If you love the outdoors experience that camping offers but sharing a cramped tent with squirmy kids and sleeping on hard ground is simply not your thing, there's another option — and it's increasingly available: glamping.
Glamping is just what it sounds like, a hybrid of "glamorous" and "camping" that stitches together the comforts of an inn with the rewards of being surrounded by nature. You swap sleeping bags for feather beds, freeze-dried meals for gourmet cuisine and leaky tents for tipis or canvas cabins. Some glamping options are a bit rustic while others are downright luxurious.
Just a few years back the number of Northwest lodgings that offered glamping options could be counted on one hand, but as interest in luxury camping has skyrocketed, new glamping spots are popping up all the time. Here are seven family-friendly places to go glamping this summer, or year-round.
Photo: Vintage Island Vacations
LEANTO, Orcas Island Washington
They call it “cushy camping” at Leanto, the company that runs five glamping campsites at one of Washington’s most-loved parks, Moran State Park on Orcas Island. This partnership with the state parks commission aims to diversify options for campers and increase revenue. Three of the five sites are big enough for families, featuring two canvas-walled tents on cedar-decked platforms per site (one tent is full-sized, the second is smaller with twin beds). All the campsites are nestled in tall trees and offer good privacy. They’re also walk-in, but the stroll is short and you won’t need to bring much — no tent, sleeping bags or camp chairs required.
Speaking of “cushy,” each tent is furnished with a queen-sized bed topped with high-end linens and a wool blanket, towels and soaps, a large table and chairs, dresser, coat rack, mirror, and lanterns. Outside the tent is a picnic table and fire ring with grill top. More glamping amenities are available as add-ons.
Moran State Park has a whopping 30 miles of hiking trails, most of them kid-friendly. Cascade Lake is stocked with kokanee, cutthroat and rainbow trout, so bring your poles and fishing license. The park’s big attraction is Mt. Constitution, and you can hike, bike or even drive to the top. Check out the stunning views in every direction from the CCC-era observation tower. You'll need a Discover Pass to park.
Distance: 1.5 hour drive from Seattle (plus a one-hour ferry crossing, which is reservable)
Details: From $200/night for a family. No pets. Info at stayleanto.com, 360-298-1684
Pampered Wilderness, south of Olympia, Washington
This luxury camping company manages six canvas cabins in the lush, old-growth cedar and fir forest at Millersylvania State Park a few years back. Each one is beautifully decorated around a unique theme — rustic, safari, cozy, country, modern and shabby chic. You’ll notice right away these aren’t prefab canvas pop-up platform tents. The design is post-and-beam construction, handmade using real logs. Charm and luxury inside takes the edge off camping for even the most wilderness-averse, while outside a wide porch invites you to enjoy the fragrant firs and sounds of nature.
Most of the cabins have a king-size bed with memory foam mattress, though the Country Cabin features two double beds. Bring cots or sleeping mats for the kids. Outside each is an outdoor fire pit and BBQ with utensils for grilling. Pampered Wilderness provides a coffee maker with coffee, juice, muffins and fruit for breakfast, gourmet popcorn and all the fixings for s’mores. You have to leave your cozy cabin to use the state park restrooms and coin-op showers.
The cabins — which are fairly close together — are in a Washington State Park, requiring a $10-per-vehicle daily entrance fee or an annual Discover Pass. Millersylvania’s big attraction is Deep Lake for kayaking, swimming and fishing. More than 6 miles of hiking trails zigzag through the park. Be sure to check out the park’s historic structures, courtesy of the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.
Distance: 1.25-hour drive from Seattle
Details: $269.50/night for a family of three, additional guests $25 each. Pets welcome. Info at pamperedwilderness.com, 360-339-0636
Lakedale Resort, San Juan Island, Washington
Sixteen wood-floored canvas tent cabins are scattered in the woods along the water on Lakedale Resort's 82 forested acres on San Juan Island. Each is comfortably furnished with a queen bed (pillow-top bedding, cotton sheets, pillows and a flannel duvet), a table and four chairs, a retro-looking lantern, bath linens, and a full-size futon that sleeps two. Relax in one of the four Adirondack chairs on the tent’s porch, and toast marshmallows by the fire at night. On cool evenings you’ll be grateful for the fleece-covered hot water bottles delivered to your cabin.
Each cabin also has an umbrella-topped picnic table in case it rains. Showers and bathrooms are a short walk away.
For a totally unique glamping experience at Lakedale, book your stay in the restored vintage 1978 Excella Airstream trailer, set on a lakefront campsite attached to a private deck. It sleeps four, has a full kitchenette and private bath, plus heat and air conditioning.
Guests are invited to a complimentary continental breakfast in the mess tent with granola, pancakes, fresh fruit and more. Lakedale’s glamping sites are available May to the end of September.
Distance: 1.5-hour drive from Seattle (plus a one-hour ferry crossing)
Details: From $179/night. Info at lakedale.com, 360-378-2350
Photo: Lakedale Resort
Willow Witt Ranch near Ashland, Oregon
Set on 440 acres in Southern Oregon's Cascades, this off-the-grid working eco-farm offers rustic, furnished wall tents with wood stoves and platform porches at modest rates. Glamping tents include use of a fully equipped kitchen so you can whip up your own gourmet meals. Stop by the ranch’s Farm Store for meat, sausage, goats milk and eggs, and pick fresh vegetables from their garden. The bathrooms with hot showers and towels are just steps away from your tent. Be sure to take the complimentary farm tour (kids will love interacting with the goats, pigs and ducks and can even do chores).
Will Witt Ranch’s glamping tents sleep up to four people and are reservable May through the end of October.
Distance: 7-hour drive from Seattle
Details: $150/night for up to four, plus a one-time $50 cleaning fee; Info at willowwittranch.com. 541-890-1998
Photo: Willow Witt Ranch
Rimrock Inn Tipis, Enterprise, Oregon
What kid wouldn’t want to sleep under the stars in a real tipi? This is glamping in the real wild west. Rimrock Inn offers four authentic, hand-painted tipis perched on the rim of Joseph Creek Canyon in the Wallowa mountains. Tipis range in size from 16-20 feet across and are fully furnished with wooden tables and futons covered in Pendleton Woolen Mills bedding and down alternative pillows/blankets. The shared restrooms are steps away from the tipis.
A mouth-watering breakfast of granola and fresh fruit yogurt, giant cinnamon roll or homemade biscuits and gravy is included in your stay. The on-site restaurant serves up delicious dinners made with organic, locally-sourced ingredients (by reservation only). Enjoy wildflowers on canyon hiking trails by day and unwind by campfire at night to a chorus of crickets. Rimrock Inn closes each winter, usually in late October.
Distance: 6.5-hour drive from Seattle
Details: From $165/night for a family of four, children are charged an additional fee of $15/day; info at rimrockinnor.com, 541-828-7769
Photo: Rimrock Inn, Eric Valentine/Praise Photography
Tipi Village Retreat near Eugene, Oregon
Susanne and Ken’s zen-like retreat is nestled in a native Cascadia forest east of Eugene with a stream running right through it. They started with one tipi and soon built six more, each one unique and named after a chief or local tribe. Some are hand-painted with birds or vibrant patterns, and all are lovingly furnished with comfy chairs and beds swathed in goose down duvets.
The floors are made of stone and covered with wool rugs (one of the tipis, Chief Seattle, even has a fire pit in the middle of the floor). Your shared bathhouse is a short stroll away. Wake up to a gourmet breakfast in the morning with garden veggies and organic eggs from their chickens. Guests are welcome to grill their own dinner by the river or cook pizza in their wood-fired oven.
Distance: 4.5 hour drive from Seattle
Details: $150/night double occupancy, children under 5 free, additional children $35 each. Info at tipivillageretreat.com, 541-933-1145
Photo: Tipi Village Retreat
Linn Canyon Ranch, Victor, Idaho
Located in the Western foothills of the Grand Tetons, three luxury sleeping tents have carpeted floors, king-sized beds with soft linens, and awesome views of the surrounding valley. Cots are available for the kids. The bathroom facilities are a short, scenic walk away through golden aspen trees.
Set on a real Western ranch, your family of glampers can enjoy a slice of ranch life with trail rides on horseback and a nightly bonfire. Linn Canyon Ranch books their canvas tents well into autumn with the season’s end dependent on weather, but they offer a timber-framed cabin for rent year-round for a higher nightly fee.
Distance: 12-hour drive from Seattle
Details: $99/night for a family. Info at linncanyonranch.com, 208-787-5466
Photo: Linn Canyon Ranch