Go Camping Without a Tent in the US | Hostelling International USA

Go Camping Without a Tent

09 July 2019

Camping is a great way to experience the natural beauty of a destination, but lugging around a tent and sleeping bag when you travel can be a chore. If you’d like to enjoy all the best parts of camping, but want to lighten your load, we’ve got you covered. 

You can still get up close and personal with nature without actually camping when you stay at HI USA hostels in beautiful, remote surroundings. Explore trails, lakes, and ocean beaches by day, and then relax by a campfire, do some stargazing, and get a good night’s rest in an actual bed. Here are some of our favorite spots around the country where you can go camping without a tent. 

Point Reyes, CA

andarondack chairs and wildflowers at HI Point Reyes California

This corner of the California coast is an excellent place to go for the ultimate outdoor adventure, and you don’t have to do much to make the most of it. The Point Reyes National Seashore is a beautiful expanse where you can hike in fields and forests, discover lakes and ocean-side waterfalls, and see local wildlife. At the end of the day, HI Point Reyes awaits with its retreat-like setting within the scenic park. A bonus is that the surrounding area is also a bit of a foodie haven so you can indulge in some local treats, like oysters and cheese, for your lunchtime picnics.

Harper’s Ferry, MD

green grass in front of HI Harper's Ferry hostel

Get a taste of the Appalachian Trail or spend summer days tubing while still having access to a good bed and free Wi-Fi at HI Harper’s Ferry. This is the ultimate spot to go camping without camping close to the Potomac River (and if you really do want to sleep in a tent you can still do that too). There’s hiking, biking, swimming, and kayaking right out the front door, and a grill and fire pit for those quintessential fireside nights. HI Harper’s Ferry is especially great if you’re a big group who wants to have the whole place to yourselves.

East Glacier Park, MT

a lake at East Glacier Park Montana

Glacier National Park in Montana is a wonderland of breathtaking mountains, living glaciers, mesmerizing waterfalls, and an abundance of wildlife. In short, it’s a nature lover’s dream. The rustic HI East Glacier hostel feels like the perfect summer camp: the log building has everything you need, including a front porch overlooking the Rockies, plus access to all the outdoor adventuring to be done within the stunning park.

Marin Headlands, CA

the front entrance at HI Marin Headlands hostel

Escape San Francisco’s city lights for a while at the cute and cozy HI Marin Headlands hostel just across the Golden Gate Bridge. Here, amongst tall eucalyptus trees and stunning views of the bay at the end of scenic trails, you can spend quality time in nature without too much hassle. There’s even a bus that runs on weekends if you’re traveling without a car. And since you don’t have to worry about trekking with a bunch of camping gear, you can fill your bag with treats to enjoy while watching the sunset on Rodeo Beach.

Eastham, MA

a bike path lined with trees in Eastham Cape Cod

HI Eastham has all the camp vibes you need if you want to explore the best of Cape Cod’s outdoor offerings. The hostel’s adorable cabins will make you feel nostalgic for your summer camp days while you relax in this secluded retreat. You can ride along the island’s bike trails, go kayaking, or post up on one of the many gorgeous local beaches. Head back to the hostel and cook up a feast on the grill. End the day sharing stories with fellow adventurers around the fire, or maybe teach your new friends some of your favorite summer camp tunes.

Itasca State Park, MN

the beginning of the mississippi river itasca state park

Whether you’re up for summer water sports or winter ski trails, you can get a good dose of unadulterated outdoor action at HI Mississippi Headwaters hostel, which sits pretty within Itasca State Park. At this wilderness retreat, you’ll have access to endless miles of hiking and biking trails, lakes and beaches for warm weather fun, and when it’s snowy out, you can take on the cross-country ski trails. You’ll feel like you’re miles from civilization, but you can still enjoy creature comforts like free Wi-Fi and breakfast at this laid-back lodge.

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a pair of legs hiking a scenic trail

7 Great Hikes near HI USA Hostels

Nature-lovers rejoice! You can experience the natural beauty of the U.S. without having to pack a tent and sleeping bag. Here are six of our favorite hikes near HI USA hostels that you’re sure to love.