K.C. was a featured writer for Yahoo! Travel before joining trips to discover in 2013. She is the author of Best Travel Guide for First Time Visitors to Ireland, an Amazon bestseller every year between 2013 and 2016. She has been a featured expert on Newsweek, Travel + Leisure, Travelocity, among others.
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Being able to sleep among the beauty of the great outdoors is an incredible experience, and of course, those s’mores aren’t so bad either. But for many, venturing out into the wilderness, pitching a tent and sleeping on the ground is just a little too rugged. That’s where glamping comes in, offering the ideal compromise as a more luxurious way of enjoying nature, along with the comforts of home. In California, these are some of the top spots for enjoying it.
Enjoy a fabulous glamping stay in beautiful Carmel By the Sea with full access to all the amenities at Saddle Mountain Ranch campground, including a seasonally heated pool, scenic trails for hiking, including a trek that leads to the top of the mountain with your reward a 360-degree view of the mountains and the Pacific Ocean. You’ll also have access to the community restrooms and hot showers. Your luxury tent includes Wi-Fi a comfy bed, indoor and outdoor seating, a fire pit and BBQ.
Look forward to a comfy stay in the redwood forest, just a few miles from the Pacific Ocean five miles from the small town of Elk and a scenic 14-mile drive to the popular Victorian village of Mendocino. The ideal spot to reconnect with nature, it sleeps up to two in a queen bed and has a private outdoor bathtub and shower. There’s also a composting toilet, outdoor sink and a small gas stove burner to make tea and coffee. You’ll stay warm with gas heating and entertainment is provided with a music player, games and books.
Just looking at this camper will make you smile. This cool retro trailer is located by the beach in the Marina Dunes RV Resort. The Happier Camper has a modular interior with classic big panoramic windows, a large rear hatch, honeycomb fiberglass floor and a wide entry door. There’s a large bed, providing a cozy spot for a romantic retreat, along with a little dining area and a heater for those chilly foggy mornings on the coast. You’ll have easy access to whale watching, hiking trails, and, of course the beach, with numerous outstanding restaurants nearby.
Located along the Central California coast in the world-famous Big Sur, where the towering Santa Lucia Mountains are on one side and steep cliffs edged by crashing waves are on the other, Treebones Resort is an ideal place to connect with nature and enjoy plenty of luxuries. Choose from cliff-side yurts or the unique Human Nest and Twig Hut, an unusual piece of wood-art created and built by a local artist for overnight stays. You’ll be able to listen to the sounds of barking sea lions and owls at night in comfort and look forward to fabulous farm-to-table cuisine too. Nearby you can enjoy searching for treasures like jade along the shore and popular places like Sand Dollar Beach, Mill Creek, Willow Beach, Lime Kiln State Park and Pfeiffer Beach State Park, renowned for its gorgeous stretches of purple-hued sands.
Tucked among King Canyon National Park’s giant sequoias is this remote camp, a wilderness site with off-the-grid tent-cabins that provide an exceptional glamping experience that’s accessed via a one-mile hike. Glampers get three meals a day, including five-course dinners prepared by a gourmet chef. The canvas tents come with lavish rugs and cozy beds with wool blankets where you can look forward to breathtaking views of the surrounding Sierra Nevada just outside. After a hot breakfast, enjoy hikes to jewel-like alpine lakes or high summits with panoramic vistas of it all.
El Capitan Canyon offers luxury camping about 15 minutes north of Santa Barbara just steps from El Capitan State Beach. It’s hidden among 350 acres of rolling hills dotted with oak and sycamore trees, with accommodation in furnished cedar cabins, adventure yurts or canvas safari tents that sit atop raised wooden decks with screen windows and doors. All come with willow beds and down-style duvets along with western-themed blankets. Camp on a Saturday evening, May through September, and you’ll get to enjoy a free night of music and dancing with live concerts hosted too.
The Trailer Pond, Paso Robles
Ever dreamed about owning your own vintage trailer? The Trailer Pond offers the opportunity to do just that, temporarily anyway, and it’s located right inside of a vineyard. The Alta Colina Vineyard & Winery in Paso Robles paired up with Tinker Tin Trailer Company to make it happen and hosts five retro trailers that sit among the vines. The 1950s and ’60s campers come with perks like fresh linens, towels, and a coffeemaker with local organic coffee.
Wellspring Ranch bills itself as a luxury B&B, but it offers a number of glamping options just a short distance from the coast and Cayucos State Beach. Here accommodations include lodging in an Airstream, high-end yurts or a 4,000-square-foot private straw-bale home. All are fully furnished and include fresh linens, memory foam beds and cozy fireplaces. Guests can also enjoy a wealth of activities, including organized hikes or head out on the hiking and biking trails on your own, yoga lessons with indoor and outdoor yoga facilities, picturesque picnic spots, massage, soaking in the hot tubs and even painting, with supplies available for novice artists.
Enjoy a unique African-style safari tent right in California, on a 2.5-acre organic property with fruit trees and protea flowers in Vista near Carlsbad. It’s the place to immerse yourself in nature and enjoy a blissful, stress-melting experience, totally unplugged, but there are plenty of attractions nearby. You won’t be far from the beach, wine tasting in Temecula, or even the famous Safari Park, along with fantastic microbreweries in Vista.
Costanoa Lodge is an upscale campground near the beautiful beach town of Pescadero, famous for its elephant seals that inhabit Ano Nuevo State Park, comes with its own day spa. An eco-adventure resort, it hosts safari-style tents with four-poster beds as well as cabins and lodge rooms. The property includes Costanoa’s Cascade Bar and Grill which serves seasonal, locally-sourced fare. Instead of hot dogs on the fire, you’ll get items like prawns and scallops with a balsamic beurre blanc here.
Safari West is a wildlife preserve that’s home to 900 animals, including zebras, giraffes, gazelles and wildebeests among other savanna creatures – and it’s available for overnight stays, allowing guests an African safari experience right in California. Join the safari tour during the day and then stay the night in a comfy canvas safari tent that was imported straight from Africa. You’ll be able to fall asleep to the sounds of wildlife in the distance for an experience you won’t soon forget.
The High Sierra Camps include five different camps around the peaceful Tuolumne Meadows area of Yosemite National Park. You’ll have to hike or take a horse-packing trip to reach one of them, with the May Lake camp being the easiest, requiring a mile-long hike from Glen Aulin. From there, the camps can be found six to 10 miles apart along the High Sierra Camp Loop Trail. They include fully-outfitted cabin tents with wood-burning stoves to keep you warm in the high elevation. Stays include a hot breakfast and dinner, and sack lunches for picnics along the trail can also be ordered in advance. Memorable outdoor adventures in Yosemite are at your fingertips.
Located in Mendocino’s coastal woodlands, Mendocino Grove hosts safari tents and retrofitted Airstreams that are surrounded by stunning beauty. Just beyond the fully-equipped canvas tents are miles and miles of scenic hikes that wind through the Redwood trees, and some of Northern California’s most spectacular beaches only a five-minute drive away. You’ll be able to cook up breakfast over the campfire and then head to the picturesque Victorian town itself for fine dining at dinner.
The Inn Town Campground offers traditional camping sites, RV hook-ups, retro RVs and glamping tents that come furnished with plush beds, electric blankets and vintage décor. In the camp store, you can pick up Sauvignon Blanc and gourmet marshmallows along with all your other favorite s’mores ingredients. The camp also includes a swimming pool, kitchen, BBQ area, television, foosball and a ping pong table.
Inspired by “The Hobbit,” this unique Airbnb comes with the requisite round door, wood beam ceilings and granite rock walls. It’s ideal for J.R.R. Tolkien/Lord of the Rings fans or anyone who wants to enjoy a unique stay, plenty of solitude and perhaps creative inspiration. It includes a queen-sized Murphy bed and sinks with running water, both inside and out. There’s a wood-burning fireplace and a small bar on rollers with basic cookware, glassware and cutlery. While there is no refrigeration system or electricity, guests can use a YETI cooler and a Coleman propane camping stove.
This beautiful yurt enjoys a backdrop of the West Marin forest, 30 minutes from beaches and 45 minutes from San Francisco. You’ll have a large private yard and a deck that’s connected to a trailer with a bathroom that has a shower, toilet and sink, and a fully equipped kitchen with everything you need to make your own meals. Linked to that is a laundry shed with a washer/dryer for guest use. Inside the air-conditioned/heated yurt is a queen-size bed and futon and dining table.