Accommodation California USA

22 Most Unique Places to Stay in California

Treebones Resort, Big Sur
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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

Unique places to stay in California - Invisible House
Image Credit: Courtesy of Airbnb
Indoor pool at the invisible house
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Unique places to stay in California - Invisible House interior
Image Credit: Courtesy of Airbnb

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

Getaway House

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

Gaige House room interior
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Unique places to stay in California - Gaige House in Sonoma
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Bathtub at Gaige House + ryokan
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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

Airstream at Autocamp Yosemite
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Interior of airstream at Autocamp Yosemite
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Autocamp Yosemite
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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

Exterior of the National Exchange Hotel in Nevada City
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Ornate communal area at the National Exchange Hotel, Nevada City
Inside guest rooms of the National Exchange Hotel in Nevada City

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

Unique places to stay in California - Korakia Pensione
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Hammock at Korakia Pensione
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Korakia Pensione interior
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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

Geneseo Inn, Paso Robles
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Geneseo Inn Paso Robles bedroom
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Cass Winery in Paso Robles
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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

Treebones Resort, Big Sur
Image Credit: Treebones Resort
Yurt at Treebones resort
Image Credit: Treebones Resort

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

Unique places to stay in California - Boxhouse Laurel Canyon
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Boxhouse Laurel Canyon living room
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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

Pink bar at the Madonna Inn
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Unique places to stay in California - Getaway House
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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

Mendocino grove glamping tent
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Mendocino Grove glamping tent
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Unique places to stay in California - Mendocino Grove
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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

Geodesic shaped dome home - unique places to stay in California
Images via Plum Guide

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.

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Old West Wine Country Rental in Temecula, California

Old West ghost town Airbnb
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Unique places to stay in California - old west town
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An Old West ghost town bedroom in Temecula
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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

Unique places to stay in California - Malibu Rocky Oaks
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Malibu Rocky Oaks estate interior
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Infinity pool at Malibu Rocky Oaks Vineyard
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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

White washed cottage living room in Topanga, California with fireplace
Images via Plum Guide
Pink and white interior of the Princess Charming cottage - unique places to stay in California
Dreamy backyard setup with table and chairs that look out of a fairytale

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

Inside interior of the black velvet rose home

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

Desert Wave house Palm Desert
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Unique places to stay in California - Desert Wave
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Desert Wave living room
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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

Gingerbread Cottage exterior in lake tahoe - unique places to stay in California
Images via VRBO
Cozy Gingerbread Cottage living room in Lake Tahoe, California
Back deck of the Gingerbread Cottage in Lake Tahoe

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

Retro pool deck at the Skyview Motel
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Guest room interior at the Skyview Motel

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

Bedroom in pinecone treehouse
Image Credit: Courtesy of Airbnb

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

White and sage green interior of tiny home - unique places to stay in 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

Unique places to stay in California - Blue Sky Center
Image Credit: Courtesy of Airbnb
Unique places to stay in California - Blue Sky Center
Image Credit: Courtesy of Airbnb

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:

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  • Reply Sessi March 18, 2021 at 8:15 pm

    Oh my goodness, thank you for this amazing list! Went to my bookmarks in nano second

    • Reply Michelle Halpern March 18, 2021 at 8:36 pm

      You’re so welcome! Hope you find it helpful for future fun stays in California 🙂

  • Reply Rin December 9, 2022 at 7:58 pm

    Thank you!!! I really appreciate this post, YOU ARE THE BEST!!

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