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Top Midwest Camping Ideas: Part 2

Warren Dunes, MI

Warren Dunes, MI

It’s still summer and as promised, we’ve rounded up some of the best camping in Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio (as a companion piece to last month when we focused on Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.) The Midwest tri-state camping opportunities include a Kentucky campground, two Michigan campgrounds, and three Ohio campgrounds. The common theme running throughout these campgrounds is plenty of outdoor fun among the waters and woodlands of the surrounding areas, with the added bonus of great nearby attractions.

Kentucky: If you want to get your fill of spelunking, aka cave exploration, then the state that is home to Mammoth Cave, the longest cave system known to the world, is the best place to be. Lucky for our Kentucky campers, Thousand Trails Diamond Caverns is just down the road from the entrance to Mammoth Cave National Park. This campground is set on 743 acres and offers campers an 18-hole golf course, swimming pool, bocce ball, volleyball, basketball, and plenty of hiking, biking, and walking trails right onsite! Of course, the Mammoth Cave National Park has it all too – cave tours, fishing, horseback riding, hiking, and biking, plus ranger-led programs and nighttime stargazing events. Louisville is about 90 miles away and features the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, where you can purchase a personalized bat if the mood strikes you (get it?); the Kentucky Derby Museum at historic Churchill Downs; the Muhammad Ali Center, which is dedicated to the ideas and life of Ali, a Louisville native; and plenty of bourbon tastings and food tours.

Michigan: Two great campgrounds to visit in the Mitten State – Thousand Trails Bear Cave in Michigan’s Harbor Country and Thousand Trails St. Clair, further north near Detroit. Bear Cave is home to the only naturally formed cave in the state, thus the name! Its location on the St. Joe River creates great opportunities for fishing and boating, plus it’s less than 20 miles to Lake Michigan and the Warren Dunes. Fun day trips can include a visit to the Roti Roti Art Center, the Fernwood Botanical Gardens, or several area wineries like Round Barn Estate or Tabor Hill Winery (check out for winery details). The charming smalls towns of Three Oaks and St. Joseph are also less than 30 miles away. Up north, in what’s known as the “thumb of the mitten” you will find St. Clair, a relaxing waterfront city and home to St. Clair campground. Wooded and family friendly with plenty of activities and amenities, St. Clair is a great place to camp, relax, and check out all the fun in St. Clair, like the Boardwalk, which is considered the longest fresh water boardwalk in the world. Serious freighter watching happens here as freighter ships from around the world pass through the St. Clair River on the way to the Great Lakes and beyond. Other area attractions include the St. Clair Historical Museum and Michigan’s first lighthouse, Fort Gratiot Lighthouse, in Port Huron. Day trips can include the Henry Ford Museum of Innovation in Dearborn or a trip into Detroit to see Comerica Park and catch a Tigers game.  

Ohio: Near Cleveland or near Cincinnati? Whatever you choose (or maybe both for an extended Ohio camping adventure), our three Ohio campgrounds are perfectly located for relaxing or sight-seeing nearby big city attractions. At Thousand Trails Kenisee Lake, in Jefferson, there is plenty of outdoor fun with hiking trails, bocce, basketball, tennis, and pickleball, to name a few. There is also a lake and three ponds for fishing fun. Offsite fun can include winery tours or a day trip into Cleveland (about 60 miles) to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum; the West Side Market, Cleveland’s oldest public market with all kinds of things to buy from spices to meats to baked goods and more (plus the building is on the National Register of Historic Places); and the Great Lakes Science Center. Another close-to-Cleveland highlight is Marblehead. The area is dotted with islands, like Put-in-Bay and Kelley’s Island, to visit when you want to change your vista from being landlocked. Marblehead has an historic lighthouse and the Rocky Point Winery and is less than 20 miles from the famed Cedar Point amusement park.

Thousand Trails Wilmington

Mini golf, sand volleyball, fishing, and canoeing are just a few of the things you can enjoy when camping at Thousand Trails Wilmington and that’s all without even leaving the campground! Situated between Dayton and Cincinnati, day trips from Wilmington can include Dayton must-sees like the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, and Carillon Historical Park. On the Cincinnati side, check out the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, the Cincinnati Art Museum or one of the several walking tours offered from the historical to the foodie-focused. Major League Baseball is also an option with the Cincinnati Red’s homefield at the Great American Ball Park in downtown Cincinnati.

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