Editor’s note: As communities re-open after their COVID-19-related closures, keep in mind that some parks, businesses, and attractions may still be closed or have new protocols in place. Before traveling, familiarize yourself with local guidelines and regulations for all of the destinations you visit and check out Visit California’s Responsible Travel Hub.
If picking the destination, setting your own agenda, and having plenty of time for spur-of-the-moment decisions sounds like your idea of a perfect vacation, you’re not alone.
Or rather, you just might be.
In increasing numbers, travelers—including couples and parents of young kids—are finding that sometimes, the ideal vacation is a solo voyage. For some, it’s the opportunity to take a compromise-free trip that doesn’t necessarily appeal to the tastes of your usual travel buddy. For others, it’s the chance to enjoy some alone time, to slow down, and to have time to reflect, think, or create. If you’re looking to get away from it all, California’s varied landscapes and abundant nature hold plenty of off-the-radar gems—including some resorts that will let you savor solitude in style.
The destinations below are arranged in a loop, beginning in the northwest corner of the state and heading down the coast before turning inland and then returning north through the center of California. (It’s worth noting, perhaps, that all of these destinations welcome couples, groups, and families too.)
The wildlife-watching potential is captured right in the name of this destination, as elk are plentiful within Redwood National Park, just steps outside the door of your private cabin. Take advantage of a full kitchen to whip up meals to enjoy dining al fresco on the cabin’s porch, explore the nearby canyon, and relax in the campground’s jacuzzi at the end of the day.
With cabins nestled amongst the redwoods, this northern California camping destination provides a forest retreat with easy access to the ocean. Settle onto your private cabin’s creek-facing porch or deck for a moment of calm or cozy up with a novel by your cabin’s fireplace.
If the woods and ocean are beckoning, head straight for this glamping destination in northern California. Sleep in a full-size bed outfitted with luxury linens and wake to a yoga class, a hike, or to set out in a canoe. In the evenings, sit by your private campfire, or watch the sun set over Mendocino Bay.
You’ll have a view over the Pacific Ocean from the doorway of your yurt—a tent-like structure which at Treebones Resorts features French doors opening out onto your private redwood deck. Rest easily in a queen-size bed or opt to camp out in the unique Twig Hut—a sculpture-like structure that resembles a nest made for humans. Take a yoga class, a dip in the pool or hot tub, or a hike along the coastline, keeping an eye out for passing whales all the while. Choose a farm-to-table dinner at the resort’s restaurant or indulge in the sushi bar experience with a 16-course tasting menu.
Set along the Santa Barbara coast, this resort experience lets you choose your own adventure, with accommodations ranging from platform tents to full cabins. For complete relaxation, treat yourself to the resort’s spa experience: Your cabin will include a deep-soaking tub and a fireplace, and you’ll get a massage and access to the spa’s garden.
Camping doesn’t get more luxurious than this unique three-night experience. Two nights at the Waldorf Astoria’s renowned La Quinta Resort bookend a sleep out under the stars, glamping in a luxuriously outfitted platform-tent in Joshua Tree National Park. You’ll be transported to your private campsite (with fire pit), where an overnight butler service awaits to serve you. S’mores, anyone?
Experience the serenity of Sequoia National Park at this secluded resort. Your cabin, set among the evergreens, features a fireplace and a deck for taking in the mountain views. Mountain adventures, such as hiking and fly fishing, will keep your days busy, and in the evenings you can dine on locally grown products while viewing the sunset from your table at the Silver City Restaurant.
If you like camping and road-tripping but also crave creature comforts, stay in an Airstream trailer at AutoCamp Yosemite. The midcentury-style units come complete with a bedroom, full bath, and a private outdoor patio at each campsite. Hop in the pool, take advantage of the daily shuttle to Yosemite National Park, and tune into AutoCamp’s Spotify playlist, curated weekly.
At this remote resort, quaint studio cabins are set among the aspen trees at the edge of Convict Lake. Towering Mount Morrison provides a dramatic backdrop over the tranquil, turquoise-blue body of water. Escape into nature with a hike through the mountains, take a horseback ride, or take a boat out onto the storied lake—the scene of a 19th-century shootout between escaped convicts and their pursuers.
For those who prefer to keep it simple, the Manzanita Camping Cabins offer newly built wooden cabins on the lakeshore, each with their own fire pit. Bring your own linens and gear, or opt for the amenity package and have equipment, bedding, and food supplied for your stay. Activities abound; hike, fish, and explore the fascinating geothermal activity in nearby Lassen Volcanic Park.
For more than 50 detailed road trip itineraries across the Golden State, please visit the California Road Trip Republic hub.