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  1. #1
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    Default Camping Around the Big Theme Parks of the US

    Public campgrounds are everywhere, including inside cities and counties. There are even a few near to your favorite theme parks (such as the Disney, Six Flags, and Busch Garden parks). Unfortunately, they aren't right next door to those theme parks, reducing their appeal for those who wish to use their tent or RV while enjoying a day or two at a theme park. Most of the time, they are at least 10-20 miles away (or more).

    Then there is the transportation factor. Most public campgrounds are sequestered away from public transportation, so it's more difficult to catch a bus or commuter train to the theme park. They are also usually not served by the transportation company of the theme park (such as the Disney buses in Orlando, or the Anaheim Resort Transportation System in California.) If you have a towed-car or a tow-vehicle, you can take your car and leave your sleeping rig behind. If you are in a tent, well, you therefore have a way to get to the parks.

    Lastly, there is the parking issue and resulting fees. Most of the parks that I have researched (and enjoyed) have a parking fee involved. Many of them have gone to a parking structure in order to hold more cars in the same acreage. Parking ranges from $15 up to about $25 per day, for a CAR. If you are trying to park a motorhome or other extra-large vehicle, you will pay more than that. When you start adding the cost of the extra gas (between the public campground and the park) and then the parking fee, perhaps a commercial RV park or campground that is closer, or even on site, starts to look like a better bargain. Perhaps you can completely ignore the parking fees and just park your vehicle/s for the days you are there and ride public transportation!

    But for those who really want to stay away from the crowds and the theme park mindset, these lists will be provided for the main theme park areas: Anaheim, CA; Orlando, FL; San Diego, CA; Santa Clara, CA; Vallejo CA; Tampa, FL; Titusville, FL; Williamsburg, VA; Hershey, PA; Cedar Point, OH, Chicago; St Louis, and a few in Texas. Others may be added as time permits.

    We'll start with California.
    Last edited by DonnaR57; 09-14-2019 at 06:54 PM. Reason: fixed grammar

  2. #2
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    Default Public Campgrounds around California Theme Parks

    ORANGE COUNTY, CA: ANAHEIM (Disneyland Resort, Knotts Berry Farm, etc)

    Bolsa Chica State Beach, Huntington Beach
    Note: This campground is about 23 miles from Disneyland Resort.
    Crystal Cove State Park, Moro Campgrounds, Laguna Beach
    Crystal Cove State Park, Upper and Lower Campgrounds, Laguna Beach
    Note: The Crystal Cove Campgrounds are all about 25 miles from Disneyland Resort.
    O'Neill Regional Park, Arroyo Campground, Trabuco Canyon
    Note: This campground is about 29 miles from Disneyland Resort.



    SAN DIEGO CA (Sea World, Legoland-Carlsbad, San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park)
    Note: San Diego County is large, so note which campgrounds are closest to the park/s you wish to visit.

    South Carlsbad State Beach, Carlsbad
    Note: This is the closest public campground to Legoland.
    Guajome Regional Park, Oceanside
    Note: About 12-15 miles from Legoland, depending on which route you take.
    Dos Picos County Park, Ramona
    Note: At 17 miles via CA-67 and CA-78, this is the closest public campground to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, which is located along CA-78 between Escondido and Ramona. The campground is south of Ramona, and very pretty! The Safari Park charges for parking. Google Map's also recommends taking Highland Valley Rd. out to the Safari Park. In one word: DON'T. I never recommend that road.
    Mission Trails Regional Park, Kumeyaay Lake Campground, San Diego
    Note: This is the closest public campground to both Sea World (13 mi) and the San Diego Zoo (10 mi). BTW, that's pronounced “Koo-me-yi”. It's one of the local native tribes. BTW, the Zoo does not charge for parking, but Sea World certainly does!
    Santee Lakes City Park, Santee
    Note: A little further out than the previous campground, for Sea World (17 mi) and the Zoo (18 mi). But highly recommended, and very popular.
    Lake Jennings County Park, Lakeside/El Cajon
    Note: Just off I-8 at the Lake Jennings Road exit, it's further out than Mission Trails or Santee Lakes, but very peaceful. It's 24 mi from the Zoo, and 25 mi from SeaWorld.


    SANTA CLARITA/CASTAIC (Six Flags Magic Mountain)

    Oak Flat Campground, Angeles NF, Castaic
    Note: BYO Water. No rigs over 18'. About 17 miles from SFMM. VERY primitive.
    Lake Piru Recreation Area, Piru
    Note: About 22 miles from Six Flags Magic Mountain.
    Chuchupate Campground, Frazier Park
    Note: BYO Water. Better note that it's about 47 miles from SFMM.


    VALLEJO, CA (Six Flags Discovery Kingdom)

    Benicia State Recreation Area, Benicia
    Note: Very limited primitive camping only for self-contained vehicles; no tents. No reservations taken. On a good note, it's only 7-1/2 miles from SFDK!
    China Camp State Park, San Rafael
    Note: The good news – there are a few RV spots “for 1 night only” but no reservations are available. Tent spots are all walk-in only. Bad news? It's 32 miles from SFDK.



    Next post will contain theme parks in the Eastern section of the US.

    Donna
    Last edited by DonnaR57; 09-14-2019 at 02:05 PM.

  3. #3
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    Default better and more complete!

    Wow! This resource just keeps on getting better and more complete!

    Mark

  4. #4
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    Default

    Google Maps also recommends taking Highland Valley Rd. out to the Safari Park. In one word: DON'T. I never recommend that road.
    Take CA-67 into Ramona, then CA-78 to the park. Even CA-78 can be a handful with a large vehicle.

  5. #5
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    Default

    Google Maps' first recommendation was just that, glc: CA-67 to CA-78. Their secondary recommendation was Highland Valley Road. I've been forced to use that road before, when the 67 was closed and so was the 78 (at the same time). Oy vey, you prayed that you wouldn't come up to a blind curve and have a semi trying to come the other way at you! It's bad enough on the 78, but with all the fixes over the past few years, it's not quite so bad.

    This thread started as a result of a lunchtime conversation in the staff room at work....where to stay around Disneyland (both for lodging and for RV'ers), and avoiding the high price of the RV park at WDW in Orlando. Unfortunately, it just might be a lot less expensive in the long run to park your rig at Fort Wilderness and take the Disney transportation everywhere. No fuel, no extra parking fees.


    Donna

  6. #6
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    Default Florida

    ORLANDO, FL ( Walt Disney World, Sea World, Universal Studios, Legoland)

    Bill Frederick Park, City of Orlando
    Note: About 11 miles from WDW.

    Lake Louisa State Park, Clermont
    Note: About 17 miles to WDW.

    Moss Park, Orange County Parks, Orlando
    Note: About 28 miles from WDW.

    Wekiwa Springs State Park, Orlando
    Note: About 33 miles from WDW.

    Kelly Park/Rock Springs Campground, Orange County Parks, Apopka
    Note: About 35 miles from WDW.


    CAPE CANAVERAL/TITUSVILLE, FL (Kennedy Space Center)
    Note: KSC is not a theme park, it's a working place with much history. However, many people include a trip to Cape Canaveral when visiting the Orlando Theme Park area, so it's included here for those.

    Hal Scott Regional Preserve and Park, Orange County Parks, Orlando
    Note: About 32 miles from KSC. Also, 30 miles from WDW.


    TAMPA, FL (Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Adventure Island Tampa)

    Hillsborough River State Park, Thonotosasse
    Note: About 15-16 miles from BGTB and Adventure Island.


    We will travel further north in our next listings.

  7. #7
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    Default Georgia and Virginia

    ATLANTA, GA (Six Flags Over Georgia)


    Sweetwater Creek State Park, Lithia Springs
    Note: It's a mere 7 or 8 miles to SFOG.



    WILLIAMSBURG, VA (Colonial Williamsburg, Busch Gardens Williamsburg)

    Newport News Municipal Park & Campground, Newport News
    Note: About 7 miles from BGW, 15 miles from CW. This is your best bet, if you can get in.

    Chippokes Plantation State Park, Surry
    Note: You'll spend an hour getting to BGW. It's 17.7 miles the short way, but you'll have to wait for the ferry. Or go the long way around, at 50 miles. It's not much easier to get to CW. Fortunately, it IS a free ferry (at this time), and goes across the James River regularly, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. Check the ferry's website by clicking here for details.


    HERSHEY, PA

    Note: There were no known public campgrounds within 30 miles of Hershey, PA, the home of Hershey Park.


    We will move a little further west in the next post.

  8. #8
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    Default Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri

    SANDUSKY, OH (Cedar Point)

    East Harbor State Park, Lakeside-Marblehead
    Note: About 18.5 miles to Cedar Point.



    CHICAGO, IL (Six Flags Great America, Brookfield Zoo)

    Illinois Beach State Park, Zion
    Note: About 10 miles from SFGA. About 50 miles from the Zoo.




    ST LOUIS/EUREKA, MO (Six Flags Over Mid-America)

    Greensfelder Park, St Louis County Parks, Pacific
    Note: It's rare, a public campground less than 3 miles from a theme park!

    Robertsville State Park, Robertsville
    Note: About 16 miles from SFOMA.


    BRANSON, MO (Silver Dollar City and many theaters!)

    Table Rock State Park
    Note: About 8 miles from Silver Dollar City.


    NORTH KANSAS CITY, MO (Worlds of Fun)

    Crow's Creek Campground, Clay County Parks, Smithville
    Note: About 21 miles from WoF.

    Jacomo Campground, Jackson County Parks, Lee's Summit
    Note: About 24 miles from WoF.

    Watkins Mill State Park Campground, Kearney
    Note: About 25 miles from Worlds of Fun.

    Still to come...Texas!
    Last edited by DonnaR57; 09-15-2019 at 04:45 PM. Reason: added Worlds of Fun KC MO

  9. #9
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    Default Texas!

    ARLINGTON, TX (Six Flags Over Texas)

    Loyd Park at Joe Pool Lake, Grand Prairie
    Note: About 12-16 miles from SFOTx.


    SAN ANTONIO, TX (Six Flags Fiesta, Sea World, The Alamo, Riverwalk)
    Note: The Alamo and Riverwalk aren't really theme parks, but if you're sightseeing in San Antonio, you may need this information.

    Government Canyon State Natural Area
    Note: About 15 miles from SFF.


    HOUSTON, TX (Grand Texas, plus Johnson Space Center)
    Note: Johnson Space Center, like Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is not a theme park. However, those who visit Houston for Grand Texas Theme Park may wish to spend a day at Johnson Space Center, a working facility with a lot of history, a nice museum and a couple of good tours to choose from.

    Lake Houston Wilderness Park, City of Houston Parks Dept.
    Note: This would serve well for Grand Texas, but not for NASA.

    Dave Braun Park at Nassau Bay, City of Nassau Bay
    Note: This would serve well for NASA, but not for Grand Texas.



    In the next listing, we'll go back and pick up some other places we haven't mentioned yet....



    Donna

  10. #10
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    Default Going east to New York and then south to Balto/DC

    BUFFALO, NY (Six Flags Darien Lake)

    Darien Lake State Park, Darien Center
    Note: Only 5-1/2 miles from SFDL!


    BALTIMORE/DC (Six Flags America)

    Greenbelt Park, NPS, Maryland
    Note: At this time, the campground is closed and will not open until Spring, 2020. About 12-14 miles from SFA in Bowie, MD.


    And we'll head west again in the next post....

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