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Some people love to get dirty and relish the thought of rustic camping. They yearn for the sound of a zipping tent and the hard grit of rocky ground beneath them while they’re sleeping. Others (like me) prefer the glam over the grit when to comes to camping. We’re all about the luxe, glamourous side of camping.
Most people think of glamping as an oversized safari style canvas tent set up on platforms and outfitted with king-sized beds, high-thread-count sheets, maybe even air conditioning. But glamping in California is so much more. It includes everything from those tents to treehouses to yurts to Conestoga wagons to RV owners who will deliver and set up an RV rental so all you have to do is move in.
California offers a wide range of options for glampers. Think gorgeous winding coastlines, vibrant state parks, majestic mountain ranges, even proximity to city centers. California glamping destinations are in all of those places.
Read More: Our favorite spots for glamping in Texas.
RV Glamping: Have Your RV Delivered
I love the challenge and exhilaration of towing a large trailer. (Check out my 9 tips for first timers towing a trailer). Self-towing is not for everyone, however. I get it. If you don’t have experience towing, it can be daunting.
That doesn’t mean you can’t have your own RV adventure. If you don’t want to tow a recreational vehicle yourself, there is a spectacular option to save you the trouble: RVshare’s delivery service.
There are many RVshare owners in California who will drive their RV to a campground nearby and set it up for you. Having someone connect all of the wires and hoses is the glamping way to RV.
Finding an RV owner willing to deliver is easy. Simply visit RVshare, enter the name of the campground or area you want to visit along with your travel dates. That will give you a list of all of the RV rentals in that area. Filter your search by “delivery” to find owners willing to deliver and set up their rigs for you.
SheBuysTravel Tip: RVshare is part of the sharing economy. That means it is a marketplace of RV owners who want to rent their RVs, much like Airbnb is a marketplace of people who want to rent their unused living space. Always read the full description of the RV you covet to understand each owner’s specific rules and requirements. For example, check the fee and mileage limit for delivery for the RV you want to rent. It can differ widely from one owner to the next.
Glamping in Northern California
When I think of the northern sections of the Golden State, I think of wine country first. Picture the hilly vineyards of Sonoma and Napa Valley and elegant restaurants. If that’s your scene, glamping nearby could be right up your alley. Need a city infusion? San Francisco is about an hour, give or take, from Napa Valley.
Two years ago, I visited Yosemite National Park for the first time, and the scenery is unmatched. Not far away from the giant sequoias, waterfalls and towering rock faces where the climbing documentary Free Solo was filmed, campgrounds abound that offer full RV hookups just waiting for an owner to set up the RV you rented!
There are lots of other places you can hang your hat for a weekend, a week, or longer.
Best Glamping Options in NorCal
For a get-back-to-nature glamping trip, Mystic Mountain includes a little bit of everything: canvas tents with queen-sized bunk beds, memory foam mattresses and incredible views from your private campsite. This camp doesn’t offer RV parking, but it’s in an active area with other options nearby.
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This site sits on a bed of compressed volcanic ash from an eruption eons ago. You might even find pieces of petrified wood, which makes for a fun scavenger hunt for you and the kids.
The owners also have farm animals and a year-round hobby garden where you can pick your own dinner (veggie lovers, rejoice!) for a nominal fee. They’ll even sell you farm-fresh eggs laid by the chickens roaming the property. Basically, turn right at the goats and you’re there. Biking, swimming, and horseback riding are all nearby.
For a special treat, take a 13-minute jaunt to Calistoga to visit Bella’s Bakery for coffee and pastries.
If you stretch a little, NorCal could include Paso Robles or San Luis Obispo and an immersive vineyard experience through Tentrr. It’s a more traditional glamping experience: a queen-size cot and mattress nestled in a deluxe dome canvas tent perched on a wooden deck.
Nearby, you can grill out and make s’mores in your firepit, hang out at your own picnic table, and get cleaned up by the light of the moon in a sun shower. If you have never tried an outdoor shower, it’s a unique experience I love.
Wild turkeys wander the property here and the onsite winery means you don’t have to go far for a delicious glass of the local product and a sunset view of the vineyards right from your campsite.
Looking for a place to park an RV nearby instead? Try UnHitched at Dart Ranch. It was made for RVs, with 46 private acres overlooking the gorgeous Adelaida district in Paso Robles.
This RV camp is only 22 miles from the west gate of Yosemite Park and it has a ton of fun options for families, including a nature trail, a bocce ball court and a swing set. Golf, skiing and river rafting are all nearby as well.
The glamping sites here feature Conestoga wagons that sleep four or six. They’re surprisingly roomy, with an under-counter refrigerator, microwave, coffee pot and bed linens included along with a king-size bed and bunk beds. Wagons, ho! The kids will have a blast pretending to be early settlers and cooking dinner over the fire pit.
Yosemite Pines also has 17-foot, 19-foot, and 24-foot RV trailers for rent with room for three or four people. They’re adorably retro and pristine. Bonus points: these RVs come with kitchen and bath, unlike the Conestoga wagons and yurts, which has bathrooms nearby.
For a $300 delivery fee (up to 50 miles), this 2020 Keystone RV is just the ticket for a wonderful glamping experience. It’s a whopping 37 feet long and sleeps up to 4 with a full kitchen, TV and coffee maker. The owner sets it all up for you for a completely hassle-free vacation.
Glamping in Southern California
I love stargazing from a moonlit beach, so the idea of rolling out a sleeping bag and camping out sounds divine. However, I have a healthy dislike for bugs and crawly creatures, so I’m all in for a glamping tents or some other equally luxe option.
Best Glamping Options in SoCal
Glamping at Autocamp
Autocamp has a number of California locations, including one near Yosemite and one in the Russian River area. These campgrounds have the glamping thing down cold, with cozy comfort in the form of stationary Airstream trailers in all of their shining aluminum-shell glory.
The bathrooms are stocked with spa-quality toiletries, fluffy towels and robes. A walk-in shower and a kitchenette complete the home-like amenities, all fitted into a trailer that is just the right size for a weekend getaway. Luxury tents are also available in some locations in case you need more space.
I never knew an Airstream could be so luxurious until I stayed at Autocamp. All the way down south, just 10 minutes from Joshua Tree National Park, Autocamp has a site that is my favorite for its views of the picturesque desert. Plus, there’s a large plunge pool, hot tub and clubhouse with a general store. There are no RV spots here, since Autocamp provides the glamping housing for you.
This unique glamping location is a lovely place just for two. If you’re looking for a no-kids getaway with your partner or you want to have a special one parent/one child weekend in a tranquil and nature-focused spot, the Black Carriage is sized right.
Nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains and surrounded by peaceful woodlands, the Black Carriage looks like two beautiful gypsy carriages connected by an ornate bridge. One unit serves as the bedroom and living area while the other has a full luxe bathroom with an incredibly cool copper tub.
No RV parking spots here, but the views of the wildlife and mountains are stunning. Looking for a beach site? It’s just a few miles to Malibu from here.
Do you and your spouse need a break? This RV resort has an amenity you’re going to appreciate: a kids club, where staff takes over the kid entertaining duties with crafts and other organized activities. The mountain views from the campsites are breathtaking, and you can lounge in the pool and hot tub, play basketball or tennis or enjoy one of the many other outdoor activities this resort offers.
RV Glamping Options
With nearly 100 sites, including convenient pull-through options (so you don’t have to back in) this is a very RV-friendly resort for families.
And it’s only $120 for delivery for the first 30 miles and $3.50 per additional mile up to 90 miles for this 2021 Forest River camper with room for 8 people. The owner will even set up a patio with a table and mats if you like.
Glamping along the Central California Coast
If you’ve ever wondered what the heck a yurt is all about, you can satisfy your curiosity about them along California’s Central Coast. From Santa Cruz to Santa Barbara and everywhere in between, these round abodes dot the region and are a lovely and unusual way to glamp.
Kids love yurts because they are like sleeping under a cozy circus tent.
Luxury camping is a ton of fun in a yurt. You might find yourself in the midst of giant redwood trees at the aptly-named Redwood Yurt or Om Oasis, which includes a big skylight for more stargazing.
Families looking for proximity to indoor activities too should head to the Carmel River Yurt Retreat near the fascinating Monterey Bay Aquarium. It’s even closer to the storybook town of Carmel, which boasts cute shops and cafes. I highly recommend an afternoon of strolling through Carmel-by-the-Sea and stopping for lunch or dinner at the charming La Bicyclette. Be sure to save room for Greek Cake at the end. Trust me on that.
Best Glamping Options Along the Central Coast
Right along the Pacific Coast Highway (locals call it the PCH), El Capitan Canyon has cedar cabins, adventure yurts and safari tents. It’s nestled on 350 acres between the Pacific Ocean and Santa Ynez Mountains. El Capitan Canyon offers massage appointments for grownups, a playground for kids and canyon activities for everyone.
El Capitan tries to make it easy to relax. There’s a robust deli onsite, or you can partake of one of the full barbecue sets. I’m talking tri-tip steak, hamburgers, chicken and vegetarian choices, too. They’ll even provide a barbecue kit with all the fixings for a fantastic fireside meal. One of the packages includes salad, side dishes, garlic bread, chili beans, drinks, plates, utensils, napkins and a s’mores kit.
No RVs are on this camp site, but if you prefer to go that route, check out the Ocean Mesa RV Park nearby.
So close to the ocean you can smell the fresh, salty air, Ocean Mesa RV Park is a pet-friendly family oasis. The park is perched on a bluff above El Capitan Canyon, and each RV spot has room for a camper up to 50 feet long.
This is RV glamping at its finest with plenty of options and concrete pads on each back-in or pull-through space. Need a snack, wine, or pool toys? The market in the campground has you covered.
Situated right next to the Marina Dunes Preserve, Marina Dunes RV Park has a number of glamping options, including luxury tents that sleep two and vacation cottages with room for four. This RV park is pet-friendly, so you can bring your furry family member with you, too.
Marina State Beach is very close by, and all of the amenities of Monterey are within a 30-minute drive. In Monterey you can enjoy the aquarium, shopping and restaurants you crave while your cozy temporary home awaits a peaceful sleep.
This park has 96 sites with full hookups. If you have a big family or just want lots of space, an owner with RVshare has a 32-foot 2017 Dutchman RV that sleeps 8. Have it delivered and set up for $100 for the first five miles so you don’t have to deal with backing it into the space yourself.
Marina Dunes RV Park is part of the Thousand Trails organization, which gives you the option to pay one price for a membership and you and the family can camp all year.
Glamping in Big Sur
In my opinion, the best way to vacation in the Big Sur area is to reserve a glamping spot and then drive up and down the rugged California coastline. Known for its grandiose mountains and beautiful vistas, Big Sur is the California vacation spot everybody dreams about.
Whale watching is popular here during the winter months, Gray Whales migrate en masse along the Big Sur coastline between December and April.
Riverside Campground and Cabins in Big Sur has dozens of RV sites with fire pits and picnic tables and a camp store. Tent cabins are an alternative option at Ventana Big Sur. Pets are welcome. For $75 per stay, you can bring up to two dogs. They’ll be pampered with a dog bed, treats and water bowl at the campsite.
Beach access is 10 minutes from here, and Carmel-by-the-Sea is a quick 20-minute drive.
Have this 2021 Heartland Wilderness camper from RVshare delivered for just $100 for the first 50 miles and $1.50 per mile for up to 500 miles. A no-hassle electric awning makes for shady picnics, five beds are comfy for up to 8 people and towels are provided in this sparkling clean RV.
Big Sur Camping Yurt on the Farm in Salinas, includes a luxurious bed, fully-equipped kitchen, deck and fire pit. From your yurt, you can take in views of the vineyards nearby and during the day enjoy games like croquet and cornhole.
No RVs here, but the site promises great Wi-Fi, walking trails and a beautiful starry sky at night.
For a unique experience kids of all ages will love, rent a treehouse from GlampingHub.com. No RVs are at this site, but I can’t wait to try out the pair of treehouse cabins called Serenity and Morning Lite complete with luxurious clawfoot bathtubs.
You can even get WiFi… but why, when there is so much nature to see in California?
Glamping near the Beach in California
Glamping near the beach comes with its share of vacation amenity options. With 840 miles of coastline, there’s lots of opportunity to glamp in California on the beach.
Have you ever stayed on a boat? It’s like staying in a floating RV. There are several options for boat glamping on the water in California. Our favorite is the quaint Boatel California. Don’t worry, you can check out and leave, Eagles fans). Ocean views and beaches are very close by in Oxnard and Ventura. And the umbrella-protected deck is just what you need for morning mimosas or sunset cocktails (and mocktails for the kids).
Breakfast is my favorite meal. So I love the idea of a delivered brunch. That’s an option for Boatel California or its sister yacht, Boatel Ventura. In your full-size fridge you can stow full meals or snacks, and a Keurig coffee maker (with coffee!) is included. You all can pretend you’re on a cruise but without the bothersome motion sickness.
Don’t miss the famous Treebones Resort right on California Highway 1 overlooking the beach. This magical place offers glamping in yurts, campsites, the Human Nest (an unusual open-air camping sculpture by artist Jayson Fann), and autonomous tents.
My favorite is the last option: autonomous tents made of translucent tent fabric stretched across a curved frame that allows in natural light during the day and emits a magical warm glow at night. Staying there makes you feel as though you’re one with the sunset.
Powered by dedicated solar arrays, the autonomous tents include bamboo flooring, hot tubs, an en suite fully-tiled bathroom, high ceiling, small refrigerator and private view of the Pacific Ocean. Note that this is a quiet place to glamp that does not permit RVs or kids under 6. The resort says it is 99 percent mosquito-free due to the breezes off the coast, which sounds heavenly to me.
California Road Tripping
With all of the options available in California, a road trip is in order. From Carmel to San Diego, Half Moon Bay to Redondo Beach, there is so much to see.
Paradise by the Beach RV Resort
Close to LEGOLAND California, San Diego Zoo & Safari Park and Sea World San Diego, the Paradise by the Beach RV Resort is advertised as “Southern California’s only beach RV Resort.” This facility is jam-packed with amenities like a pool, hot tub, playground and access to Buccaneer Beach.
Check out this 2019 Sandsport EX22 270-foot trailer, which sleeps six and has a 100-gallon water tank. Trust me, you’ll appreciate that when you’re getting the family showered up after a day at the beach.
The owner, Martin, gets rave reviews on RVshare for his delivery service. He will bring it right to the resort and set it up for you. Then he’ll walk you through it to make sure you know how everything works. Plus, he lives nearby and can help out if you need anything at all. That, to me, is what vacation is all about: easy breezy!