Urban Camping: Pitch A Tent In Central Park

urban camping in Manhattan
Flickr, Sarah Ackerman

High Manhattan hotel prices ruining your summer travel plans? If you’d like to try urban camping — sleeping under the skyscrapers of New York City — you can try your luck for a spot at one of the city’s summer Family Camping sessions. The Urban Park Rangers lead programs in more than a dozen city parks in all five boroughs, including Manhattan’s Central Park (August 24) and Prospect Park (September 21) in Brooklyn. The campouts are all free, starting with an early evening hike, cookout with food provided (don’t expect anything fancy, but you might be surprised with s’mores) and even a tent — you need only bring sleeping bags. The catch? There’s a lot of competition to join, with only 30 tents available for each night. Each event is open to online registration for 24 hours, with the “winners” chosen by lottery and notified about two weeks in advance. Find all the details and get lucky here.

Where else can you pitch a tent without leaving the city? Here are a few other urban areas with camping options.Austin: Emma Long Park offers campsites for $10-25 per night, depending on utilities, in addition to the $5-10 park entrance fee charged to all visitors. Set beside Lake Austin, the Texas city park is less than a half-hour from downtown. Check out the our adventure guide to Austin for more ideas.

Berlin: An innovative use of “fallow” urban space, the Tentstation project is unfortunately not open this season, but you’ll find other options in and around Berlin to pitch a tent or park an RV, even with a group. In typical German efficiency, some are within a few minutes’ walk to public transportation.

Honolulu: The Hawaiian capital has over a dozen campsites, many on the beach with fishing and surfing opportunities and views to rival expensive Waikiki resorts. Camping permits are issued for 3 or 5 days, and cost $32 and $52, respectively. Interesting note: several of the campsites warn that “houseless encounters are likely,” so look out for beach bums.

Japan: One of the most notoriously pricey countries also has a strong tradition of urban camping. While not officially sanctioned, it’s tolerated and generally quite safe in public parks. It might be hard to actually pitch a tent in downtown Tokyo, but you’ll find many guides online to finding a place to sleep al fresco.

Would you want to camp in a city? Have you done any urban camping?

GADLING’S TAKE FIVE: Week of June 10

Take5Here’s a handful from the week that you may have looked over some how and for one reason or another they deserve all your attention. Take five, 15 or 50 minutes exploring these posts from this week.

5. Urban Camping: Tents in the Big City?:
Like camping or sleeping in your car? Here’s a lovely gear idea to get you doing both right out on your urban neighborhood street or avenue or boulevard.

4. Internet Everywhere with AutoNet Mobile:
This one is for real internet junkies or professionals who actually need the net on the GO. See how you can get broadband internet service for your car.

3. America’s Most Miserable Airports:
A trip through the airport can be a trip in itself. Find out which airports you should try avoiding this summer when making plans that may include a layover or flying through them all together.

2. Eating Your Way Through the Ethnic Neighborhoods of Los Angeles:
Looking for something different to feast on in the city of Angels tonight? The options are endless as Neil points out in this spotlight on some of the ethnic neighborhoods serving up exotic plates. Oh, and they’re delicious too…

1. A Canadian in Beijing: Shannon’s Wings:

Ember pays homage to a close friend who committed suicide and walks us through the details of an accidental bird sanctuary visit. The piece is touching, beautiful and thought-provoking. Hands down one of the best for the week…

Urban Camping: Tents in the Big City?


Prices of metropolitan hotels got you down? No worries. Michael Rakowitz’ P(Lot) project has the answer for cheap stays in the city: car cover tents! Plop one down in a parking space, feed the meter, and you’ve got yourself a campsite. Break out the s’mores! Sure, vagrancy laws might cut your stay a little short, but the memories would last a lifetime. [via]

Check out more urban camping photos after the jump.


Here’s a view inside the car cover tent. Looks cosy, but I’d worry about pesky city roaches and rodents popping in for a visit.


I think I’d pick this urban camping tent. I’m not a racing fan; the tent just reminds me of my old racecar bed. Vroom vroom.


Here’s one for the high-rollers. It’s a Porsche-shaped car cover tent. I’d love to see the look on the face of a confused thief who pulls back the car cover only to find a sleeping bag and Therm-a-rest.


People watching would probably be a lot of fun during an urban camping trip. I’d sit in the empty shell with the tent flap open waving to people and snacking on granola bars.