Roughing it in Brooklyn: Camp Gateway

Gateway National Recreation Area

The entrance to the walking/biking trail at Fort Tilden, just over the bridge from Camp Gateway.


August is almost upon us, and day camps are wrapping up programs. It’s time for those who can to plan the family summer getaway. For many, after paying the rent or mortgage and footing the day camp bill, there might not be much left to use for vacation plans. If you and your family are the outdoorsy types, we have something you should consider. There’s one place that we know of, right here in Brooklyn, where a family can spend a few nights away from home, and the summer fun can continue, without costing a small fortune: Camp Gateway!

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Two of the tent campsites at Camp Gateway.

Camp Gateway is a full-fledged, rustic, overnight camping ground at Floyd Bennett Field. It has 50 camp sites, 32 for tents and 18 for RVs (but there are no electrical hook-ups). The facility has showers and both flush toilets and outhouses (all accessible), drinking water, campfire rings and grills (no barbequing allowed, real fires only), and a general store.

And what a location! After waking up from a night under the stars, you’ll be right on beautiful Jamaica Bay, home to hundreds of migrant bird species and great fishing, and just across the Gil Hodges bridge from the beaches at Jacob Riis Park and nearby Neponsit, Belle Harbor, and the Rockaways. Fort Tilden offers wooded walks or biking (BYO), an art gallery, and additional beaches. You can also catch a ferry there to Manhattan if urban sightseeing is to your liking.

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Jacob Riis Park (top), Rockaway Beach (middle), and Fort Tilden (bottom) are all nearby in Queens, just over the Gil Hodges Bridge.

If it happens to rain, or if the kids just want to get ultra-physical after a day on the beach or fishing, you’ll be right next to Aviator Sports, which offers year-round ice skating, rock climbing, basketball and volleyball, a kids’ bungee sky jump (closed until September 5), and a pretty special arcade room that includes Max Flight, a rollercoaster simulation machine. While the kids run wild, Mom and Dad can chill at Ace’s Lounge and Patio (Wednesday-Sunday, Lounge open September – May and in bad weather, Patio open May -September). An additional great attraction is the golf center across the street, open 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m., with a miniature golf course and driving range. Sounding like a vacation, isn’t it?

The camp is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area and is run by the National Park Service. That helps keep rates down. Right now, a camp site or RV site is $30/night. That makes a one-week stay as cheap or cheaper than staying one night in a hotel almost anywhere in America, and definitely in NYC. You won’t confuse the area with the Maine woods, or Cape Cod, or the eastern Tennessee wilderness, but, if you’re a nature lover and can’t truly get away this summer, Camp Gateway could be just what your family will love!

Check it out here, or just drive over and have a look!


Camp Store

The general store at Camp Gateway, right here in the rustic wilds of Brooklyn.




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