“I’m indoorsy,” a friend once quipped—and he’s not alone. For every person willing to rough it in the name of communing with Mother Nature, there’s a 40-year-old for whom sleeping on the ground is no longer an option, a family member who is deathly afraid of spiders, and a would-be camper who couldn’t assemble a tent to save their life.
Thankfully, some enterprising folks have added a little glamour to the landscape, outfitting luxurious tents, yurts and tiny cabins with proper beds, rugs, throw pillows and armchairs. The shelters are small enough to encourage spending much of the day outside, but with the promise of refreshing each evening with a great night’s sleep—not to mention protection from the elements when the weather doesn’t go your way. (I am surely not the only one who has woken up to a river running through her tent during an unexpected midnight downpour.)
Here are five places within about four hours’ drive where you can unplug and enjoy all the beauty of the natural world without the risk of breaking your back—or even a nail.
Keen Lake Camping & Cottage Resort
Just north of Scranton in Pennsylvania’s Poconos, adventure-seeking families and kid-at-heart couples will find the summer camp of their dreams. Many of the spacious, safari-inspired tents here overlook a 90-acre lake, and all feature queen-size beds, porches with rocking chairs, firepits, free Wi-Fi, heat, electricity and a coffee maker, among other amenities. The larger family-size tents are also equipped with two twin beds. All tent campers use the shared bathhouses.
On-property fun at this family-run, disability-accessible operation includes fishing, boat rentals, a children’s garden, movie nights, playgrounds, a solar-heated pool, and basketball and volleyball courts. Communal spaces like a large fire ring and the group pavilion—where games, events and activities take place—help folks make fast friends when the urge strikes to be social.
Further afield, explorers will discover farmers markets, waterfalls, wildlife sanctuaries, golf, drive-ins and museums. And since the season runs through mid-October, there are plenty of fall activities celebrating the harvest and Halloween, and even a Harry Potter-themed weekend.
Rates begin at $159 per night for a two-person furnished tent; linens are not included. 155 Keen Lake Road, Waymart, Pennsylvania, 570-488-6161, poconomountainsglamping.com
Savage River Lodge
This picturesque spot in Western Maryland hosts guests year-round in yurts and cabins surrounded by some 700 acres of serene state forest.
Here, yurts look more like a luxury resort room than a tent in the woods—think king-size beds, heated floors, soft robes, wineglasses, private bathrooms, mini fridges, and comfy chairs for you and a good book. Muffins and juice are delivered to your doorstep daily, plus linens and toiletries are provided. The swanky two-story cabins also feature soaking tubs in the bathrooms and front porches with rocking chairs.
Savage River Lodge welcomes kids but bills itself as an “adult-centered resort”—meaning no babysitting services or kid-friendly programming. Whether you have kids in tow or not, historic Frostburg features three stops on the Allegany County Ice Cream Trail. Hikers and cyclists might be interested in another nearby trail, the Great Allegheny Passage, a 150-mile path of valleys, mountains and rivers.
End your day back at the glampsite’s lodge with a fireside Boulevardier cocktail in the great room or make some new friends by the light of the nightly bonfire off the East Porch.
Rates begin at $275 per night for a double-occupancy cabin; $295 for yurts. 1600 Mount Aetna Road, Frostburg, Maryland, 301-689-3200, savageriverlodge.com
The Depot Lodge
You don’t need to be a train enthusiast to appreciate the low-key charm of this former Norfolk & Western train station turned relaxation destination in the mountains northwest of Roanoke, Virginia.
Couples, friends and families can choose their own adventure since the property offers such unique accommodations as a renovated caboose with a bathroom, a gas fireplace and a creek-side patio; three luxe glamping tents with private bathrooms, king-size beds and an exclusive pond; and a 26-foot 1967 Airstream trailer refurbished with a retro-chic vibe. The property also rents rooms in the former depot and a restored hotel, as well as renting out full cabins, a cottage and a house, which is useful to know since some of the options—like the tents and the Airstream—are rented only seasonally.
Visitors should be prepared to really unplug, as cell service and Wi-Fi are spotty. But hey, you’ll be that much more present to enjoy everything the area has to offer, such as hiking trails, fishing, white-water rafting and weekend crafts shopping at the scenic grist mill.
Standard nightly rates are $159 for the caboose; $219 for the glamping tents; and $169 for the Airstream. 16071 VA-311, Paint Bank, Virginia, 540-897-6000, depotlodge.com
The cozy yet modern digs, the on-site spa and the proximity to wineries and hikes like Humpback Rock and Crabtree Falls make this woodsy Shenandoah Valley resort a popular spot for anniversaries and other couples celebrations.
Yes, there are two accommodations suitable for families—but this clutch of cabins, cottages and a main inn building begs for a romantic getaway. In fact, the cabins outfitted with king-size beds, private hot tubs, screened decks and fireplaces are designated as couples-only, as are most of the cottages. So give yourself permission to leave the kids with the grandparents and indulge in some post-pandemic reconnecting.
Add-ons like the Chocolate Lovers package, the Wine Down & Relax package and the Anniversary package—that last one featuring a bottle of Virginia wine, chocolate-covered strawberries, rose petals and two plush robes—might make it tough to ever leave the room. Local art on the walls, smart tablets loaded with information for guests, and firepits on the lawn are three more reasons to stay on site.
But when you’re ready to peel your eyes off the 19-acre property’s panoramic views and venture out, head into Waynesboro or to nearby Staunton for shopping, museums, breweries, theater and top-notch dining at renowned spots like The Shack and Zynodoa.
Rates start at $639 per night for cabins and $527 per night for cottages. 191 Chinquapin Drive, Waynesboro, Virginia, 540-943-1991, irisinn.com
Blue Moon Rising
The main draw to this village of 14 quirky, tiny, eco-conscious cabins is the easy access to tons of outdoor activities. Its proximity to Wisp Resort and location on the banks of Marsh Run Cove off Maryland’s Deep Creek Lake means there’s skiing, boating, horseback riding, swimming, white-water rafting, hiking, paddleboarding, kayaking, golfing, a carriage/sleigh ride, fishing—you name it. The dog-friendly property promises lake access, free Wi-Fi, nightly campfires and hiking trails winding throughout its 116 acres.
The proprietors are so committed to maintaining the peaceful vibe that guests park in a lot at the entrance to the community and are transported, along with their luggage, to the cabins, in an effort to eliminate the intrusion of headlights, car noise and exhaust fumes.
Designed to complement the landscape, each heated cabin is mainly constructed with reclaimed, recycled and eco-friendly materials. All feature kitchens furnished with necessary utensils, plus full indoor bathrooms (and a bonus outdoor shower for warmer months) stocked with towels and organic soap. Most cabins can easily accommodate two adults and two children, but each one has different bed configurations, so be sure to pay attention to that when booking.
Rates are $225 per night for weekdays and $249 per night for weekends. 89 Blue Moon Rising Way, McHenry, Maryland, 240-442-5287, bluemoonrising.org
Rina Rapuano is a food, parenting and travel writer living in Washington, D.C. Like everyone else, she is anxiously awaiting the return of pandemic-free travel.