Travel

The Best Airbnbs to Escape to This Winter Near LA

From photo-worthy desert hideaways to farmhouse cabins.

bright cabin
Photo courtesy of Airbnb

Now in our third month of safer-at-home orders (and almost a year of the back and forth), we’re all about ready to get out of LA. It’s a good thing then, that there are tons of natural wonders surrounding our city waiting to spend a weekend with would-be travelers.

But just because 2020 is finally behind us, doesn’t mean safety is any less important. Traveling with those outside your household is out of bounds right now as part of the stay at-home order mandated for Angelenos. But if you do choose to travel, make sure masks, social distancing, quarantining, and COVID tests are all part of your preparation. And with all that unpleasantness out of the way, behold: some of the coolest Airbnbs just outside of LA.

hot tub
Photo courtesy of airbnb

The Caravan House

Joshua Tree, California
6 guests, $249 per night
Distance from LA: ~Two hours
The Joshua Tree vibe is truly unlike anything. It’s a cocktail of equal parts desert, hippies, trendiness, art, and beauty. If you’re looking to embrace the true Joshua Tree spirit rather than just spend a weekend in any old desert, consider The Caravan House. The campfire setup, twinkly outdoor lights, and earthy colors will hit the spot. The hot tub doesn’t hurt either.
Things to do nearby: The winter months are perfect for exploring Joshua Tree National Park, which tops three-digit temperatures in the summer heat. While live shows are on pause at local dive Pappy & Harriet’s, there are still plenty of things to do in the area, including vegan-friendly restaurants to support with takeout, vintage stores, and the geometric dome Integratron that blends science, art, and magic is still available for private sound bath bookings.

big bear cabin
Photo courtesy of airbnb

Modern Rustic Farmhouse Cabin

Big Bear, California
6 guests, $192 per night
Distance from LA: ~Two hours
Beautiful and soaked in mountain air, Big Bear is an elite outdoor-focused retreat. Just minutes away from the bustling Big Bear Blvd, yet still cloaked in seclusion, this rustic Gambrel-style home serves as the perfect home base, with a cozy fireplace, board games, outdoor grill, and vintage records available to spin on the turntable. If you decide to venture out, hikes, skiing, tubing, and sledding activities are all available for making the most of your time in the snow. 
Things to do nearby: Ski and snowboarding lift passes can be purchased at nearby Bear Mountain or Snow Summit, plus a ziplining tour takes you through snowy mountain tops at 35 mph. Order your favorite warm cocktail to-go from one of the downtown bars and nosh on top notch Indian food at Himalayan Restaurant or Masala Craft. Still looking for more things to do in the area? We’ve got you covered.

arrowhead cabin
photo courtesy of airbnb

Dream Lodge with Mountain Views

Lake Arrowhead, California
7 guests, $239 per night
Distance from LA: ~90 minutes
There are mountain views, and then there are mountain views. This Arrowhead lodge sports some of the best, with trees sprouting up outside every window and a deck overlooking a view that seems like it stretches out to eternity. Snuggle up to the modern central fireplace and enjoy the sights, or admire the views while you flip burgers on the outdoor grill and deck.
Things to do nearby: Less popular than nearby Big Bear Lake, the unincorporated area of Lake Arrowhead is perfect for those wanting a secluded and serene getaway, with similar activities available should you feel a desire to hit the slopes or explore nature trails. Wildhaven Ranch is a great way to learn more about the local wildlife and boat tours provide an interesting history of the lake—adventure sports like water skiing can also be done on the lake.

romantic log cabin
Photo courtesy of airbnb

Romantic, Secluded Log Cabin

Idyllwild, California
6 guests, $173 per night
Distance from LA: ~Two hours
Idyllwild loves its log cabins, that’s for sure. This one is just about as adorable as it gets, nestled in the woods and overlooking the trees. Hang on the beyond-dreamy back deck, throw something down on the barbecue, and unlock some creativity.
Things to do nearby: This quirky unincorporated town with a Golden Retriever named Max as their Mayor has plenty of hikes worth exploring, plus a plethora of crystal and other woo-woo shops for the bohemians among us. Coyote Red’s Country Gourmet is ready to fill your picnic basket with an assortment of jellies, jams, hot sauces, and jerkies, and the Idyllwild Nature Center is the perfect place to dine al fresco. Be sure to swing by the one-of-a-kind Idyllwild Town Monument off North Circle Drive.

hammock
Photo courtesy of airbnb

The Bohemian

Joshua Tree, California
6 guests, $398 per night
Distance from LA: ~Two hours
Modern, laden with desert-inspired art, wicker, and wood, this spot in Joshua Tree is a no-brainer for a long weekend. With a wraparound porch, brand-new infrared sauna, hot tub, outdoor shower, firepit, and three large hammocks for your entire party to kick back and take in those starry Joshua Tree nights, there’s little reason to go inside the three-bedroom bungalow, though we won’t judge you for plunking down in their plush living room after a long hike. 
Things to do nearby: This booking is right down the street from the main drag of downtown Joshua Tree, making it easy to stroll on over to the Joshua Tree Farmers Market and pick up some local produce to throw on the outdoor grill. Not in the mood to cook? Order takeout from Sam’s Indian Food & Pizza, a local favorite that does both seemingly contradicting cuisines exceedingly well.

deck view
photo courtesy of airbnb

Cozy Cabin

Frazier Park, California
6 guests, $312 per night
Distance from LA: ~One hour
Perhaps the heavyweight champion of all the decks on this list, the words “cozy cabin” are really an undersell. It is of course those things, what with the homey decor and rustic fireplace, but the ample living room has plenty of space to fit the entire family around the old school wood-burning fireplace. Whether it’s clear skies or snowing, you’ll enjoy spending time on the deck as you gaze out towards Frazier Mountain. 
Things to do nearby: The Woodland Waterfall trail is nearby and just as quaint as the name suggests, but you’ll also want to check out the equally enamoring Enchanted Forest, Silverville Mine, and Eagle Pass Ridge, all of which are included on the maps provided by the host. Several restaurants are available in the village center just one mile away from the listing, and before you head home you’ll want to grab a bear claw pastry from the celebrated local bakery named for the sweet treat.

cabin living room
photo courtesy of airbnb

Bird's Nest

Lake Arrowhead, California
6 guests, $159 per night
Distance from LA: ~90 minutes
Soaring cathedral ceilings and a stone fireplace invite you to make yourself at home in this mountain cabin that sits adjacent to the Lake Arrowhead Country Club. With a hot tub AND a soaking tub in the master bedroom, a game room, plus stunning forest views from the two-story deck—this place has it all. And should you decide to venture out of your cozy Bird’s Nest, the slopes are just a short drive away.
Things to do nearby: If you get bored of your mountaintop retreat, you can head to Lake Gregory for fishing, watersports, and hiking trails, or to Blue Jay or Lake Arrowhead Villages for shopping, entertainment, and dining options. Stone Creek Bistro and The Grill at Antlers Inn are right up the road if you’re looking for quick takeout.

pool
photo courtesy of airbnb

Luxury Hilltop Estate

Paso Robles, California
Up to 10 guests, $499 per night
Distance from LA: ~Three hours
If you want to social distance with your crew in style, you can’t go wrong with this 30-acre ranch just ten minutes east of downtown Paso Robles. Take advantage of tennis courts, swimming pools, nearby hiking trails, plus a huge kitchen and formal dining area where you can recreate the wining and dining experience you deserve. Perch on one of the Adirondack chairs that overlooks the sloping hills of the nearby wine country and take in the gorgeous hues of a smogless sunset. 
Things to do nearby: When in wine country, do as the vinophiles do and check out the wineries! You’ll want to stop at Sculpterra Winery, which is closest to this booking, and has a sculpture garden that contrasts beautifully against the expansive and verdant hills, plus they have a play area to drop off the kids. If you want to take your vacation full-luxe, head to River Oaks Hot Springs and soak in the healing thermal waters or book a spa treatment.

cabin exterior
photo courtesy of airbnb

Roots Mountain House

Lake Arrowhead, California
6 guests, $304 per night
Distance from LA: ~90 minutes
Probably the most modern A-frame you’ll find, the wraparound deck and telescope should keep you occupied for hours, and the first-floor indoor fireplace is ready to warm you up whenever you need a break. The kitchen is big and beautiful—make tonight’s dinner a banger.
Things to do nearby: Situated in a neighborhood, this listing is perfect for those who want a chill winter getaway, but Lake Arrowhead restaurants aren’t too far should you decide to order in. You can fish or hike local trails at nearby Lake Gregory in Crestline, Lake Silverwood, and Big Bear Lake.

ranch house
Photo courtesy of airbnb

El Agave Ranch House

Yucca Valley, California
6 guests, $180 per night
Distance from LA: ~Two hours
You could spend the day in the sunny kitchen or on the comfortable, string-lit patio, but when it all comes down to it, the only thing you really need is that hammock and the view of Yucca Valley as the sun starts to fade. It’s worth waking up early to see the sun rise over the spiked Joshua Trees, with homemade banana bread and local coffee that comes complimentary with your booking.
Things to do nearby: Head down the road to Joshua Tree National Park and enjoy some wilderness. There are still plenty of things to do in the area, including restaurants like Crossroads Cafe and Natural Sisters Cafe to order takeout from, vintage stores to stock your closet with, and the geometric dome Integratron for private sound bath bookings.

deck
photo courtesy of airbnb

Bright Cabin with Large Deck and Hot Tub

Idyllwild, California
6 guests, $433 per night
Distance from LA: ~Two hours
This one isn’t cheap, but as the saying goes, with great price tags come great mountain views. The ultra-modern kitchen and pretty fireplace make the indoor experience, but between the barbecue grill, hot tub, fire pit, and beautiful wood paneling on the deck, you might not go inside at all. 
Things to do nearby: Idyllwild’s trio of Golden Retriever mayors might be the only pups around that you can still pet, if they’re not busy fulfilling their political obligations. Otherwise, the Idyllwild Nature Center has plenty of trails and wildlife to explore, and you can find gear for all your mountain needs at Wooley’s—also a great place for local souvenirs. Be sure to check out the unique Idyllwild Town Monument off North Circle Drive.

cottage overhead
photo courtesy of airbnb

Red Barn Happy House

Santa Paula, California
6 guests, $323 per night
Distance from LA: ~90 minutes 
Despite the fact that this beautiful cottage only has two bedrooms, it sits on an eight-acre ranch, which means you’ve got all the peace and isolation you could possibly ask for. And furthermore: how does a private tennis court sound?
Things to do nearby: To be honest, if you’ve booked this resplendent ranch, you’re probably looking forward to the type of seclusion you can’t find in LA. With a location just below the Topa Topa Mountains, there are plenty of hiking trails to wander, and less than a mile down the road is Summit Drive In, Upper Ojai's favorite hamburger stand and the Stagecoach Station, a general store that sells everything from groceries to firewood and hardware.

Cuyamaca Retreat

Julian, California
6 guests, $229 per night
Distance from LA: ~Two and a half hours 
Nestled within the Cleveland National Forest and Cuyamaca State Park, this rental is convenient to a bounty of hiking trails and for the serious backpackers, access to the famous Pacific Crest Trail is just a few miles away. Fishing and birding can also be enjoyed at this serene mountaintop retreat and deer frequently graze in the yard. Post up on the wraparound deck and take in your choice of ocean and lake views. 
Things to do nearby: You can’t go to Julian without trying their famous apple pies, and Mom’s Pie House is the place to do it. You can book a tour of Eagle and High Peak Mine to learn more about the area’s mining history or schedule a visit at the nearby California Wolf Center to play with some rescued pups. Head into Julian, just eight miles from the rental, for antique hunting at affordable prices.

airbnb
Photo courtesy of airbnb

Dazey Desert House

Palm Springs, California
6 guests, $311 per night 
Distance from LA: ~Two hours 
Get up close and personal with Palm Springs’ mid-century modern trend at this colorful William Krisel-designed home that features the architect’s signature butterfly roof. The vibrantly decorated retreat features different color schemes in each room and when you get bored of indoor photoshoots, the backyard has a gorgeous backdrop of the San Jacinto Mountains that you can enjoy from the hot tub, a hammock, or around the fire pit. 
Things to do nearby: Palm Springs has activities for every type of traveler, ranging from vintage and antique shopping for the mid-century modern trend lovers, a zoo and botanical garden for getting familiar with desert flora and fauna, and cool outdoor art exhibitions like Robolights, open year-round, and Desert X, which returns February 6-April 11.

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Wilder Shaw begs you to take proper safety precautions before going on a trip like this. Follow his isolated adventures on Instagram and Twitter.
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