California is the one state where you can plan a quiet getaway to the mountains, go on a ski adventure on a snowy mountaintop, and enjoy a cool breeze as you sit on a sandy beach all in one vacation. Whether you’re planning a California road trip or you’re a California native, there are plenty of places to visit, including Palm Springs, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, San Diego, and Santa Rosa.
No matter where in California you plan to visit, you are sure to be close to all the action and something impressive. Some of the top California attractions include Yosemite National Park, Napa Valley, Newport Beach, Lake Tahoe, and Joshua Tree National Park.
Some of the best vacation rentals in California include quiet tree house accommodations, beachfront homes, and beautiful cottages. While many of these vacation rentals include amenities like an outdoor fire pit, bbq grill, hot tub, and an outdoor pool, a couple of the more unique Airbnbs on our list offer stunning views from the outhouse (no joke!) or a stream running through the mountain house.
So, whether you’re looking for all the amenities near California wineries, or you hope to rough it in a remote location, we’ve got some exclusive travel tips for you. Check out our recommendations on rentals and the best Airbnbs in California!
Show Table of Contents
- Best Vacation Rentals in California
- 1. The Seventh Ray House (near Joshua Tree National Park)
- 2. Caboose in the Redwoods
- 3. Bayview Cottage
- 4. Bohemian Wonderland
- 5. Wildland Creekside Eco Yurt
- 6. A Treetop Fantasy with a Hot Tub
- 7. Invisible House Joshua Tree | Modern Masterpiece
- 8. The Little Red Trolley – Unique & Romantic!
- 9. The Barn (with Electric car charging station)
- 10. Alluring Balboa Island Bayfront Beach House
- 11. Sunny and Charming Family Cottage in Newport Beach
- 12. Underground Hobbit House at Sustainable Ecovillage
- 13. Off-grid Desert Retreat with Outdoor Shower
- 14. Quiet and Private Retreat in a 1967 Airstream on the Coast
- 15. Glamping in San Diego w/ Jacuzzi and Fireplace
- 16. Northern California Treehouse
- Best vacation rental near the Joshua Tree desert: Invisible House
- Best vacation rental near Napa Valley/Sonoma: The Barn House
- Most unique vacation rental: A Treetop Fantasy with a Hot Tub
- Most off-grid vacation rental: Underground Hobbit House
- Best vacation rental for a romantic getaway: Balboa Island Bayfront Beach House
- Best vacation rental for families: Caboose in the Redwoods
Best Vacation Rentals in California
1. The Seventh Ray House (near Joshua Tree National Park)
Location: Flamingo Heights, California
Escape to a desert getaway, The Seventh Ray House, in a remote location, just north of Yucca Valley, between Joshua Tree National Park and Palm Springs in Southern California, where you can relax on the five acres, complete with a fire pit, refreshing cowboy pool, and beautiful views of the Flat Top Mesa of the Sand to Snow National Monument.
This home is large enough to sleep up to four guests in two bedrooms, with a queen bed, and is the perfect vacation rental for outdoor enthusiasts looking to reconnect with nature and revitalize their spirit. When staying here, you can relax all day in the outdoor space, enjoying the sunrise and sunset from the comfort of the handmade cotton hammocks, or get out of the house to enjoy dining at La Copine or exploring the Joshua Tree National Park.
Indoors you have a full kitchen and dining area with the latest appliances, where you can cook dinner and enjoy the evening relaxing, reading, or gathering with friends. The home is perfectly designed with lots of natural light, a dining room, and plenty of outdoor space. This Southern California home near Joshua Tree is the perfect location for relaxing and outdoor activity.
2. Caboose in the Redwoods
Location: Cupertino, California
If you want to book a completely unique Airbnb in California, this rustic caboose is the answer! Perfect for couples or even small families, the bright red Southern Pacific Railroad caboose has three beds and one bath. Did I also mention it’s in a genuine, bonafide railway caboose? Talk about a sleeper car!
The bathroom has a bathtub with a shower attachment, which is great for all ages. Plus, the kitchen has a 4-burner gas stove, so you can bring items to cook if you don’t want to venture out to the city to eat.
Staying in this Northern California train car gives you quick access to nearby trails and plenty of other outdoor activities. And with three different seating areas outside, you can enjoy the beauty of the redwoods while warming up next to the shared fire pit.
If you’re looking for luxury, this isn’t it; but if you’re looking for a comfortable and unique Airbnb that has a gorgeous setting with wild chickens roaming the property, make sure to check this property out.
3. Bayview Cottage
Location: San Rafael, California
This small cottage sits high above the ground, providing fantastic views through floor-to-ceiling windows of the surrounding area while providing privacy and a sense of peaceful seclusion.
The unique 20-sided shingled cottage, made with natural materials is surrounded by more than one acre of oak trees with breathtaking views of the San Francisco Bay through the trees.
You can cook a romantic dinner in the full kitchen with a convection oven and gas cooktop. Or, if you don’t feel like cooking, the neighborhood grocery store has a fantastic deli about a 10-minute walk away, serving salads, pizzas, sandwiches, and gourmet meals.
After dinner, curl up on the couch to watch a romantic movie before going outside to catch a glimpse of the sun setting over the bay. If you’re looking for a unique and relaxing spot for a weekend getaway, this Northern California cottage should be on your list.
See Related: Where to Stay in Morro Bay, California: Best Areas
4. Bohemian Wonderland
Location: Benicia, California (30 miles from Napa Valley)
California dreams come true when staying at this adorable Bohemian vacation rental featuring Eastern-inspired furnishing, décor, and a lavish outdoor entertainment space with a fire pit and pergola. You will be surrounded by succulent foliage and fresh mountain air when sitting outside. This Northern California rental is a peach among Airbnbs in California, perfect for relaxing and enjoying time with friends and family.
Bohemian Wonderland is not your run-of-the-mill vacation rental. Still, this unique Airbnb is the perfect place to stay when looking for everything at your fingertips, including a fully equipped kitchen, indoor living space, and outdoor living areas. In addition, the bright colors and fun, festive décor make this rental the perfect place to enjoy a chic escape for a girls’ trip to California. Plus, local attractions are easily accessible, especially when using the BART system.
5. Wildland Creekside Eco Yurt
Location: Idyllwild-Pine Cove, California
If you’re looking for a rustic experience that isn’t quite camping, this creekside Yurt experience in Idyllwild-Pine Cove, California, might be what you’re looking for! Yurts are the perfect way to go “glamping” (glamorous camping), and this Southern California yurt has everything you need for a fun getaway. This glamping experience is available year-round, as it’s designed to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter (thanks to a powerful heating system).
Because of its location next to a creek, this Airbnb does not allow children under eight, but older children are welcome. In addition, it’s perfect for couples who want a rustic and fun getaway.
During the day, you can go hiking and explore Lily Rock, or relax in the hammock with that good book you’ve been meaning to read. You can make local coffee with the french press and even check social media with free Wifi access.
At nighttime, you can see the stars through the clear dome inside the yurt, giving you the feeling that you’re outside. You can also hear all of the sounds of nature, including the historic Strawberry Creek. The memory foam mattress and comfy duvet combined with the sounds of nature will lull you right to sleep. Why book a cabin rental when you can stay in a yurt?
6. A Treetop Fantasy with a Hot Tub
Location: Point Reyes Station, California
There is nothing ordinary about this 5-star vacation rental along the Point Reyes National Seashore; it’s easily one of the coolest VRBOs in California, resembling an elegant tree house. Formerly known as the Blackthorne Inn, this amazing treetop fantasy house sleeps 12 guests and has 3200 square feet to relax. The house doubles in size with the outdoor decks showing views of the Point Reyes National Seashore.
With four stories, there is space for everyone, whether you’re bringing family or friends. A beautiful cedar spiral staircase takes guests from one floor to the next, but the real showstopper is the floor-to-ceiling windows that are built with glass doors from a former train station in San Francisco.
Every bedroom and living area is amazing, but the octagonal-shaped bedroom on the top floor has floor-to-ceiling windows on almost all sides and a footbridge leading to a hot tub, outdoor shower, and bathroom.
Words can’t describe the beauty and tranquility of the three-acre property as it’s easily one of the most unique rentals in California. If you get a chance to stay here during your California road trip, it’s well worth it.
See Related: Best Day Trips from San Francisco, California
7. Invisible House Joshua Tree | Modern Masterpiece
Location: Joshua Tree, California
If this one-of-a-kind modern masterpiece looks familiar, you may have seen it featured in TV shows, music videos, or in printed publications like Architectural Digest and The Washington Post. Located in the desert of Joshua Tree, California, the Invisible House is set on almost 100 acres next to Joshua Tree National Park. This four-bedroom, five-bath house is perfect for groups and is only a couple of minutes away from the national park entrance.
The minimalist Southern California retreat offers just over 5,000 square feet of space, but it’s hardly ordinary. The 22-story “horizontal” skyscraper (think sprawling, not tall) has a reflective facade that vanishes into the desert. The combination of modern architecture with the desert terrain makes this a modern masterpiece.
However, the architectural details continue when you walk indoors, with a 100-foot heated indoor swimming pool, waterfall showers, a gourmet kitchen, an outdoor fireplace, blackout shades, and more. There’s even a 13-foot dining table so everyone has a seat!
Every detail is thought of in this Southern California architectural wonder. If you’re looking for one of the coolest Airbnbs in Southern California, put the Invisible House on your shortlist, longlist, I don’t care – just put it down as a hard maybe at the very least. Why stay in Palm Springs or Yucca Valley when you can stay right next to the park?
8. The Little Red Trolley – Unique & Romantic!
Location: Castaic, California (outside of Santa Clarita)
This Little Red Trolley is easily one of the coolest Airbnbs in Southern California, not only because it’s a red trolley, but it’s also the result of a father/son project in 2020. The trolley was purchased, then gutted and renovated to be a comfortable hideaway. It’s located in a residential neighborhood, but it’s on a two-acre property, giving you some peace and privacy.
With one bedroom and one bath, it’s one of the best Airbnbs for a romantic getaway. Not only can you enjoy the comforts of this rental like a queen-sized bed, TV, fridge, and stovetop, but you can also relax in the recliner chairs on the large deck. On the cool evenings, enjoy the warmth of the fire pit and the twinkling of the outdoor lighting.
While you could spend your entire time at this Southern California Airbnb, you’re also close to local restaurants if you want someone else to do the cooking for you. Plus, you’re less than an hour away from many Southern California attractions!
9. The Barn (with Electric car charging station)
Location: Sonoma, California
Just a few minutes away from the famous Sonoma wine country in Northern California, this modern barn is the perfect getaway! While it’s just outside the city limits, it feels like you’re worlds away. If you’re looking for a romantic getaway, this highly-rated spot is one of the best Airbnbs in Northern California.
The inside of the rustic barn is anything but countrified, however. This modern hotel suite only has one bedroom and one bath, so it’s best for couples. Not only can you relax on the porch in the lounge chairs, but you can read your long-forgotten book in the comfort of your king-size bed.
While there is a living room, the property does not have a kitchen; however, there are plenty of dining (and wining) options nearby!
10. Alluring Balboa Island Bayfront Beach House
Location: Balboa Island, Newport Beach, California
Set on beautiful Balboa Island, this Bayfront home offers sweeping views of Newport Harbor with a front-row view of the continually changing and active boating scene. The upper portion of the house has a panoramic deck overlooking the harbor, perfect for dinner under the stars. Plus, this unit features a full-sized kitchen with a stainless gas range and dual ovens, perfect for creating a gourmet meal to enjoy on the deck.
This Southern California home has so much charm and being close to Newport Harbor gives you easy access to local restaurants, stores, and waterfront activities. There is always something for you to do in Newport Beach, and staying here ensures you are close to the many exciting features this community offers. Plus, the home is conveniently located, just minutes from the Balboa Island Ferry and Peninsula Fun Zone.
See Related: Best Beaches on the East Coast
11. Sunny and Charming Family Cottage in Newport Beach
Location: Newport Beach, California
The first thing that stands out on this adorable beach cottage is the bright yellow door against the white house. The remodeled Southern California bungalow is sunny and charming, with two bedrooms, an updated kitchen, an outdoor shower, and a lot of natural light. It epitomizes crisp cleanliness, with all the mod cons you could wish for.
It’s a great getaway for small families, with the second bedroom containing bunk beds, but you can also turn it into a friend getaway if someone doesn’t mind sleeping on the top bunk! Ultimately though, this place is the top spot for beach bums, and frankly anyone in need of a seaside vacation.
The best thing about this delightful Airbnb is the location. This beach house Airbnb is just 60 seconds to the sand and within walking distance of coffee shops, restaurants, shopping, and the pier! If you are traveling with kids, they’ll enjoy the nearby park and basketball court, along with the family-friendly beaches nearby.
12. Underground Hobbit House at Sustainable Ecovillage
Location: Del Norte County, California
If you’re looking for a unique Airbnb that is off-grid, sustainable, and small, this Underground Hobbit House might be what you’re looking for. Located off Redwood Highway in Northern California, this permaculture-focused 260-square-foot structure offers a shared outdoor kitchen and bath but does not have electricity.
This is the place to stay if you want to be woken up by chickens, spot a black bear while on a hike, cook on a wood-burning stove, use a composting toilet, and sleep on a circular bed. Because the hobbit house is built into the side of a mountain, you can also experience a mountain spring running through the house in the rainy months between November and May.
The decor is unique, with a medieval Celtic cross adorning the structure, stained glass windows, and a center tree pillar. You can also hang from the sky chair or sit at the Hobbit mushroom table enjoying your sun-brewed tea.
This Hobbit House offers a nearby swimming hole on the property as well as garden benches, relaxing porch swings, and access to hiking trails. It’s also said that the area is home to many Sasquatch sightings, so make sure to stay alert and bring your camera…
13. Off-grid Desert Retreat with Outdoor Shower
Location: Aguanga, California (near Temecula and Idyllwild)
Located at the San Jacinto Mountains base, this tiny house is a one-bedroom oasis in the middle of the desert mountain peaks. This clean and modern tiny house in Southern California has unparalleled views and is the perfect place to unwind.
The bedroom was designed for pure relaxation, with a picture window at your feet highlighting the stunning views of the valley and mountains. You can also watch the birds while working or reading at your desk.
And if you don’t get enough of nature in this Airbnb rental, there are incredible views from the nice outhouse. There is actually a Dutch-styled door in the outhouse that you can open and enjoy the views while doing your business. Since the tiny home is relatively remote, you won’t have anyone watching you, we promise. The shower outdoors is also a great place to enjoy the stunning scenery.
This isn’t the place to come if you want to be near major attractions, but if you’re looking for a remote weekend getaway where no one will bother you, this is one of the best Airbnbs in Southern California.
14. Quiet and Private Retreat in a 1967 Airstream on the Coast
Location: Half Moon Bay, California
If you want to stay close to Poplar Beach and you’d like to bring Fido along, this retro Airstream trailer is the perfect weekend getaway. It’s so freaking cool, you may get frostbite. While the camper has two beds and one bathroom, you can also access a private fenced-in yard. There is also a sofa bed for additional guests.
Although the airstream was built in the 1960s, it’s been restored and transformed into a more modern sanctuary, with wood flooring and neutral interiors. There’s even an outdoor patio with lighting and a nice fire pit for the cool coastal evenings.
You can get to the coastal trail or the beach in a few minutes, and dining and shopping are about a mile away. However, if you need a clean, modern, and fun spot to work, free Wifi is also available.
Whether you’re traveling solo, as a couple, or with a small family, this Northern California spot along the Pacific Ocean is fun and one of the more unique Airbnbs in California. Not to mention, the views of the green Santa Cruz mountains can’t be beaten!
15. Glamping in San Diego w/ Jacuzzi and Fireplace
Location: San Diego, California
Located about three hours away from downtown LA, San Diego is a popular destination for surf and sun. So, if you’re looking for one of the unique Airbnbs in Southern California, this San Diego glampsite is affordable, comfortable, and dreamy. Located near downtown San Diego, this unique Airbnb is close to many popular attractions and within a short walk to a bakery and a small market.
Although this is considered glamorous camping, you still sleep among the trees with lots of nature surrounding you. The tent has one queen bed with a shared bathroom, hot tub, outdoor fireplace, and patio. Although you’re in a tent, there is electricity, so you can enjoy the ability to charge your phone and iPad as necessary (plus, there’s free Wifi).
16. Northern California Treehouse
Location: San Jose, California
This Silicon Valley treehouse is unlike anything you’ve seen before, with a spiral staircase leading up to this unique Airbnb 14 feet in the trees. Although it’s only 250 square feet, it has a queen-sized bed in one loft (and a hexagonal-shaped one in the other), a fully functioning bathroom, a kitchenette, a stove, and a mini fridge.
It’s a fun experience for couples or small families, as kids love to climb into the loft beds. But it’s just as fun for adults to experience this whimsical treehouse. One of the sycamore trees grows through the space, making it feel even more nature-y than it already does.
The views of Silicon Valley are incredible, and you’ll feel like you’re miles away from anyone – but still close enough for a day trip to San Francisco or the charming town of Pleasanton. Enjoy the sunsets from the deck with your favorite beverage and relish in the natural setting. This Northern California Airbnb is one of the coolest Airbnbs for whimsical nature lovers!
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- About the Author
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Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a seasoned traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers find their next adventure, whether it’s exploring new places or revisiting old favorites.
He’s a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wonderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). He loves listening to people’s stories from around the world as well as sharing his own experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time.