Five family-friendly campgrounds

Camping with children can be difficult at times, sure, but it can also be incredibly rewarding, peaceful even! 

If you’re just getting started, however, it’s hard to know where to begin your adventures. To provide answers, we’ve found the ultimate expert — Kelly Cunningham, author of the Muddy Flowers mom blog and co-founder of Beyond the Tent, a Midwest camping website she runs with her husband Ryan. 

They have five children — ages 14 to 2 — and they’re always on the lookout for places that are fun for the whole family. Here, in Kelly’s words, are the Top 5 campsites for families near the Twin Cities. All are an hour or less from most locations in the metro area. 

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What and why: Rice Creek is a part of the 5,000-acre Chain of Lakes Regional Park Reserve in Anoka County. We love this campground for its awesome beach on Peltier Lake, complete with a water station for young kids and a playground geared towards small children. Every time we’ve visited, the lake and play areas have been exceptionally clean, not overly crowded and each campsite is peacefully tucked into a circle of greenery ideal for free play. Nature programs are held regularly at the campground amphitheater and at nearby Wargo Nature Center, one mile north of the campground. Chomonix Golf Course
is just a mile down the road. 

Where: 7401 Main St., Lino Lakes, 25 minutes north of
the Twin Cities

Information: 651-262-5050,


What and why: In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with any of Minnesota’s state parks. This one is my all-time favorite for our family. The view as you enter into the park is breathtaking. We enjoy walking along the paved trails underneath a canopy of enormous trees. Photographers of all skill levels will enjoy taking family photos along the stunning St. Croix River. A visitor center with exhibits and environmental education programs is open year round.

Where: 39797 Park Trail, Center City, about an hour northeast the Twin Cities 

Information: 651-583-2125,


What and why: I was searching for a list of good family campsites within the Twin Cities when the unusual amenity of a petting zoo at this private campground caught my eye. I was hooked on the idea that my children could feed a pen of goats and then wander back to sit by the evening fire. This is one of the most notable campgrounds we’ve visited in the past few years. Our whole family loved our stay, including chatting with friendly staff and playing in shallow Ham Lake. 

Where: 2400 Constance Blvd., Ham Lake, 30 minutes north of downtown Minneapolis

Information: 763-434-5337,


What and why: Staying close to home is a fun way to experience what it’s like to camp in a tent with young children — and you have the flexibility to go home if it doesn’t go as planned. This Three Rivers District campground, part of the Baker Park Reserve, is near our house and it was a great way to ease our kids into camping. I love the playground, bike paths and beach area, all just steps away from the camping sites near Lake Independence. I recommend loops G and H because the sites have more space in between campers. We make sure to bring our disc golf basket whenever we visit.

Where: 2309 Baker Park Road, Maple Plain, 30 miles west of Minneapolis

Information: 763-694-7662,


What and why: This family-owned campground on Sakatah Lake is all about the amenities. If you’re looking for a weekend loaded with family fun activities, this is the place! You’ll find water slides, a heated pool, horse rides, three large playgrounds, bike trails, fishing, miniature golf and themed camping events designed to make your vacation memorable.

Where: 14842 Sakatah Lake Road, Waterville, about an hour
south of the Twin Cities, east of Mankato

Information: 507-362-8616,

Kelly and Ryan Cunningham live in Maple Grove with their five children. Follow their family’s adventures at and