Don’t run out to buy a tent if you don’t know that you’ll enjoy camping and take it up as a regular pastime. Novices who don’t own a full kit of gear can still treat their gang (dog included) to a “soft camping” family adventure. Here are five suggestions for easing your way—sans tent—into America’s favorite summer pastime:
• San Francisco/Petaluma North KOA: Bring your RV or rent a dog-friendly cabin and find out why this campground, with 312 sites on 70 acres, is rated one of the best in the West. Canine-centric amenities include a dog park and agility course, while for humans, there’s a swimming pool and full schedule of activities.
• Casini Ranch Family Campground, Duncans Mills, Sonoma County: This 110-acre private campground is strung out along a meandering mile of the deep-green Russian River. Bring your tent or RV, and your kayak or canoe and enjoy amenities including hot showers, a social hall, general store, movie nights, beach bonfires and hayrides.
• Santa Cruz/Monterey KOA, Watsonville, Monterey County: At this award-winning, dog-welcoming KOA just a mile inland from the coast, guests can choose an RV site, a tent site, an Airstream trailer rental or a cabin that provides shelter while you provide the sleeping bags. Kids get a bounce house and swimming pool; dogs get a playground and a pet bath. You can even have pizza delivered to your site.
• Coloma Resort & RV Park, El Dorado County: This family resort strung out along the American River in the heart of Gold Country (Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park is just across the bridge) offers tent sites, RV sites, dog-friendly tent sites and pet-welcoming hard-sided cabins. Don’t forget inner tubes and gold pans!
• Yosemite Pines Resort, Groveland, Tuolumne County: Just 22 miles from Yosemite National Park, this popular base camp for visitors has dog-friendly cabins and tent sites. A big swimming pool, petting farm and even a gold mine are among the amenities.
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Photo Credit: Sara Jo Martin