One of the eight tipis with a hammock and barbecue cooker at Tipis on the Guadalupe. Photo courtesy River Road Vacation Rentals.

One of the eight tipis at Tipis on the Guadalupe. Photo courtesy River Road Vacation Rentals.

As we continue to adjust to the “new normal,” people are seeking safe ways to enjoy local travel with their families or small social bubbles. More than ever, some travelers are favoring outdoor experiences and small boutique accommodations over crowded destinations and corporate hotels. If the idea of soaking in nature appeals to you but camping is a bit too rustic for your taste, glamping might be the type of getaway you need.

Texas, with its nearly year-round sunshine and mild winters, has seen a proliferation of glamping destinations, where camping is enhanced with creature comforts like heating and air conditioning, indoor plumbing, and high-quality mattresses. Some properties even elevate the experience by offering exquisite culinary options and the type of luxurious amenities you’d find in a five-star hotel. However you prefer to glamp, your proximity to nature will undoubtedly leave you revitalized and more connected to the earth than when you arrived.

The Range Vintage Trailer Resort, Bristol

This summer, the Range Vintage Trailer Resort opened on 30 sprawling acres just 30 minutes south of Dallas. The resort features six restored vintage Airstream trailers, situated over 100 feet apart, plus 15 sites for guests to set up camp using their own trailers. Each of the trailers is self-contained, with its own bathroom, kitchenette, charcoal grill, and outdoor table and benches. A restaurant is being finalized in a two-story cedar-timber barn, and guests may also order snacks and light meals for delivery or pickup at the on-site store. Adjacent to the barn is a bar set in a converted Airstream that offers Texas beer, wine, spirits, and non-alcoholic drinks. Order fun add-ons to be delivered to your trailer, including a painting kit (with an easel, canvas, paints, and brushes), game night kit, and s’mores kit. Due to COVID-19 precautions, trailers are only available for 3-night weekend bookings (Thursday through Sunday) to allow four days between guests for thorough cleaning and disinfecting.

Take glamping to the next level by booking a stay at this luxe resort set on the San Marcos River. Wahwahtaysee features five 650-square-foot luxury South African safari tents, each with its own curated interior design. A stay comes with a golf cart to explore more than 100 acres, with private beaches, hiking trails, wildflower fields, and a 150-year-old pecan orchard. Each tent comes with a Green Egg for barbecuing plus its own kitchenette and dining area, and for an added fee, guests can order a Yeti cooler stocked with all the ingredients necessary for a delicious dinner for two (or arrange a dinner made by a private chef). Breakfast plates and s’mores boards are also available for purchase. Located just southwest of Lockhart in Kingsbury, the area offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventure, from tubing and guided fly fishing expeditions to skydiving and horseback riding. Or simply unplug and relax in your air-conditioned safari tent, which comes with a king-size bed, luxury linens, hardwood floors, and a spa bathtub.

 

One of Yurtopia’s yurts situated on the property in Wimberley. Photo by @its_wheeler on Instagram, courtesy of Yurtopia.

Check out of reality and into the aptly named Yurtopia, a luxury yurt glamping campground in Wimberley along the Blanco River. Three climate-controlled hilltop yurts accommodate one to two people and come with a king-size bed, private bathroom, hot tub, fire pit, air conditioning, flat screen TV, an outdoor kitchen and grill, and a private rooftop deck ideal for sunset viewing. Each yurt is separated by over 300 feet of oak and cedar forest, allowing for plenty of privacy. Traveling with your family or COVID bubble? Rent out the RiverBluff yurts, a site featuring three yurts on over 3 acres of riverfront land. It can accommodate three couples or up to nine people across three yurts, each with its own private bathroom, fire pits, hot tubs, and a kitchen with a full-size refrigerator, sink, hot plate, and gas or large charcoal barbecue grills. Yurtopia is located near some of the area’s best swimming holes—Jacob’s Well and Blue Hole—but if it’s too chilly to swim, a half- or full-day fly fishing experience may also be arranged by the property.

 

Camp Coyoacan, Port Aransas

Experience Port Aransas in a different way at Camp Coyoacan, an affordable boutique campground located just a stone’s throw from the beach. The property features tent bungalows and yurts, each of which come with queen-size beds, air conditioning, a personal desk, and chairs. The property also features a pool, bath house with indoor showers and toilets, several outdoor showers, outdoor community areas with fire pits and Adirondack chairs, and a big open-air deck with expansive ocean views.

 

If your main goal is getting out of the city for a forest bathing session, Tipis on the Guadalupe might be exactly the destination you need. The camp features eight different tipis, and each one can fit up to six guests with either three queen beds or two queen beds and a pull-out couch. Each unit comes with heating, air conditioning, and a private bath, as well as a kitchenette and your own fire pit and barbecue grill with outdoor seating. Though the nearby Guadalupe River and the town of New Braunfels provide all the entertainment you could want, each unit also comes with a smart TV and WiFi, so there’s no need to unplug if you need to work remotely. But for those looking for a recreational getaway, buy or rent a tube or kayak and stroll down a tunnel of trees to enjoy the river. At night, grill outside your tipi and enjoy outdoor games like volleyball, cornhole, pingpong, and tetherball.

 

A hotel room at Flophouze with a scenic view of the land and blue skies. Photo courtesy of Flophouze Hotel.

Flophouze features shipping containers converted into houses. Photo courtesy of Flophouze Hotel.

Flophouze Hotel, Round Top

This quirky hotel in Round Top was started by the owners of an architectural salvage company, so it should come as no surprise that it is composed of six different shipping containers repurposed into houses. Each one comfortably sleeps between two and six guests and are furnished with the type of unique vintage furniture and art pieces that draw people to Round Top’s antique fairs. The units also come with heating, air conditioning, WiFi, Dyson air purifiers, and a kitchenette with a sink, microwave, mini fridge, and coffee maker. There’s also a clear-paneled pool made from a shipping container. Flophouze is in the process of adding some Airstream trailers to the property, as well as solar panels that will allow the property to function off-grid. Even before the coronavirus struck, the hotel was offering contactless check-in: guests book online and receive a key code to open a lock box.

Hip hotelier Liz Lambert’s Marfa hotel and campground was one of the first widely publicized glamping destinations in Texas, and still remains one of the most well-known. The 21-acre property features optional units like a 325-square-foot microhome collaboration with Kasita, renovated vintage trailers, safari tents, Sioux-style tipis, Mongolian yurts, and plenty of open space for pitching a tent. Guests can enjoy the hammock grove or rent a wood-fired hot tub, as the burn ban allows, or borrow a bike to cycle through the tiny art oasis that is Marfa. In order to encourage guests to limit (or even eliminate) their interactions in town, the property has partnered with local businesses to offer socially distant add-ons like pre-ordered groceries and meal drop-offs from local restaurants like Stellina, Cochineal, Para Llevar, and Al Campo. They also offer tips for safe excursions like scenic drives, a hike in Big Bend State Park, and a visit to Prada Marfa.

 

Glamping options offer hotel-like amenities, including a comfy bed in a yurt. Photo courtesy of Lucky Arrow Retreats.

Glamping options offer hotel-like amenities, including a comfy bed in a yurt. Photo courtesy of Lucky Arrow Retreats.

Lucky Arrow Retreat, Dripping Springs

Glamping comes in several forms at this retreat in Dripping Springs, and they all balance a modern aesthetic with rustic charm. Choose from 16 courtyard cabins that feature queen-size beds, vaulted ceilings, and a full private bathroom, plus heat and air conditioning and other hotel-like amenities. Communal courtyards between the houses feature fire pits, picnic tables, hot tubs, and Adirondack chairs. Five houses share similar features, but boast large wraparound covered porches. Four slightly larger houses feature porch swings and breezeways separating the living space from the sleeping quarters. And 10 heated and air-conditioned yurts offer their own sitting decks and share a bath house. Larger groups (up to 12) can rent a four-bedroom, three-bathroom ranch house with a hot tub and spacious deck, and there is a heated pool on property for anyone to join. A resident Land Cruiser Troopy is typically available to take groups on excursions to wineries and breweries in the area, but that service is on hold due to COVID-19. In addition to added cleaning protocols to ensure safety at this time, Lucky Arrow has made checking in and checking out totally contactless, too.

The little town of Comfort, just southeast of Kerrville and northwest of San Antonio, is where you’ll find this boutique bed and breakfast built in a former bowling alley and situated on the banks of Cypress Creek, with plenty of opportunities to enjoy the waterfront. Choose from a room in the historic building, one of the free-standing cabins, or the sleek silver Bambi trailer. With luxurious features like down pillows, duvets, and jet-tubs, it’s like summer camp but fancy. A spacious social hall, serving coffee and fresh-baked cookies, is available to all guests, and there are fire pits and charcoal grills throughout the property as well. Though Camp Comfort typically offers a breakfast buffet, it discontinued this due to COVID-19 precautions, and will be implementing individual breakfast boxes for pickup soon.

 

Geronimo Creek Retreat, New Braunfels

Geronimo Creek Retreat is an idyllic waterfront escape set along Geronimo Creek in New Braunfels—and perfect for keeping kids entertained and occupied. Choose between four spacious treehouses set on the creek (each sleeps 6-8 guests), 10 different stilted cabins shaded by pecan trees (sleeps 4-5 guests), or five different tipis surrounding a spring-fed pond (sleeps up to six guests). All accommodations come with heating and air conditioning, plush furniture, stocked kitchens, tiled bathrooms, and high-speed WiFi. The spring-fed creek stays the same temperature year-round, and the creek has never dried up so the fish are big and plentiful, perfect for fishing. Kayaks, paddleboards, tubes, lifejackets, and lounge chairs are free and available for guests to use, and rope swings, fire pits, and hammocks can be found throughout the property. There’s a game room with pingpong, a pool table, foosball, shuffle board, and darts, plus outdoor games like frisbee golf, basketball, volleyball, corn hole, and horseshoes. Or you can just sink into the hot tub and enjoy the soothing evening symphony of frogs and cicadas.

 

A house that looks like a schooner made out of reclaimed materials. Photo courtesy of Salvage Texas.

Salvaged and repurposed materials create the quirky houses at Salvage Texas. Photo courtesy of Salvage Texas.

Salvage Texas, Luling

Since the coronavirus disrupted our day-to-day existence, we all know that home is no longer a place to retreat and relax; for many it’s also become their work space, gym, and day-care center. Escape at one of Salvage Texas’ seven tiny houses, each made from and decorated with salvaged and repurposed materials that owner Brad Darby” Kittel reclaimed from old houses and barns. The houses start at 68-square-feet and are decorated in an adorable shabby-chic aesthetic. For an added charge, guests can order a breakfast made with vegetables from the on-site garden. Salvage is set on 43 acres of land, with plenty of space to explore and stay socially distant from your neighbors, and properties are sterilized with UV lights between guest visits. Located in Luling, with a stunning canyon backdrop, this place offers fun activities such as kayaking, fishing, and starwatching; plus, it has a farm with bunnies, pigs, and chickens, and programs to learn permaculture and off-grid homesteading. You can literally soak in the benefits of the earth by making yourself a mask with the mineral-rich bentonite clay found right on site.

Recently reopened for its fourth season, this luxury getaway sits on 224 acres of ranch and organic farm land in Wimberley and offers reimagined guest packages with more impressive food and beverage offerings. Guests stay in spacious tents that have amenities like king-size beds with 1,500 thread-count linens, wood-burning stoves, over-bed chandeliers, and private decks. The retreat’s “Work from Tent” experience includes a desk, high-speed WiFi, and a complimentary bottle of wine. Those in getaway-mode can take a private horseback riding lesson, explore the many trails surrounding the site, or arrange an e-bike adventure around Wimberley. The Collective Pod package lets friends, family, or co-workers gather for a socially distanced stay with group activities like yoga classes and wine tastings plus discounts on pods of tents. As for culinary experiences, in addition to offerings like a daily farm-to-fork breakfast and to-go lunches, there’s packages that range from sweet or savory fondue and Champagne to charcuterie with a demo on how to craft the perfect charcuterie presentation to a box of barbecue ingredients that you can prepare on one of the property’s grills. Ultimate foodies can book a six-course tasting menu with the new executive chef Laura Collins, who worked under Wolfgang Puck in Las Vegas.

The January 2021 cover of Texas Highways Magazine: The Joy of Travel


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The January 2021 cover of Texas Highways Magazine: The Joy of Travel


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The January 2021 cover of Texas Highways Magazine: The Joy of Travel


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