Glamping in California

Camping and the great outdoors go together hand in hand in California, and many state parks offer campgrounds. But if you would prefer to sleep out under canvas without having to forgo your creature comforts, luxury camping is the answer. Here is our guide to glamping in California.
Treebones yurt overlooking the ocean. Photo: Ryuji Morishita/Treebones
Treebones yurt overlooking the ocean. Photo: Ryuji Morishita/Treebones

Savouring starry nights in rugged backcountry, and the morning breeze blowing in from the ocean are quintessential California experiences. But you don’t have to haul a ton of gear into the wilderness to enjoy camping amid the West Coast’s natural beauty – you can enjoy the best aspects of camping, sweetened with a measure of comfort, at these selected luxury campgrounds.

Costanoa, Pescadero

On the largely undeveloped northern California coastline of the San Francisco Peninsula, around a one-hour drive from the city itself, the easy-going Costanoa resort overlooks a dramatic stretch of craggy coastline. A short drive away, Año Nuevo State Park offers shoreline guided tours from mid-December to late March to view the mating rituals of the sizable resident elephant seal population. Pescadero State Beach is a lovely spot to take a dip in the ocean, while nearby Bean Hollow State Beach is even more scenic and offers a nature trail. If it’s overcast, head up into the hills above the coast where the thousands of acres of towering redwoods in Butano State Park feel at their most primeval on the greyest, cloudy days. 

Costanoa’s tent bungalows offer considerable comfort under canvas – cosy double beds with heated blankets, electricity, lighting, and outdoor seating so you can soak up the surrounding scenery. Shared comfort station facilities feature private indoor and outdoor hot showers, heated concrete floors, a 24-hour dry sauna and an outdoor fireplace. The casual on-site bar and restaurant serves seasonal cuisine prepared from sustainably sourced local produce and seafood. When you're feeling energetic, activities from biking to horseback riding and kayaking are available, and afterwards, you can treat yourself to a relaxing massage or treatment in the resort’s spa. 

Costanoa tent bungalowsCostanoa tent bungalows. Photo: Costanoa

Treebones Resort

Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the eco-friendly Treebones Resort sits perched on verdant bluffs above the rocky coastline of the Big Sur. The region’s shoreline is at its most gentle here with sandy beaches nestled beneath yellow-ochre cliffs. At nearby Willow Creek, you can watch sea otters playing in the waves, or surfers catching the swell. A short drive away, Jade Cove is worth the climb down to see waves crashing against its rocks, while around the headland, Sand Dollar Beach is the longest stretch of sand along the Big Sur coast and an ideal place to enjoy the surf or simply soak up the sunshine.

The resort’s yurts stand on redwood platforms on stilts over the bluff, blending in with the leafy landscape and providing snug havens in which to sleep beneath the stars. Comfortable double beds with comforters and quilts are complemented by a sofa, table and chairs, a sink, a heater and electric lights, while the outdoor deck comes with complete with garden chairs so you can fully appreciate the breathtaking sunsets. The resort’s organic garden grows herbs and vegetables that are subsequently prepared for dishes served in the on-site restaurant, which also features a seasonal sushi bar. Solar panel power helps to heat the water that you can enjoy in the resort’s hot tub and outdoor pool, while guided hiking and kayaking trips offer the opportunity to discover the surrounding forested landscape and protected marine environments.

Treebones yurt interior

Treebones yurt interior. Photo: Sue Danials/Treebones

Sequoia High Sierra Camp, Kings Canyon National Park

Set amongst the giant redwoods, towering peaks, caves and cascading rivers of Kings Canyon National Park, the Sequoia High Sierra Camp offers the opportunity to stay in cosy tent-cabins in a remote mountain retreat that is truly off the grid. Open from mid-June to mid-September, the camp is a mile-long hike from the nearest car parking area at Marvin Pass Trailhead, but once you arrive at the site, at an altitude of 8,282 feet, surrounded by some of the most dramatic scenery in the world, you’ll realise it’s worth it.

All you need to bring is clothing, insect repellant, sunscreen, a torch and, of course, your camera – everything else is provided. Spacious canvas tent cabins on wooden platforms with shuttered windows feature plush king or twin beds with feather duvets and woolen blankets, a sitting area, coffee table, rugs and propane reading lanterns. A shared bath house includes outdoor hot showers in which you can bathe under a canopy of branches. Your stay includes a breakfast buffet and a gourmet evening meal served in an alfresco dining pavilion complete with an open fireplace, as well as a a pack-your-own picnic lunch to take out on days hiking to mountain meadows, alpine lakes or peaks with panoramic views.

Kings Canyon & Sequoia National Park, California. Kings Canyon & Sequoia National Park, California. Photo: Hans Debruyne/Shutterstock

El Capitan Canyon

West of the affluent city of Santa Barbara on the central California coast, El Capitan Canyon resort sits amid expansive leafy grounds in coastal hills just moments from the sandy stretch of El Capitan State Beach. You can relish the comfort of a queen-size bed with linens and a feather duvet in a Safari Tent kitted out with wooden floors, a heater and electric lighting. In the evenings, relax on outdoor chairs around your own firepit and grill – perfect for toasting marshmallows. Upgrade to an Adventure Yurt for additional space – enough for a family of four – and a raised rooftop with a domed skylight so you can stargaze as you drift off to sleep. 

You can stroll or cycle down to the beach in a few minutes – complimentary cruiser bikes are available. It’s a popular surfing spot and there are also tide pools to explore. Friendly resort staff can arrange surf lessons, kayaking and whale watching trips on request. Back at the site, the rustic Canyon market and deli serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and offers shady spots where you can sip a coffee, a beer or a glass of local wine from a well-curated selection. 

El Capitan State Beach, California. El Capitan State Beach, California. Photo: Wayne Via/Shutterstock

Ready to take a trip to California?

Our local experts can help you organise and book wonderful tailor-made trips to California. Simply get in touch letting us know your ideas for the trip and when you would like to travel. We will then prepare an itinerary especially for you, which can be amended until you’re completely happy with every detail before booking.