With a reputation as one of the most enchanting glamping experiences in the state, El Capitan Canyon—nestled amidst the rolling coastal hills 30 minutes northwest of Santa Barbara—is one of those pinch-me getaways everyone should experience at least once in their life (but we bet you’ll book a return visit before you leave). The leafy compound is so secluded that it’s hard to believe that more than 100 cabins and safari tents occupy the lush hillside landscape, surrounded on three sides by the oceanfront and backcountry of El Capitan State Beach.
Guests choose from basic canvas tents built on wood platforms, fancier cedar cabins with bathrooms and kitchenettes, or an Adventure Yurt with a domed skylight that allows for easy stargazing. All accommodations are situated along a wooded drive that winds its way into the hilly portion of El Capitan State Beach, where wildlife abounds, as well as goats, sheep, and a donkey named Eeyore. But the real draw here is the proximity to the coastline itself, where you can walk, bike, or drive under Highway 101 to access the sandy beach and tide pools. Visitors can even go on a leisurely llama hike to a field that offers sweeping views of the Pacific. Complimentary cruiser bikes are available for guests; friendly staff can also arrange surf lessons, whale watching excursions, kayaking, or wine tasting. There’s also a summer concert series on site, May through September.
Pet owners should be aware that because El Capitan Canyon is designated as a wildlife corridor, in an effort to protect local wildlife, there is a no pets policy throughout the canyon.
Insider tip: Cook your own meals—there’s a store on site for groceries—or consider the market’s selection of gourmet-style prepared meals.