Augustine FL, Alabama's Gulf Shores and New Orleans in our "Kamping" futures.
We are very happy "Kampers" indeed.