Where to rough it in style and what to pack for your luxe journey that’s not too far from home
When it comes to enjoying this beautiful city and the surrounding areas—from the rolling hills, grapevine fields and coastline—sometimes the best way is to camp in the thick of it. But not everyone is a camper. That’s why there’s glamping. You can take the plunge into the wild and spend the night sleeping under the stars in something other than an A-frame tent. Not far from San Diego, you can find yurts, teepees, vintage Airstream trailers, even hobbit houses with creature comforts such as plush beds, luxe linens, outdoor tubs and Wi-Fi.
Hairstylist Heidi Deluna and her boyfriend Justin Ringor, a faculty affairs coordinator, who together started the new blog Adventure State of Mind (adventurestateofmind.com) are experts of sorts in luxury camping. Frequenters of standard tent camping, the Mission Viejo couple splurge for special occasions and book more plush accommodations. “It’s all about the experience in these cozy campsites,” Heidi says. Well, experience and amenities.
We asked Heidi to share some of their favorite close-to-San-Diego glamping rentals. Not all have indoor plumbing, but each rural-ish retreat gets you creatively close to Mother Nature without you having to pitch a tent and unfurl a sleeping bag. In addition, Heidi gives us ideas of what to do, what to pack and what to eat when you’re glamorously reconnecting with the wilderness.
Heidi was looking for something kind of quirky when she stumbled upon the Hobbit House in the Ramona hills on Airbnb. “I love the magicalness of this place,” she says.
The fantasy dwelling, inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit is tucked into a hillside on 10 beautiful acres.
“When the owner, Roy, walked us to the house, we were standing right in front of it, but because it’s totally blended in with the greenery around it (the structure has a living roof), it even surprised him,” Heidi reveals. “It was like we happened upon it.” Inside, the stonework, wood and stain-glass windows—all done by San Diegans—make it feel like it’s part of a castle. From $189 per night, airbnb.com.
Heidi and Justin brought their camping stove and breakfast fixings—eggs, bacon, fruit, and champagne and orange juice for mimosas—but the Hobbit House is outfitted with a fire pit and outdoor grill so you can just bring food.
On the way to the Hobbit House, the couple stopped at El Pueblo Mexican Food next to the Valero gas station just off Interstate 5 at Birmingham Avenue in Encinitas for 99-cent fish tacos. “The place was really busy, but it was so delicious; we stopped there twice,” Heidi admits.
“Take advantage of the manmade trails Roy’s fashioned around his property,” Heidi says. Heidi and Justin made the short walk to the western garden to see impressive aloes (above and top left). She advises bringing bug spray and lots of water.
Pack a bottle of wine—or get one from the local wineries—and take in the picturesque sunset from the rooftop garden.
Heidi booked The Pinoeer Penthouse at The Intrepidwild for her birthday after spotting it on Pinterest while looking for a place to stay in Temecula that was more unique than a hotel.
Hidden away off a dirt road on the 10-acre pistachio farm known as Wolf.Feather.Honey.Farm, the pretty bohemian canvas shelter is near the vineyards and wine tasting but offers the quiet tranquility of being perched among tall pines and feeling as though you’re in the middle of nowhere. “It encompasses the best of both worlds,” Heidi says. “We could go into town but escape as well.”
Included at the site: a cast-iron cooking stove, ice chest and picnic table (with candles and table linens).
“We were given the necessary components to make a sage smudge stick (to cleanse the aura) and a hand-drawn map of nearby trails—one in particular that takes you up to the ridge line for a killer view of the sunset.
And in the most recent news, earlier this summer the Pioneer Penthouse underwent a major transition to create group glamping on site. Now, there are three extra-large, canvas bell tents—all outfitted with fluffy full-size beds—on the property. Plus, there’s an open-air art studio set up with an easel and supplies to paint your own walking stick and an area for lawn games.
But there’s not a bathroom.
There’s a two-night minimum stay and a super strict cancellation policy (you have to give 30 days notice). From $145 per night, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Because the pair left the day after Thanksgiving, one meal consisted of reheated leftovers. For their meal out, they dined at the lauded Devilicious Eatery & Tap Room for burgers with a gourmet twist and craft brews.
There’s no shortage of things to do here. Hike, picnic, soar in a hot air balloon, bird watch, star gaze, fly a kite, fish, boat or visit dozens of wineries in Temecula.
To celebrate her birthday, Heidi and Justin tasted wines at Wiens Family Cellars, Wilson Creek Winery & Vineyards, Monte De Oro Winery and Miramonte Vineyard & Winery; hit The Cellar Lounge, an underground bar that’s dark, romantic and sometimes has live music, at Ponte Vineyard Inn; and went horseback riding through the grapevines with Wine Country Trails by Horseback, which they got on Groupon.
The amenities at Camp Ribbonwood Safari Tent, located on a hillside near Warner Springs, sold Heidi immediately when she found it on Glamping Hub. “This is the place for the person or twosome wanting to test the camping waters,” Heidi says.
There is a two-night minimum stay, and this place books up months in advance so plan ahead. From $213.79 per night, glampinghub.com.
This site has it all: panoramic views of Cleveland National Forest; a full bathroom with a toilet, shower and claw-foot tub; a well-equipped kitchen; a charcoal barbecue and a pizza-oven attachment; a fireplace and a queen-size bed with a heated mattress pad. There’s also a hot tub, Wi-Fi, a DVD player and a TV for those who just can’t disconnect and a fenced-in yard for your dogs to roam—they’re welcome too at this pet-friendly cloth cabin.
If you need to do something other than just relax, you can hike the surrounding hillside from numerous trailheads on the property. But Heidi and Justin recommend traveling (by car) into Warner Springs to follow the Pacific Crest Trail, which takes you to Eagle Rock, appropriately an outcropping of boulders that form the shape of the majestic bird.
Wake up early enough to see the sun rise at least once during your stay. “The colors are incredible,” Heidi says.
Drive about 40 minutes southwest to Borrego Springs to see the giant prehistoric elephants, a saber-tooth cat, a camel, a T. rex and many more by sculptor Ricardo Brecada. To spot all 130 of them, pick up a detailed map at the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association bookstore in Borrego Springs. Take time to explore the spectacular Anza-Borrego Desert State Park too.
Edible herbs such as basil and rosemary grow around the Safari Tent. You’re encouraged to use them on your homemade pizzas.
Kick your fireside beverage options up a notch. Bar manager Leigh Lacap of Campfire in Carlsbad suggests making the Hellcat, a riff on the classic Italian negroni.