Sometimes the hustle and bustle of city life can be too much. If you’re looking for a scenic escape, Santa Monica is at the doorstep of several gorgeous camping sites.
Before you grab your gear, you must know that finding a camping spot isn’t exactly easy. Many parks prohibit tents, and legal spaces are limited.
Luckily, there are several alternative accommodations that will give you the same close-to-nature experience.
You’ve probably noticed the trend of impeccably designed homes the size of large closets on your social media feed. The tiny-house movement emerged as a counter to increasingly larger homes (and their rising price tags).
The average tiny home is less than 500 square feet. That’s around one-fifth of the size of the average new build. Though cozy, these structures feature innovative space-saving designs that provide all the convenience of a regular-sized home.
Even if year-round tiny house living isn’t for you, they are the perfect rental for a nature vacation. Some of the perks include high-end amenities, comfortable sleeping quarters, and idyllic locations that would be inaccessible for an RV.
It’s no surprise that real estate investors and travelers alike are jumping on the tiny vacation rental bandwagon. Travel site Airbnb noted that tiny home bookings grew by more than 80% between 2019 and 2020.
Trial Van Life
If you want more flexibility in your nature getaway, consider taking your camping adventure on wheels. Van life allows you to combine the outdoors with the itinerary of a road trip. You can easily transverse between campsites and take all of your belongings with you.
Setting up a fully-tricked-out van can cost thousands of dollars. If that sounds like too much for a long-weekend trip, don’t worry. You can plan a similar experience by renting a van and storing your camping gear in the back.
You can find a number of reasonably priced airport van rental locations in California. Sleeping in an unconverted van will be far from comfortable, so pack your sleeping bags. Foldable chairs and tables will also come in handy for preparing food and taking in the picturesque views.
When planning out your itinerary, look into the rules and regulations for parking a van. Many RV parks will allow unconverted vans to park overnight. Call ahead of time just to be sure. Public lands also do not prohibit people from camping in a vehicle. Keep in mind that there may be no showers or bathrooms, so plan accordingly!
Take the traditional camping experience up a notch by renting a geodesic dome. Considered the epitome of luxury camping, geodesic domes are large enough to fit a full-sized bed, seating, and a roaring fireplace. Many are also equipped with electrical outlets and WiFi.
The secret to the geodesic dome’s appeal is its revolutionary design. The spherical shape is formed from straight lines, making the structure incredibly strong. Domes are uniquely resilient to high winds and extreme temperatures. They can hold up in the desert and in the mountains.
Domes are also extremely easy to set up and leave little impact on the environment. For this reason, dome rentals are a popular form of ecotourism. If stargazing from an insulated, well-appointed home sounds like your style of camping, you can find geodesic dome rentals across Southern California.
For some, an ideal nature vacation has to include fishing and watersports. You could go for the traditional lakeside cabin, or shake things up by renting a houseboat.
A houseboat gives you all the creature comforts of a hotel room paired with unbeatable views and direct access to the water. As a plus, houseboats can comfortably sleep up to six people. While the price point is higher than other types of camping rentals, you can split the difference among more people.
You can find a rental with a designated dock on the marina, or sail across larger lakes like Don Pedro or Shasta Lake on your own. If you go this route, keep in mind that California will require all drivers to hold boater education cards by 2025. For now, it’s only a requirement for people under 45 years old.
Shipping container homes are another eco-friendly rental option that are experiencing a surge in popularity.
These lightweight structures can be built pretty much anywhere, even in the middle of dense forests. Shipping containers are also well-insulated, so the indoor temperature will be comfortable no matter what the weather is like outside.
They are also super customizable. You can find compact one-room options or multi-story units with full kitchens and bathrooms. Their sleek lines and rectangular shape also pair nicely with modern features like floor-to-ceiling windows.
Both Airbnb and VRBO list shipping container rentals on their sites.