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Summer Travel | Magazine

The 5 best movies about camping in New England

Do any of these films resemble your camping experiences?

”Moonrise Kingdom” focuses on two budding teenagers who run away to be together. Focus Features

Camping in New England is awesome, but the lazier among us might prefer to scratch the great-outdoors itch by watching one of these movies in the air-conditioned comfort of home. Make s’mores in the microwave and you’re ready.

1. On Golden Pond (1981)

This Oscar winner takes place in Maine but was filmed on New Hampshire’s Squam Lake. Ethel and Norman Thayer (Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda) are spending the summer in their cabin on Golden Pond, when daughter Chelsea (Jane Fonda) arrives with her fiancé’s son, who bonds with Norman over canoeing, fishing, and chair-rocking by the dappling water. On Golden Pond proves that time spent around fish scales and dripping oars can soften the heart of even the crankiest person.


2. The Parent Trap (1998)

The first half of the Lindsay Lohan version of this comedy-drama takes place at an all-girl sleepaway camp based on the real Camp Walden in Denmark, Maine. Separated twins Annie and Hallie grew up an ocean apart but have a chance reunion at camp. They hate each other at first but later bond over thunderstorms, competitive cabin pranks, campfire card games, and realizing they are sisters.

3. Wet Hot American Summer (2001)

Writers Michael Showalter and David Wain developed this raunchy satirical comedy from their own memories of camp in Maine and Massachusetts, but it was filmed at Camp Towanda in Pennsylvania. The film captures the hijinks of counselors and campers on the last day of camp in summer of 1981, with plenty of lake dips, canoe tipping, and awkward teenage drama.

4. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Written and directed by Wes Anderson, this quirky comedy-drama takes place on a fictional island off the coast of New England and was shot in Rhode Island. The film focuses on a pair of budding teenagers who run away to be together. It’s full of picturesque 1960s camping elements: pine trees, rocky hills, canvas tents, portable record players, and a Boy Scouts-type organization.


5. A Walk in the Woods (2015)

This earnest drama follows a retired expatriate travel writer (Robert Redford) trying to reconnect to his American roots by returning to New Hampshire and hiking the Appalachian Trail. Shot in Connecticut and several other states, the film features the nitty-gritty of camping, bears, personal reflection, and epiphanies about aging.

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Alice Barry is a Somerville-based writer finishing her graduate studies at Emerson College. Send comments to