Airbnbs school bus and glamping options in California

By Rachel Schnalzer
Design and illustrations by Jade Cuevas

Hello, travelers!

As the pandemic continues to impact California and beyond, impatient adventurers are choosing short weekends in remote lodgings over the typical hotel vacation. In this newsletter, you will find several unconventional stays within the state. As always, heed local COVID-19 guidelines if you decide to hit the road – and don’t forget to wear a mask.

One more thing: as I mentioned in previous newsletters, I love receiving travel advice as much as I love passing it on. If you have any favorite destinations (or travel photos) you’d like to share, send me an email. I could include them in a future newsletter.

🚍 Airbnbs school bus

It is an understatement to say that this new school year is different from previous years. Travelers can also mark the start of a strange academic year in unusual ways.

In January – which appears to be a million years ago – my boyfriend and I stayed in a refurbished school bus parked in an Austin, Texas, backyard. The bus proved to be an ideal base for exploring the town and nearby Hill Country.

California also has a few Airbnb school buses. If you would like to book a stay, I recommend contacting the host to make sure you are comfortable with their cleaning policies.

Artfully decorated school bus at Point Arena, 1.5 miles from the ocean

A refurbished 1966 Greyhound bus among the Joshua trees in the Yucca Valley

A nice blue school bus delivered to your home in Chico

School buses aren’t just for transportation – they can be vacation retreats.

(Chelsea Audibert / Unsplash; photo illustration by Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)


If you need some fresh air, but are worried about embarking on a full camping trip, “glamping” might be the way to go. Times contributor April Orcutt compiled a list of seven glamping destinations in the Golden State with COVID-19 policies in place to protect guests. Here are some of my favorites from her list:

CostanoaWhile beachside glamping options can be pricey, Costanoa, an hour south of San Francisco, has 75 glamping tents that start at $ 96 a night. (Closed for now due to nearby fire damage.)

Sonoma by Wildhaven: This Healdsburg glamping destination sits beside the Russian River. Tents starting at $ 129 per night.

AutoCamp in Yosemite: If you can splurge, AutoCamp’s glamping tents are a luxurious alternative to the regular Yosemite campground. Tents starting at $ 279 per night.

    The interior of a glamping tent in Costanoa, on the coast between Santa Cruz and San Francisco.

Costanoa’s glamping tents have canvas walls and electricity.

(Costanoa Lodge and Camp; photo illustration by Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

Griffith Park

I mentioned Griffith Park in this newsletter a few weeks ago. But the truly great destinations, especially those with so much to offer, are worth repeating. Angelenos who plan to stay close to home for the foreseeable future should take advantage of this gem within the city limits.

Griffith Park is a giant, five times the size of Central Park in New York City, and home to coyotes, tarantulas, and the famous unmarried mountain lion P-22. This can make it an intimidating place to explore. Lucky for us, Times Contributor James Bartlett and Associate Travel Editor Mary Forgione have teamed up to create a Complete guide to Griffith Park, complete with historical information, destinations in the park, COVID-19 safety precautions, and even ghost stories.

What is your favorite place in the park? Send me an email and I could present it in a future newsletter.

An animated illustration of Griffith Park.

(Antoine Doré / For the Times)

Do you like this newsletter? Consider subscribing to the Los Angeles Times.

Your support helps us get the news that matters most. Become a subscriber.

🐧 Looking for an unusual experience?

Zoos and aquariums, struggling with lost income from ticket sales, concessions and gift shops, were particularly affected during the pandemic, says Times reporter Hailey Branson-Potts. She notes that the Pacific Aquarium in Long Beach has been creative in generating income. For example, he raised his $ 150 per person meeting sessions with penguins for small groups.

The Penguin Program allows guests to see Magellanic penguins up close and meet their caregivers at the aquarium (from a safe distance).

A penguin kisses a staff member on his nose at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Rey, a penguin, affectionately kisses a member of staff outside the penguin enclosure at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times; photo illustration by Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

What i read

  • Still having trouble getting your plane ticket reimbursed? Special contributor (and former Times editor) Catharine Hamm explains what steps you need to take.
  • Was anyone flying around LAX in a jet pack? It’s possible. Times reporter Samantha Masunaga collapses what we know about the bizarre incident.
  • Do “essential trips” include trips to say goodbye to a dying family member? Writing in the Seattle Times, Natachi Onwuamaegbu explores the emotional decisions people were forced to make during the pandemic.
  • If you find yourself in Portland, Oregon, you can try these four-day tours of different ecosystems, compiled by Jamie Hale in the Oregonian. It describes how travelers can see mountains, ocean, desert and lush forest, all within a three hour drive of the city.
  • A geologist discovered by chance the oldest fossilized footprints in the Grand Canyon in 2016. Shaena Montanari from the Republic of Arizona explains their importance and how footprints can be spotted on the Bright Angel Trail.
Photograph of an airplane at LAX, with an illustration of a character in a jet pack.

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Is that a … man in a jet pack? May be.

(John Antczak / Associated Press; photo illustration by Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

Can’t venture to IRL? Here’s a way to broaden your horizons

Speaking of aquariums, the marine animals at the Monterey Bay Aquarium are doing well, despite the business shutdown. Branson-Potts takes readers behind the scenes of the aquarium, which has been closed to the public following the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can enter the aquarium with its Virtual series “MeditOcéan”, which features images of the aquarium’s jellyfish and kelp forest, among other aquatic imagery.

Label me in your travel photos for a chance to be featured in a future edition of Escapes.

Song of the road

“Los Angeles / Give me a miracle, I just wanna get out of it.”

So begins “Los Angeles,” the first track from Haim’s album “Women in Music Pt. III. Although many flee the city for more empty pastures, this song sums up the desire of some to leave while acknowledging that when you’re in Los Angeles, there is no place like home.

Fancy some blues in LA?

(Mary Forgione / Los Angeles Times; photo illustration by Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

Comments are closed.