California

15 Best & Most Unique Airbnb Rentals in California

by Mac Misseldine

Ocean view treehouse vacation rental in California

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Whether you’re planning a romantic getaway or family vacation, California features an eclectic collection of unique vacation rentals that’ll spice up any Golden State retreat.

There’s something magical about California vacations. It could have something to do with the Magical Kingdom itself (or the plethora of theme parks besides Disneyland that never fail to delight), but I believe it’s because Cali represents what most people picture when it comes to the notion of paradise.

From pristine beaches to scenic lakes, lush forests to magnificent mountains, and everything in between, this enchanting West Coast landscape has it all.

In short, whether you’re a peak-bagging backpacker, surf-shredding beach bum, or wine-loving foodie, California has a spot on your bucket list.

Whatever adventure brings you to California, booking a vacation rental for your home base is the best way to upgrade any vacation from good to great. For an even more magical experience, consider taking a chance on a unique rental that’s off the beaten path and guaranteed to deliver a story that you’ll be telling your friends for years to come.

15 Best & Most Unique Airbnb Rentals In California

California is rife with unique vacation rentals, featuring everything from glamping tents and tipis to castles, houseboats, buses, barns, and treehouses. We’ve put together a short list of our favorites, with enticing options for every group size, budget, and appetite for adventure.

The Cobb Haus

cobb haus airbnb rental
Photo: Airbnb

Why you should stay: Tranquil forest basecamp perfect for exploring Northern California

  • Sleeps: 2
  • Minimum stay: 2 nights
  • Rates from: $119

The Cobb Haus’s place atop our list is more impressive when you consider its before-and-after shots – a transformation featured in Dwell and Apartment Therapy. In just a few months, Airbnb hosts Hope and Tom remodeled a drab, outdated home into a cozy oasis in the woods of Cobb, California, two hours north of San Francisco.

A minimalistic design scheme only accentuates the cabin’s best features: bright rooms, natural light and living spaces created for, well, living. If your idea of an Airbnb is to feel at home while you’re away, the Cobb Haus delivers on all fronts.

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Eco Luxury Farmhouse

eco farmhouse california airbnb
Photo: Airbnb

Why you should stay: Luxe, resort-style Airbnb in Wine Country

  • Sleeps: 4
  • Minimum stay: 2 nights
  • Rates from: $306

Past guests of the Farmhouse Oasis wouldn’t be surprised to see the posh rental on Condé Nast Traveler’s list of Airbnbs that feel like spas. That’s just the vibe Airbnb hosts Trinette and Chris set out for, and judging by the rental’s stellar reviews, they hit the mark.

Everything in the 900-square-foot Scandanavian-style cottage is designed for a comfortable, eco-friendly stay, including the sauna and solar-powered swimming pool. Inside, the home’s decked out with environmentally friendly products like all-natural bedding, an eco-friendly mattress, and green cleaning supplies. You won’t want to leave, but if you do, you’re a five-minute drive from some of West Sonoma’s best food and drink, including spots like the Fern Bar, Crooked Goat Brewing, and Pax Winery & Tasting Room.

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Cabin Cabin Cabin

cabin cabin cabin airbnb
Photo: Airbnb

Why you should stay: A modern Joshua Tree home inspired by desert days of yore

  • Sleeps: 4
  • Minimum stay: 2 nights
  • Rates from: $177

You can’t have a conversation about Joshua Tree’s world-class Airbnb offerings without mentioning Kathrin and Brian of We Are In Our Element. The duo’s varied creative experiences – art, music, real estate, fashion – eventually led to three of the area’s most well-known Airbnb rentals, including Cabin Cabin Cabin.

A throwback to pioneer-era homes near Joshua Tree, Cabin Cabin Cabin embodies the desert-boho aesthetic that’s made Joshua Tree a mecca of the social media age. Attention to detail in the home is obvious, but a look at the home’s original condition brings a whole new level of appreciation for Kathrin and Brian’s creative talents.

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Windansea Woods

Windansea Woods
Photo: Airbnb

Why you should stay: Quintessential San Diego Airbnb experience

  • Sleeps: 4
  • Minimum stay: 4 nights
  • Rates from: $254

La Jolla Bike Path – once an old railroad line – cuts right by Windansea Woods, a chic bungalow set on the hillside overlooking La Jolla and the coast below. Host Trish dedicated more than a year to transforming the home into what’s now one of the area’s best Airbnb Plus rentals, both for its proximity to the water – a five-minute walk to Windansea Beach – and a warm, homey vibe that’s just as appealing.

Inside, the Swedish fireplace is the bold focal point of a living space that’s modern without feeling unwelcoming. But let’s be real: guests don’t come to La Jolla to hole up inside, which is why Trish crafted an outdoor haven highlighted by the hot tub, patio, and ocean-view terrace.

“The whole space is like something out of a fairytale: hummingbirds and flowers out every window, flooded with natural light, beautiful, private patio space, the list goes on,” said Airbnb guest Ashley.

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Mid-century A-Frame

lake arrowhead airbnb rental
Photo: Airbnb

Why you should stay: Throwback stay in the scenic San Bernardino Mountains

  • Sleeps: 4
  • Minimum stay: 2 nights
  • Rates from: $150

Travel with kids or dogs – or both – and you know how difficult it is to find an Airbnb that works for the whole fam. Not a problem with this retro A-frame located in a quiet neighborhood some ten minutes west of Lake Arrowhead.

Adults will enjoy the home’s mid-century design, two decks and fire pit; dogs have a wide backyard to roam, and kids up to the challenge can defend the cabin’s two-story fort from intruders – namely, squirrels. The cabin’s not far from some of the best hiking and OHV trails in Lake Arrowhead, and a day trip to Big Bear’s only 45 minutes away.

“This was our second time staying in this wonderful time machine of a cabin,” said Airbnb guest Clifford. “This is a quiet retreat nestled in the forest with all the amenities for a great escape from the basin.”

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The Ocean View Treehouse

Ocean view treehouse vacation rental in California

Why you should stay here: A chic escape high above the trees with a serene interior and stellar ocean views

  • Sleeps: 6
  • Minimum stay: 1 night
  • Pets allowed: No

Exalted by Sunset Magazine as a “chic escape,” this luxury treehouse in Aptos knocks the socks off of your childhood treehouse. It’s hard to say what steals the show here — the stunning interior, the fascinating architecture, or the jaw-dropping views.

The interior of this tranquil treehouse harnesses natural materials like wood and stone to set a calming, sanctuary-like tone that puts its guests at ease. The floor-to-ceiling windows provide ample natural light, and there’s plenty of deck space to soak in the ocean view from a cozy hammock or lounge chair.

The treehouse sits on 1.5 acres of private land, affording plenty of privacy and room to roam. There are three state beaches nearby — New Brighton, Seacliff, and Rio Del Mar — and the property is a short distance from The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park.

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The Bird’s Nest Bungalow

Birds Nest Bungalow in California

Why you should stay here: A Japanese bungalow with a simple yet serene interior and stunning ocean views

  • Sleeps: 2
  • Minimum stay: 2 nights
  • Pets allowed: No

Stinson Beach is a serene seaside town known for its smooth sand, calm surf, and miles of mountain trails. The scenic paradise is completely encompassed by the ocean and Mount Tamalpais State Park, providing visitors with adventure and views in every direction. It’s just a short drive north of San Francisco, delivering the best of both worlds for urban explorers who prefer a quiet place to stay outside of the city.

You’ll find the charming Bird’s Nest Bungalow on a lush hillside facing Bolinas Bay. The Japanese-style bungalow features a simple yet well-appointed interior that’s warm, soothing, and inviting. Enjoy the treetop ocean views from the comfort of your queen bed, or soak in the sunset from the wooden deck.

When you’re ready to hit the beach, it’s a short five minute walk to a pristine beach with three miles of sand. After a day of surfing and sandcastles, rinse off the sand in the outdoor shower and relax in the soaking tub on the deck.

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Dome In The Desert In Joshua Tree

Dome in the Desert at Joshua Tree

Why you should stay here: A geodesic dome with a modern bohemian interior set in a secluded desert landscape

  • Sleeps: 2
  • Minimum stay: 1 night
  • Pets allowed: No

The Dome in the Desert is undeniably quirky on the outside, but it’s a designer dream home on the inside. The owner blends classic bohemian style with modern furnishings and a sprinkle of southwestern charm to create a truly unique living space that’s as vibrant as the adventurous souls who make this their base camp for exploring Joshua Tree National Park.

The Dome in the Desert can accommodate up to four guests with two bedrooms and two beds — perfect for small families and couples. When you’re not exploring the desert landscape at Joshua Tree National Park, you’ll find antique books and games throughout the house that’ll keep you entertained for hours.

Thanks to garnering praise from major publications like Esquire Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, and Goop this property books out fast during peak travel seasons, so be sure to reserve your stay well in advance.

Follow ’em: Instagram

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The Mushroom Dome Cabin

Mushroom Dome Cabin vacation rental in California

Why you should stay here: A compact cabin with a geodesic dome perched amidst the trees

  • Sleeps: 3
  • Minimum stay: 1 night
  • Pets allowed: Yes

The Mushroom Dome Cabin is one of the most popular vacation rentals on Airbnb, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Superhost-managed property boasts more than 1,000 glowing reviews. It ain’t the Four Seasons, but the cozy cabin will provide more peaceful seclusion and reconnection with nature than any five-star resort.

The Mushroom Dome Cabin sits on 10 acres of forested land, providing ample space to hike around, gaze up at the stars, or head to the beach. There’s a queen-sized bed with a Casper mattress in the loft, and a sofa bed downstairs in the living area.

Guests will have access to a private bathroom with a shower and composting toilet. There’s no kitchen, but you’ll have access to a BBQ grill, mini-fridge, blender, French coffee press, electric water kettle, and toaster oven. Fresh water is available via the property’s well, and the water is treated with an ozonator, UV light, and soft water filter.

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Vincino Al Mare

Vincino al Mare floating house vacation rental

Why you should stay here: A Mediterranean villa that’s literally on the water in the San Francisco Bay

  • Sleeps: 4
  • Minimum stay: 35 nights
  • Pets allowed: No

For travelers who plan to spend much of their vacation boating around the San Francisco Bay, Vincino Al Mare delivers the convenience of staying on the water with the comfort and elegance of a luxury home. The floating house resides in Sausalito’s Kappas Marina, making it easy to dock your boat on the rear deck after a long day of exploring the bay.

The views of Mount Tamalpais and the Richardson Bay wildlife sanctuary are astounding, and the great room’s floor-to-ceiling windows ensure you’ll enjoy those scenic vistas from dawn to dusk. If you’re in the mood for some fresh air, hop in the jacuzzi on the rear deck or enjoy al fresco dining on the enclosed patio.

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Cabana Las Flores

Cabana Las Flores vacation rental in California

Why you should stay here: A tropical paradise nestled in the Montecito foothills between Los Padres National Forest and the Pacific Ocean

  • Sleeps: 3
  • Minimum stay: 3 nights
  • Pets allowed: No

One of the best parts about booking a vacation rental is the privacy and seclusion that you just can’t find in a hotel, and Cabana Las Flores delivers both in aces. The 1.5 acre estate is filled to the brim with palms, exotic plants and vibrant flowers, surrounding the luxury home with a lush green landscape that’ll make you feel like you’re on a private island.

The guest house at Cabana Las Flores is well-decorated and comfortably furnished, perfectly complementing the island vibes that permeate the property. Step into the backyard and you’ll discover a soothing Jacuzzi that cascades into a natural pool.

Take a nature stroll through the garden, enjoy an afternoon nap in the hammock, or book a relaxing outdoor massage in the cabana from the on-site masseuse.

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Jade’s Tower

Jade's Tower vacation rental in California

Why you should stay here: Sweeping ocean views from a modern tower that’s a mere block away from Mendocino Headlands State Park

  • Sleeps: 4
  • Minimum stay: 2 nights
  • Pets allowed: No

I feel inclined to start this description with “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair” — but Jade’s Tower isn’t just for families with little ones who who adore Disney’s Tangled.

This magical vacation rental is perfect for travelers who value the view more than the venue, as the tower affords panoramic views of the Mendocino Headlands and Pacific Ocean. It’s encompassed by a lovely garden and private pond, and you’ll find the nearby headlands filled with wildflowers in the spring if you venture out for a long walk.

Jade’s Tower can accommodate up to four guests with a queen bed upstairs and a sleeper sofa on the main floor. You can prepare your meals in the galley kitchen and enjoy al fresco dining in the garden, or walk over to the delectable restaurants in the village for upscale eateries.

Follow ’em: Instagram

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Albion Castle

Albion Castle vacation rental in California

Why you should stay here: A 19th century castle with subterranean tunnels and a secret spring-fed pond

  • Sleeps: 6
  • Minimum stay: 30 nights
  • Pets allowed: Small dogs (with deposit)

It’s true — there’s actually a castle in San Francisco, and it’s available for events and extended vacation rentals.

Albion Castle was built in the 1870s by a pair of British brothers, and originally housed the Albion Ale and Porter Brewery. The castle was strategically placed atop a spring-fed pond, which the brothers harnessed to craft their beer.

Over the years the property changed hands several times and gradually fell into disrepair, until a new owner with a grand vision launched an ambitious renovation project in 2012.

The new owner preserved the castle’s iconic structure and historic accents while adding modern lighting, appliances, and furnishings, blending old-world style with modern comfort and decor. He even restored the “dungeon” beneath the castle, so guests can tour the maze of ancient stone passageways and visit the underground pond.

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Love Stream Vintage Airstreams

Love Stream vintage Airstreams vacation rental in California

Why you should stay here: A vintage 60s Airstream Land Yacht set on an animal sanctuary and rescue ranch

  • Sleeps: 2
  • Minimum stay: 2 nights
  • Pets allowed: No

The Love Stream vacation rental comes with not one, but two vintage Airstreams — a 1960 Land Yacht and a 1948 Wee Wind that serves as a gourmet food trailer. Both feature sensational interior remodels, so you’ll get to enjoy old school vibes on the outside with modern comfort and style on the inside.

When you’re not slumbering or cooking in one of these classic Airstreams, soak in the private jacuzzi near the seasonal creek. In true Cali fashion, you can also schedule a gourmet plant-based meal or workout with a certified chef and celebrity personal trainer.

The Love Stream resides on an animal sanctuary with a variety of rescued animals, including sheep, pigs, llamas, tortoises, and a friendly little Chihuahua. After you’ve made the rounds on the ranch, consider hiking to a nearby waterfall, borrowing their surfboards to hit the beach, or visit a local winery for an indulgent tasting.

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The Castle House Estate

Castle House Estate vacation rental in California

Why you should stay here: Luxury glamping experience near Joshua Tree National Park featuring guard towers, yurts, campsites, and a classic Shasta trailer

  • Sleeps: 2-4
  • Minimum stay: 1 night
  • Pets allowed: Yes

Whether you’re planning a glamping getaway or a special event, the Castle House Estate is sure to deliver a unique experience. The estate sits on eight private acres surrounded by undeveloped desert landscape, and it’s just a few minutes north of Joshua Tree National Park.

The Castle House Estate offers a variety of glamping accommodations for guests, including two guard towers, a container home, two yurts, and an original Shasta trailer that was featured in the EastSiders on Netflix. The property also rents out two established campsites for folks who prefer to bring their own camping gear.

Whichever accommodations you opt for, expect to be pampered with custom furniture and luxury linens. The tiny house rentals include a full bath and kitchenette, and all of the rentals include access to the shared bathroom and shower facility.

Follow ’em: Instagram

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