The western state of California stretches along the Pacific, stamped with rugged mountain ranges, soaring sequoias and the golden Mojave Desert. Tucked in its diverse terrain is Los Angeles – the birthplace of Golden Age glamour – and the steep slopes of San Francisco. Within easy driving distance of these cities are tents, treehouses and trailers that plunge you into a crowd-free wilderness. Escape for the weekend and return to nature with a stay at any of these glamping sites.
These three eco-pods are wrapped in the sands and solitude of the Mojave Desert. Their wooden structures blend into the natural landscape while the glass, garage-style doors are perfect for admiring starry skies. Each has heating and air-conditioning to help temper the extreme desert weather and ensuring you’ll comfortably fall asleep in the pillowy queen-size beds. It’s a short wander down wooden walkways to the bathroom, which has a shower embellished by a stone mosaic and stocked with basic toiletries. Stock up at the nearby town of Ridgecrest for food to cook around the fire pit.
Sitting on wooden platforms in Mendocino‘s sun-dappled oceanside woodland, these plush safari tents come complete with a queen-size bed, battery-powered lanterns, down comforters and bathrooms stocked with towels and toiletries. A private deck with sling-back chairs is the perfect spot for drinks under starry skies, or socialize around the communal fire pit. If you’re feeling adventurous, stroll down to the catch-a-canoe boat rental on the Big River, where you can hire mountain bikes and outrigger canoes to explore its serpentine stretch.
Up to four people can stay in this stylish vintage Airstream, sitting on the edge of cactus-dotted Joshua Tree National Park. Inside are two bedrooms (one with a double bed and the second with two twins) and a kitchenette with a microwave and a coffee maker. Take your morning brew on the sun-drenched deck, and whip up a hot breakfast on the barbecue grill before heading out for hiking and birdwatching. When night falls, spark up a fire and sit back to gaze at the marbled twist of the Milky Way.
This safari tent is perched on a craggy Southern California hillside near Warner Springs. Constructed from recycled and natural materials, the cabin-slash-tent includes a kitchen made from repurposed pine wood, a living room with a fireplace and a bathroom that opens out to the wilderness with a clawfoot tub. Shelves are stacked with travel books for rainy-day wanderlusting, while a hot tub sits on the deck for summer evenings – soak while taking in sweeping mountain views across the surrounding thicket of ribbonwood trees. Be sure to buy ingredients to make dough to make the most of the outdoor pizza grill.
Live like the Lost Boys in this redwood-hugging treehouse near Monterey Bay. Its storybook interior can sleep up to four, and includes a queen-size bed and Japanese futons. A traditional gas stove keeps things cosy, and the kitchen comes stocked with spices, tea and sugar, while the space is also kept clean by eco-friendly products. The secluded hot tub adds a dash of luxury – bathe among the branches after a busy day of hiking, and keep an eye out for the attention-adoring cat, Grey, who keeps the mice away.
Fit for Goldilocks, this charming cabin can sleep up to six in its wood-paneled walls. Inside, exposed beams are decorated with wooden bear sculptures, and a brick fireplace is hung with vintage snow shoes. Cook meals on the retro stove and crash in bedrooms with classic alpine posters (a nod to nearby ski resorts). The luxurious hot tub is an idyllic spot for sipping champagne under the stars after a day kayaking, fishing and paddleboarding on Lake Tahoe.
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This coastal cabin is a hilltop haven with panoramic views across the forests to the ocean. Its snug interior is dotted with plush floral furniture, book-laden shelves and a wood-burning fireplace, and it’s roomy enough for a whole family thanks to the large kitchen and three bedrooms (one with a skylight for some cloud watching). There is a television and wifi, but your time would be far better spent with bevvies and board games on the outdoor patio while looking out for the frequently sighted deer, rabbits and foxes.
Choose to sleep in a vintage trailer or out under the stars in a canopied king-size bed at this picturesque glamping site in LA’s Topanga community. A true immersion in the outdoors, they both sit in a plant-filled courtyard, while inside the 1950s-style trailer you’ll find chequerboard floors and a queen-size bed. There’s a compact kitchen (with a toaster oven, sink and microwave), and a dining table is tucked under awnings, a complete commitment to al fresco dining. The equally exposed bathroom includes a pastel-blue bath and shower – though luckily the toilet is in a separate outhouse.
These capsule-like trailers flawlessly fuse retro style with practical features. You can go for the smaller 1980s U-Haul – complete with an iPod jack and plenty of clever storage space – or the Trillium with its wider size, large closet and cooling window fan. Ideal for the eco-conscious family, each can sleep up to four and are completely solar-powered. Pick one up from Silver Lake, and set off past golden beaches and colossal mountain ranges to find the perfect place to park up for the night.
Vintage glamping trailer with views of the San Fernando Valley
This 1950s trailer is planted in a bohemian paradise. Sitting in front of a shrub-punctured rock face in Chatsworth, the site features an outdoor day-bed draped with sheer curtains and ivy. Inside is still marvelously mid-century, with a kitchen, bedroom and bathroom fit for even the most discerning glamper. The patio is a dreamy spot to unwind with a good book, or simply admire the Instagram-worthy views of the San Fernando Valley. If the nostalgic setting inspires your inner Jack Kerouac, make use of the desks and put pen to paper in the second trailer.
These recommendations were updated on June 29, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.