We love sleeping bags and tents as much as any happy camper, but there’s something beguiling about glamping — glamorous camping. There’s no tent to put up. And no sleeping on the ground, either. Glamping involves sturdy safari tents, tent cabins or sleek vintage trailers, with actual beds and often luxurious amenities.
Here’s a peek at some of the Golden State’s most fabulous glamping destinations, from Santa Barbara’s El Capitan Canyon to the Russian River’s Airstream-centric AutoCamp.
▪ El Capitan Canyon, Santa Barbara
Just off Highway 101 north of Santa Barbara, you’ll find El Capitan Canyon’s cedar cabins and safari tents nestled in oak and sycamore groves. The tents and cabins are furnished with willow beds and duvets. The pool is heated, the beach is a bike ride away (loaner beach cruiser bicycles are available for guests) and there are outdoor concerts on Saturday nights May-September (free to guests; barbecue dinner $20).
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Don’t miss the Canyon Market, which stocks everything from organic groceries and Santa Barbara County wines to aromatherapy oils. Tents start at $145. Details: www.elcapitancanyon.com
▪ Sequoia High Sierra Camp, Kings Canyon National Park
If you head south from Yosemite to Sequoia-Kings Canyon, you'll find High Sierra tent cabins — outfitted with cushy king size or twin beds and plush Persian rugs — at 8,282 feet of elevation.
Breakfast, a pack-your-own picnic buffet and five-course seasonal, Mediterranean-inspired dinners are included, and wine and beer are available to purchase. Wear hiking boots. This wilderness encampment is a mile from the parking lot, and hiking trails abound. Open from early June through Sept. 18. Tents are $500 for two, with a two-night minimum. Details: www.sequoiahighsierracamp.com
▪ Safari West, Santa Rosa
This exotic wildlife preserve is home to 900 animals, including giraffes, wildebeests, zebras, gazelles and other savanna creatures. Take the safari tour during the day, then bed down for the night in a canvas safari tent imported from Africa. Tent rates, which start at $260, include breakfast. Details: www.safariwest.com
▪ Costanoa Lodge, Pescadero
A campground with a day spa. This eco-adventure resort offers safari tents with four-poster beds, cozy cabins and a picturesque lodge out on the meadows near Pescadero.
This is glamping at its most luxurious, right down to Costanoa’s Cascade Bar and Grill, which offers seasonal, locally sourced fare such as divers scallops and prawns ($38) with a balsamic beurre blanc. Safari tents, dubbed “tent bungalows,” start at $100 per night. Details: www.costanoa.com
▪ AutoCamp, Santa Barbara and Guerneville
It’s Airstreams all the time at AutoCamp, where the shiny silver trailers come outfitted with lux touches, including soaking tubs, pillow-top mattresses, cruiser bikes and Adirondack chairs. The Russian River location has 20 Airstreams, 10 safari tents and a midcentury modern clubhouse, where you can pick up vino or a craft brew.
Santa Barbara’s encampment of five vintage Airstreams is walking distance to State Street’s restaurants, bars and boutiques. Santa Barbara Airstreams, which sleep four, start at $164. Russian River safari tents start at $200, Airstreams are $300 and up. Details: autocamp.com
▪ Inn Town Campground, Nevada City
At this year-old campground, the safari-style glamping tents boast cozy beds, vintage furniture and electric blankets — and the camp store sells gourmet marshmallows and sauvignon blanc. In addition to traditional campsites and RV hook-ups, there are 15 glamping tents ($85-$120), decked out with night stands, comfy beds and reading lights. Details at inntowncampground.com.
▪ Tinker Tin Trailer Pond, Paso Robles
There’s something beguiling about a vintage canned ham trailer. Now you can stay in one — in a vineyard. Paso Robles’ Alta Colina Winery has paired up with Tinker Tin Trailer Company to offer vineyard glamping ($137.50 and up per night), with five retro trailers perched between vines and pond. It’s glamping with Rhone varietals. Details: www.thetrailerpond.com
▪ Treebones, Big Sur
Highway One may be closed to the north and the south of Treebones, but the famous ocean-view yurts of this Big Sur glamping destination are still open, although it will take an extra hour — and a narrow, paved mountain pass best traveled during daylight — to get there.
Once there, though, you'll encounter no crowds, just gorgeous scenery, including Sand Dollar Beach, Mill Creek, Willow Beach and Limekiln State Park, plus the resort’s Wild Coast Restaurant and Ocean View Sushi Bar. Book a yurt ($320 and up) and get driving directions at www.treebonesresort.com.
▪ Terra Glamping, Sonoma Coast
This year-old entry to California’s glamping scene, perched on the Sonoma Coast near Gualala and Sea Ranch, is getting rapturous early reviews. Terra Glamping is calling this a North Coast pop-up version of its East Coast glamping events. The California version offers 10 tents, all with Pacific Ocean views, luxurious bedding and sunset s’mores. Details: www.terraglamping.com