Five Southern California campgrounds up the glam factor
California is undoubtedly known for its car culture. But, the Golden State is also synonymous with the proverbial road trip to one of 18 national forests or thousands of campgrounds in a Winnebago or station wagon. These days, camping, chronicled in beloved films such as The Great Outdoors, The Parent Trap, and The Long, Long Trailer, isn’t just about “roughing it” with a modest tent, portable cooktop, and ghost stories around a fire pit. Now, glamping, or “glamour camping” has become the new norm. “There are nine million RVs in the United States,” says Scott Cory of Ventura Ranch KOA. “There are over 135 million households that do not own RVs.
Glamping offers those millions of households without RVs a chance to enjoy the great outdoors. The popularity of glamping has risen by adding the creature comforts of home for these new campers, such as private bedrooms and bathrooms, and glamping makes it easy for the non-traditional camper to get away by just bringing their toothbrush.” From a coastal campground with fine linens and private porches, to a site lined with refurbished vintage travel trailers appointed with flat-screen TVs and outdoor fire pits, get ready to pack your bags and hit the road.
Ventura Ranch KOA
Where: Santa Paula; located at the foothills of the Los Padres National Forest within 15 miles to Ventura beaches.
Stats: 76 acres of RV sites and glamping sites, which includes hand-painted
tipis (the same company who produced designs for films such as The Last Samurai and Dances With Wolves), glamour tents (safari tents) with sofas, cowhide rugs, rattan chairs, and outdoor fire pits, and two-story deluxe cabins with room for up to 6 guests.
Perks: An outdoor swimming pool, arts and crafts classes, an air-powered rocket-making class, gem mining, a 1,500 square foot air-filled trampoline, hiking trail, a wedding venue, and two zip lines including 600 foot Eagles Nest that reaches up to 25mph.
Up Next: Penthouse Cabins, or high-end glamping cabins, with mountain views. The cabins, set to debut later this year, were built by NBC’s American Dream Builders TV show.
Reserve It: 800/562-1899; koa.com.
Where: Santa Barbara, and West Sonoma County (set to open Spring 2016 with 20 Airstream units)
Opened: January 2013
Backstory: Conceived by real estate developer Neil Dipaola and local architecture firm Hoffman Architecture in Santa Barbara, Autocamp consists of five, fully-restored Airstream trailers ranging from a 31-foot 1959 Overlander with a glass-tiled stand-up shower, and a 1972 Sovereign with one full bed and one pull-out bed, and a claw-foot tub.
Perks: Full bathrooms, two retro style beach cruisers, flat-panel TVs, spa robes, patios with an electric grill and Adriondack chairs, coffee from a local roastery, and a small refrigerator and convection microwave oven.
In Their Own Words: “Airstreams are the most iconic American brand of travel trailer,” says Christi Hustead, Hospitality Manager at Autocamp. “They have an iconic design and conjure up great memories and emotions in people. Some of them want to experience a piece of their childhood while others have never experienced Airstream camping. Many people come to stay with us because they are very interested in buying an Airstream to either travel, or live in. Because most of our visitors know what they are looking for and want some kind of different experience, they are quite happy with Autocamp. They love the design and layout, and appreciate the time and effort that has gone into the design, as well as the amenities.”
Reserve It: $144 per night; 888/405-7553; autocamp.com.
Tecopa Hot Springs Resort
Where: Tecopa, 55 miles north of Baker, California.
Perks: Cabins and a campground with hook-ups, private hot springs baths, an on-site bistro, a labyrinth, and fine art gallery.
In Their Own Words: “Before the catchphrase ‘glamping’ caught on, we began describing our resort as a wilderness resort,” says owner Amy Noel. “Tecopa Hot Springs Resort is a destination for people who want to unplug from the urban environment, relax in amazing silky hot mineral water, and explore the Death Valley region.”
Reserve It: 760/852-4420; tecopahotsprings.org.
Kate’s Lazy Meadow
Where: Landers, California, situated near Joshua Tree and Palm Springs.
Backstory: The brainchild of Kate Pierson, one of the former lead singers of the B-52’s, and co-owner and general contractor, Monica Coleman, the campground features six vintage Airstream trailers outfitted by design team Mayberry Walker. Choose from the Red Stripe “Tiki” with vintage tiki masks and pops of turquoise and lime green, and the Aqua Stripe “Hot Lava” with bursts of cheery orange lava paint throughout.
In Their Own Words: “We love the site in Landers because we left zero footprint on the natural landscape,” says Coleman. “We situated the vintage Airstreams on top of our dune with a magnificent view of the east and the west, and our guests can enjoy the magical desert beauty by a simple campfire sitting under the stars. It’s a total camping experience with our quirky style of
Reserve It: From $175; lazymeadow.com.
El Capitan Canyon
Where: 20 miles north of Santa $150 for yurts, $195 for cedar cabins; 866/352-2729; elcapitancanyon.com.
Crystal Cove Beach Cottages
Where: Newport Coast
Stats: 12 fully-restored seaside cottages dating to the early 1930s; listed on the National Historic Register.
Perks: Complimentary morning coffee and tea, vintage-style refrigerators, microwaves, some units with small electric cooktops.
Reserve It: From $35; crystalcovebeachcottages.com.
3625 East Thousand Oaks Blvd., Suite 230
Westlake Village, CA, 91362
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