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AAA World | Travel Inspiration
3 Things: Surprising Places to Camp in the US


Governors Island, New York

This distinctive nature retreat on 172-acre Governors Island is located in the East River between lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. Collective Retreats describes the experience as “camping,” but other than the natural surroundings, there’s nothing about this getaway that qualifies as roughing it. The Summit Tents feature a private waterfront deck, a king or two twin beds, and an indoor bathroom. If you prefer a cabin, an Outlook Shelter may be a better fit with its king bed, private bathroom, and private terraces offering views of the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan. Heating and air conditioning, electricity, high-speed internet and in-tent breakfast are included.
HarborPhotos courtesy of Collective Retreat
You can enjoy live music outdoors on Sunset Terrace, gourmet dining options, and lawn sports such as croquet and bocce. Governors Island has a rich history stretching from the indigenous Lenape tribe to the US Army and Coast Guard, which had a military base here until 1996. Today, the island has residences as well as parks with historical monuments and art exhibits that can be explored with or without a guide. Unwind at QC NY, a European-style spa with outdoor pools, a sauna, a steam room and other water therapies. Collective Retreats’ guests receive preferred access and discounts.
Ingalls Homestead DeSmet00143Photo courtesy of Travel South Dakota

De Smet, South Dakota
You may not have been around to experience life as the pioneers did, but a stay at the historic Ingalls Homestead can help you to imagine what it was like. The land was once the home of the family of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House on the Prairie children’s book series. Books five through seven highlight the author’s later childhood and adolescent years spent in the De Smet area, making this a one-of-a-kind family destination.
Camp on the prairie in period-appropriate accommodations: a covered wagon or a bunkhouse. Large wagons that sleep up to five people feature a full-size mattress and three sleeping mats. Smaller wagons sleep up to three with one double-size mat and one single floor mat. Both sizes of wagon come complete with electricity, screened windows, fans and campfire rings. The bunkhouse is a one-room building that sleeps up to six and includes electricity, a refrigerator, a microwave and a campfire ring. Traditional tent and RV camping are also available with shared bathrooms and showers for tent campers as well as electric and water hookups for RVs.

During your stay, try your hand at old-fashioned chores such as hay twisting, wheat grinding, and laundering clothes with a washboard and pail. You can also visit the authentic one-room school to hear stories of the era.
Laura Ingalls WilderPhoto courtesy of Travel South Dakota

Flora, Indiana

This second-generation family farm owned by Tim and Beth Sheets was a cattle farm in its earlier incarnation. Today, Heritage Farm has more than 70 alpacas in addition to chickens, 5 goats, a black lab named Juno and many barn cats. Start the day by collecting eggs for breakfast from the chicken coop. Later on, you can take part in activities such as walking with the alpacas, UTV rides with Farmer Tim, hay rides, zip-lining and hiking.

When the day is done, relax in one of several accommodations. The Heritage Farmhouse—complete with modern amenities such as indoor bathrooms, central air conditioning, a gas fireplace, TV and Wi-Fi—accommodates up to 11 guests. The 1850s cabin, which features an indoor bathroom with shower, accommodates up to six. Amenities include a gas grill, hammock, wood-fired oven, refrigerator and microwave.

AlpacaPhoto courtesy of Tim Sheets/Heritage Farms
Those who prefer a more traditional camping experience can elect to stay in the Tree Tent, which sleeps up to six on two levels, at three feet and six feet off the ground. There’s also a creek-side site where you can pitch your own tent and an RV site by the big red barn.

Your visit to Heritage Farm isn’t complete until you purchase a pair of socks made from the alpacas’ fleece—and maybe a sweater and hat to match.