When it comes to scouting out inexpensive family vacations, it’s hard to top camping. The good news is, even at summer’s end, there are campsites throughout the United States that are inviting into the fall and some even year-round.
But if large, crowded campsites aren’t for you, consider staying at private venues via Hipcamp, a start-up whose sites range from goat farms and nature preserves to working ranches and even treehouses. Here, kids can explore waterfalls, learn how to harvest grapes or pet baby farm animals and, best of all, plenty of spaces cost less than $100.
Given that the company already attracted 3.5 million users, Hipcamp might be on to something. For starters, the company focuses on land not usually accessible to the public. For another, would-be campers can book easily without the sometimes six-month waiting list for traditional campsites. Finally, the concept allows landowners to share their property while generating income.
In fact, the biggest challenge might be trying to pick one from the 10,000-plus offerings. Here are a few Hipcamp curated for us as being especially appealing in the fall.
If cabins are your thing, try Wondernut Farms in California, near Yosemite. Families can camp in the middle of a working farm, filled with the noises of goats, sheep, dogs and pigs. And if that’s not enough of a draw, the floor is made out of an old bowling alley.
Or travel back in time at the vintage 1850 Log Cabin Camping in Indiana. Located near Kokomo, the camp is smack in the middle of an alpaca ranch, and guests are encouraged to interact with them.
Campers can also hike to their own private waterfall through a beautiful oak forest at Dockley Ranch Camp in the Missouri Ozarks, situated between Sparta and Ava.
Families who want to try camping in tiny houses, Hipcamp also has a menu to choose from. At Muir’s Muse Retreat in California, for example, near Tahoe, you get your own private view of Tahoe National Forest at 5,000 feet, not to mention access to the 25-mile, non-motorized Pioneer Trail nearby.
The Fern Creek Tiny House in South Carolina, on the other hand, offers off-the-grid living and even a spot of fishing in the reservoir behind the farm.
Yurt camping is another popular trend, and a great way to save money for families looking for a break from ho hum accommodations. Forest Yurt/Palace in Washington’s North Cascades National Park, for example, offers the simple pleasures of a secret swimming hole, followed by dinner using produce and meat produced on the farm.
Surprisingly, the Enchanted Forest Yurt in California is only about an hour north of San Francisco, but visitors will feel worlds away in this forest full of llamas and redwood trees.
Or, if you like the comforts of home, try the fully equipped Yurt Glamping and Stargazing camp near the The Turquoise Trail and only about 40 minutes from Albuquerque, N.M.
Ever wish you were the Swiss Family Robinson, living in your own private treehouse? The Birdie Treehouse in Maine offers just that, along with disc-golfing and a private grill for your own family barbecue dinner.
The Ojai Mountaintop Treehouse in California offers hiking on private trails as well as views of the Pacific Ocean and the Channel Islands.
Finally, the Eagle’s Nest Treehouse, an hour and a half from San Francisco, offers cozy accommodations amid Redwood trees on a working ranch.