A Sunny Southern Cali Kind of Stay

A cozy cabin at Pio Pico, near San Diego.
A cozy cabin at Pio Pico, near San Diego.

Make your winter months as sunny as possible and head to southern California to explore the area. Daytime temperatures tend to hover around 68 degrees and the sun is out more than it’s not! There are places to make a home base while you visit the known and lesser known attractions in the Golden State.

Los Angeles: First, book a stay in a cozy cabin at Soledad Canyon and then get ready to check out the area that draws more than 48 million visitors each year.

Of course, many people flock to LA to see the stars of the human variety rather than the celestial kind. You may want to combine a hike in Runyon Canyon with your star-search efforts as this a is favorite spot for the exercise-minded celebrity. Another spot to see stars in their everyday life is The Grove, an LA shopping mecca and the adjacent Original Farmers Market. Whether you see the stars or not, these are all worthy expeditions while in Tinseltown.

Cabin interior at Soledad Canyon, near Los Angeles.
Cabin interior at Soledad Canyon, near Los Angeles.

Other LA attractions include the Griffith Observatory for celestial stargazing, the Santa Monica Pier, and Huntingon Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. And, if you want to feel like it’s winter in all the sunshine, visit Pershing Square’s Holiday Ice Rink, located in the Financial District of the city. The Square will also host a Winter Holiday Festival on December 7, complete with LA’s version of snow!

San Diego: Start by making a reservation to stay in a cabin or cottage at Pio Pico, which is a perfect location thanks to its proximity to San Diego proper. San Diego has beaches, the Pacific Ocean, museums, galleries, a world-class zoo, lots of history, and a boatload of outdoor fun to be had.

The San Diego Zoo consistently ranks as one of the top zoos in the world. With more than 3,500 rare and endangered animals, including gorillas, polar bears, and koala bears, this is definitely not your basic zoo. Visitors can enjoy a guided bus tour through the zoo or see it from above on the zoo’s Skyfari Aerial Tram.

Make a stop at the zoo as part of your San Diego Hop-on Hop-off Trolley tour which also makes stops at Old Town State Historic Park, which is considered the Jamestown of the Pacific; the city’s historic Gaslamp Quarter and Balboa Park.

Santa Barbara: Choose from a cozy cabin, teepee, or covered wagon at Rancho Oso and then head out to explore this charming California town known for its architecture and history.

A safari tent at Rancho Oso, near Santa Barbara.
A safari tent at Rancho Oso, near Santa Barbara.

One of the neat things about Santa Barbara is its proximity to the Channel Islands National Park, an archipelago of five islands. A great way to explore the Park and the islands is through the Santa Barbara Adventure Company (www.sbadventureco.com). There are all kinds of adventures waiting on the Channel Islands including snorkeling, sea cave exploration, hiking and whale watching.

A great way to get to see the beautiful architecture of the city is to take one of the weekend walking tours, offered Saturday and Sunday, through the Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara (afsb.org) Tours begin at 10 a.m. and last approximately two hours.

And again, if you want to experience a bit more of a winter feeling in this sunny climate, don’t miss the “snow” events at the town’s Paseo Nuevo outdoor shopping center where “snow” fills the evening skies through December 31. There is also holiday entertainment including carolers, choirs, and Santa himself!

Glamping – It’s all the Rage!

Yurt • Circle M RV & Camping Resort

It may have become official when the word was added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary in 2018, but “glamping” has quietly become quite trendy over the past several years. The word itself it’s a combination, or portmanteau, if you will, of glamour and camping. The concept is simple, combine luxury amenities and accommodations with the outdoor activity of camping, and voila, you’re glamping.

But why has it become such a big thing in the last few years?  Simply put, American’s are looking to combine two of their favorite things – relaxing, and being outdoors with the caveat of making it less stressful when it comes to the accommodations part. No more making sure you arrive before dark so you can see all the tent poles, or waking up with an aching back which may wreak havoc on daytime activities like hiking and canoeing. According to a market research study done by Arizton, the glamping market will reach roughly $1 billion by 2024 in the U.S. Glamping is here to stay!

Glamping certainly amps up an outdoor experience in many ways. Accommodations for glamping are designed to give you the maximum amount of luxury, while staying true to the concept of communing with nature. What today’s glamper is looking for is camping amenities that include unique and quality sleeping options, onsite private kitchens and bathrooms, and a location that is near major attractions but still provides that “off the beaten path” feeling, while not sacrificing resort amenities and facilities.

Yurt Yosemite Lakes Groveland, CA

Of course, whether your camp or glamp, the benefits are still the same. The reduction in stress levels when you go off grid and spend time outside is tremendous.

So, how do you glamp?

First off, unique accommodations such as yurts, cabins, teepees and tiny houses are considered glamping accommodations. Yurts are spacious, and typically can accommodate queen-sized beds, bathroom suites with showers and kitchenettes. Similarly, cabins provide ample space for more luxurious amenities and plenty of space to relax and enjoy your camping company. Teepees are unique, and well, just plain cool. As for the tiny houses, these little darlings are so well-appointed they feel just like home.

Location is also a factor for your outdoor foray to be considered glamping. To be glamping-worthy, your campground should have clean, accessible bathrooms (if your accommodations do not provide private bathrooms), electric hook-ups, onsite amenities like pools and laundry rooms and should be pet-friendly (after all, if you’re a pet-lover, you wouldn’t consider adventuring without your four-legged bestie along for the ride.) Access to recreation should also be available, whether at the location or nearby.

Horses RanchoOso Photo By JulieVader

Some Petite Retreats glamping locations to consider would include:

Yosemite Lakes (Groveland, CA) – Check off access to recreation with Yosemite National Park just up the road, and the campground is pet friendly. As for accommodations, check out the yurts here.

Rancho Oso – The scenery surrounding the campground, which includes Los Padres National Forest and the Santa Ynez River, provides relaxing vibes, while the teepees are ultra-cool for bedding down after a day spent horseback riding or hiking. And yes, pets are welcome.

Mt. Desert Narrows (Bar Harbor, ME) – The rugged east coast location, proximity to Acadia National Park, the cozy cabin accommodations, and the pet friendly attitude make this campground a glamping possibility.

Other items that can make you a glamper include interesting menu items other than traditional camping fare that can be created over your campfire or camp kitchen, fun cocktails, or mocktails, to relax after the day’s events, cozy blankets and chairs to relax in, and aromatics or incense to keep things smelling fresh!

Sunset • Mt Desert Narrows Camping Resort

Check out other Petite Retreat locations and get your first glamping experience under your belt. You don’t want to be left out in the cold on this trend!