Not only are people turning to RV-ing for the flexibility it provides, but also for the potential stress-reducing effects of living a smaller, yet fuller life. “Communing with nature can relax tired minds and souls, and many people have been craving that, especially since the pandemic began,” says Chris Coleman, owner of RV Talk. Indeed, research has found that being in nature decreases anxiety and depression and can even aid in positive social interactions.
“Communing with nature can relax tired minds and souls, and many people have been craving that, especially since the pandemic began.” —Chris Coleman, owner of RV Talk
That being said, moving your whole life into a small trailer isn’t for everyone. There are some unconventional factors that take some time getting used to—namely, small-space living. I currently live in my Airstream Bambi, which clocks in at around 170 square feet, and I share that space with my partner and small pup. It gets a little crowded at times, but as part of RV living, I do spend a lot of time outside in nature even when I’m working. The freedom this lifestyle provides, as well as the ability to see the most beautiful parts of the country, has lowered my stress levels and made me realign my life goals around prioritizing my mental health.
- Chris Coleman, Chris Coleman is the founder and CEO of RV Talk, a website geared toward people who own and live in RVs.
If you're intrigued by the RV lifestyle but haven't camped for any lengthy amount of time, jumping right into it could prove a risky investment. Yes, you should research makes and models, and visit local showrooms to get a feel for the physical space. But I also highly recommend booking a stay at an RV resort or trailer hotel to test the waters. Cook your meals, work, and live in the trailer as you would at home to get a taste of what the lifestyle would be like full-time.
Sure, some of these RV resorts might be a little bit more glamorous than the typical van experience (sadly, not all RV camping locations have nice pools or a drive-in theater). But, a short-term stay can still help you decide if you want to embrace van life full-time before you commit. And if you learn that you don't? You'll have embarked on an entirely unique vacation in the meantime.
Here are the 10 best RV resorts and hotels around the country
1. AutoCamp (multiple locations in CA, MA, and NY)
With properties all over the country—including Yosemite, Cape Cod, and Joshua Tree—AutoCamp is a great way to experience the coveted Airstream life in a completely natural setting. These beautifully renovated trailers feature a spa-inspired bathroom, a posh patio, and a kitchen with all the necessities. While the design deviates from what you will get from the factory, these 31-foot Airstreams are dropped right in the middle of picturesque landscapes giving guests the secluded feeling RVers experience daily. Plus, the company plans to add even more properties in 2023, so you can check places like Zion National Park and Asheville off of your bucket list.
2. Backstage at The Verb (Boston, MA)
Finding an RV park in a big city is unlikely, so experiencing a trailer hotel in the heart of a historic metropolis is a true treat. Opening this September, Backstage at The Verb in Boston is an extension of The Verb Hotel composed of a fleet of vintage trailers right next to Fenway Park. While you won’t experience the glory of being immersed in nature, the unique accommodations will provide a little insight into small space living.
3. Yonder Escalante (Escalante, UT)
Located right in the middle of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah, Yonder is probably the most lavish place to experience RV life. Personally, this is my very favorite place to stay in my Airstream. Guests who aren’t towing their home can book one of the property’s newly renovated vintage Airstreams for a few days. These cleverly designed trailers do not have an ensuite bathroom like most RVs do; however, the property’s bathhouses are so luxurious, you won’t even miss it. Expect amenities like stunning outdoor showers, Dyson hair tools, a pool and hot tub, and a drive-in theater. The skies out there are breathtaking, so be sure to set up outside to watch the sunset.
4. Flying Flags Buellton (Buellton, CA)
Tucked into the heart of Santa Barbara’s wine country, Flying Flags Buellton is conveniently located right off of California’s Highway 101 and will give guests a peek into what it’s like to live on a campground for a few days. This is a great place to experience trailers from 22- to 28-feet long, which are on the smaller side. While these adorable vintage trailers are renovated, their layouts are very similar to what you’ll find in a typical RV. Plus, each accommodation comes with a private yard, patio, and grill, so you’ll have plenty of outdoor space.
5. Hotel Luna Mystica (Taos, NM)
High desert locales are some of my favorite places to camp in the country when it isn’t 100-plus degrees out. Hotel Luna Mystica incorporates the spiritual influence of the desert in each of the property's individually designed vintage trailers. New Mexico is known for its wide open skies and mesmerizing stargazing, so make sure to put your deck to good use at nightfall and get lost in the solitude of the twinkling night sky. You’ll also be located just a short drive from Taos (the town center and skiing area).
6. JuneBug Retro Resort (Weaverville, NC)
Asheville is an amazing place to camp because you get the best of the city life and mountain country views. JuneBug Retro Resort is made to feel like you’ve stepped back in time with each of its vintage trailers designed to reflect what they would have looked like when they were created decades ago. The 50-acre property gives guests ample opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors, with downtown Asheville just a short drive away. If RV renovation is something that intrigues you, definitely give JuneBug a visit to get a feel for what it’s like to live in an older model trailer.
7. Kate’s Lazy Desert (Landing, CA)
B-52’s guitarist Kate Pierson is no stranger to RV living after touring on the road for years. She decided to create a little slice of paradise in the form of Kate's Lazy Desert in the Mojave Desert. The intimate property features six retired Airstreams available to rent just a few miles from Joshua Tree National Park. Each RV has a personality of its own and features beautiful painted murals. Aside from the bespoke artwork, these trailers are reflective of the layouts you would expect to get from a current Airstream. And they're available in sizes ranging from 19 to 30 feet, so you can choose the option that best aligns with your understanding of a small space.
8. Marfa Yacht Club (Marfa, TX)
Airstream life has a subculture of its own, and you don’t really understand the community until you dive in yourself. At Marfa Yacht Club, you can rent an actual Airstream just as it comes when you purchase it. The property is just four minutes outside of the small artsy town of Marfa with sprawling views of the Chianti and Davis Mountains, and it includes a heated pool, bocce court, and clubhouse. When you (inevitably) decide that you want an Airstream of your own after paying a visit here, know that the property also has spaces for guests who prefer to B.Y.O. Airstream.
9. The Vintages Trailer Resort (Dayton, OR)
Just a short drive inland from Oregon’s stunning coastline are the rolling hills of the Willamette Valley. The Vintages Trailer Resort, situated smack-dab in the middle of this beautiful area, has all the amenities of a brick-and-mortar hotel with the seclusion of camping. Each vintage trailer comes with bikes, an outdoor grill, and a firepit for late night s’mores. While most of these RVs are renovated, the layouts are similar to what you will find in a current model.
10. Waypoint Ventura (Ventura, CA)
What’s better than waking up in an oceanfront hotel? Actually waking up on the beach in your own rig. Waypoint Ventura is a California glamping collective located so close to Ventura Beach that you can taste the salty air. The property has a variety of vintage trailers that will give you a glimpse into what it would be like to live that beach bum life—with blissfully close proximity to the excellent coffee shops, restaurants, and antique shops of Ventura’s downtown.
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