Haven’t stayed in an Airstream hotel yet? Try California’s Caravan Outpost

Tucked away in the Santa Barbara Mountains, north of Los Angeles and in the heart of downtown Ojai, an Airstream oasis called Caravan Outpost has been welcoming glampers since it opened last summer.

The entrance to your Airstream paradirese. Photo: Gabriela Aoun

And if an affordable boutique hotel that straddles the line between bohemian retreat and adventure playground appeals to you, it’s time to book your reservation.

Caravan Outpost is home to 11 Airstream trailers, some restored after a good life on the road, others brand new. Each Airstream has a name and a theme, carefully chosen, with décor curated by Caravan Outpost’s founders.

Guests are encouraged to sit around the campfire each night to cook their dinner, drink wine or enjoy some dutch-oven popcorn. Photo: Gabriela Aoun

We stayed in the “Tommy Bahama,” which is a special-edition trailer complete with aloha-print bedding, as well as a new Airstream feature: a back hatch that lifts up, leaving only a screen window in its place for an indoor/outdoor “lanai” feel in the kitchen.

Looking into the “Tommy Bahama” Airstream, which features a hatch that converts the kitchen area into an indoor-outdoor space. Photo: Gabriela Aoun

We also checked out the “Perla,” an older, fully restored trailer that two of the hotel’s owners once drove across the country. It is now retired at Caravan Outpost, decorated with Mexican blankets and vintage record covers. (Each Airstream has a record player and a carefully selected music library matching the trailer’s theme. Not a fan of the music in yours? Simply swap it out in the general store).

Each trailer has an outdoor patio setup with chairs for reading or enjoying your coffee, with plenty of privacy thanks to dense, tropical vegetation surrounding each area.

Palms separating each Airstream give you a feeling of privacy – and tropical serenity. Photo: Gabriela Aoun

While privacy is built into the design, socializing at Caravan Outpost is encouraged. The common area has a fire pit which the hotel hosts light each night. Guests can lounge in the comfortable seating while cooking their dinner, using the cast iron pots available for everyone’s use.

It’s not uncommon for the hosts to open a bottle of local wine or pop some popcorn in a dutch oven for all to enjoy.

A general store also serves as a place to grab coffee and lounge. Photo: Gabriela Aoun

Caravan Outpost makes it easy for guests to craft a trip that matches their own speed. Want to go to bed early to prep for a hike the next morning? The hosts will have coffee brewing early. Want to let loose and finish a bottle of Fireball around the campfire with some rowdy Australian guests? (This might have happened.) Go ahead, no one will disturb your sleep until you’re ready to emerge the next morning … or afternoon.

They have bikes (even kid-sized ones) available for guests to borrow for cruising into the town of Ojai, which has a beautiful bike trail that you can jump on just outside of Caravan Outpost. It will take you all the way to the coast (although keep in mind – the way back is all uphill).

Grab a bike and explore what Ojai has to offer. Photo: Gabriela Aoun

Ojai is known as a retreat for L.A. creatives, with delicious restaurants and plenty of artists’ galleries.

We rode to get breakfast sandwiches at Knead Baking Company, wine taste at Topa Mountain Winery and enjoy a fresh dinner at Farmer and the Cook.

The Ojai farmers’ market is not to be missed on Sundays, for the people watching if nothing else (hippest, best-dressed bohemian farm folk we’ve ever seen).

You never know what friends you’ll meet in Ojai. Photo: Gabriela Aoun

But the town is also rife with adventure opportunities. Go to Mob Shop to rent mountain bikes, drive less than 5 minutes to reach hiking trailheads, and drive 30 minutes down the road to find surf.

Caravan Outpost will help you with any of your endeavors. They know the best places to eat or grab a beer. They have strong opinions on which hiking trail is best. If you want to learn how to surf, their friend will pick you up in his Sprinter van, drive you down to the beach, give you a lesson and cook you lunch before dropping you back off.

A surf tour company will pick you up at Caravan Outpost and take you to the beach for a surf lesson and barbecue lunch. Photo: Gabriela Aoun

And if you want to just relax, you can spend all day doing just that. You can jump on the slackline set up outside of “Perla,” read a book you borrowed from the general store, or even get the s’mores going on the fire pit.

And when you’re ready to rest your head, rest it in a cozy Airstream. Because hey, you’re not fancy or anything, but sometimes you just don’t feel like sleeping in a tent. And that’s ok.

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