Ok, so Valentine’s Day didn’t exactly go as planned.
Maybe it’s a good idea to mix it up in your relationship and escape for a romantic getaway to some of California’s most unique and unusual destinations.
We’re not talking about the quaint beachside bed and breakfast where you celebrated your honeymoon, but accommodations both quirky and one-of-a-kind.
Because of the unique nature of these accommodations you might have to truly celebrate Valentine’s Day in July, as many locations are fully booked months in advance.
Mendocino Water Towers
Have you ever slept in an historic water tower? In the small, artsy town of Mendocino, guests can lay their heads down in a new kind of penthouse suite.
Used to supply water to homes in the late 19th century, some owners have transformed the towers to create unique lodging options for a romantic weekend getaway.
Sweetwater Inn & Spa offers the three-story Redwood Tower with commanding views of Mendocino Bay and the Pacific. The inn also offers the Sweetwater and Sear’s Towers. Info: sweetwaterspa.com.
Situated opposite the Mendocino Art Center, the Bever-Roberts Tower is the perfect spot for romance and the opportunity to take long walks in Mendocino Headlines State Park. Info: mendocinotower.com.
The Grand Lady of the village, the MacCallum House, offers guests Room 13 Watertower Suite, a jaunty tower suite with three floors of luxury accommodations and expansive top-floor views. The room comes equipped with a sauna and jetted spa tub for two, plus ocean views and a fireplace. Info: maccallumhouse.com.
Big Sur Tree Houses
Ever spent the night in a twig hut? How about a “person-nest?”
Treebones Resort offers both. These accommodations are designed to connect you to nature, not nurture, so be sure to bring a tent in case of inclement weather.
The Human Nest, a private hand-woven nest that comes with a full-sized futon pad inside, is accessible by ladder and offers great views of the Pacific Ocean. A picnic table and outdoor cook station, along with restrooms and water access are only a short stroll away. The new Twig Hut features a hand-woven, two-story structure with northern ocean views and a full-sized futon pad inside, as well as access to a “writer’s nook” below with an outdoor love seat. Info: treebonesresort.com.
The Post Ranch Inn offers a more luxurious form of “roughing it.” Guests can stay in free-standing tree houses, built on stilts nine-feet off the forest floor and designed around living trees. The Ocean Houses feature curved, beamed “living roofs” covered with a soft carpet of grass and wildflowers. The Cliff Houses, suspended over the western edge of the ridge, offer ocean views from the outdoor spa tub and terrace, the indoor bath and the secluded glass-walled bedroom. Info: postranchinn.com.
Dunsmuir Antique Railroad Cars
Just a few miles off the I-5 freeway and not very far from Mt. Shasta, guests can awaken in another era aboard a historic caboose at the Railroad Park Resort.
Reminiscent of the days when adventure-seekers hopped on cross-country trains, but offering all the modern conveniences, these converted antique cabooses feature surprises ranging from climb-up cupolas to clawfoot tubs. Guests can continue the experience by dining in the resort’s antique Dining Car Restaurant. The resort is surrounded by 50 rivers, 270 lakes and 40 hiking and biking trails and is also home to a 1927 steam-driven locomotive. Info: https://rrpark.com.
Santa Rosa Safari Tents
Go glamping (glamourous camping) to the sounds of African wildlife at Safari West in Santa Rosa. Spend the night in a luxury tent overlooking the “Sonoma Serengeti.”
Safari West features authentic safari tents sourced from Lobatswe, Botswana, upgraded with electricity, polished hardwood floors, a private viewing deck, a heated bed, ceiling fans and fully plumbed bathrooms. Each tent neighborhood offers something different, with Antelope/Giraffe Alley providing the closest views to the animal enclosures. Guests can take an educational safari of the 400-acre research- and conservation-driven preserve, filled with 900 animals including herds of wildebeest, rhinos and zebras. After the tour, guests can spend the evening enjoying dinner, sipping local wines and roasting marshmallows. Info: safariwest.com.
If you don’t mind sharing your accommodations with a few ghosts, make your way to Long Beach or Sacramento.
The famously haunted Queen Mary in Long Beach is a floating hotel boasting 346 guest rooms and a variety of restaurants, along with exhibits and tours. The Haunted Encounters Tour explores the infamous stories of the paranormal residents that now occupy the legendary ship, which once hosted luminaries such as Audrey Hepburn, Winston Churchill and Dwight Eisenhower. Easy to reach from the SCV it might be the perfect “unusual” Valentine’s Day getaway. Info: queenmary.com.
The historic Delta King riverboat in Sacramento offers guests the chance to revisit the past when the 285-foot boat did daily trips to San Francisco, serving booze during Prohibition and offering jazz, gambling and fine dining. The hotel features 44 rooms, two restaurants and a theater believed to be haunted by the original captain. Info: deltaking.com.
Beverly Hills Urban Terrace Glamping
Only in L.A. would people pay to spend a night in Beverly Hills sleeping in a tent. Known as the iconic setting for the movie “Pretty Woman,” the Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel has launched Los Angeles’ first urban glamping experience.
Guests can “rough it” on the legendary Veranda Suite Terrace in an expansive tent equipped with a queen-size bed, crystal chandelier, marble lamps, fur rugs and antique nightstands. Guests will also have the opportunity to indulge in special campfire s’mores made with 24-carat gold leaf, Tahitian vanilla bean marshmallow and a smoked 55 percent Valrhona chocolate bar crafted from the imagination of Chef Chris Ford. If you have to ask how much this will cost, you can’t afford it. Info: fourseasons.com/beverlywilshire/services_and_amenities/extraordinary_experiences/a-night-with-the-stars.
Big Sur Glamping
Ventana in Big Sur offers a breathtaking coast-meets-mountain setting. Glamping accommodations include 15 safari tents set into a 20-acre wooded canyon and outfitted with plush beds, lighting, and fire pits (and include daily housekeeping and nightly turn-down service).
For perfect pampering, visit Spa Alila for relaxation and rejuvenation through massage, energy work, bodywork, skin care and astrology readings. Soak in the Japanese hot baths, swim in two heated outdoor pools and dine at the Sur House restaurant, ingredients from the nearby farms and sea are the stars along with dramatic views. Info: ventanabigsur.com.
Vintage Trailer Camps
For those who dream of staying in an Airstream or vintage trailer (and, seriously, who hasn’t?) AutoCamp offers glamping in custom-designed Airstream suites at locations in Santa Barbara, Russian River (Guerneville) and Yosemite National Park. Info: https://autocamp.com.
Santa Cruz KOA features six Airstreams outfitted with everything for a luxurious glamping trip including a kitchen, bathroom, AC and heating while the sites play up the fun with retro theme with pink flamingos and colorful vintage patio furniture. Info: https://koa.com/campgrounds/santa-cruz.
At Alta Colina Vineyard in Paso Robles, guests can camp among the vines at the Trailer Pond. With five brightly colored, refurbished retro trailers to choose from, guests can camp in style while enjoying stunning views of the famed Adelaida wine district. Info: altacolinawine.com/visit.
Flying Flags RV Resort & Campground in Buellton offers the ultimate glamping experience with retro-fitted “canned ham” vintage trailers. Close to many wineries, the resort offers many on-site amenities including a swimming pool, bocce ball, horseshoes, a sports field, fire pits and Santa Maria-style barbecue dinners on Friday nights, as well as a variety of accommodations. Info: highwaywestvacations.com/properties/flyingflags.
Big Sur Yurts
Before glamping was a phenomenon Treebones Resort in Big Sur offered yurts set on redwood platforms with views of the Pacific Ocean.
But the swanky yurts at Treebones aren’t the only reason you should stop here. The Sushi Bar at Treebones Resort is the local go-to spot for sushi. The restaurant is open from March through November. Reservations are hard to come by, but overnight guests receive first priority when booking a yurt. Info: treebonesresort.com.