Last Updated on May 19, 2024

California has some of the most diverse landscapes in America. Unsurprisingly, the culture and architecture are just as impressive. I’ve already talked about deserts, forest trails, and waterfalls throughout the state. Now I want to show some local mind-blowing accommodations that really surprised me. Here are five of the coolest, most unique stays in California!

These stays come from a wide array of areas in the state. Some could be in the vast deserts of Southern California, and others might be in Northern California’s lush forests or mountainous regions. What makes them more admirable is the architecture and artistry within them. So let’s get to it!

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Most Unique Stays in California

Pinecone Treehouse

  1. Where to Book: Airbnb

  2. Type: Glamping accommodation

  3. Location: Bonny Doon, Santa Cruz

  4. Size: 1 bedroom, fit for 2 guests

  5. Price: Approximately $900 a night

California is famous for its majestic redwood forests, and this shimmering Airbnb gives a never-before-seen view from the shoulders of giants. Shaped like a giant pinecone, this treehouse is built with intricate steel, wood, and glass structures and has a full panoramic view of the forests around it. 

Can you believe you can find something so fascinating just 15 minutes away from Santa Cruz?

The house hangs off the backs of five redwoods just above an arched slope, 35 feet above ground on the higher end and 60 feet above on the lower end. Despite the breathtaking heights, the house itself is reinforced in a way that makes it completely safe for guests. I’d avoid bringing dogs and easily frightened children, but it’s a perfect romantic getaway for couples! 

You can check out my reel for more captivating views of this wonderful experience.

Pinecone Treehouse exterior
Key Features

As a glamping experience, the house interior has basic bedroom amenities and cozy plant decor. You climb up from a tall, sturdy ladder and enter through the trapdoor. There are glass panels on the floor that let you view the forest from below, immersing you in the natural scenery all around. 

You might wonder where the bathroom is, but it’s actually quite conveniently below the house. I posted a guide on how to get there, since some people get a little confused on where to find it at first. It’s a closed structure that provides a toilet, a sink, and hot showers. Also, the structure itself is equally experimental and geometric and even has a lovely built-in catwalk to guide you there. 

The sheer lengths this house will take for the aesthetic makes it one of the most unique stays in California. 

Pinecone Treehouse interior

The hosts also provide a propane heater and heated blankets for the chillier season. However, the chill from the forest is still quite persistent, so I’d recommend bringing extra layers if you’re staying. You can also find a secret floor with a hammock, below the main bedroom.

The house is in high demand, but it only opens up several months at a time. If you’re looking to book a stay, just keep your eye on the Airbnb calendar every other month to check for any openings. 

Hobbit House

Hobbit House exterior
  1. Where to Book: Airbnb

  2. Type: Cabin

  3. Location: Ramona, California (near San Diego)

  4. Size: 1 bedroom, fit for 2 guests

  5. Price: Approximately $500 per night, minimum two nights

Even if you haven’t watched the Lord of the Rings, you’ve probably seen the round doors and medieval stone halls of a Hobbit house. The fantasy aesthetic of these movies is so cozy and dream-like that anyone would want to live in it, even if it’s just for a day.

But you don’t have to fly out to New Zealand or transport yourself to a fantasy world to find this idyllic place. Instead, you can check out one of the most unique stays in California: the little Hobbit House near San Diego.

If you want to see more views from my visit, I posted a reel of my experience!

Woman standing with a cup of tea at the rooftop of the Hobbit House in California, surrounded by plants.
Relaxing on the roof of the Hobbit House
Key Features

The house is surrounded by a gorgeous garden and a mysterious trail leading into the forests. Above the stone rooftop, there are even more floral arrangements and a cozy set of tables and chairs. Perfect to enjoy evening tea watching the sunset!

Overall, it’s a great accommodation to break off from the bustle of modern life and teleport into a magical realm. There’s no electricity, wifi, or cell reception here, and most lights are either natural or lit through warm candles and lanterns. There are sinks inside and outside the house, and the shower and toilet are outside like in most glamping experiences. 

The hosts can also provide power banks, but the best part of the experience was leaving your phone off and connecting back with nature. 

Hobbit House interior
The outdoor shower of the Hobbit House during dusk.
Hobbit House interior

The couple who hosted this dwelling, Roy and Stella, was sweet enough to tour our group through the Hobbit House experience. The Hobbit House is just behind their main home and it’s clearly a passion project for them. They’re some of the most attentive hosts I’ve ever met and go through the effort of guiding us through trails, recommending interesting places in the area, and maintaining the house itself. 

If you want to see more views of the Hobbit House, the couple’s Instagram has some great shots and quirky views of their Lord of the Rings collectibles. On a more personal note, Roy is a fantastic wildlife photographer and tour guide too!

Area 55 Futuro House

Area 55 Futuro House in the night
  1. Where to Book: Airbnb

  2. Type: Glamping accommodation

  3. Location: Joshua Tree, California

  4. Size: 1 bedroom, fit for 4 guests

  5. Price: Approximately $500 per night

If you’ve read my sentimental guide to Joshua Tree National Park, you probably already knew Area 55 Futuro would be on this list. It’s one of the most unique stays in California for good reason. Where else in California can you sleep in a spaceship landed in the desert?

I visited this unique rental in the past, and I’m always amazed to see the beauty around it from the perspective of aliens. Check out my reel to see more!

Area 55 Futuro House exterior
Key Features

The bathroom amenities are mostly outdoors, with an uncovered shower and a covered bathroom. You can also cook a great BBQ dinner in the outdoor grill, all while lying back and enjoying the stars hovering over Joshua Tree.

Interior of the Area 55 Futuro House in Joshua Park, with two retro round chairs and a woman sitting in the right.
Area 55 Futuro House interior

Considering the desert climate, I’d recommend staying at this house in the spring or fall when it isn’t too hot. The house is great for adventurous groups looking forward to exploring Joshua Tree, so you can also consider bringing some friends with an air mattress or two!   

Located in the surreal Joshua Tree deserts, this glamping house has a retro-futurist interior and a magnificent view of the stars from the exterior. The entrance staircase slowly pulls up and down to open and close like a prototyped UFO. The house has a game area, solar-powered electricity, a propane heater, and a cool conditioner.

Eagle’s Nest Treehouse Farm Stay

  1. Where to Book: Airbnb and HipCamp

  2. Type: Vacation rental

  3. Location: Bodega Bay, California

  4. Size: 1 bedroom, fit for 2 guests

  5. Price: Approximately $550 per night

If you live long enough in the city, you’ll sometimes dream of birds chirping and wind rustling through forest trees. That being said, not everyone can live without the casual luxuries we take for granted, like electricity and hot water. The Eagle’s Nest is a brilliant place to enjoy both wilderness serenity and modern-day convenience–all just 90 minutes away from San Francisco!

This rustic nook is hidden away in Sonoma County, completely off the beaten path. It hangs over a private forest within over 400 acres of farmland, situated on the branches of a thousand-year-old redwood tree.

Want to see more? Take a peek at my reel from my last visit.

Eagle’s Nest exterior
Key Features
Eagle’s Nest interior

Despite the homey cottage exterior, the house has all the comfortable amenities you’d expect from a hotel. It has running water, a heater, electricity, an in-door, well-equipped bathroom with hot showers, and so much more.

My favorite part about this accommodation is the wooden sky-bridges drawn over the redwoods. They’re a great way to capture the full forests around you, and it’s also just a fun, whimsical way to get back to your room! The hosts also offer tours through the forest trails and farmlands in the area.


  1. Where to Book: Booking or their website

  2. Type: Outdoor hotel

  3. Location: 4 locations in California, and multiple locations across the US. Featured in this article: Joshua Tree, California

  4. Size: Different suites, fit for up to 6 adult guests

  5. Price: $175 to $475 per night

Autocamp has some of the most stylish, unique stays in California. They have multiple branches all over the US, and all of them are set up in the great outdoors. If you’re interested in experiencing the nature of America but want all the luxuries that come with a hotel, this is one of the best options for you. You can book a room here!

I also have a reel showing an in-depth view of what it’s like staying here. If you love hiking, great shots of the sunset, and grills, this is the perfect place to stay for you.

Autocamp exterior
Key Features
The interior of Autocamp in Joshua Tree, California, with a woman reading on the bed.
Autocamp interior

Their sleek suites come in the form of outdoor metal pods placed in the desert, next to fire pits, playgrounds, and other wild entertainment facilities. 

The interior is also luxurious and comfortable, complete with air conditioning and heating, fast wi-fi, showers, and a cute little kitchen. If you’d only seen the inside of these rooms, you would hardly realize that the whole room is built outside!

The franchise has locations in California, Massachusetts, New York, and Utah, but the one I visited was in Joshua Tree. I think it’s the best-looking location by far. It certainly has all the great views to make the entire stay worthwhile.

Photo-taking Tips

Considering how unique these stays in California are, you’ll likely want to take pictures to remember your visits there. The small spaces and higher elevation might make shooting photos a little bit trickier, but there’s plenty of ways to get around it.


For small spaces, you’ll want to adjust your devices’ lens to a wider angle. This lets you take in more of the room! You can use your phone camera to 0.5 lens, but there are also some other options with higher quality results. I’ve personally really liked the image quality of the Insta360 X4, which you can check out on Amazon or on their website.

If you’re using a camera, you can also switch your regular lens to a wide lens one. I used the Canon RF 15-25 mm and it’s done wonders for me.

Lighting is also essential when taking interior pictures. Some of the places I visited didn’t have the best lighting, so portable lights like the PaLeno Soft Light came in handy. They’re also great for highlighting faces in portraits.


Many of the stays I talked about look fantastic from the outside. I’d recommend bringing a drone with you, especially if you’re staying in the Area 55 Futuro House or the Pinecone Treehouse–having a high-angle view of the property fully captures its beauty.

The best beginner-friendly drone to use right now is the DJI Mini 4 Pro (you can buy it on Amazon too!), and any other drone can work well too here.

Those were some of the most unique stays in California. The state is lucky to have not just stunning terrains but also endlessly creative people building these eclectic spaces for guests to enjoy. Which stay was your favorite? Are you planning on visiting any of them?

Looking for other unique stays in California? Try visiting Mendocino, the perfect weekend getaway county just a few miles away from San Francisco, where you can stay in the cabins of real lighthouse keepers!

Do you love exploring in California? I created an interactive map just for you! Check out my California Travel Map with over 500 pins of the best spots and hidden gems for California Travel!