On our Long Long Honeymoon, we’ve enjoyed our share of rustic camping locations. Places like Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and Glacier National Park come to mind. Getting back to nature is what camping’s all about, right? But what happens when we take our “condo on wheels” into an urban environment like NEW YORK CITY?

Our marina campground, technically, was not in New York. It was in New Jersey, just across the Hudson. But the proximity to Manhattan was fantastic. We could see the Statue of Liberty from our campsite. With a little effort, the Empire State Building could be seen on the horizon. We were near the water, and even had a waterfront club at our disposal.

From the marina, we had two easy and inexpensive means to transportation to the city: the PATH subway train, and the NY Waterway ferry. Of these choices, the ferry was by far the most enjoyable. While it cost a little more ($6 per person each way), it was a wonderful experience in itself. The speedy ride to Manhattan was almost too brief, as it offered stunning views of the city.

This was not our first visit to the Big Apple. I’ve been dozens of times, having conducted a lot of business there over the years. In fact, when I was in school, Kristy and I rented an apartment in Greenwich Village. So how does RV camping compare to that experience?

My New York friends may not want to hear it, but our RV is arguably more comfortable and better equipped than the average Greenwich Village shoebox apartment. We had every comfort with our RV. What we lacked, however, was a campground that truly offered the best of both worlds.

The New Jersey marina has a wonderful location, but all the ambiance of a parking lot. And it lacks full hookup sites (we only had water and electric), so this necessitated the usual water rationing and visits to the dump station.

While in New York, we were blessed with fantastic weather. The city really comes alive in the springtime, and we sampled many of its charms. Of all my visits to New York City, this one stands out as among the most pleasant and enjoyable. It’s also one of our best urban camping experiences, ranking up there with Las Vegas.

I can usually determine how much we like a particular location by how many times we extend our campground stay. In New York, we extended twice. Yes, we had a blast.

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  1. Jake Lutz

    Kim, I am starting to dream about owning an RV and using NYC as my home base (I live there currently). Since I am a freelancer I have several months that I have dry spells for work and would love to hit the open road. However I would want to be NYC during my busy season. Do you and your husband live in your RV and work in NYC? Have any suggestions besides Liberty Park.

  2. Kim Herbert

    Hi, I’m a recent rver. I live in NJ. I’m about 20 miles away from NYC. My husband and I work in NYC. There are so many rv parks in NJ close to transportation, trains, buses, etc. You would be able to visit NYC in about 20 to 40 minutes by train and still enjoy camping at the parks. Trains run practically all night, they stopp for a couple of hours early morning, and run about every 20 to 30 minutes from most stations.

  3. Hi Debbie, here are a few off the cuff thoughts about safety at the Liberty Harbor parking lot.

    First of all, they have a nighttime security guard on the property. He sits in a platform building that overlooks the marina, but he also sees entries to the camping area. He seemed to be on duty every evening. So this gave me some confidence.

    The “campground” is basically a parking lot with hookups. There aren’t really any on site kids’ areas, though I would imagine that kids would be interested in the boats. Also, it’s possible to ride bikes to a nearby park.

    There is a nearby parking lot that I believe is used by commuters who take the ferry. It is also used by a marina nightclub called “Sandbar” that is apparently popular with locals on weekends. It’s a happy hour / dance club type of place. I saw several people going to this place on the weekend, but none ever ventured over to the RV / camping area.

    The only time I ever felt any real concerns about security was returning to the campground late at night after dark. There’s a walk from the subway to the campground of about four blocks. On a couple of occasions we returned to the park VERY late at night, and strolling around Jersey City after midnight in the dark? Well, you get the picture.

    Overall I’d say the RV area seemed pretty safe, and was thankful for teh presence of the nighttime security guard.

  4. Debbie

    We are planning a trip to NYC in mid-july for a quick 2 night stop. We have 4 kids ranging in age from 1-11. I was wondering how safe the liberty harbor rv parking lot was? I have been to NY before so I do know a little about getting around. I just wanted to hear your opinion on safety,

  5. Roger, the traffic going in wasn’t too bad. Note that we followed the directions given on our GPS and they were fine. Someone later told us that the Liberty Harbor WEBSITE directions are erroneous (construction has changed the roads, and the Liberty Harbor folks haven’t updated the website). So you might confirm your directions before you go in.

    The traffic going out was worse. I don’t know if it was time of day or the route we chose, but it was pretty bad.

    Honestly, I think you have to brace yourself for a tough towing experience to get in there — lots of traffic, rough roads, construction, rude drivers — “the works” … Expect the worst and you may be pleasantly surprised LOL 🙂

  6. Roger

    We plan on being at the Liberty Harbor campgound in july. How was the trafic going out there. We live in Iowa now.

  7. Ed, the Liberty Harbor campground is all about location. The PATH subway train is about 5 blocks away…a short walk, and then a 15-minute ride to midtown. The ferry runs all day long M-F until 10pm, and gets you to Manhattan in about 10 minutes. Can’t beat it!

  8. Ed De Varona

    woops sorry for the prior post. You obviously answered it already! 🙂

  9. Ed De Varona

    I love your NY camping idea. We are about to embark on our NYC/Wash Camping adventure. I would love to know exactly where you guys camped in NJ across the Hudson.

  10. Pingback: Statue-of-Liberty » Lincoln memorial opening in Kentucky in waterfront park

  11. Hi Johnny G, the Joysey campground is called Liberty Harbor. It’s at Liberty Harbor Marina. The campground itself is kind of a parking lot with electric & water hookups. But the location is fantastic! I would definitely choose this place over staying a few hours away. You can get to Manhattan from Liberty Harbor in minutes.

    Happy camping!

  12. Johnny G...AKA The NYC Castaway

    Hello Michael Family,

    Thanks for your enjoyable video of Da City. Loved the idea of closing off Times Square to traffic.

    My wife and I have plans to visit Da City in 2 years from now. We have deceided to stay in a campsite in upstate NY, and travel down with our Pick-up Truck to explore. After watching your video, could you tell us where the site you stayed at in Joysey? It would be perfect for us to be that close, instead of driving 60 mile’s one way.

    You two are living the dream we are chasing after. Right now we are half timing. In 13 more years we will be full timing, and we can’t wait !!

    Happy Trails to you Michael Family