Getting out in the wilderness is great and all, but every once in a while, you need a little taste of city life. There are way too many amazing U.S destinations to forego urban destinations entirely, even for the outdoorsiest among us.
Of course, you could always go the traditional route: fly into your destination, arrive in a big, crowded airport, and find your way through the maze of city streets to an overpriced hotel room. But you can also experience the city life from the comfort and convenience of your travel trailer or motorhome — and we’re not talking about just parking on a city street, crossing your fingers, and hoping for the best (though some RVers have certainly done so with not-terrible results.)
So if you’re in the mood to conquer a concrete jungle, don’t go hanging up your RV keys quite yet. Here are a few surprisingly simple solutions if you’re wondering, “Where’s the best urban RV camping near me?”
Hassle-Free Urban Camping
Although the term “RV park” readily brings to mind a forest-covered stretch tucked away from the city’s hustle, there are plenty of resorts that exist within urban boundaries. Don’t get us wrong, they’re not free… but for a few days in the city within easy proximity of attractions or mass transit, they may just be worth it.
Choose an urban RV resort.
No, it’s not an oxymoron! There are actually quite a few RV campgrounds and resorts that are situated right in, or very nearby, big city centers. For example, if you’re looking to explore the Big Apple while calling your motorhome home, you’ll want to check out Liberty Harbor RV Park, which is situated just 15 minutes from the heart of NYC in Jersey City, New Jersey. You can get into town on the train or ferry, and even better, you’ll have a relatively quiet, calm place to retreat to once you’ve had enough of city life… which, let’s be frank, can happen pretty quickly in Manhattan
Liberty Harbor isn’t the only urban RV resort — far from it! Here are a few more reputable RV campgrounds that are within a stone’s throw of major metropoles.
- Campland on the Bay, Mission Beach, San Diego
- Mission Bay RV Resort — San Diego is apparently a hot spot for urban campers!
- Candlestick RV Park, San Francisco
- St. Louis RV Park
- Miami Everglades RV Resort
- Austin Lone Star RV Resort
Although not all cities have these sorts of resorts available, it’s definitely worth scoping out ahead of time, since it’s a totally-hassle-free, comfortable, and convenient solution. Of course, big city livin’ comes at big city prices, so be prepared for many of these campgrounds to charge $100 a night or more.
Alternative Urban Camping Tips
Headed to a place that doesn’t have a nifty urban RV resort like the ones above — or just not into paying those premium per-night prices?
Here are some alternative RV camping tips if you’re stopping over in a big city for a night or two and need a place to park your camper.
Visitors Centers and Chamber of Commerce Buildings
If your city’s travel bureau has an operant visitors center, the large parking lot may be friendly to overnight RV stays — although it’s always important to check inside and make sure. The same goes for Chamber of Commerce facilities, which need supersized parking lots to handle their municipal duties.
Of course, information on whether or not overnight RV parking is allowed may or may not be available on the organization’s website. We recommend calling ahead of time to confirm, just to make sure you don’t end up you-know-where without a paddle.
Casinos, Resort Hotels, and Convention Centers
If you’re headed to a city that’s a major gathering spot, chances are they have some super-sized hotels and convention centers with ample parking. These facilities may or may not allow overnight RV parking, and some may charge a fee… but it’s also not unheard of for a hotel to offer hookup RV sites within convenient distance to city attractions. (For a fee, of course.)
For example, Jason and Nikki Wynn of Gone with the Wynns were able to explore urban Chicago (which they were visiting for a music festival) by parking their RV at McCormick Place, the largest convention center in North America. They paid $22 per night plus an $8 reservation fee for a total of $30 per night — which isn’t nothing, especially for dry camping. But they were also within easy biking or public transit access to just about everything they wanted to do while they were there.
Casinos are another solid option if you’re in an area that allows them, and many even have parking areas set aside specifically for RVs. You may even end up with a meal voucher or other incentive to get you to go inside and gamble. Bet at your own risk… but definitely take them up on the free meal.
Plain Old Parking Lots and Garages
Yes, you may actually be able to park your motorhome or travel trailer in a paid city lot — though length and height limits will, obviously, apply. And considering that parking a regular car in these lots can be prohibitively expensive, expect to dish out for the privilege of keeping your camper there overnight.
On the other hand, city lots do sometimes feature 24-hour security, which can be a real boon when you’re camping in an urban location. There’s also, however, noise to consider… if the lots are open all night, chances are cars will be going in and out, which may be difficult to deal with if you’re a light sleeper.
General RV Camping Tips for City Living
Urban camping is a fun alternative adventure to the traditional RV camping life, which usually involves getting as far away from the rush of city living as possible. But if you are going to tackle an urban destination, here are some general tips to help keep you happy in the midst of the city’s chaos.
Light sleeper? Bring earplugs.
No matter where in the city you camp, chances are, it’s gonna be noisy — and as most RVers know, these vehicles generally lack the sound insulation you get in a sticks-and-bricks home. Sleeping well is absolutely essential to not hating your waking hours, so if you’re a light sleeper, toss some earplugs onto your packing list… or maybe consider upgrading to a white noise machine.
Try to avoid driving, if you can.
One-way streets, crazy city traffic, a veritable orchestra of honking horns… driving in the city is just plain no fun, no matter how you slice it. Which is exactly why you want to try to find a campsite that’s close enough to the action that you can get there by bike, public transit, or on foot.
Save cash by eating at home.
One of the very best parts of RVing is your ability to make your favorite meals on the road, thanks to your built-in kitchen. And while you’ll obviously want to splurge on a few local delicacies, cities have a way of — excuse the pun — eating through your travel budget quickly, so saving some coin by cooking breakfast and lunch at home is a great way to make it through without too bad of a case of sticker shock!
How to Find the Best RV Sites No Matter Where You Are
No matter where you’re headed, if you’re a fairly serious RVer (or even just someone who takes a trip a few times a year), we highly recommend investing in a Passport America membership. It’s true, there are plenty of discount camping club memberships to choose from, so what makes this one different? Well, for less than $50 per year, you’ll get 50% off your campsite accommodation fees at almost 1900 campgrounds across the country, including some in urban locales as well as those further afield. Especially when you’re talking about big city pricing, that discount can pay for itself in the space of a single weekend — and plus, it’s a really great way to learn about campgrounds that might not otherwise have been on your radar. For more information and to sign up for your own Passport America membership today, click here!
Whether you’re after big-city adventure or a lower-key off-grid trip, we’re here to help make your RV vacation absolutely perfect at every step along the way — and we can’t wait to hear about the results!
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