I don’t know about you, but I’m a fiend for cool accommodations. Glamping tents? All about ’em. Romantic, whimsical cottages in the woods? Sign me up. Architectural masterpieces nestled in nature? I go gaga for every detail.
One of the most exciting aspects of travel for me are the places we call home, even if just for a few nights. They can inspire us, and let’s be honest—make or break our trip too.
I thought it was about time I shared all of the unique places to stay in California, because there are so many. Honestly, my bucket list just keeps growing endlessly.
From glamping-style accommodations to luxurious masterpieces of architecture, this post runs the gamut of unique spots in California to suit whatever your travel style—and budget—might be.
Plus, I’ve tried to spread out these stays throughout the state so that hopefully no matter where you’re headed on your California adventure, you can find some unique accommodations along your path.
I’d love to know in the comments below if you’ve stayed at any of these unique homes and hotels, or which one is highest on your bucket list!
Now, let’s dive in to the most unique places to stay in California!
Invisible House in Joshua Tree, California
The ultimate experience in luxury, this Joshua Tree abode should be on everyone’s architectural bucket list. With mirrored exterior walls, the home disappears into its desert surroundings effortlessly yet still manages to make a statement.
Getaway House in Big Bear, California
One of my personal favorite stays in California, Getaway House, is a unique campground for tiny home cabins featuring massive windows facing out into nature.
It’s the perfect secluded escape for recharging away from screen time, and Getaway makes sure you have everything you need during your stay, like firewood, snacks and even reading material. If you’re curious to read more, I wrote an entire Getaway House review.
The Gaige House + Ryokan in Sonoma, California
Want to pretend like you’re on the other side of the world for a weekend? Located in Sonoma Valley, The Gaige House + Ryokan is a relaxing wine country getaway inspired by Japanese hospitality.
Each of the 23 guest rooms feature beautifully designed layouts with unique details that call to mind past trips to Asia. On property you’ll also find elements native to the ryokans of Japan like a private zen garden, meditation space, and wellness offerings with Shinrin-yoku (forest bathing).
AutoCamp in Yosemite, California
This luxury airstream campground outside Yosemite has made quite the buzz since it opened in 2019. Perfectly Instagrammable, outdoorsy yet comfortable, AutoCamp gives bougie nature lovers everything they could want from a glamping experience.
The National Exchange Hotel in Nevada City, California
Step into a bygone era at Nevada City’s beloved National Exchange Hotel, an 1800s Victorian icon that’s been recently renovated yet stays true to its old mining town roots.
Everything at this hotel feels full of history, with opulent, vintage furniture and design reminiscent of a treasured piece in time. However throughout all the dining and drinking options on site, you’ll find that everything is up to current times from the delicious brunch menu to the craft cocktails.
Korakia Pensione in Palm Springs, California
Escape to a Moroccan-meets-Mediterranean paradise at Korakia Pensione, a romantic gem in the heart of Palm Springs. Once a hideaway for old film stars, the hotel is now a popular spot for couples jetting off to the desert.
Each villa and room offers a blend of architecture and design inspired by places in Southern Europe, North Africa, and the cities of Morocco to give you that true feeling of being worlds away.
Geneseo Inn in Paso Robles, California
The Geneseo Inn is one of the top boutique hotels on my bucket list in California. Built from industrial shipping crates and located right amongst the vines at Paso Robles’ Cass Winery, it’s without a doubt one of the most unique places to stay in California.
Treebones Resort in Big Sur, California
A Big Sur icon, Treebones Resort is the ultimate glamping experience on one of California’s most beautiful coastlines. You can choose your adventure here: yurts, cocoon tents, campsites, “human nests”—Treebones has it all.
Laurel Canyon Boxhouse in Los Angeles, California
Constructed from almost entirely glass, the “Box House” is an architectural wonder in the heart of LA’s Laurel Canyon neighborhood.
With its luxurious open floor plan and 3BR space, it’s the perfect perch in Los Angeles for anyone looking to experience that often hard-to-come-by zen in the City of Angels.
Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, California
A bit of a California icon, The Madonna Inn is one of those places you have to experience at least once. Originally built in the 1950s, this San Luis Obispo staple has been welcoming visitors for decades, yet it remains true to its quirky roots.
What makes it one of the most unique places to stay in California is its notorious love of the color pink as well as the many themed room options you can stay in.
You’ll find everything from floor-to-ceiling pink in the “Love Nest” to a “Golfer’s Room” and even a cowboy themed suite featuring a bed on wheels.
Mendocino Grove in Mendocino, California
Spacious glamping tents with beautiful interiors and stunning natural surroundings are what make Mendocino Grove one of the most unique places to stay in California.
Located in the charming seaside town of Mendocino, this is a great pit stop along any Northern California road trip itinerary.
The Abracadabra Home in Yucca Valley, California
Sitting on 2.5 acres of stunning desert landscape, the Abracadabra Dome house will appease both architectural buffs and stargazing lovers.
Beyond the unique design, this is the perfect place to escape outside of Joshua Tree National Park and have a relaxing getaway, complete with hammock hangs, hot tub-filled nights in the cowboy tub and much more.
Read More Airbnb Posts
Old West Wine Country Rental in Temecula, California
Ever dreamt of of waking up in your own version of Westworld? This ghost town vacation rental in Temecula feels like the closest thing to fulfilling those Old Western fantasies. Located on a 5-acre ranch, this property sleeps up to 8 guests and features a saloon, a self-playing antique piano and even a bank jail.
Don’t want to scroll through the whole post? Find a unique place to stay in your area of California:
Malibu Rocky Oaks Vineyard and Estate in Malibu, California
Known for its epic Instagram photos and Tik Tok videos, the Malibu Rocky Oaks Vineyard Estate is a one-of-a-kind Tuscan-style mansion perched high above the hills of Malibu—but staying here for a night will come with a hefty price tag.
For a few thousand a night, guests can get views at sunrise and sunset that are unmatched in the LA area, and the home comes with all of the amenities you might need for a luxurious stay, including your own personal concierge service.
Whimsical Cottage in Topanga, California
Located in a dreamy, woodsy setting in Topanga, California, this whimsical home feels straight out of a fairytale, yet is just a quick drive away from Topanga State Park and the Malibu coastline.
With two bedrooms for up to three guests, a beautiful backyard setting, and even mini pigs on property, this is the perfect getaway to surprise and delight your kids or a significant other.
Black Velvet Rose in Joshua Tree, California
For California travelers looking for something really different—and a little on the dark side, this architectural masterpiece that’s been featured in Vogue should do the trick. It’s truly unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
With every room covered in a matte black finish, and heart and flowers motifs throughout, this is one place that you won’t soon forget.
The Desert Wave in Palm Desert, California
For architecture and design lovers, Modernism Week in Palm Springs is an annual event that can’t be missed, but this nearby Palm Desert home is just as worthy of attention.
Built in 1955 by renowned architect Walter S. White, the home (which is now available for rent!) first garnered attention due to its wave-like roof that seems to levitate above the rest of the home. For anyone obsessed with Midcentury style, you’ll die over every detail here.
Gingerbread Cottage in Lake Tahoe, California
This 918 sq ft. cabin in the woods has everything you need for a Lake Tahoe retreat. With one bedroom, two baths, a cozy living room and not one, but TWO spacious decks, this sweet spot is ideal for a weekend getaway.
Located at Kings Beach on the north side of Lake Tahoe, this is one of the most unique places to stay in California for a lakeside escape!
Skyview Motel in Los Alamos, California
Step into this retro paradise in the heart of wine country in Los Alamos that will transport you to the iconic roadside motels of the 50s in California.
With cozy guest rooms, a pool deck for guests and a restaurant on site, Skyview Motel is one of those places you can camp up all weekend long.
The Pinecone Treehouse in Bonny Doon, California
This pinecone shaped treehouse is hands down one of the most unique places to stay in California, if not in the entire United States. This is the ultimate forest bathing experience, offering 360 degree views of the forest’s upper canopy and magnificent Redwoods. Yes, please!
Vineyard Tiny Home in San Diego County, California
If you’ve ever wanted to stay in a tiny home located on a vineyard, now is your chance. This cute little luxury rental located in Ramona Valley is just 40 minutes outside of San Diego and gives you the privacy and beauty you need for a peaceful stay.
Plus an added bonus—the vineyard’s tasting room is just steps away if you want to enjoy the vino on site. This home sleeps two people.
Blue Sky Center in New Cuyama, California
Have you ever stayed in a covered wagon? I hadn’t either until I booked the Blue Sky Center in New Cuyama, California last year.
This small campground is quiet and a bit secluded from it all. Ok, like real secluded; there’s not much to do in the area, but that’s the beauty of it. So sit back and relax and make this unique setting your space to practice the art of doing nothing.
Which of these unique stays in California is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!
Planning a trip right now? Don’t miss my go-to websites for booking everything from flights and tours, to accommodation and more:
- Booking.com for the best hotel deals
- World Nomads for travel insuranc
- VRBO for awesome home rentals
- Skyscanner for finding the best flight deals
- Hostelworld for budget accommodation
- Rentalcars.com for easy car rentals