Michigan offers some of the best campgrounds in the Midwest. If you’re planning a camping trip with the family, here’s a roundup of the best family-friendly campgrounds in Michigan. We’re also sharing some of our favorite places to camp, as well as some tips about camping in Michigan.
Best Family-Friendly Campgrounds in Michigan
I may be slightly biased, but I think Michigan has some of the most beautiful state parks and forests in the U.S. Although I wouldn’t consider myself an avid camper, our family has discovered some of the best family-friendly campgrounds in Michigan.
Not only can you find numerous public and private places to camp in Michigan, but you can visit many of these year-round (if you enjoy the snow!). Regardless of your family’s camping interests and preferences, there’s a Michigan campground for you.
We’re going to cover the best time to camp in Michigan, the difference between camping in state parks versus state forests, and what you should look for in a family-friendly campground.
Then, I’ll introduce you to my list of great family campgrounds in Michigan for families of all sizes, ages, and interests. You’ll soon discover that Michigan’s natural beauty is beyond compare.
When is the Best Time to Camp in Michigan?
Although you can technically camp almost all year round in Michigan, that doesn’t mean all months are ideal.
According to Beth Gauper from Midwest Weekends, the best time to camp in Michigan during the summer is mid-July through August, especially if you’re planning a trip to the Upper Peninsula.
The reason being, “In June, black flies can make camping miserable, especially in the Upper Peninsula,” explains Beth. That’s a good enough reason for me!
Camping around Lake Huron and the other lakes on the Upper Peninsula may also reduce mosquitos since there is often a breeze across the waters. If bugs are a deal-breaker for you, consider state parks around these areas.
State Park vs. State Forest Campgrounds
If you’re new to searching for great family campgrounds in Michigan, it’s important to know the differences between state parks and state forest campgrounds.
The most significant advantage that state parks have over state forests (at least in my opinion) is the amenities they offer and how accessible they are throughout the year. For less experienced campers, state parks are the way to go.
In terms of amenities, most Michigan state parks provide access to electricity, water, and restrooms. There are also more family-friendly activities to check out, and you can rent cabins, tents, and even RVs.
In contrast, Michigan state forests are much more rugged. There is no electricity, and outhouses are available instead of restrooms. Additionally, you can only access water through a hand well.
When planning a family camping trip in Michigan, state parks are also easier to reserve in advance. You can conveniently book select campgrounds online, although grounds are usually more crowded.
Michigan state forests are open year-round, but they are first-come, first-serve. So while campgrounds are generally more spread out, there is a chance that you could arrive at a full site and have to make alternate accommodations.
What Should I Look For in a Family-Friendly Campground?
Types of Lodging
If you’re like me, you probably enjoy having some of the comforts of home when taking your family camping. If so, choosing a campground with multiple types of lodging is a way to make everyone the most comfortable. Many Michigan campgrounds offer options like yurts, cabins, and even RV rentals.
The top-rated family campgrounds in Michigan often provide many of the modern comforts of home while bringing everyone closer to the beauty of nature. If you have young children, I suggest choosing areas with kid-friendly activities, accessible restrooms, and amenities like running water and electricity. Be sure to check out our camping food list for tips and suggestions on what to bring.
While many Michigan campgrounds offer multiple attractions within their boundaries, you should also take advantage of nearby attractions as well. My family and I enjoyed visiting local restaurants and tourist destinations, which greatly enhanced our overall experience.
9 Family-Friendly Campgrounds in Michigan
Every family’s level of camping experience is very different, so I’ve divided up the best campgrounds in Michigan into several categories. I hope they’ll help you find the perfect destination for your next nature adventure!
Best Campgrounds for Families with Young Kids
There are several Jellystone Parks in Michigan, and South Haven is the most recent addition. If you have small children, this is an ideal choice. The park offers a variety of camping sites for tents and RVs as well as cabins. When the boys were little, staying at a Jellystone Park was number one on our list. We’ve stayed at the South Haven campground quite a few times, and the kids had a blast every single time.
Amenities include free Wi-Fi, on-site laundry, and restrooms/shower facilities. In addition, take advantage of the many free family-friendly activities on the grounds, such as the recreation center, movie nights, and outdoor games.
Often referred to as the “Cape Cod of the Midwest,” Tawas Point is a picturesque park near Lake Huron with plenty to offer the whole family. Children will enjoy splashing and swimming in the warm waters of Tawas Bay, and you’re welcome to bring along the family dog as well.
The Tawas Point Lighthouse is a must-see attraction, and the park is open year-round. Several campgrounds within Tawas Point have restrooms/shower facilities as well as RV hook-ups. You can also reserve several types of cabins and even yurts!
This is another one of our favorite spots to camp in Michigan. The ancient beauty of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is sure to captivate family members of all ages. Located along 35 miles of the eastern coastline of Lake Michigan, the area is filled with unforgettable sites. Hike along the paved Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, enjoy swimming at the beaches and explore the natural beauty of the dunes and forests.
There are several campgrounds within Tawas Point that range from rustic to modern. Electrical hook-ups are available for RVs and pop-ups, and these areas also provide modern restrooms and shower facilities. Online reservation is available.
If you’re searching for the experience of camping in nature without having to “rough it,” look no further than KOA Port Huron. Our family stayed in one of the cabins, and we were impressed with the spacious feel and modern amenities, including Wi-Fi, Cable TV, and a swimming pool.
Port Huron’s KOA also offers several unique activities, such as five different playgrounds for younger children, a disc golf course, and gem mining. You can even go on a train ride! Although I’ve previously camped in a more traditional sense, I strongly preferred this method!
Our boys enjoyed the camp experience at KOA. It’s perfect for families with small kids, tweens, and even teens. With so many fun activities to do at the KOA in Port Huron onsite and offsite, I didn’t hear the words, “I’m bored,” one time. Grant it; we were only there for two nights, which is probably the right amount of time for our tech-loving kids to be away from all their gadgets.
Best Campgrounds in Michigan Families With Tweens and Teens
Tweens and teens in your family will love taking in the majestic view of Tahquamenon’s legendary waterfalls, which are some of the largest east of the Mississippi River.
If your family enjoys hiking, there are several trails to explore within the park. I also love that the trails are accessible to everyone using the park’s track chair. You can also rent rowboats to get a closer view of the falls and enjoy some time on the water.
Several modern campgrounds are available for RV and tent camping, and you can also reserve camper cabins and lodges for a less rustic stay.
Ludington campgrounds are some of the most popular in the state, and it’s easy to see why. The park is filled with various must-see beaches, forests, dunes, and much more. Explore the trails, visit the historic lighthouse, and fish in the tranquil waters of Hamlin Lake and Lake Michigan.
The park offers both rustic and semi-modern campgrounds. RV hook-ups are available, but no electricity is offered at these sites. If you and your family prefer a more modern stay, you can reserve one of the mini-cabins, all of which have electricity.
Lakeport State Park is one of my top choices for camping in Michigan because all campgrounds have electricity, restroom/shower facilities, and parking pads for RVers. There is also a store conveniently located on the grounds that carries souvenirs, essentials, and tasty treats.
Take your family on a treasure hunt along the park’s beaches, which offer metal detecting opportunities. You can also learn from the best through regular nature-based programming offered by experienced naturalists in the area. Finally, cool off in Lake Huron’s waters in the swimming areas.
If you and your family enjoy tent camping in Michigan, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is a wonderful opportunity to get up close and personal with nature. Explore the extensive trails and beaches, and enjoy the tranquil quiet of the woodlands. Derrick and I camped in this area several years ago, and we loved Pictured Rocks. It’s about a 6-hour drive from Lansing, but worth it.
The unique and beautiful sandstone cliffs are a major attraction of the park, and you can take them in with guided boat and kayak tours. Your family can also enjoy several waterfalls and dunes, and your kids can even become Junior Rangers!
Best for RV Camping
Our family has visited Petoskey several times, and I can’t recommend the area enough. I strongly suggest RV camping in one of the park’s three modern campgrounds and bringing your vehicle, if possible.
In addition to exploring the trails, you and your family can also gather Petoskey stones along the numerous beaches. Rent kayaks or standing paddleboards at the concession store and spend a day on the water, and take a dip in the designated swim area along Lake Michigan.
It was challenging to narrow down my list of Michigan’s best family-friendly campgrounds. As you’ve discovered, Michigan has so much natural beauty to offer.
Whether you have young children or teenagers, there are plenty of unforgettable parks and campgrounds to explore as a family. Happy adventuring!