Family camping in Wisconsin can span a wide range of experiences, from stressful to awesome. With a little planning ahead, you can tip the scales in favor of awesome. Camping with kids doesn’t need to be complicated — simple is often better. We’ll talk a bit about types of camping, choosing a camping location, gear so you’ll be ready to plan a family camping trip this year.
Things to Consider Before your First Camping Trip
- Types of Family Camping – Camping with your entire family can range from your backyard to a public or private campground to primitive camping. If your family is new to camping, you may want to ease into it. A tent in the backyard or a nearby state park for one or two nights are both great options. Some families find that renting a cabin at a private campground gives them a chance to get outdoors without becoming a ground dweller (tent camper). Renting or borrowing a pop-up or RV is another option if a tent is intimidating. If you’re already an old pro at camping with kids, you can challenge your family to primitive camping tent sites at many state and national parks in the area.
- Location, Location, Location – If you aren’t familiar with the Wisconsin State Park System, you should be. We are fortunate to have an extensive state park system that provides some of the best family camping in Wisconsin. Most have designated campsites at very affordable rates. Many also boast beautiful hiking trails, beaches, and playgrounds. We also have access to many county parks, national parks, and private campgrounds throughout the state. There are private campgrounds with kid’s activities like mini-golf, arranged crafts, and more. If you want to start close to home and keep it simple, two nearby family favorites are High Cliff State Park and Hartman Creek State Park.
- Find the Best Gear – The secret is this: you need less stuff to camp with kids than you probably think. You’ll need to plan gear for: somewhere to sleep, things to wear, things to do, and things to eat and drink. Sleeping gear can be as simple as a tarp and sleeping bag/blankets or you can begin to move up in gear to a tent or hammock system, or even camp in an RV. Remember when packing sleeping and clothing that nighttime temperatures can cool down in Wisconsin! It might be tempting to bring lots of toys for your kids. Remember that nature is its own playground; and many campsites have hiking trails, a beach, and a playground. A bucket or dump truck can keep most kids occupied for hours when camping. When planning food and water for your camping trip remember the conditions and plan accordingly (if it’s hot you may need more access to safe water for drinking or if you’re very active you may need to bring more high protein snacks).
Learn from the Best with these Pro Tips
- Divide and conquer! If you have multiple adults with your group, one can take the kids on a hike, to the playground or to the beach while the other sets up the campsite (RV, tent, hammocks, etc)
- Plan for your kids to play in the dirt. For your family, this may mean that you bring more clothing to stay clean, or less clothing and just let them be dirty.
- Check the weather and plan accordingly. Camping during a summer rainstorm can still be fun if you have shelter and warmth – kids love playing in the rain! Additionally, plan for your sun and bug protection.
- Plan for your pets. Many campgrounds allow pets but call ahead to be sure. And don’t forget a spot for your pet to sleep, extra water, and pet food. Depending on your kids and your pets, it may be easier for new campers to leave the pets out of your early camping trips until you are more comfortable.
- Enlist an experienced friend! If you’re hesitant about camping with kids, find a friend or family with experience and plan a trip with them! They can help with logistics, gear, and camping knowledge.
Favorite Camping Recipes
- Campfire Burritos
- Reese’s PB Smores
- Crunchy Bag Tacos
- Fruity Campfire Cones
- Stuffed French Bread Pizza Hoagie
- Hot Iron Ham & Cheese Sammy
- Teddy on the Trail Mix
- Apple Skillet Fries
- Sunny Morning Bag Omelets
Elevate your campfire cookery with the Pudgie Pie Revolution Cookbook! It’s pie iron cookin’ for food-lovin’ campers! Follow along on Facebook.
Time to play your trip!
All that’s left is to do it! Find a great spot, pack your gear, and head out! Reader recommendations and special picks for the best kid-friendly campgrounds in Wisconsin from our friends at RV There Yet? are below!
RV There Yet? Our Camping Adventures is a Facebook group led by Jillian Burgess, an Oshkosh mom, to share camping trips, favorite products, tricks, and more!
North Wisconsin Campgrounds
- Evergreen Campground
RV There Yet Review: This is one of the best campgrounds for kids in Wisconsin. Very family-friendly, with activities including: a giant jumping pillow, a beautiful sandy beach with inflatables, a splash pad, and pools! They even have a separate kiddie pool and splash pad. They also have some of the best pizza which they will deliver right to your campsite! Bonus — have you ever been to a campground with an adult-only swim-up bar?! Now you can!
- Evergreen Campground, W5449 Archer Ln, Wild Rose, Wisconsin
- Grand Valley Campground
Located in the heart of Amish Country. Large heated swimming pool and swim pond.
Laci, “We had our very first camping trip last summer here, and had a wonderful time. Very clean, friendly staff, lots of activities for the kids, and weekend events.”
- Grand Valley Campground, W5855 County Road Bh, Dalton, Wisconsin
Northeast Wisconsin Campgrounds
- Fremont Jellystone RV Resort & Campground
Recognized as some of the best family campgrounds, this Jellystone park is on the 990 acre Partridge Lake where joins the famous Wolf River and lots of fishing. Waterpark, waterslides, outdoor theater, and more make this a great location for camping with kids in Wisconsin.
- Fremont Jellystone RV Resort & Campground, E6506 WI-110, Fremont, Wisconsin
- Frontier Wilderness
Right in the middle of the peninsula with an indoor pool and easy access to beaches and Door County amenities.
- Staci, “Frontier Wilderness in Egg Harbor! We took our 3 kids last year for the first time and they loved it! Can’t wait to go back!”
- More things to Do:
- Frontier Wilderness, 4375 Hillside Rd, Egg Harbor, Wisconsin (Door County)
- Harbor Village
Door County’s largest water park.
- More things to Do:
- Harbor Village, 5840 WI-42, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin (Door County)
- Hartman Creek State Park
- RV There Yet Review: Beautiful campground area that is quiet and family-friendly. We love camping here in the fall; the colors are gorgeous. Small play area by the lake, many trails. You can fish, bike, hike, and spend the day outside having a great time.
- Hartman Creek State Park, Hartman Creek Rd, Waupaca, Wisconsin
- High Cliff State Park
Wisconsin State Park with beautiful hiking and biking, located on Lake Winnebago.
- High Cliff State Park, N7630 State Park Rd, Sherwood, Wisconsin
- Peninsula State Park
A Wisconsin State Park loved by many in the heart of Door County. Beautiful trails overlook the bluffs.
- “Great traditional camping.”
- More things to Do:
- Peninsula State Park, 9462 Shore Rd, Fish Creek, Wisconsin (Door County)
- Pine Grove Campground
- RV There Yet Review: Family-friendly campground that has a nice sandy swim beach and a large pool with a separate kiddie pool/ splash area. The pool even has (fake) palm trees for a tropical vibe! They have 200+ wooded campsites, cabins, gameroom, bounce house, golf cart rentals, and so much more! Large playground for fun for all ages. We had a great time!!
- Pine Grove Campground, N5999 Campground Road, Shawano, Wisconsin
- Point Beach State Forest
Enjoy this Wisconsin State Park with 6-mile long sandy beach on Lake Michigan for good old-fashioned, traditional camping.
- Door County KOA
This is the first campground as you enter Door County and is housed on 51 acres of wooded seclusion.
- More things to Do:
- Door County KOA, 9245 Lovers Ln, Brussels, Wisconsin (Door County)
- Timber Trails Campground
The campground is on the Ahnapee State Trail which connects to Sturgeon Bay, about 17 miles away. Enjoy a heated pool or a short walk to The Ahnapee River for great fishing, kayaking, and canoeing.
- Amy, “They always have family activities on the weekends, a heated pool, and large play area!”
- Timber Trails Campground, N8326 Co Rd M, Algoma, Wisconsin
South Central Wisconsin Campgrounds
- Devil’s Lake State Park
- Enjoy breathtaking views from 500-foot quartzite bluffs overlooking a 360-acre lake.
- Devil’s Lake State Park, S5975 Park Rd, Baraboo, Wisconsin
- Fox Hill RV Resort & Campground
- RV There Yet Review: Fox Hill Campground is located 4 miles south of Wisconsin Dells. Nestled in 60 beautiful acres, Fox Hill Campground is centrally located to all the great local Wisconsin Dells attractions. They have RV sites for all sizes of campers and motorhomes as well as beautiful cottages! They just put in an EPIC, gorgeous swim area. It is a must-see!
- Fox Hill RV Resort & Campground, E11371 North Reedsbird Road, Baraboo, Wisconsin
- Mirror Lake State Park
- RV There Yet Review: “Mirror Lake State Park is named for its centerpiece, a lake which often is so calm that not a ripple marks its surface”. Truly a beautiful state park. Nice walking and hiking. Public showers and restrooms. The nature was breathtaking. A place you can camp and really take in fresh air while relaxing.
- Mirror Lake State Park, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
- Playful Goose of Horicon Marsh
Located on the Rock River and close to the Horicon Marsh and a fantastic place to observe Canadian Geese, Eagles, rare Herons, and Egrets.
- Leanna, “They have an indoor pool and lake.”
- Playful Goose of Horicon Marsh, 2001 Main St, Horicon, Wisconsin
- Riverbend Resort
Waterpark with two 300 foot water slides, kiddie pool, outdoor whirlpools, and heated pool. All sites have water and electricity.
- Sarah, “Pretty large water park/activity area.”
- Riverbend Resort, W6940 Rubidell Rd, Watertown, Wisconsin
- Vista Royalle Campground
- Lindsay, “Vista Royalle is a wonderful family campground.”
- Vista Royalle Campground, 8025 Isherwood Rd, Bancroft, Wisconsin
Southeast Wisconsin Campground
- Sun RV Resorts – Fond du Lac East/ Kettle Moraine KOA
103 acres of scenic landscape conveniently located near the Wade House, Ice Age Reserve, and Road America.
- Sun RV Resorts – Fond du Lac East/ Kettle Moraine KOA, 5456 N Division Rd, Glenbeulah, Wisconsin