Here are a few options for camping around Washington, DC. I try to list each place with the good and the bad and hope that you can make an educated decision for where to stay! If you have stayed at any of these places, please let me know in the comments what you thought. It seems to me, that your options are Bull Run Regional Park (in Centreville, VA), Capitol KOA (in Millersville, MD), Cherry Hill Campground (in Cherry Hill, MD), Duncan’s Family Campground (in Lothian, MD), Greenbelt National Park (in Greenbelt, MD), Patapsco State Park (in Ellicott City, MD), Pine Tree Associates (the nudist campground in Crownsville, MD), or Ramblin’ Pines (in Woodbine, MD).
Bull Run is a bit to the west of Washington, DC in northern Virginia. You’ll have to drive 20 minutes or so to the Vienna metro stop, but this was surprisingly a beautiful campground (that also happens to be big rig friendly). I stayed here for work in Fairfax. They have a neat pool/waterpark that my wife and kids enjoyed. Funky hookups at some of the sites – we had to park with our door facing the roadway instead of the forest in our pull through site so that everything would reach without extensions. Decently priced and quite a few sites have full hookups. Most have water and electric.
This location is north of the city and a bit to the east. It’s right off of I-97, so it would be a pretty easy drive to get to the New Carollton metro station and they also offer a shuttle (which at time of writing is advertised at $13/day). I also have to give this campground kudos- I read about them helping out a family who was having treatments at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore; it sounds like they went above and beyond to help this family out. It’s a KOA, so it has full amenities and a price tag to go with it. This would be a good option if you also wanted to explore Annapolis and the Naval Academy or even Baltimore.
Cherry Hill bills itself as the closest campground to Washington, DC and is a great park from what I’ve been told. It also has the best access to the public transit system in DC (the Metro). There is a bus stop right outside of its gates that takes you to the train station which takes you into and around the city. If I’m going into the city in the day time, its what I take. Cherry Hill also has the amenities that you’d want- pool, laundry, full hookups, etc. BUT- it’s literally at the juncture of I-95 and I-495 (the DC Beltway) and its priced according to its convenience to the city and amenities.
Frankly, this is a campground that I don’t know much about but have heard nothing but good from folks that have stayed there. It is a bit south/east of DC. It looks like you can drive to the Largo Town Center metro station to get into the city. This is definitely a place that I’d like to try out sometime.
There is a national park called Greenbelt National Park. This is going to be a bit more rustic of camping with no hookups. Still convenient being just north of the city and only slightly further than Cherry Hill Campground- likely a bus, but probably easier to drive to a metro stop (either Greenbelt or a little further to New Carrollton which has better parking IMO and is more convenient for the Smithsonian museums). This is likely the least expensive of the group.
This state park receives high accolades from folks who have stayed here. It’s a smaller campground, with just 73 sites and only some have electric hookups. For folks with campers over 11′, pay heed to the warning about entering the park. This would be a good 35+ minute drive to a metro station (either Greenbelt or the Silver Spring). Given the distance, I’m not sure I would stay here for a trip into DC, but its an option especially if you want to check out Baltimore as well.
Pine Tree Associates (nudist campground)
Pine Tree is going to be due east of the city. If living au naturel is your lifestyle, you can combine a trip to DC with a natural experience. This is actually something I think I could try out, but my wife is a no go so we won’t go.
Ramblin’ Pines is a fair bit north and a little west of the city. You’ll have a good 45+ minute drive to get to a metro stop- your best bets are likely either the Greenbelt station or the Silver Spring station. I’ve stayed here (see review), but I’m not sure that I’d use it as a base camp for a DC trip.