In my experience, camping with young children can go one of two ways: relatively well -- or really, really badly.
Thankfully, Thompson's Lake State Park, only about 20 minutes away from Albany, is a great place to take the kids camping. And if the kids (or you, for that matter) decide they've had enough of camping, you can all be back home and in time for bed.
So, Thompson's Lake has location going for it -- but there are plenty of others reasons to check it out.
First, the campground is reallllly family friendly. There's a lake, beach, playground and campsites that are just wooded enough to make you feel like you're roughing it -- but enough indoor plumbing to assure you that you are not.
Campsites 1-52 are on a loop closer to the beach and playground, and consequently more active, with children and families everywhere. We chose to stay on one of the sites on the perimeter which are quieter, woodsier, and popular with younger couples and more experienced campers who prefer a less chaotic camping adventure (I am sure they were thrilled when our kids were up at 5:30 am).
The beach was small and uncrowded, which is especially good when you're trying to keep track of two kids who feel the need to be in opposite directions at all times. According to some of the regulars, it does get busier as the summer goes on, especially since the pool at Thacher Park is closed. Still, they say it's never really overwhelming. The playground is adjacent to the beach and boat rentals are also available. (Note: The beach will be closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays all season.)
The Emma Treadwell Thacher Nature Center is a ten minute drive from the campground, but literally a two minute walk from the Thompson's Lake beach. It's a great place to do some bird watching, see amphibians, go on hikes... you know, nature-related stuff. There are also plenty of activities for children. (puppets, crafts, nature quizzes, etc...). Our visit there went much longer than we had originally anticipated.
Even if you and camping don't really get along so much, the short drive, beach, and scenic views still make this an easy and fun day trip out of Albany.
Thompsons Lake State Park
68 Thompsons Lake State Park
East Berne, NY 12059
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