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Recommended Tent Camping Sites for 2011 - LA, ME, MD



Louisiana Tent Camping Trip


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Take heaping portions of gumbo, plantations, pelicans, bayous, assorted cultures, Zydeco tunes, dirty rice, and hot pepper sauce. Combine, stir, and simmer for a few hundred years. The spicy end result is the great state of Louisiana.

Northern Louisiana is often called a “Sportsman’s Paradise,” but it’s also an oasis of flowers, food, and riverside fun. At the sweet-scented American Rose Center Gardens in Shreveport, you’ll see (and smell) the largest rose-only garden in the country. The grounds feature more than 20,000 splendid roses, including colorful hybrids, delicate miniatures, exotics, and thornless varieties. The American Rose Society, founded more than a century ago in 1892, hosts the center. If you’d like to sample the Pelican State’s famous cuisine, Don’s Seafood Restaurant, in Shreveport since 1934, is a good place to start. And while you’re in northern Louisiana, take a stroll through the historic steamboat town of Columbia. Founded in the 1830’s, it now has a thriving Main Street community centered on the Ouachita River, said to be Louisiana’s most scenic waterway.

Next comes central Louisiana, “The Crossroads” of the state. Cultural influences blend the old with the new. Off U.S. Highway 84, Natchitoches was founded in 1714, and you can recognize the town’s Creole, Victorian, and Georgian influences on its streets and iron-railed balconies and in specialty shops. Be sure to tour the circa 1796 Melrose Plantation, also in Natchitoches. Charming Melrose was once owned by Marie-Therese “Coin-Coin” Metoyer, a former slave who became a successful entrepreneur. Next, take a drive over to Frogmore Cotton Plantation and Gin where you’ll learn about plantation life from the 1700’s through modern times at a genuine, 1,800-acre working cotton farm.

The southern section of Louisiana, rising from the border of the Gulf of Mexico, is known as “Cajun Country,” and you’re more likely to find the spice of life here than anyplace else in the country. The Liberty Theater in Eunice is so well-known for its Zydeco music that many folks call it the “Cajun Grand Ole Opry.” The Liberty’s musical entertainment is live, the dancing is lively, and Saturday nights feature in-house performances of the popular Rendez-Vous des Cajuns radio show.

South of Interstate 10, Lafayette is the unofficial capital of Cajun Country. Louisiana tent camping is also great here. That’s where you step back into Louisiana’s past at the Acadian Village. And at Café Vermilionville, you can feast on succulent Cajun/Creole dishes at a restored 1800’s-era inn. There are also one or two great Louisiana tent campgrounds to check out in the area.

In New Iberia, the Conrad Rice Mill and KONRICO Company Store offer tours, regional crafts, and packaged Cajun foods. And on Avery Island at the TABASCO Hot Sauce Factory on State Road 329, be sure to stock up on the famous pepper sauce that delivers the fire to zesty Cajun dishes.

South central Louisiana is “Plantation Country” and home of the Louisiana state capital in Baton Rouge. The art deco-style Capitol building has 34 floors, making it the tallest state capitol in the country. In the vicinity of St. Francisville’s historic Main Street district, Grandmother’s Buttons is an unusual shop and antique button museum based in a restored turn-of-the-century bank building. Since the proprietor discovered her own grandmother’s 1800’s button collection, the shop has sold its signature line of handcrafted button jewelry in the heart of St. Francisville.

The southeast corner of Louisiana is the Greater New Orleans area, known for paddlewheel steamboats, crawfish, jazz and pralines and a little Louisiana tent camping. Off Interstate 10, New Orleans’ Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral are at the center of town. Be sure to explore the French Market and browse through galleries in the Arts/Warehouse District and the jumble of shops on Magazine Street. To listen to some great jazz, Preservation Hall, in the French Quarter, is New Orleans’ “Best of the City” pick. It can get crowded before the first notes hit the air, but there are so many outstanding venues for music, and great food, you won’t have any trouble satisfying your “fix”. Don't forget to check out the Louisiana tent campgrounds in the area.

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Maine Tent Camping Trip


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US-2 snakes its way into Maine from New Hampshire and passes through the dense and remote, west central regions of Maine. As the road winds east, you’ll be swept up by nostalgia visiting towns like Bangor and Newport on this Maine tent camping adventure.

The terrain is consistently pretty in western Maine as you reach the first major town, Bethel. Take your shot at 18 holes at the historic and renowned Bethel Inn and Country Club, drawing duffers from around the region, and the country. Another local favorite in the winter, as well as summer, is the Sunder River Ski Area located just north of town. En route to the ski area, look out for the Artist Covered Bridge, just in case you need more visual clues that you’re deep in New England. There are also several Maine tent campgrounds in the area for you to check out.

Maintain a steady eastbound heading on this Main tent camping trip and when you arrive in Wilton, consider giving your feet a gift at the G. H. Bass Company, maker of those world-famous loafers for more than 100 years. Right next door to the mill is a fine little museum, the Wilton Farm and Home, created to educate visitors about the history of life in this mountainous western region of the state.

Farmington is your next stop along US-2. For those of you who really like to be in-the-know, Farmington happens to be the “Earmuff Capital of the World.” Also home to the University of Maine, the town has a charming downtown area loaded with shops and restaurants, perfect for a casual day on foot. Just south of Farmington, is the Belgrade Lakes Region, a series of seven lakes scattered around the area. The area was a popular resort in the mid-1900s. Quaint hamlets can be found around nearly every corner of each lake and makes for excellent exploration in this unique section of northeast America.

Soon enough the road leads to Bangor, the largest city in northern Maine. You’ll know you’ve arrived when you drive by the 30-foot Paul Bunyan statue as you enter town. Born during the rough-and-tumble heyday of the lumber industry, Bangor is a charming city located along the scenic Penobscot River with plenty to do and see. Fantastic 19th century architecture highlights much of the downtown area, which is also dotted with bookstores, cafes, shops, and great restaurants.

The highway continues north through Island Falls and turns east to exit Maine after Houlton. Continue your journey by jumping on US-3 southeast until you reach two of Maine’s favorite destinations, Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. Bar Harbor is a jumping little village during the summer months and for decades has been a favorite retreat for New Englanders. Hadley's Point Campground is one of the great Maine tent campgrounds to check out in the area.

There are an abundance of shopping and dining venues here in Bar Harbor in addition to Maine tent camping, so fill up before heading into the natural wonderland of Acadia National Park. It’s arguably the finest park east of the Mississippi, where the lush greenery of western Maine meets the stunning coastline of the eastern region. You’ll find a profusion of outdoor recreation opportunities around the area and, with a little luck, you can observe some of the darling puffins, a favorite of outdoor enthusiasts spending time in the park.

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Maryland Tent Camping Trip


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Maryland can be explored by railway and canal boat ride. She has legendary airports and plantations, general stores, taverns, artist colonies, and antique markets. Harbor towns, ocean boardwalks, offshore islands, and a military academy are waiting for you to see for yourself. You’ll find symphonies to hear, visit forts, aquariums and lighthouses and, of course, there is seafood to savor. Maryland tent camping adventures are everywhere for the taking in this great state.

Start in the westernmost part of the state. The town of Oakland, on Hwy. 219, is the site of the Historic B & O Train Station and Visitors Center in the western portion of the state. With its circular tower and unique bell-shaped roof topped with “fish-scale” shingles, this circa 1884 Queen Anne-style depot is one of the most celebrated train stations in the U.S.A. Also in Oakland, Steyer Brothers Maple Syrup has been made on a family-run farm for over a century. In late winter and early spring, you can take tours to learn about the steps involved in maple syrup production, and you can buy the Steyer’s tasty golden-brown syrup all year long. Swallow Falls SP is one of the great Maryland tent campgrounds to check out in the area.

Spruce Forest Artisan Village is in Grantsville, off historic Hwy. 40. Potters, woodcarvers, and other artists work and display their crafts in late-1700’s log cabins, schoolhouses, and a church that were moved to the area and converted to studios and museums in the 70’s and 80’s. There’s even a restored 1797 gristmill that processes grains today, just as it did back in the 1800’s.

Northeast of Oakland, Hwy. 219 merges with U.S. 40 and meanders to Cumberland. Canal Place Heritage Area at the Maryland Railway Station offers boat tours of the famed C&O Canal as well as scenic train rides. There are plenty of good restaurants and shopping venues, including Arts at Canal Place, a co-op gallery featuring the work of more than 40 area artists such as jewelers, painters, and photographers. It’s a good place to park your RV and set out on foot since the Heritage Area is within easy walking distance of Victorian Cumberland. The historic district there treats visitors to a mix of eclectic shops, galleries, and cafes. It’s also the site of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad & the Old Frostburg Depot, where you can board a restored 1916 steam engine train for a 32-mile ride through Maryland’s picturesque mountains.

Continue east to Clear Spring, which lies just north of Hwy. 40. Wilson’s circa 1840 General Store and One-Room Schoolhouse will carry you far back in time. Enter the store with a healthy appetite, since you’ll probably be enticed by the old-fashioned candy counter, home-baked goodies, and fresh-fried potato chips.

Hwy. 40 crosses into Hagerstown. The town has a unique trio of not-to-be-missed attractions, each interesting in its own right. The Maryland Symphony Orchestra has showcased the talents of musical professionals since 1982 and the two-decades-old Beaver Creek Antiques Market houses 150 vendors selling antiques and collectibles at friendly prices. Another Hagerstown draw is the self-guided tour of the prolific fish ponds at Albert Powell Trout Hatchery, a 1949 establishment where as many as 200,000 rainbow trout are raised to be used as stock fish in “Old Line State” waters.

In central Maryland, at Emmitsburg Antique Mall north of State Highway 77, you’ll find all sorts of old treasures to help you experience that nostalgic feeling again.

Hwy. 40 descends into central Maryland and merges briefly with Interstate 70. Historic downtown Frederick is the home of Delaplaine Visual Arts Center, a regional arts and crafts facility located in a circa 1800’s Mountain City Flour Mill. Artistic specialties like photography, ceramics, printmaking, and painting are highlighted in Delaplaine’s classes, studios, and gallery exhibits. Emporium Antiques, another downtown Frederick attraction, is housed in an authentic 1918 warehouse. The Emporium contains 130 individual antique dealerships that handle books, china, silver, linens, and countless other vintage items.

On State Highway 191 in Potomac, the C&O Canal National Historical Park offers something way out of the ordinary– mule-drawn barge rides on the canal.

Off Interstate 495 in College Park, the circa 1909 College Park Airport qualifies as the world’s oldest continuously operated airfield. It’s also the nostalgic site where high-flying brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright taught aviation lessons to America’s earliest military flight crews.

Attention, shoppers! The late 1800’s railroading town of Bowie, off Hwy. 391, has an Old Town district with more than two dozen antique shops beckoning you. History buffs should take a walking tour of Bowie’s Belair Mansion, the plantation house and gardens of Colonial Governor Samuel Ogle. His landmark home was built more than two-and-a-half centuries ago and was revitalized in the early 1900’s.

The city of Baltimore is brimming with outstanding museums highlighting lots of different locales, entities, and events. The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, Maryland’s streetcars, slugger Babe Ruth’s birthplace, the Civil War, U.S.S. Constellation battleship, and Underground Railroad each commands its own museum. In Baltimore, historic points of interest are also well represented. One local favorite is at Fort McHenry, the site where Francis Scott Key penned the “Star Spangled Banner” during the War of 1812. Today’s Fort McHenry is a National Monument & Historic Shrine.

Baltimore’s Inner Harbor offers much to see and do. Start with a sight-seeing cruise on one of many available vessels. And be sure to budget enough time to see the fabulous National Aquarium, Maryland Science Center, and the Top of the World Observation Level. The oldest continuously running fresh food marketplace in America is at Baltimore’s Lexington Market, founded in 1782. And if running horses are your passion, plan to visit Baltimore’s famed Pimlico Race Course, home of the Preakness.

On Maryland’s renowned eastern shore, Perryville, just south of U.S. 40, is the home of Rodgers Historic Tavern. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and friends frequented the 1700’s tavern back in their day and you can follow in their footsteps when you visit the restored Perryville tavern, one mug of ale at a time.

If you hanker for more waterfront adventures hop onto Interstate 97 to Annapolis, the state capital of Maryland. If the opportunity arises, cruise out onto the Chesapeake Bay to see the National Landmark Thomas Point Lighthouse, an 1875 screwpile offshore light currently operated by the Coast Guard. The U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis has been educating Naval officers since 1845. At the visitor center, you can browse through exhibits and join a walking tour of the campus, chapel, and final resting place of John Paul Jones.

In southern Maryland off Colton’s Point at the end of State Highway 238, St. Clement’s Island-Potomac River Museum is accessible via seasonal water taxi. The island marks the 1634 setting of Maryland’s very first colonial landing.

At historic St. Mary’s City on State Highway 5, guides in period costumes talk about the reconstructed 1676 State House of Maryland’s colonial capital. You’ll gain a firsthand view of an early tobacco plantation, step aboard a replica of a 17th century tall ship, and see a re-created Woodland Indian Hamlet, where Native Marylanders met incoming colonists.

In the old shipbuilding and trading town of Chestertown on State Highway 213, there are plenty of places to check out– a number of revitalized 1700’s homes, shops, galleries, as well as a bustling downtown farmer’s market.

The city of Salisbury is found where Hwys. 50 and 13 intersect. Shop and sightsee at the historic Downtown Plaza and reserve time to watch skillful artists make hand-crafted metallic pieces at Salisbury Pewter.

Maryland’s most fun city is also within short striking distance. Located at the Atlantic end of Hwy. 50, Ocean City’s old-fashioned boardwalk is in the vicinity of numerous tourist attractions, including restaurants, specialty shops, souvenir spots, and family-oriented amusement parks. Trimper’s Rides of Ocean City features more than 100 boardwalk-based rides, including a 100-year-old, hand-hewn carousel. Another waterfront mainstay is Ocean City Pier Rides and Amusements, home of the town’s tallest Ferris wheel, a looping rollercoaster, Boog’s Barbecue, and world-famous Thrasher’s French Fries. Frontier Town’s Western Theme Park has rootin’ tootin’ Wild West shows, stagecoach, ceremonial American Indian dancing, and a highly-rated full-service campground right next door. Jolly Roger Amusement Park presents a whole host of thrills and games plus go-kart track, water park, and mini-golf. You may want to check out some of the Maryland tent campgrounds in nearby Berlin.

On your way out of the “Old Line State,” schedule a dinner break in Crisfield on State Highway 413. You won’t regret setting your sights on a Maryland-style blue crab feast in the “Crab Capital of the World.”

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