If you don’t think the words “Christmas” and “camping” belong in the same sentence, you certainly aren’t alone. Over the past few years, ever since we started going camping for Christmas, we’ve gotten countless looks, questions, and head scratches during the holiday season.
It sounds “out there” initially, but Christmas camping has become one of our family’s favorite holiday traditions — and it’s actually, well, fairly traditional. For example, we wear matching pajamas while we watch A Christmas Story on repeat, we bake cookies and leave a few out for Santa (we have a 6 and 8-year-old, and yes, Santa manages to find us in different towns every year!), we decorate our RV and put up a mini tree, and we still put up Christmas stockings (we use a tree outside as our “mantle!”).
Of course, some aspects of Christmas camping are definitely not traditional, and it’s a bit of an adjustment at first. But it’s also an incredible, unforgettable experience and an opportunity to connect with your family in unique ways. Having done it several years in a row now, it’s hard to imagine not going camping for Christmas! Let’s dive into all the reasons you should at least consider it, plus some of our favorite Christmas camping destinations for ultimate holiday cheer.
Reasons We Love Christmas Camping
Christmas camping has proven to be our favorite holiday tradition through the years. Here are just a few reasons why it’s worth it for our family.
Christmas camping ensures that we spend the holidays making memories and connecting with one another. We’re out exploring at our own pace, which is one of our favorite things to do as a family in general, instead of running all those quintessential holiday-related errands and shopping.
When we have downtime in our RV, and we’re all together in a small space, we’ve found that we’re much more likely to play games together or have a family movie night, as opposed to being buried in our individual electronic devices scrolling social media. Going camping for Christmas has helped us get back to the roots of what the holiday is really about.
Minimizes excessive spending
Because we physically have less room to store things in our RV (and not many hiding places!), we buy very few physical gifts. Instead, our Christmas camping trip is everyone’s main present! Since our children are still young, we still give a few “Santa” gifts and keep the tradition of stuffing their stockings with little items — but I’m usually able to get away with including mostly essentials they’d need anyway, like new socks and warm winter gloves for building snowmen!
Side note: We’ve found that adapting to being in a small space has been one of the biggest unexpected benefits of going camping for Christmas. The more we do it, the more we realize how little “stuff” we actually need, which in turn has also encouraged us to declutter at home.
There’s no sugarcoating it; the holidays can be downright stressful with all the gatherings to attend, including on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. In our family, it was always a controversial topic as to which relatives and friends we’d spend the actual holiday with and how to split our time.
Now, everyone knows that our little crew has a well-established tradition of camping for Christmas for several days. We did get some pushback the first year, but now everyone actually looks forward to lower-key get-togethers with us before or after Christmas itself. This takes a lot of pressure off all the way around.
Lack of crowds
Going camping for Christmas allows us to enjoy some of the country’s best scenery almost entirely to ourselves. Most people travel just before or after Christmas, which means some of the most popular destinations are practically deserted!
Best Destinations for Christmas Camping
As southern Arizonans, our Christmas camping adventure always involves a winter wonderland. We get warm days and clear, sunny skies almost all year, so head north in search of snow for the holidays. Here are a few of our favorite destinations for Christmas camping:
Whitefish, MT - An adorable mountain town that goes all-out for the holidays, with a fantastic yet low-key ski resort.
Colorado Springs, CO - Home of the iconic historic Broadmoor Hotel (AKA, Christmas headquarters), plus the “official” North Pole is just outside of town.
Olympic National Park, WA - One of the only national parks with a ski resort (note that it’s closed on Christmas Day)!
Old Mill Stream Campground in Lancaster, PA - This old-fashioned campground is perfect for the holidays. It offers a Dutch Winter Wonderland where kids can meet Santa Claus, go on rides, see hundreds of lights, and eat fun holiday snacks.
People who actually prefer sunshine and warmth when they go camping for Christmas should check out these festive destinations:
St. Augustine, FL - The oldest town in the United States, St. Augustine as a whole gets decked out for Christmas and frequently tops lists of the best places to spend the holiday in the whole world!
Prescott, AZ - A lower-elevation mountain town in north-central Arizona with a picture-perfect downtown, considered the state’s “Christmas Capital.”
New Orleans, LA - Historic New Orleans is spectacular during Christmas, with great weather, no crowds, and the old architecture done up in holiday decor.
Stone Mountain Park Campground in Stone Mountain, GA - This festive RV park is known for its Christmas celebration including lights, rides, and other attractions.
San Antonio KOA - This KOA celebrates Christmas to the max with a site-decorating contest, Christmas Eve tamale dinner, and access to Zoo Lights at The San Antonio Zoo.
Go Christmas Camping with Cruise America
Wherever you may roam, stay comfortable and connected in an RV rental from Cruise America. We have rental locations across the country to make it convenient for pick-up and drop-off. Contact us for more information!