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KOA Campgrounds

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May 2006

We are wanting to go camping with our 4 and 7 year old for the first time and want to make it as simple as possible. We reserved to stay at the KOA campground in Cloverdale which looks very pretty from pictures. My only concern is it seems to have so many modern conveniences that it won't be like camping. It has a pool, minigolf course, store, etc. I am worried that it won't feel much like a camptrip. Also, I have never stayed in a KOA site and I am wondering if they tend to be noisy, full or RVs etc. While we don't want to go too rustic, we also want to feel like we are in the great outdoors and not surrounded by civilization. I mean they even have wireless DSL available! Is this a bad idea, should we skip it and do another place such as State Parks? We don't want to be on the coast due to fog and we want to be within 2 hours of Oakland where we live. I was also thinking DelValle which is East Bay Regional Parks... Any advice on the KOA issues would be helpful!
Confused camper mom
My family just went to the Cloverdale KOA 2 weeks ago, and we loved it, although it was not very rustic. We have a tent trailer, and our friends had a tent, but we were able to camp right next to each other. I think the area set aside for tent camping (only) is much more rustic. There was a lot to do....fishing, swimming, bike rentals, paddleboats, bands, special breakfast, ice cream sundaes. It felt less like camping and more like sleeping outside at a family resort. If you're looking for family-friendly rustic camping, try Samuel P. Taylor Park in Marin. It offers tent camping, as well as RV camping. There's a great, wide bike trail that leads to the river. Have fun!! Dawn


KOA's are great. We go to the one in Manchester Beach every year (north coast-between Pt. Arena and Mendocino). Completely family friendly, it's not really camping, but it is very convient, especailly if you have little ones. My friend raves about the one in Willits, but I have yet to stay there. We always get the ''kamping kabins'' - basic little one room log cabins with a bunk bed and a queen bed, porch and swing, fire pit/BBQ and a picnic table (bathrooms and kitchen are community shared). It works fine. Can't tell about noise because it depends on how many people are there. Yes, it's loud on Memorial Day Weekend but anywhere will be, but go on an off weekends and you can hear the butterflies flap their wings, it's so quiet. You can check out their site on the web: http://www.manchesterbeachkoa.com/ have fun
Hi Confused Camper Mom, My husband and I stayed at a few KOAs when we were novice (confused) campers and not really sure how camping, making reservations, etc worked. You're right to be concerned that a stay at KOA won't feel like camping. And you certainly won't fool anyone that you are in ''the great outdoors''. It's kind of akin to camping on the lawn in your back yard, as far as getting away from civilization. It might be nice for a 'break' for a night, to be able to use their modern conveniences - pool, minigolf etc.

We are a camping family and after a week camping in one of the many gorgeous state parks we often book a few nights in a favorite Tahoe motel with a beautiful pool, TV & nearby restaurants, etc. Then, time permitting, we'd take off and go camping in nature again for a few days. Our kids started camping when they were 2 and 5 years old and they love it. You don't need swimming pools if you choose campsites with rivers or lakes nearby. I can promise you, a river will be much more memorable than a pool. Most young kids don't notice an absence of showering opportunities! And we make a point of not having the kids spend much time/money if there happens to be a little store in the campground, since shopping misses the point of the vacation.

As for being full, noisy, or full of RVs, unfortunately you can find that in many 'real' campgrounds. But I do think KOAs probably attract a slightly more urban-leaning kind of visitor, less inclined to value the peace and quiet that real camping offers.

By the way, fog on the coast isn't necessarily a given. We've had many fog-free camping days in the middle of summer at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Campground or a little further south at private campgrounds. Also Samuel P. Taylor State Park in Marin county is really close and we didn't experience fog there. We saw LOTS of families with young kids camping there. It has the advantage of being a very short drive away, so when they ask ''Are we there yet?'' the chances are you'll be able to say YES! Monica


Re: A quiet couple days away with kids (Nov 2005)
I know you said ''a cut about KOA.'' But your description sounds like you really want this KOA. It has a nice pool, at least one good playground, a petting farm in which children can help the ''farmers'' feed the animals in the morning, and a game room. They have the tiny cabins too. We really enjoyed being there, and it is a fairly quick drive. Kean
Re: Mulitple family getaway destination (April 2004)

Try Manchester Beach KOA at in the Manchester Beach State Park. They are pretty accomodating for large groups (we have had as many as 12 families). They have tent sites and camping cabins (with a queen bed and a bunk bed, some cabins/cottages have more), BBQ grills, a community kitchen, 2 playgrounds, a pool and hot tub and depending on the timing, some great activites for the kids. It is south of Mendocino, north of Pt. Arena, which are both great sites to visit during the day. We have really enjoyed staying there. You can take an old fashioned hay ride to the beach which is within walking distance. They have a website at www.manchesterbeachkoa.com. Check it out. It is fairly reasonable. We jsut payed $54/night a few weeks ago, it may go up a little more in the summer. It could be what you are looking for. Kerri


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