The 4 Best Places to Camp in the U.S. and the Gear You’ll Need to Do It

My love for the outdoors has always been strong. I grew up camping all over Michigan and, eventually, the United States. The four destinations below are places I recommend when anyone asks where to go camping, and I consider them the best of the best. I’ve paired each destination with a key piece of camping gear you’ll need. And, because you’re shopping with Rakuten, you’ll get Cash Back on all the best products.

You’ll never forget Big Sur’s wild coastline. My wife and I tent traveled all over California when we lived there, and Andrew Molera State Park in Big Sur was our favorite destination by far. This tent-only campground has 24 sites tucked a quarter-mile from the main entrance. You’ll need to hike in your gear, but once you get there it’s well worth the trip.

Hike another quarter-mile from your campsite and you’ll find a small, knee-deep river. Once you cross, you’ll be greeted by the Pacific Ocean and miles of secluded beach.

Coleman Sundome Two-Person Tent

You’re going to need a nice tent for this excursion. I always suggest a Coleman tent for campers on a budget because they are affordable and built well. Coleman knows what it’s doing when it comes to camping gear.

I like to play a game with my friends who live outside Michigan: I show them a photo of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and ask them to guess what part of the world they’re looking at. Half the time I hear Oregon, California or somewhere tropical. Few people know just how beautiful Michigan really is. Pictured Rocks is one of Michigan’s treasures, and the camping along the coast of Lake Superior is breathtaking.

Hike the many trails and camp along the way, or pitch your tent at one of the drive-in campsites. The choice is yours.

The North Face Borealis Backpack

You’ll need a nice daypack if you’re going to hike the coastline or head out for a boat tour of the rock features along the shore. This option from The North Face is a highly rated choice at an affordable price.


Zion’s landscape is what outdoor enthusiasts’ dreams are made of. There are countless outdoor activities, so plan to spend hours immersing yourself in Zion’s natural beauty. I recommend South Campground for less experienced campers and Lava Point Campground for more seasoned adventurers.

Kelty Callisto Sleeping Bag

It gets cold in the desert at night. You’re going to need a sleeping bag that’s designed for your excursion. This sleeping bag from Kelty, a big name in camping, is designed to keep you warm in temperatures as low as 35 degrees Fahrenheit, which is more than sufficient for Zion’s climate.

Yosemite needs no introduction. Most people have seen a photo of Half Dome or El Capitan, the iconic rock formations that are two of Yosemite’s main attractions. If you’re lucky enough to visit this wild territory, you’ll realize why it’s one of the best places to go camping in the United States. Campsites fill up quickly, though, so you’ll need to reserve your spot online at

I recommend Lower Pines Campground if you’re able to book it. Most of the sites offer a direct view of Half Dome, and there’s a river running through the area that’s perfect for day lounging while you take in all of Yosemite’s natural beauty.

Coleman Xtreme 70-Quart Cooler

Believe it or not, you don’t need a $500 cooler to survive a week — let alone a weekend — outdoors. I own this cooler from Coleman, and it hasn’t let me down yet. It’s sufficiently sized to fit enough food for a small family, but not so big that it’s unmanageable.

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