Recently, we took our first family camping trip with our 9 month old baby. We weren’t sure if he’d enjoy his first camping experience, so we decided to camp for one night at Thomas Woods Campsite, less than an hour from our home. Thomas Woods is in the Marengo Ridge Conservation Area in Marengo, IL. If you’re looking to camp somewhere scenic and close to the Chicago area, I’d highly recommend Thomas Woods.
Marengo Ridge is just over 800 acres with five miles of hiking trails. Thomas Woods campground offers both car camping and hike in sites. On the early May weekend we camped there were only a handful of sites taken. We chose site 39, but there wasn’t a bad site in the campground.
We had a hard time keeping our baby on the blanket we laid out for him. At this age he just loves to explore and hates being confined (getting him into his car seat is a challenge). He spent a lot of time crawling around on the soft moss that covered the ground. He had a blast playing with the rocks, sticks and pinecones scattered about our site.
We took a couple hikes and spotted a good variety of early spring flowers. There were a few lookout points with sweeping views of the grasslands and surrounding farms.
We brought along our clip-on high chair and tray, which worked well with the picnic bench at mealtimes.
To our surprise, the baby slept better in our tent than he does in his crib at home. I guess he liked being snuggled up between us in our double sleeping bag.
We packed light for this camping trip and managed to fit all our essentials plus our pup Lacy in my Jetta Sportwagen. We did bring our huge sleeping pads to make sure that the baby got a good night’s sleep. We kept our meals simple as well. We made veggie quesadillas in our pie iron for dinner and egg and cheese sandwiches for breakfast.
Judging by his smiles, I think our baby had a great time. We’re looking forward to our next family camping experience.
- Thomas Woods Campsite website
- Location: 3100 IL-23, Marengo, IL 60152
- Reservations: Call (815) 338-6223, ext. 1200 by 11 am on the Thursday before you camp, or register with the camp host when you arrive.
- Camping fees:
Non-Electric Site: $10 Residents / $15 Non-Residents
Electric RV Only Site: $20 Residents / $30 Non-Residents
Holiday weekend surcharge: $2 Residents; $5 Non-Residents
- Firewood: No outside firewood permitted. Good quality firewood available on-site for $5 a bundle.
- Things to know: Dogs are welcome, though it is not mentioned on the website.