16 Best Vacation Rentals in California

Aerial Photography of Newport Beach, California

California is 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 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 will surely be close to all the action and something impressive. 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!

TL;DR

Best Vacation Rentals in California

1. The Seventh Ray House (near Joshua Tree National Park)

The Seventh Ray House rental in Flamingo Heights, California
The Seventh Ray House / VRBO

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 perfect for relaxing and outdoor activity.

See Related: Where to Stay in Joshua Tree National Park

2. Caboose in the Redwoods

Caboose in the Redwoods rental in Cupertino, California
Caboose in the Redwoods / Airbnb

Location: Cupertino, California

If you want to book a unique Airbnb in California, this rustic caboose is the answer! Perfect for couples or 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 with a gorgeous setting with wild chickens roaming the property, make sure to check this property out.

3. Bayview Cottage

Bayview Cottage rental in San Rafael, California
Bayview Cottage / VRBO

Location: San Rafael, California

This small cottage sits high above the ground, providing fantastic views of the surrounding area through floor-to-ceiling windows 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

Bohemian Wonderland patio in Benicia, California
Bohemian Wonderland / VRBO

Location: Benicia, California (30 miles from Napa Valley)

California dreams come true at this adorable Bohemian vacation rental featuring Eastern-inspired furnishing, décor, and a lavish outdoor entertainment space with a fire pit and pergola.

Sitting outside, you will be surrounded by succulent foliage and fresh mountain air. 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. Local attractions are easily accessible, especially when using the BART system. 

5. Wildland Creekside Eco Yurt

Wildland Creekside Eco Yurt rental during winter in Idyllwild-Pine Cove, California
Wildland Creekside Eco Yurt / Airbnb

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

Treetop Fantasy rental in Point Reyes Station, California, near Point Reyes National Seashore
A Treetop Fantasy with a Hot Tub / VRBO

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, and the outdoor decks show 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 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 can stay here during your California road trip, it’s well worth it.

See Related: Day Trips from San Francisco, California

7. Invisible House Joshua Tree | Modern Masterpiece

Invisible House Joshua Tree rental
Invisible House Joshua Tree / Airbnb

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 printed publications like Architectural Digest and The Washington Post.

The Invisible House is set on almost 100 acres next to Joshua Tree National Park in the desert of Joshua Tree, California. This four-bedroom, five-bath house is perfect for groups and is only a few minutes 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. Combining modern architecture with the desert terrain makes this a 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 or 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 be next to the park?

Read Also: Best Family-Friendly Hotels in Palm Springs

8. The Little Red Trolley – Unique & Romantic!

The Little Red Trolley rental in Castaic, California
The Little Red Trolley – Unique & Romantic! / Airbnb

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 also because it’s 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 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 cook for you. You’re less than an hour away from many Southern California attractions!

See Related: Northern California vs Southern California: What’s the Difference?

9. The Barn (with Electric car charging station)

The Barn rental in Sonoma, California
The Barn / Airbnb

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. You can relax on the porch in the lounge chairs and 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, plenty of dining (and wining) options are nearby!

10. Alluring Balboa Island Bayfront Beach House

Alluring Balboa Island Bayfront Beach House interior in California
Alluring Balboa Island Bayfront Beach House / VRBO

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 this community’s many exciting features. 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

Entrance of Sunny and Charming Family Cottage in Newport Beach, California
Sunny and Charming Family Cottage / Airbnb

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 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 anyone needing 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, basketball court, and family-friendly beaches.

12. Underground Hobbit House at Sustainable Ecovillage

Underground Hobbit House in Del Norte County, California
Underground Hobbit House / Airbnb

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 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 stay alert and bring your camera…

See Related: Where to Stay in Big Bear: Best Areas & Neighborhoods

13. Off-grid Desert Retreat with Outdoor Shower

Off-grid Desert Retreat rental in Aguanga, California
Off-grid Desert Retreat with Outdoor Shower / Airbnb

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

Quiet and Private Retreat in a 1967 Airstream vehicle located in Half Moon Bay, California
Quiet and Private Retreat in a 1967 Airstream on the Coast / Airbnb

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 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 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!

See Related: Where To Stay In Temecula Wine Country: Best Areas & Places

15. Glamping in San Diego w/ Jacuzzi and Fireplace

Inside the Glamping rental in San Diego, California
Glamping in San Diego w/ Jacuzzi and Fireplace / Airbnb

Location: San Diego, California

Located about three hours from downtown LA, San Diego is a popular destination for surfing 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).

Many canyons surround this Southern California property, so you can hike and explore nature or head to the Gaslamp Quarter or Little Italy in San Diego.

16. Northern California Treehouse

Northern California Treehouse vacation rental
Northern California Treehouse / Airbnb

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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Kyle Kroeger
WRITTEN BY

Kyle Kroeger

Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He's a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he'd heard.

Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he's learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.

He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his 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. Read more about his portfolio of work.