A camper's cheat sheet
Here are 10 state parks not far from the comforts of civilization — restaurants, shops, golf courses, even nightlife.
© Beth Gauper
In Holland, Mich., Big Red stands at the mouth of the Macatawa River, which separates the state park from the town.
Even if you camp, you don't have to rough it.
A lot of state parks have plenty of woods, water and wildlife, but they're also just a short bike ride or walk away from the finer things in life — say, a pizza parlor or ice-cream stand.
Nearby restaurants make packing easy because you can leave the pots, dishes, soap and firewood home. Even if you like cooking over a fire, it's still nice to go out for a treat.
Here are 10 parks in five states where you won't be too far from some of your favorite things.
Peninsula State Park between Fish Creek and Ephraim. This park includes a golf course and an amphitheater with a professional acting troupe, plus bike trails to the two adjoining towns, both with dozens of restaurants and shops.
New Glarus Woods State Park next to New Glarus. This park is on the edge of an adorable Swiss town, which has many restaurants, a European-style bakery, shops and a municipal pool. The Sugar River State Trail connects the park to the town.
Woods State Park near Clear Lake. This park is across Clear Lake from the
northern Iowa resort town, with its many restaurants and shops, and there's a supper club next door. The park has yurts as well as campsites.
Honey Creek Resort State Park near Moravia. This park on Rathbun Lake in southern Iowa actually is a resort, with luxury rooms, suites and cottages as well as RV sites. There's an 18-hole
championship golf course, a restaurant and even an indoor water park.
City State Park in Traverse City. This crowded but well-located state park is
right in town, across the highway from a Lake Michigan beach. A bicycle trail connects it to downtown, with its many
restaurants and shops as well as brewpubs and music venues.
State Park in Holland. This park is across the Macatawa River/Lake Macatawa from
the Dutch town. There's a concession building on the big beach and restaurants lining the busy road to the park. The park
also has two very popular camper cabins right off the beach.
Lake Bemidji State
Park near Bemidji. This park is next to a golf club
that has a restaurant and across the lake from a university town of 13,400. It's connected to town by the Paul Bunyan State
Trail. The park has camper cabins as well as campsites.
© Beth Gauper
The lodge at Starved Rock State Park in northern Illinois was built in the 1930s by CCC workers.
Afton State Park near Afton. This park on the eastern edge of the Twin Cities is along the St. Croix River and next to Afton Alps golf course. It's also close to restaurants in the village of Afton. The park has camper cabins as well as campsites.
State Park near Utica. This scenic park along the Illinois River includes a large
lodge with a restaurant and snack shops. It's also close to restaurants in Utica.
Illinois Beach State Park
in Zion. This park on the northern edge of Chicago includes the Illinois Beach Resort
and Conference Center on the shore of Lake Michigan. The resort's restaurant doesn't have a distinguished history, but there
are many other places to eat nearby.
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