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When it comes to relishing sunny days, starry nights, and glowing campfires, many families turn toward the traditions of camping.
But what about families who want to connect with the outdoors but aren’t interested in thin tents and ornery camp stoves? Enter glamping.
The luxury camping destinations below – think refined, not rustic – allow all the fresh-air experiences of regular tent camping but with enough thoughtful extras to make a getaway feel like a vacation.
Here are some of the top family glamping spots in northern California (plus a can’t-miss bonus location in SoCal).
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A little more than three hours north of San Francisco, Mendocino Grove offers roomy family and safari tents nestled amidst 37 acres of pristine wilderness. Each of the luxury tents is fully outfitted with all the glamping essentials, from heated beds with down comforters to leather butterfly chairs on the redwood desk to sink into with that book you’ve been meaning to read. Each site has its own picnic table with a fire ring, so families can grill or toast s’mores to their heart’s delight or keep warm as they gather ’round the fire on a cool morning or evening.
Bring friends and nab a few tents near each other for an unforgettable glamping experience. Each glamping site (there are six “neighborhoods” in total) has eight to ten tents, about 30 feet apart from each other. Tents sleep two to six people, and some are also dog-friendly.
Group amenities include two centrally located bathhouses with hot showers (indoor and outdoor) that are stocked with EO Marin organic bath products and fluffy towels. There’s even a dog wash for Fido after a day’s worth of messy outdoor adventures.
Take a short walk to The Meadow Commons in the morning, where glampers can grab coffee or tea and a light breakfast or meet up for a nature walk or activity with fellow glampers. Head to the Meadow for bocce ball or horseshoes, take a yoga class (weekend mornings), go on a guided hike to learn about Mendocino flora and fauna, or just hang out at the campground to read a book or take a nap in a hammock.
Ventana Big Sur
Soak up the seclusion and privacy of the 20-acre redwood forests canyon Ventana Big Sur campground, just under three hours south of San Fran. The glamping tents are in a separate area of the property (shared with a luxury Alia resort). Sleep soundly in safari-style canvas tents, each of which includes a wood-burning fire pit, a picnic table, instant hot and cold potable water with a sink, two padded Adirondack chairs, towels, and handheld lanterns. Guests have easy access to the Big Sur Smokehouse for lunch or dinner (Wednesday through Sunday).
Great outdoor activities for the whole family include guided hiking around Big Sur, Garrapata State Park, and Andrew Molera State Park; cycling; kayaking; and more.
Head farther south from San Francisco and Big Sur to the fabulous yurt community known as Treebones Resort. Each circular camp accommodation has a plush, comfy bed with linens, a cozy comforter, and a colorful quilt with partial or full ocean views. Amenities include a small table and chairs, reading lights, plenty of hooks for towels and outdoor gear, a sink vanity with hot and cold running water, towels, and redwood decks with Adirondack chairs.
If a family traveler is hoping to go off the grid, without really going off the grid, they can check into one of the eye-catching Autonomous Tent Collection sites. These solar-powered twin units have superb ocean views, a 600-square-foot indoor living space, environmentally friendly bamboo flooring, eco-sensitive lighting, and tall ceilings. The lounge area features soft leather chairs and a sofa, and the en-suite bathroom provides a fully tiled walk-in shower, vanity and toilet area, and a sink. Sit outside by the fire pit and watch the golden sunset from a beautifully framed tent, which allows plenty of natural light by day and exudes a warm, inviting glow at night.
Considered one of the top-rated glamping destinations in the Bay Area, Wildhaven Sonoma is 70 miles north of San Francisco on ten acres of prime riverfront. Each guest party stays comfy and cozy in a tent with rain protection, a comfy bed with a memory foam mattress and a heated mattress pad, a fire pit, patio furniture, and a picnic table. Mealtimes are easy thanks to the camp’s covered outdoor communal kitchen, where families will find a gas BBQ with side burners, grilling tools, additional picnic tables, and a dish-cleaning station.
Take advantage of the ⅓ mile of private waterfront on the Russian River, including a shallow-entry-point swimming hole (put a camp chair right in the water and soak your feet – and chill a canned cocktail!), perfect for wading, swimming and launching tubes and kayaks. A stay here includes classes and activities particularly designed for the enjoyment of the surrounding nature, from taking a cruiser bike ride directly from the tent along West Soda Rock Lane to exploring picture-perfect Healdsburg and wine country.
Three hours east of San Francisco, Autocamp Yosemite allows families to immerse themselves in year-round adventures available at Yosemite National Park in the utmost comfort. Located near the park entrance, the camp gives a cool first impression as visitors enter the inviting, mid-century modern Clubhouse. Choose from a number of accommodation options (we have a weakness for the modern Airstream Suites), including spacious canvas, safari-style tents, and roomy accessible suites.
The timeless, 31-foot-long Airstreams offer a full kitchen, a queen-size bed, a private bathroom with a walk-in rainshower, a panoramic window that lets in beautiful natural light, and a private patio with a fire pit and dining area. Luxury canvas tents feature a king-sized bed with memory-foam mattress and high-thread-count linens. Shaded windows, and electric lights that give off a moody vibe in the sitting area, and a fire pit.
Autocamp sites include a plethora of thoughtful activities, including half- and full-day park tours, forest school for kids, local cidery tours, tastings, and nature therapy classes.
Autocamp Russian River
About 90 minutes north of San Francisco in northern California, there’s another Autocamp destination we love. Nestled in the heart of Sonoma County, ideally situated between the Russian River and the charming nearby town of Guerneville, we think this is a much better way to experience an outdoorsy wine destination than just straight-up tent camping.
As with Autocamp Yosemite, choose from modern Airstream Suites, spacious canvas tents, and large accessible suites with every thought-out amenity within a well-designed, compact space without sacrificing space and indulgences. While it’s pleasantly secluded, there are hiking trails, swimming spots, and one of the cutest main streets we know of, just a five-minute drive from camp.
Sequoia High Sierra Camp
Venture six hours southeast of the Bay Area, into the Sierra Mountains, to the Sequoia High Sierra Camp. Within this gorgeous natural setting, the camp offers what it calls “tent-en-suite,” deluxe canvas-tented cabins with luxury amenities. This is a rare opportunity to experience the splendor of Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks without roughing it.
When your on your venture, make sure to check out some of the best Scenic Drives in Northern California for amazing views!
The high camp was originally built as a comfortable retreat for larger groups in the rugged High Sierra wilderness but comes with all the amenities of a resort. Thoughtful extras – meaning no need to lug these items to camp with you – include plush mattresses, linens, toiletries, meals, etc.
Exploration is the name of the game here, where glampers are invited daily to set off for hikes to meadows, lakes, streams, and mountain overlooks. Go fly fishing, brush up on nature photography skills, go horseback riding, or just sit around and enjoy the great outdoors with fellow glampers.
Bonus! A Fav Southern California Glamping Spot!
Families heading south can’t miss El Capitan Canyon. Set on the Santa Barbara coastline at the intersection of the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains, this 350-acre upscale camping oasis has all the creature comforts to enjoy in cedar cabins and adventure yurts.
The circular yurts boast a raised wooden floor, domed skylight, and comfortable bedding, while the cedar cabins come in varying sizes and are placed throughout the canyon. The cabins each have their own bathroom and kitchenette, and some have a private bedroom and sleeping loft. Yurt guests have access to modern, clean private bathrooms and showers close by.
Swim in the campground’s heated pool, check out a cruiser bike for a ride around the canyon, visit a llama farm, take a hike, run on the beach, and listen to stories around the campfire. A cute general store takes the camp store idea up several notches with a curated selection of Santa Barbara County wines, candles, picnic items, sunscreen, logo-wear, and various outdoor recreation items tucked inside a rustic building under a corrugated tin roof.
Here are some of the top family glamping spots in northern California, plus a can’t-miss location in the southern part of the state.
Glamping in Northern California – and Southern, to be fair – comes with a side of towering redwood forests, far-reaching Pacific Ocean views, rushing rivers, and easy access to national parks and wine country. Days are filled with choose-your-own adventures, and evenings are cozy and comfortable. Instead of a chore, camping becomes a true holiday from regular life – and the pristine nature surrounding you is the best amenity of all.
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