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New England Campground Reviews from the "Happy Campers"

A New England family travels the six state region in search of the best campgrounds

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Editor's note: All articles on this page were written by A&T Kerrigan

Acres of Wildlife Campground is a "Maine" campground attraction

Acres of Wildlife Campground
Route 113/11, P.O. Box 2, Steep Falls, ME 04085
Tel. (207) 675-CAMP (2267)

We booked a weekend at Acres of Wildlife, based purely on what we saw in a brochure we picked up at a camping show, and its Web Site. It was a risk to travel three hours to Maine from Massachusetts not quite knowing what to expect, but it turned out to be one well worth taking!

We followed the directions in the brochure, which were easy to read and right on the money. It was a little unusual to follow a three-mile dirt road into the campground, but it was hard-packed with not too many holes, with little signs every so often encouraging us that it was not much farther! Acres of Wildlife is actually located within a 4,000 acre state wildlife preserve and was a former turkey farm. The campground has been in existence for about 25 years.

When we got to the end of the road, we were greeted with a very orderly check-in with plenty of room to park our rig. The entrance to the campground was also gated, which keeps out unwanted visitors. We were given directions to the site, found it easily and backed right in without any trouble. The site was very large and accommodated our 29-foot camper easily. The only problem was that the sewer connection and utilities were on the wrong side. After surveying the site the next day in daylight (yes we arrived at dusk the prior evening, followed by a pounding rainstorm five-minutes after set-up was done) we decided we actually could have pulled straight in, taken a u-turn at the end of the site and driven the truck out. Now that's what I call a large site!

The sites were all wooded with large rocks, trees and lots of natural vegetation between sites, which made for great privacy (my personal favorite). You did not feel like you were in your neighbor's pocket! We had a waterside site that looked out over a large, beautiful lake, with separate areas for swimming and boating. The swimming area had a large, clean, sandy beach, was roped off from the boating area, and contained two swimming docks. Available for rental from the friendly lady in the boathouse were kayaks, canoes, paddle boats and small sailboats. There was also a smaller pond on-site which was good for fishing as well as being a doggie swimming area! They were very dog-friendly here, issuing us a bag containing a dog bone, and a small ribbon to be tied to the dog's collar indicating they were registered. You were allowed to walk your dog throughout the campground as long as you cleaned up behind it. Many campgrounds we've stayed at don't even allow the dog off your site.

The planned activities for the next day --which was cloudy and overcast -- were plentiful. We took advantage of tie-dying t-shirts, "bumper buddies" in the large game-room (kind of like bumper carts), and the family scavenger hunt. There was also mini-golf, a pub and restaurant, live entertainment, and many other things to do. The store was one of the largest we have seen, offering most anything you can think of -- not only in basic necessities but also decorative items, toys, and even life-size carved wooden skeletons. I found this kind of bizarre, but, of course, I bought one! There were three modern, clean, well-kept playgrounds that we observed, and there may have been more in outlying areas we did not see. Sunday, Father's Day, dawned sunny and lovely, of course, and all fathers got free coffee and a muffin in the store, and an opportunity to win a home-made pie. There was also a Father's Day brunch in the restaurant.

The one and only problem I had with this campground is that I felt check-out was way too early at 11 a.m., and they did not offer any extended check-out for an hourly fee. If you wanted to stay beyond noontime, you would have to pay for an additional night.

If you don't want to "rough it," Acres of Wildlife also offers house rentals, room rentals in the Waterfront Inn or Moose Lodge, and, of course, camper rentals. The staff was very friendly and easy to deal with when booking. I would say this campground has all the benefits of a resort campground, but in a more casual and laid-back manner. It would be a wonderful vacation destination. We recommend it highly and plan on staying there many times in the future!


Pines Acres Resort: A camper's dream in beautiful, rural Oakham, Mass.

203 Bechan Road, Oakham, MA, 01608

Tel. (508)882-9509

Pine Acres Resort

Pine Acres has become this family's campground of choice! Situated in central Massachusetts, it is located on Lake Dean and offers many amenities. The campground offers not only the usual tent, trailer, and RV camping, but also has rental cabins and trailers. There are also seasonal sites available. There are planned events every weekend and they offer many themed weekend activities each month, beginning in April and ending Columbus Day weekend.

The sites offer a reasonable amount of privacy, with shrubbery and/or trees between each site. There are beautiful, towering pine trees throughout the campground, and many water view and beach sites are also available. There is a lodge with a lounge and dance floor for adult activities and entertainment at night, as well as a game room in the lower level. There is also a volleyball court, tennis court, playground, mini-golf, and the recent addition in the summer of 2004 of a pool area and hot tub. A country store offers all the camping necessities, as well as a small restaurant to give mom a break when she doesn't want to cook! For those who need their internet access, "Wi-Fi" is also available. Depending on your carrier, cell phone reception can be good in this area (Cingular worked, Nextel did not).

There are large fire pits at each site and wood is sold at the store. Quiet time is very strictly observed, which is welcome for families with young children. This is not a rowdy, party-hearty campground. And while they do enforce the rules, the management is not over-bearing or over the top with their policies. The seasonal sites are for the most part separate from the regular campsites, and most are tastefully decorated, without excessive ornamentation (a pet peeve of this camper!).

Paddle boat, canoe, rowboat and kayak rentals are also offered, as well as bicycles. Bass fishing is also available in Lake Dean. Pets are also welcome. There is a good-sized sandy beach with a roped off swimming area (but no lifeguards).

Pine Acres is very family-oriented, and offers many activities not only for younger children, but also for teenagers. The staff is friendly and very helpful. Particularly fun are the Halloween weekends at the beginning of October when trick-or-treating is offered along with other ghostly activities, such as last year's ghost walk.

We highly recommend Pine Acres, and find it comparable (if not better) than many campgrounds further north in New England. While it is classified as a resort, it still maintains a comfortable, small-town, relaxing atmosphere. It is especially lovely in the fall! With only about a two-hour commute from the Boston area, it is well worth the trip.


Apple Valley Campground has picturesque sites, two hours from Boston

Route 109, Acton, ME 04001
Tel. (207) 636-2285

Apple Valley Campground is located about two hours from Boston. It is indeed nestled down in a valley lined with apple trees so don't count on being able to use your cell phone! It is reasonably priced and can accommodate everything from tents to big rigs. However, we did find that the majority of sites were seasonal, with some sites being a little over the top decoration-wise.

There is a small retention pond at the rear of the campground which offers some picturesque sites with a few full hook-ups, but most are only water and electric. There is a large field with a playground, baseball diamond and plenty of room for games if you were staying with a group. They have a well-stocked store, small game room and small in-ground pool. The staff was friendly and accommodating. Pets are allowed, leashed and cleaned-up after, of course.

Our 29-foot travel trailer was easily maneuvered into our assigned site, which was wooded and offered a good degree of privacy. We stayed over Memorial Day weekend and found it to be a little wet and chilly at that time of the year. However, if you want to visit Maine in the summer, Acton is close to many attractions while still being removed from the tourist crowds. We would recommend Apple Valley as a comfortable, rustic campground.


Point Sebago Resort offers the ultimate New England camping vacation

261 Point Sebago Road, Route 302, Casco, ME 04015

Point Sebago Resort is a large, family-oriented campground that offers the ultimate camping vacation. During our stay we found the staff to be very friendly and accommodating. We visited when our children were ages 12 and eight, and there were so many daily activities offered, for both children and adults, that we actually needed to sit down and make a game plan to figure out what to do first! The activities ran from morning until night, with many kids activities planned simultaneously with adult activities (such as the daily happy hour) so mom and dad didn't have to worry about where the kids were.

The check-in was very orderly and we easily found our site. Most of the sites had some kind of natural barriers between (trees, shrubs, etc.) so that some degree of separation and privacy was maintained. One warning: watch out for skunks at night around the campsites as they seemed to be quite used to people being there and not afraid to clamber down and see whatís going on! Also be sure not to leave trash out, as the raccoons are equally as friendly.

The beach is beautiful and pristine, and there is plenty of elbow room. Point Sebago offers many different kinds of boat rentals, from paddleboats, kayaks and canoes to powerboats. There is also an 18-hole championship golf course if you want to bring your clubs (don't forget appropriate golf attire, also). Pets are allowed, but only in specific areas, so if you are planning on bringing your pet you will need to notify them when making reservations so they put you in the pet area (be forewarned this is not anywhere near the beach area). There is some kind of show or activity just about every night, and the staff show on the last night is not to be missed! The staff is composed of some very talented young adults involved in the entertainment field.

If you don't own a camper but would like to try the camping experience, Point Sebago also has travel trailers on-site that you can rent, as well as resort cottages and park homes. Check out its Web Site to see the many choices. We ordered their video tape which gives a good overview of everything that is offered at the Resort, and since it is free, we would advise ordering one. Keep in mind that Point Sebago is a resort and has a lot more to offer than your typical campground and as such it is, also, a little more expensive. We recommend it highly!


Rest n'Nest is appropriately named, satisfying a camper's basic needs

Latham Road - Box 258(1/4 mile off I - 91 at Exit 14) East Thetford, VT 05043

Tel. (802)785.2997

Open: April 30th to October 24th (Subject to weather conditions)

Rest n' Nest Campground is located about four hours from Boston, directly off Route I-91. This campground is a good destination for leaf peepers in early fall, but don't wait too long as the snow flies early in Vermont!

We found the campground easily, and had a nice large site in the safari area which offered full hook-ups but not much in the way of privacy. Air conditioning was available for an extra fee. Pets were allowed. Most of the sites seemed to be seasonal. The store was very small but offered the basic necessities, including firewood, and the owners were pleasant and helpful. The facilities were reasonable, but can best be described as dated, with showers, small game room, and laundry all housed in one building. There was a small, above-ground pool adjacent to the playground, as well as a spring-fed pond which looked a little too green for our tastes!

Also be aware that there is little or no cell phone reception at the campground or in most of the surrounding areas. We drove quite a distance (at least 20 miles) before our cell phones would work.

This campground is a good stop-over point in a road trip to Canada. If you are planning to spend most of your time sight-seeing in the area, which does have breath-taking views and extraordinary foliage, the Rest n' Nest would be adequate, but I would not make it my primary destination.

Needs improvement New England camping section

Quinebaug Cove,
49 E. Brimfield-Holland Rd.
Brimfield, MA 01010
Tel. (877) 245-1783

Quinebaug Cove has a great location, situated in the heart of antique country and a short drive fromOld Sturbridge Village. That said, this is about the only good thing that this campground has going for it! Our camping experience here was, unfortunately, not a good one, which was a sad way to end the camping season on Columbus Day weekend last year. The campground that time forgot seems an apt description.

We arrived after dark at Quinebaug, registered, and were handed a map. Bad sign #1: We were told we could turn around in an area right outside the office which could not have possibly accommodated the turning radius of our 29-foot travel trailer. Bad sign #2: Upon driving a short way down the dimly-lit, poorly-marked, narrow road where we thought they told us our site was, we took a wrong turn and ended up in what we decided was the "camper graveyard," filled with an assortment of rusty and dilapidated campers. After much maneuvering, we exited this eerie area and ended up back where we started. Bad sign #3: We finally ran into a staff member in a golf cart and asked for directions again. Our reply was "Over there," and a finger jabbed in a general direction. We wandered off in that direction and ended up in a dark grove of trees, where we actually drove into our site before realizing it even was a site! After retrieving a flashlight we finally located the tiny site numbers posted on the trees. After all this aggravation it only took us about another hour to level the trailer, as the entire site went downhill.

Upon daylight's arrival, we could see the lovely grove of towering pine trees we were nestled in was surrounded by more rusty, run-down seasonal trailers that looked like they had been there for a long time. During a walk around the campground, this became a common sighting. The "beach" area was more grass than sand, the pool (which looks enormous in their ad) was quite small, and the inner lodge area was run down.

This campground could have so much potential if it was cleaned up and renovated. The foliage is beautiful in that area and there are many attractions; however we would not recommend Quinebaug Cove.

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