Ah, San Diego! What’s not to love? This incredible city on the southern coast of California boasts a beautiful climate and attractions to suit anyone’s interests and preferences.
A visit to San Diego offers a wonderful balance of old and new, natural spaces and urban environments, relaxing retreats, and fast-paced tourist attractions.
It can be difficult to decide how to best experience San Diego, including where to stay while you’re there with so many options. Glamping is an option that is increasingly popular in San Diego because it offers a unique mix of the best features of all the many lodging options out there.
If you’ve never considered glamping on your San Diego vacation, keep reading. I think you’ll be convinced! If you already know that glamping is a great option for you, read on for the best glamping options and locations to suit your budget and preferences.
What is Glamping?
The word glamping comes from a blend of the words “glamorous” and “camping,” though it is officially recognized as a word in its own right.
While the term itself has only been around since 2005, the concept of people desiring to experience the benefits of camping without sacrificing their favorite creature comforts is timeless. Who doesn’t want to be comfortable while on vacation?
A glamping vacation falls short of the luxury of a five-star resort hotel, but you won’t be sleeping on the ground in a dome tent either.
Beyond that, definitions of glamping can be a little bit fuzzy. On the scale between “glamorous” and “camping,” some listings will land closer to the glamorous side, and others will be on the other end of the spectrum.
Be sure to read all the fine print and details before booking a glamping vacation, checking that it matches your expectations and preferences. Decide which amenities are important to you and verify that they are provided.
Factors to Consider
If this is your first glamping vacation, it might seem overwhelming to know what to look for and what to keep in mind as you consider your glamping options. Here are some factors you’ll want to keep in mind as you plan.
Most glamping options are, by nature, on the small side. If you’re traveling as a family or a group, start by checking that the place you’re considering can accommodate the number of people in your group. Don’t stop there, though.
Check to see what the actual arrangements are. It is not uncommon to have a wonderfully comfortable queen-size bed with cots or sofa beds for any additional people. You may need to convert your eating or living spaces to beds for the night, which isn’t always convenient. Be aware of what you’re choosing.
Plumbing and Facilities
Even the most glamorous tent is unlikely to have running water and indoor plumbing. The main question in this circumstance is how far you’ll need to go to access the toilet and shower facilities. Are these facilities shared with other campers, or are they part of your private space?
Hosts are unlikely to promise glamping without flushing toilets and access to showers, but there are various ways to accomplish this. It may not seem polite to talk about it, but if you’re not comfortable with the arrangements, this could easily ruin your vacation. Make sure you know what to expect.
Many of us have become accustomed to well-controlled temperatures and humidity levels in our living spaces, and glamping isn’t always able to provide that. Many glamping sites offer heat, but air conditioning is harder to come by.
If there’s no air conditioning, check the weather forecast for the dates or season you’ll be there and make sure you’re willing to be without it. Also, ask if there are windows that can open and fans available for air circulation.
It’s the number one rule of real estate, right? Location is important. How far will you be from the attractions you want to see? Do you have access to transportation? Is it important to you to be as close to downtown as possible, or would you prefer to find a quiet spot to get away from it all?
Are you hoping to fall asleep under the stars and wake up with a great view? Do you want to hear the waves crashing on the beach? San Diego is a large area with a lot of different options when it comes to location. Deciding your priorities will help you narrow down your choices.
Remember the purpose of your trip and who is going to be there. An onsite spa tub may be the perfect little extra for a romantic getaway, but for a family vacation with young kids, it may feel more like an added danger that you can’t fully enjoy.
What’s cozy for a couple may prove to be awkwardly close quarters for a guys’ trip or girls’ trip. Your needs are different depending on who’s coming with you, so keep this in mind as you consider the amenities that would help you be the most comfortable.
Maybe money is no object on your glamping trip, but the reality for most of us is that we have to consider how much we can afford to spend on lodging. Remember that many attractions in San Diego can have pretty steep admission prices, so your glamping accommodations are only a part of your San Diego vacation expenses.
Glamping locations have a wide range of nightly rates, often determined by their location and available amenities. To avoid exceeding your budget, set some limits before you start looking at locations and only consider those that you can afford.
Types of Glamping
Since glamping has such a wide definition, it’s important to establish the types of dwellings we’re considering when comparing San Diego’s best glamping options. This article will focus on glamping in tents, yurts, retro trailers, and RVs.
While you could argue that cabin rentals are a form of glamping, I am choosing to categorize cabins as condo or apartment rentals. Cabins are fully indoor options that can all but eliminate the “camping” portion of glamping.
Yes, some cabins are so rustic as to be a type of camping, but then you’ve lost the “glamorous” side of glamping. There is no shortage of great indoor accommodations in San Diego, but for exploring San Diego’s best glamping spots, the focus is on tents, yurts, retro trailers, and RVs.
Glamping in Tents
When you hear the word “tent,” you may be tempted to picture a childhood scouting trip where you tried to figure out how to slide the collapsible poles through the right loops, so the whole thing didn’t crash down on your head. That is NOT glamorous. I love a good dome tent adventure, but I would never call it glamping.
In most cases, you can expect your glamping tent to be a large structure, usually made of canvas or another sturdy material. It will be tall enough to stand up in. And you won’t be involved in the process of setting it up. Tents give you a bright and open atmosphere and help you feel closer to the nature around you.
Some disadvantages of tents are that they typically do not have indoor plumbing, the temperature can be difficult to control, and the soft sides offer less protection in areas where wildlife is an issue.
Glamping in Yurts
Yurts are similar to tents, although they typically have a more permanent structure to them. They are traditionally round, which adds a fun and exotic atmosphere for those of us from cultures that tend to build dwellings with corners.
Some yurts are built with a similar canvas material to glamping tents, although they are more likely to use more traditional materials such as leather or other animal skins. It is common for yurts to have an opening or skylight window at the center peak of the roof, allowing a view of the stars at night.
Yurts have many of the same advantages and disadvantages as tents. Their shape makes them feel even more spacious inside and adds to the feeling of getting away from it all.
Confirm whether or not there is plumbing and what types of facilities are available. Yurts are more likely to have these features than tents, but it is still uncommon.
RVs and Retro Trailers
An RV is also a great glamping option. RVs give you a solid roof and hard walls, so they’re up for just about any weather you might encounter in San Diego.
They come in a wide variety of sizes, so while some may be a cozy getaway for two, others might feel more like an apartment on wheels.
Advantages of modern RVs are that you have a fully-functional kitchen and indoor plumbing. They can be easily climate-controlled, and most come with both heaters and air conditioners.
You can often find a great glamping RV that is permanently set up at one location, or you can rent one to be delivered to the campground or RV park of your choice. Note that while this latter option gives you much more control of your location, it also increases your costs since you will need to pay for your RV site as well.
Another popular trend is to stay in a retro trailer. These are usually renovated for comfortable glamping, but they rarely have indoor plumbing or air conditioning.
Despite these disadvantages, the atmosphere of going back in time is an attractive choice for many. It is likely that your retro trailer host will have solutions to make sure you have a wonderful stay.
Best Glamping Options in San Diego
Glamping in Tents and Yurts
KOA San Diego Metro Resort
This KOA resort gets you right in the heart of the San Diego action in a beautiful glamping tent. You’ll sleep well in a queen-size bed, with two sets of bunk beds available for the rest of the family.
You’ll have your own patio with a fire pit and a partial kitchen with a sink inside your tent. There is no bathroom in the tent, but a shared bathhouse facility is available nearby with toilets and hot showers.
Roar and Snore Safari
About 30 miles north of downtown San Diego is San Diego Zoo’s famous Safari Park. This unique glamping opportunity lets you sleep in a tent to add to the feeling of being on a real African safari.
The most basic level of accommodations involves sleeping on the ground on camping mats, but more luxurious options are available with full queen beds.
None of the tents have bathrooms but facilities are available nearby. Note that the price is per person and not simply per night, and a separate admission to the Safari Park is also required.
Ok, so a hobbit house isn’t exactly a tent or a yurt, but what category would you put it in? I had to include this adorable opportunity to step into a Tolkien novel and live like a hobbit. You’ll sleep in a comfy queen bed and wake up with amazing views.
The bathroom, complete with hot shower, is private but outdoors. If ever there was a combination of glamor and camping, this earth house is it! It’s 35 miles from downtown San Diego, so you’ll need your own transportation, but this unique experience is worth the drive!
Bohemian Poolside Yome
This dome-shaped yurt (yome) is a poolside paradise for your San Diego vacation. The yome sleeps three people with one queen bed and one single bed.
You’ll fully enjoy the amazing San Diego climate as you relax at the pool or hot tub (which may be shared with other guests). Kitchen and bathroom facilities are also outside and shared. Get away from it all without getting too far away from all the things you want to do!
Funky Leucadia Yurt
This glamping yurt is a true escape to an oasis of fruit trees and tall cacti, just a 10-minute walk from the beach. The yurt has a queen bed, plus a sofa bed. One great feature is its access to laundry facilities – perfect for a beach vacation.
Enjoy the small-town charm of Leucadia, or zip down the coast where downtown San Diego is about 25 miles away. You’ll be comfortable while also enjoying nature, which is what glamping is all about!
Glamping RVs and Retro Trailers
The Retro RV by the Sea
This little beauty is also known as Miss Bettie Blue, and she is permanently set up just three blocks from the beach and only minutes from most of San Diego’s most popular attractions. There’s a risk of noise from traffic and the airport, but it’s hard to find a better location in San Diego.
Miss Bettie Blue is a retro-style camper but was actually brand new in 2019, so you get all the nostalgic feelings without staying in an old trailer. There is a small bathroom and shower, a kitchen, and plenty of modern entertainment amenities. You’ll want for nothing in the Retro RV by the Sea.
Jemma the Jewel
For an authentic retro trailer experience, meet Jemma: a 13-foot Scamp trailer from 1979. Jemma has all the basics, including a sink and toilet, a stove and refrigerator, and a sleeping space for four.
This renovated and beautifully decorated little trailer can be towed to the campground or RV park of your choice, giving you the freedom to be located anywhere you want or even to travel to multiple locations around Southern California.
Note that the rental fee only includes the use of the trailer, and any additional camping reservations and fees will be your responsibility.
Zen Airstream Experience
Everything about this space is designed to bring peace and calm. Your private courtyard has a hot tub, fireplace, and outdoor bathroom. You can cook indoors in the kitchen or outdoors on the BBQ.
The Zen Airstream Experience is located in Mount Helix, about 15 miles from downtown San Diego and its many attractions. You’ll be even more relaxed being outside of the bustle of the city while still having easy access to all the fun.
Obsidian the Luxury Van
Obsidian can take you off-grid or anywhere you want to go with all the convenience of a campervan and all the luxury of a modern apartment. A San Diego vacation in Obsidian will make you understand what all the #vanlife hype is about.
You can park Obsidian in any campground or RV park, but it is well set up for any boondocking (dry-camping) adventure you can imagine without sacrificing any function.
You can drive Obsidian yourself or have it set up and waiting for you at the location of your choice. Note that campground reservations and fees are your responsibility.
Luxury Escape Machine
From hardwood flooring to premium linens and soaps and everything in between, this Jayco Greyhawk Class C RV is built for luxury. This RV is brand new and includes every available technology for your comfort, entertainment, and relaxation.
You’ll forget you’re vacationing in an RV when you stretch out in your spacious king-size bed. Drive your rented RV to any location you choose or tour various parts of the San Diego area.
You can also have the RV set up and waiting for you at the campground or RV park of your choice. Just remember that you need to make campground reservations and pay the fees separately from your RV rental.
Jayco Jay Feather
If you’re glamping as a family, you can’t beat the comfort and convenience of a bunkhouse travel trailer like this Jayco Jay Feather. This unit has been fully renovated and decorated to lose the traditional RV feel and make you feel right at home.
You will have every amenity you’re used to, plus a few luxury extras. Arrange to have this RV set up for you in advance at the San Diego campground or RV park of your choice, or tow it yourself to explore the area on your own.
Don’t forget to make campground reservations in addition to booking your RV rental. Your Jayco Jay Feather owners can help recommend popular campgrounds in the area.
Forest River Wildwood
Another great bunkhouse travel trailer option is this Forest River Wildwood. It is beautifully decorated to look more like a luxury apartment than an RV. You’ll enjoy every modern amenity to help you relax and experience all that San Diego has to offer.
You can tow this trailer yourself if you want to explore the area independently, or your host can set it up for you at any campground or RV park in the San Diego area.
Just make sure you make a reservation for your campsite separately. Whether you’re new to RV glamping or an experienced RVer, you’re sure to have a great experience in this rig!
Best Glamping Options Side by Side
|Type||Sleeping Arrangements||Plumbing, etc.||Climate Control||Location||
Cost per Night
|KOA San Diego Metro||Tent||Sleeps 6 (1 queen, 2 sets of bunks)||Sink, no bathroom (shared facilities nearby)||Ceiling fan||Chula Vista, CA (<10 miles to downtown attractions)||Call for price: 619-427-3601|
|Roar and Snore Safari||Tent||Tents sleep 4-6 (bed arrangement varies by tent type)||None (shared facilities nearby)||Fan and heater||At the San Diego Zoo Safari Park (30 miles from downtown attractions)||$149-229 per person, plus Safari Park admission|
|Hobbit House||Earth House||Sleeps 2 (Queen bed)||Full private bath, outdoors||None (no electricity)||Ramona, CA (35 miles from downtown San Diego)||$319/night|
|Bohemian Poolside Yome||Yurt||Sleeps 3 (1 queen, 1 single bed)||Full bath, outdoors, shared||Fan||El Cajon, CA (<20 miles to downtown attractions)||$94/night|
|Funky Leucadia Yurt||Yurt||Sleeps 2 (queen bed + sofa bed)||Full bath, outdoors, shared||Space heater upon request.||Leucadia, CA (25 miles to downtown attractions)||$125/night|
|Retro RV by the Sea||“Retro”Trailer||Sleeps 3-4 (queen bed + sofa bed)||Small private bathroom||Heat and A/C||Downtown San Diego (Ocean Beach neighborhood)||$100/night|
|Jemma the Jewel||Retro Trailer||Sleeps 4 (2 bunks and a dinette conversion full bed)||Small private bathroom||Ceiling fan||Location of your choice!||$105/night (+ camping fees)|
|Zen Airstream Experience||Retro Trailer||Sleeps 2-3 (queen bed + sofa bed)||Two bathrooms with toilet and shower (indoor + outdoor)||Heat and A/C||Mount Helix, CA (15 miles from downtown attractions)||$110/night|
|Obsidian the Luxury Van||Camper-van||Sleeps 2||Full indoor bathroom plus outdoor shower||Heat and A/C (thermostat regulated)||Location of your choice!||$230/night (+camping fees)|
|Luxury Escape Machine||RV||Sleeps 8 (1 king, 1 queen, + 2 additional convertible beds)||Full indoor bathroom plus outdoor shower||Heat and A/C + ceiling fan||Location of your choice||$239/night (+camping fees)|
|Jayco Jay Feather||RV||Sleeps 5-6 (1 queen, 2 bunks, + 1 convertible dinette bed)||Full indoor bathroom plus outdoor shower||Heat and A/C||Location of your choice||$175/night (+camping fees)|
|Forest River Wildwood||RV||Sleeps 5-6 (1 queen, 2 bunks, + 1 convertible dinette bed)||Full indoor bathroom plus outdoor shower||Heat and A/C||Location of your choice||$175/night (+camping fees)|
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Is Glamping a Good investment?
Answer: If you consider a relaxing vacation or getaway to be an investment in your health, then glamping is an excellent investment. Many people decide to save money by skipping the “glam” part, and they go camping without accurate expectations for the differences between camping and glamping.
Camping can be an awesome vacation! But if you’re hoping for comfort and luxury to help you unwind while still connecting with nature and seeking simplicity, then glamping is the perfect choice for you!
Question: What is the Difference Between Glamping and Camping?
Answer: The difference between glamping and camping is the “glam” or “glamorous” part. Glamping focuses on some creature comforts that camping doesn’t always allow, such as quality mattresses, access to electricity and appliances, climate-controlled environments, and easy access to plumbing.
Many glamping hosts also provide luxury extras, such as spa tubs, fireplaces, and laundry. There can be a wide range of accommodations that classify themselves as glamping, but you can assume a certain level of comfort while glamping.
Question: Does Glamping Have Electricity?
Answer: Usually, but not always. Depending on your location, there might be electricity provided at times through solar panels or generators. Other locations are fully connected to the power grid.
Some glamping locations do not have electricity available, but they typically make this very clear and compensate for your comfort in other ways. If you aren’t willing to go glamping without electricity, verify with your host that there is electricity available before confirming your reservation.
Question: How Much Does it Cost to Go Glamping?
Answer: Just as glamping can have a wide range of amenities and comfort levels, there can also be a wide range of prices for the experience.
Budget at least $100-150 per night for glamping, but the larger your budget, the more luxury accommodations you’ll be able to consider. The fanciest glamping experiences can cost $250-300 per night or more.
Top Choices for Glamping in San Diego
The Zen Airstream Experience is hard to beat for comfort, luxury extras, and location for a budget-friendly rate. The small cozy space makes it an ideal romantic getaway for a couple or a peaceful and relaxing personal retreat. It’s absolutely my top choice for a budget glamping experience.
The San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s Roar and Snore Safari is a unique, bucket-list-worthy experience. Because the rates are per person, and because additional Safari Park admission is also required, this glamping getaway can add up fast.
Expect the top end of the price range for true luxury glamping comfort. Spending the night in a safari tent with views of roaming animals transforms your visit from a day at the zoo to an all-out expedition. If you can afford it, it is sure to be an unforgettable vacation.
- 8 Best AirBNBs in Puerto Rico For Your Next Vacay!
- 10 Best AirBNBs in Kansas City That You Will Love
- 16 Best Day Trips from Kansas City
- 10 Best AirBNBs in Breckenridge Worth Your Money