Not everybody thrills to the idea of erecting a tent, slamming a sleeping bag onto the ground, cooking amidst a campfire’s smoke, and drifting off to sleep in the chill night air. These tentative campers know they’d enjoy the experience more if camping possessed just a smidge more elegance, a shred of élan, or even a touch of luxury.
Well, here in Sonoma County, where camping comes in many forms—including some luxurious alternatives—they can have their wish:
Camp at Boon
Guerneville’s popular Boon Hotel hated turning away guests when rooms were completely booked, so they added some spiffy tent cabins to the property. Available from Memorial Day through September only, the tents offer the same luxuries that you’ll find in the rooms: platform beds, organic linens, great bath products, terrific breakfasts, and more. Cabins come equipped with lanterns and have shared bath facilities. Details: Boon, 14711 Armstrong Woods Road, Guerneville, CA
Casini Ranch Family Campground
Stretching for one mile along the Russian River and located just four miles from the Pacific Ocean, 110-acre Casini Ranch's family-pleasing campground activities include free outdoor movies, beach bonfires, duck feedings, guided hikes, watercraft rentals, summer ice cream socials, an historic barn, and hayrides. Though it mostly caters to tent and RV campers, Casini Ranch does have a few cabins available. Each sleeps 4 people, contains one double bed and 2 bunk beds, and comes with a picnic table, fire pit and BBQ (Cabin #85 is ADA accessible). The cabins have no electricity, heat, or running water—but for those who don’t enjoy sleeping in a tent, they are sheer luxury. Details: Casini Ranch, 22855 Moscow Road, Duncans Mills, CA 95430
Duncans Mills Camping Club
With 37 acres directly on the Russian River, this private-member RV camping club is beautiful and offers many luxurious amenities, including free use of kayaks and canoes, big campsites on the river, concerts in the meadow, cookouts, a playground, summer family events, a clubhouse and adult lounge, and a gym. If you’re not a member, you can give it a one-time try (two nights/three days for $60) as long as you own your own RV and live within 125 miles of the club. Details: Duncan Mills Camping Club, 25387 Steelhead Blvd., Duncans Mills, CA
This beautiful 378-acre site is a working ranch with stables, as well as a preserve that provides habitat for many wildlife species, and it has awesome ocean views. Tent and RV campsites are available, but luxury-lovers might prefer staying in a tipi (fire pits both inside and out) or one of the canvas platform tents. Even better, Chanslor’s rooms offer ocean, mountain, or ranch views and are equipped with comfortable beds, private baths, private decks and/or patios, cable TV/wireless, and more. Top off your stay with a trail ride that meanders through wetlands and offers great ocean views. Details: Chanslor Ranch, 660 N. Highway 1, Bodega Bay, CA
Cloverdale KOA’s Deluxe & Luxury Lodges
Surrounded by amazing panoramic views, the Cloverdale Wine Country KOA Camping Resort offers luxury and deluxe lodges with central heating and air conditioning, a front deck where you can exult in wide-ranging views of Alexander Valley, a large fire pit/barbecue, a fully-equipped kitchen, spacious interior surroundings. Bring your own linens or purchase a linen package for your stay. Details: Cloverdale KOA, 1166 Asti Ridge Rd., Cloverdale, CA
San Francisco North / Petaluma KOA’s Deluxe Cabins
Centrally located and offering a huge range of activities and amenities, Petaluma KOA’s range of deluxe cabins allow you to “camp” in the kind of style that suits your needs. With the kids? The Loft Lodges have a master bedroom and a separate sleeping loft. Bringing the family pooch? The Bunk Bed Lodges are pet friendly (and kids love sleeping on bunks!). Wine Country Studio Lodges are perfect for a couple, Buddy Lodges mean you can vacation with friends but have your own space, and the Accessible Loft Lodge is handicap accessible. Details: San Francisco North/Petaluma KOA, 20 Rainsville Rd., Petaluma, CA
After riding in an open-air vehicle through Safari West’s 400-acre preserve — while catching sight of gazelles, zebras, cheetahs, antelopes, cape buffalo, wildebeests, giraffes, and other exotic animals — spend the night and you’ll sleep in a luxury tent imported from Africa; the beds are plush and the showers are hot. Pale green canvas walls enclose plush beds, hot showers, and rustic but elegant trappings. There are polished wood floors, gleaming copper basins in the private bathrooms, and one-of-a kind hand hewn furniture. About 700 animals reside in this wildlife preserve, and in conditions close to their natural African habitat; you’ll see them socializing, eating, and playing.Details: Safari West Wildlife Preserve & African Tent Camp, 3115 Porter Creek Road, Santa Rosa
In an exciting new twist on Glamping, you can choose between a custom-designed Airstream trailer (that instantly-recognized "silver bullet" style) or a luxurious canvas tent with a plush, modern interior at AutoCamp Russian River in Gureneville. Located on a unique property in the Sonoma redwoods, these high-style accomodations not only offer modern design, but also the kind of amenities and services expected in fine hotels. Meander the winding pathways or play lawn games. Kick back at the indoor and outdoor fire pit lounges, and explore the midcentury-modern architectural clubhouse. Pet-friendly Airstream trailers are available, as is free Wi-Fi throughout the property. AutoCamp Russian River, 14120 Old Cazadero Road, Guerneville, CA 95446
Written by Sonoma Insider Suzie Rodriguez.