3 RV-Friendly Cities to Try Urban Camping


Liz Wilcox

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Author of Tales From the Black Tank, Liz Wilcox is an Army wife turned RV entrepreneur. When she’s not out exploring the US with her family, you can find her telling jokes and swapping campfire stories. She is a firm believer in the power of the campfire and refuses to settle for suburban survival. At the end of 2017, she gave up personal space in return for personal freedom, hitting the road in a 2007 Jayco Greyhawk. As a full-time RVer, she has a passion for creating community among campers of all kinds through humor and storytelling. You can learn more and become part of her community at The Virtual Campground.

RVing in the city.

To a lot of people, this might sound like a silly idea. After all, isn’t RVing about “getting away from it all” and enjoying some downtime?

But to people like you and me, this could be a great way to combine your passions: RV travel and exploring new cultures, eating great food, and seeing some of the most amazing sites this country has to offer!

If that sounds like you, read on to see how I manage RVing in my favorite cities, and you can too. This article includes a crazy amount of tips to help you have the best time urban camping possible!

Washington, D.C.

D.C. is by far my favorite city in the United States. I go every summer and without fail, it’s a new experience each time. But this summer’s visit takes the cake because we decided to visit the city in our RV.

It was such an awesome experience to go out and explore, and be able to come back to our nice, warm, and familar camper.

Where to Stay in Washington, D.C.

You have a few options when RVing to DC—we recently stayed at Cherry Hill Park.

This is a great option for campers that want to spend time really exploring the downtown area. They have an easy-to-use shuttle to the Metro station. At the Metro, you can hop on and catch a ride to virtually anywhere you want to go.

This is a great answer to the “where do I park my dually?” question many RVers with travel trailers and 5th wheels may have when RVing in the city.

They also have great amenities like a heated pool and splash pad. For those that prefer to stay dry, there is a mini golf course with a full 18 holes and movies under the stars every night. My daughter really loved the playground where she got to meet a ton of new friends! In fact, we will be meeting up with one family we met there sometime this fall!

It really is a nice, clean, and friendly place in a large metropolitan area. Cherry Hill Park is also the largest RV park in the area is closest to Washington DC.

Capitol KOA is another great place to stay.

Located about 30 miles outside the city, you will want to stay here if you are also thinking of visiting Baltimore, MD. It’s located in a great location to visit both cities! #bonuspoints

My family personally loves KOAs. Between the jumping pillow and the shuttle to DC, this park is definitely on our must-visit list.

And I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a park so big-rig friendly near the city! This campground boasts a very generous 90 foot maximum length—so if you ever thought RVing in the city wasn’t for you due to your rig size, think again! The Capitol KOA has you covered, my friend.

What to do in Washington, D.C.

This town is famous for its museums, monuments, and memorials. And you should definitely spend a lot of time visiting all of the above!

My favorite museum is the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. And it should be on every RVer’s bucket list. From dinosaurs to the Hope Diamond, this place really does have something for everyone.

And it wouldn’t be a trip to DC without visiting the Lincoln Memorial. Center stage for historic scenes like Martin Luther King’s I have a dream speech, standing in the temple will move you.

Alright, so maybe you won’t cry like I did on my first visit, but looking up at Lincoln and standing exactly where MLK did during the civil rights movement will definitely stir up the emotions.

Tampa, FL

RVing in Tampa is just plain fun! My family and I recently spent 10 weeks there. And let me tell you, there was never a dull moment.

Where to Stay in Tampa

With Tampa being warm and on the Gulf Coast of Florida, there is not a shortage of places to stay in an RV!

We recently stayed at Frog Creek Campground.

About 30 minutes outside of Tampa, this is a great option for campers that want to spend time really exploring the coast!

They are just minutes (if that) to I-75, giving you easy access to Tampa and St. Petersburg! In either city, you’re going to find amazing white sand beaches and plenty of metro eats and activities.  

The park itself offers a wonderful heated pool and beautiful creek where you can fish or enjoy some shade under the beautiful Spanish Moss. My daughter loved going on walks around the park, especially in the morning when we would get up and look across the creek at the goats at the nearby farm.

This park is especially great for anyone with a kayaking habit. They rent on-site or you can store yours right by the creek! And the creek goes right through the local state park.

couple kayaks through frog creek near Tampa, FL

Fort De Soto is the best park in the area, though.

Located right on the beach, you will want to stay here if you love the idea of exploring nature in the morning and spending the night having fun downtown!

Made up of 5 inter-connected islands, staying here definitely gives you a unique experience on RVing in the city. But that’s what I love best about Tampa—there’s just as much natural beauty as there is man-made!

family at beach in fort de soto campground

What to do in Tampa

It wouldn’t be a trip to a Florida without amusement parks, aquariums, and a little bit of nightlife. And Tampa is no exception.

My favorite thing to do in Tampa is go to the Florida Aquarium. Located directly downtown off the riverwalk, it’s a great way to spend an afternoon. I love their collection of jellyfish and sharks. On the other hand, my daughter had a ball petting the stingrays and discovering new species in the touch tank. 

If you’re a bit of a thrill seeker, be sure to check out Busch Gardens or Tampa’s Indoor Skydiving Experience.

family of 3 at baseball game

And depending on the time of year you RV to Tampa, you have got to head to a sports game—this city is home to NHL, NFL, and MLB teams!

We were there this Spring and while randomly exploring downtown, saw the Tampa Rays were playing. We decided to buy tickets and head over to the ballpark. It was my husband’s first time attending an MLB game and one we’ll never forget as a family.

When the sun sets, be sure to check out the Tampa Theatre! It’s just one of those unique places you can only find in the city. And be sure to head there early, as they have a live organ player before the showing. Honestly, this place is just magical. It really showcases all that is fun, quirky, and unique about Tampa.

Austin, TX

When we first hit the road full-time, we decided to meet up with some friends in Austin, TX. They told me about an awesome state park within city limits— knew then I had to hitch up and head to the Lone Star State.

Where to Stay

While most cities only have RV parks and campgrounds in the surrounding areas of the city, Austin is the exception. Not only can you find a place to park your rig close to city limits, you might even be able to book a site downtown!

We recently stayed at McKinney Falls State Park.

This park is crazy perfect for any one wanting to try out RVing in the city! Located just 13 miles from downtown, it’s also a state park! (DUH!)

So whether you’re a little bit country or a little bit rock n roll, this is the place for you.  

I stayed here with my 3 year old daughter and husband. We all had a good time—Chelsea loved seeing the waterfalls, my husband absolutely loved our secluded pull-thru site, and I couldn’t get enough of the hiking trails.

The rangers were great, too! As someone who had never been that west of the Mississippi, it was awesome to get a full (and free!) lesson on the bluebonnets and wildlife in the area.

Pecan Grove is a great place to stay for some real urban camping.

If you’ve heard about stealth urban camping, but have a travel trailer instead of a Class B, you need to stay here!

With the city skyline just across the street, you’ll be super close to everything…including some amazing food trucks and a hiking trail.

What I like about this park is it really lives up to the city’s slogan, “Keep Austin Weird.” The park is eclectic and proud. You’ll see half a million dollar rigs next to old Airstreams that have been sitting longer than you’ve been alive.

It’s the only park in this article that really truly embraces the spirit of its downtown location. And most people like it that way.

What to do in Austin

I love RVing in the city because no matter where you go, there always seems to be something really cool to do. And Austin takes the “cool” cake.

And one of the coolest and most bizarre things you’ve just got to see is the Cathedral of Junk. One Austinite has spent nearly 3 decades building a literal tower of junk. It’s like an antique store and a skyscraper got mixed up in a tornado.

Yep, definitely a must-see attraction in Austin. (Just make sure you call ahead)

If you love animals of any kind, be sure to check out Congress Avenue Bridge at night. Home to about 1.5 million bats, it’s worth renting kayaks or spending a little money to take a guided tour. You won’t see anything like this in any other city! And if you do take the tour, you’ll also be able to see the city’s skyline at night.

What could be more awesome?

Oh yeah! Austin’s music scene. Get yourself to The Moody Theater for some superb acoustics.

Overall, RVing in the city is totally possible. And contrary to what you might expect, it can be as busy or relaxing as you want to make it. What are some of your favorite RV-friendly cities?

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