A group of friends set up camp on a beach

Long Island’s Best Campsites

Explore the numerous options for surprisingly high-quality camping on Long Island, whether it’s beachside sites, proximity to the endless attractions of New York City, or even cozier glamping grounds.

If you were to travel from Montauk Point Lighthouse, sitting above the Atlantic Ocean, back to the banks of New York Harbor, looking across at the Manhattan skyline, it would be about 120 miles—Long Island isn’t a huge swath of land. But within that distance, you could find so many different communities, types of terrain, and various backyard adventures to constantly be making new outdoor discoveries. 

Even among Long Island’s small cities, crisscrossing highways, train tracks and sports venues, you might be surprised at the amount of high-quality camping available. Simply put, there is no shortage of opportunities to pitch a tent in a quiet patch, build yourself a campfire and enjoy hanging out with the family. And while you’re not scaling any 14ers or traversing backcountry, there are two ways to look at camping on Long Island. 

First, it’s an escape: disconnecting from the world to just be with your friends in a reasonably quiet woodland or on one of the multiple coastlines. Or, camping is simply an affordable way to travel around New York and experience this dynamic metro area. Here are a few of the island’s best options for fulfilling both those needs and camping close to the city, in comfort, or in the woods and on the beaches. 

Closest To The City Camping

From your tent, you could potentially hop a bus to the No. 2 MTA train and 40 minutes later be seated at one of the outdoor café tables watching the sights of Little Italy. A few more minutes on the train and you might hit a Yankee game, take a walk through the Museum of Ice Cream, catch a show at Radio City Music Hall, or just enjoy a fresh slice of pie or a delicatessen sandwich and cruise around the Lower East Side. Public transit tip: You can ride all NYC subways and buses by buying a Metrocard, which will be accepted through 2023 when it is replaced by the contactless OMNY (One Metro New York) system.

Gateway National Recreation Area Camp Gateway

Brooklyn — Tent, Cabin, Yurt and RV Camping

Camp Gateway’s Floyd Bennett Field Campground is probably the closest actual camping to the heart of NYC. This wooded habitat and the adjacent Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is an important flyway for migratory birds. 

Bennett Field was New York’s first municipal airport and was a Naval Air station in World War II, since converted to 1,300 acres of recreational opportunity in the literal shadow of a city of 8.3 million people. Campers have good access to kayaking in Jamaica Bay and can step back in time at the onsite Historic Aircraft Restoration Project (HARP), a hangar where volunteers rebuild vintage aircrafts to their original glory. More info: recreation.gov

Battle Row Campground

Old Bethpage — Tent and RV Camping

Battle Row is a simple campground that is about one hour to the city, even closer to the outer boroughs. So, if you’re a city family looking for open space this weekend or visiting New York on a budget, this has good proximity to the action. Battle Row offers 64 sites, restrooms and private showers on 44 acres. Get lost and back to nature in these wooded forests. Battle Row is also a favorite of organizations and groups who want to plan big annual outings (local discounts apply with your Nassau County Leisure Pass card). More info: nassaucountyny.gov  

Beach and glacial boulders at Wildwood State Park, Long Island, NY

Beach Camping

Long Island is, to state the obvious, an island. So lean into the geography here with your chances for open space offered by the miles of coastline. Long Island has a lot of it, from the serene North Shore facing Long Island Sound to the south, facing the Atlantic Ocean. With beach camping, keep in mind excess wind and sun. Consider extra canopies for sun protection. And park your car, truck or RV in a position to block your tent or cooking area from coastal winds—plus keep backpacks with your sleeping bags and ground covers in the tent as extra weight can keep it from blowing away.

Wildwood State Park

Wading River — Cottage, Tent and RV Camping

This spot is a gem for a variety of family recreation activities, but more so for being 600 acres of protected woods on a bluff over Long Island Sound. It has everything you would want for a summer camp excursion: swimming, paddling, fishing and 12 miles of hiking, along with the usual ball fields. The campground boasts 10 sweet little cottages that sleep six people each and have a fire ring and screened in patio, available well into November. There are two miles of beaches with lifeguards. Fishing is permitted outside those designated swimming areas. More info: parks.ny.gov

Nickerson Beach Park

Lido Beach — Tent and RV Camping

For being such a densely populated state and shoreline, New York sure offers a lot of beachfront camping. Nickerson Beach Park is not too far from NYC, and a standout of the Nassau County Parks system, playing host to the kid- and beginner-friendly Skudin Surf Camp, run by New York natives/global big-wave surfers, Cliff and Will Skudin. With 74 sites on 155 acres that include ball fields and a skateboard park, the real draw is the beachfront, a state favorite for swimming, surfing and fishing. More info: liparks.com

Cedar Point County Park

East Hampton — Tent and RV Camping

The Hamptons, on the East End of Long Island, have become a famously expensive destination where NYC comes to the beach for the weekend or the summer. Most of us can’t afford it…unless we’re camping. 

Cedar Point is a pleasant campground with 184 simple sites. But it’s just a 10-minute walk to the fantastic beaches of Northwest Harbor and Gardiner’s Bay. In addition, there’s some great hiking and a new picnic/barbecue area.

Hither Hills State Park

Montauk — Tent, Cabins and RV Camping

This is truly the campground for the beach lover. Smell the salt air and the catch of the day cooking on your neighbor’s grill at this oceanfront campground on the Atlantic Ocean-facing side of Montauk Peninsula. This stretch, which includes Lee Koppelman County Park, features awesome hiking and biking trails through coastal woods and some elevation gain toward Napeague Bay to the north. Surfers love the consistent wave energy and surf fishermen arrive when the bite is on. More info: parks.ny.gov

Heckscher State Park 

East Islip — Tent, Cabins and RV Camping

Heckscher State Park isn’t on the ocean but rather on the Great South Bay, looking across the bay at the barrier island and Fire Island National Seashore. If you are lucky, you can nab one of the 15 very cool, contemporary-designed cabins that look out at the beach and the bay. The 1,600 acres includes four miles of paved, multi-use trails for bicycles, walking and nature hiking as well as shaded picnic groves. More info: parks.ny.gov 

Getting Back To Nature Camping

Part of the appeal of camping is getting out of your house, out of town and putting yourself among the trees, fresh air, night sky, and bodies of water. It’s about waking up to the smells and sounds of nature—and look, there goes a deer! Here’s where you can immerse yourself in nature and all its impromptu wildlife encounters.

Peconic River Campground

Calverton — Tent Camping

If you’re looking to get out and really feel enveloped in nature on Long Island, Peconic River Campground might be your spot. First off, it’s primarily for “rustic” tent camping. Peconic occasionally accommodates small campers, but won’t feel like you’re in an RV Park. There are no “sites,” and you are invited to find your own spot to set up camp.

Named for the Penconic, Long Island’s longest river amid the Central Long Island Pine Barrens, it’s a quieter campground with the emphasis on nature where you can fish, launch a canoe or kayak and then pitch your tent among the wilderness. More info: peconicrivercampgrounds.com

Not Really Roughin’ It Camping

Cedar Point Safari Tent Glamping

East Hampton — Safari Tent Rental

Hey, this is the Hamptons, after all. If you’re not into sleeping on the ground but still want a good dose of nature, check out these furnished safari tents. There are 10 tents with single queen and 2 tents with double comfy queen beds to accommodate four to six people with cots. The tents feature large rain-fly coverings that create a porch, away from rain or sun with two Adirondack chairs.

The tents are all set up on the tree-lined bluff overlooking Northwest Harbor. The center of it all is the Camp Store, where you’ll find necessities, plus volleyball and basketball courts as well as the bonfire pit just outside. It’s still camping, just a bit more civilized. Summer only. More info: lovecedarpt.com

Eastern Long Island Kampground

Greenport — RV, Safari Tent, Yurt, Camper Rental and Cabin Camping

How many campgrounds have a shuttle? The Kamper Transport Vehicle at Eastern Long Island Kampground has a deluxe 15-passenger shuttle bus with TVs, comfy seats and a bathroom.

That’s the kind of service you get at this North Fork Peninsula campground that is all about comfort in the outdoors. In addition to the many RV sites, you can also rent a camper for your family. The safari tents are fully furnished and equipped for luxury living. If you really want to level up, you can rent a yurt with a queen bed, pull-out couch, two flat screen TVs, wifi, AC and heat, plus full kitchen. Their cedar-shake cabins are essentially a hotel suite in the woods. And it’s all very close to the historic seaside village of Greenport. More info: elikampground.com

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.