I realize traditional camping isn’t for everyone. Heck in the 7.5 years since we’ve been parents, we’ve only taken the kids camping once. And we like spending time outside.
I’m here to let you in on a little secret: There are other options. Like “glamping,” for one.
What’s glamping? Think of it as glamourized camping. Where traditional campers sleep in sleeping bags on the ground in a tent, glampers can be found in cabins, tree houses, yurts, teepees and other unique accommodations – many with creature comforts such as private bathrooms, kitchenettes, even electricity.
This weekend, we ventured into this unchartered territory by spending the night in a teepee at Ventura Ranch KOA, a 76-acre resort located in the foothills of Los Padres National Forest about 1.5 hours from Los Angeles.
Our glamour teepee package included a queen mattress on a frame along with a bunk bed frame and mattresses for the boys. Bedding, towels and décor are another nice convenience.
The inside of our teepee was huge, warm and comfy (not to mention just plain cool looking). The only thing missing was a bathroom, sink and electricity – none of which we were looking for on this adventure.
When it comes to family camping, KOA knows what they’re doing. KOA has been in the business of camping for some 50 years, boasting nearly 6,000 deluxe cabins and camping cabins at more than 480 locations across North America. They also accommodate tent campers and RV enthusiasts, so there truly is something for everyone.
Ventura Ranch KOA offers up a variety of activities with families in mind – from zip lining and a rock wall to tetherball, a giant jumping pillow, night hikes and more options still in the works (like a pool!).
In spite of all the excitement of new activities (and the stress of waiting in line for some of the said activities), I most enjoyed our quiet moments in nature. Just before nightfall, we went hunting for frogs by the creek. And early the next morning we took a nature walk and spotted quail, jays, rabbits and peacocks.
While I’m not sure we’ll go glamping again anytime soon (the more traditional tent setting is calling our names), I’m glad to know the option exists. If sleeping on the ground and having to schlep in the dark to use the potty isn’t your thing, you might want to give it a try.
I can say we’re eager to check out what other KOA sites in the U.S. have to offer. Several provide the unique accommodations we enjoyed; all strive to support families getting outside and into nature.
Date of most recent visit: Sat.-Sun., June 2-3, 2012
Who: The entire family!
Weather: Warm & sunny, mid-to-high 70s
- Sleeping in a teepee!
- All four of us getting to go zip lining
- Watching The Big Explorer conquer the rock climbing wall
- Catching & releasing a frog!
- Having the sounds of frogs & peacocks lull us to sleep
- Venture Ranch KOA is open year-round & features several types of accommodations, from rustic tent sites to deluxe cabins
- The teepee glamour package we enjoyed will run you about $120 (less in the off-season and on weekdays)
- Water, restrooms & showers are a short-walk away
- Don’t forget the usual camping gear (namely flashlights, cooking equipment & fire wood)
- All sites have a picnic table & fire ring; no smoking or pets allowed
- Campground activities include a creek (aka “Bigfoot’s Watering Hole”), an 800-foot zip line, outdoor movies, a giant jumping pillow, a 25-foot climbing wall, weekend craft making, night hikes & more (note: there is a fee for some of these activities)
- KOA currently has more than 480 locations across North America offering a range of accommodations, including nearly 6,000 deluxe cabins and camping cabins
Ventura Ranch KOA is located at:
7400 Pine Grove Road
Santa Paula, CA 93060
Note: We enjoyed a complimentary one-night Tipi Glamour Package, two complimentary meals and access to campground activities in exchange for providing an honest review with you. Read my full disclosure policy for more information.