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Glamping in Sonoma County

Our road trip guide to horseback riding, wine tasting, and soaring Redwoods in NorCal
Photo Credit: Johnie Gall
Autocamp Russian River Auto Camp Airstream Sonoma County

At Autocamp Russian River, the Airstreams are hard to leave

Photo Credit: Johnie Gall

I’m a fervent defender of glamping. A portmanteu of “glamorous camping,” the practice unfairly gets a bad rap as camping’s cowardly cousin or a poor substitute for a good hotel. But for me, glamping is a delightful and secret third thing—a league all of its own, incomparable to any other experience, a way to escape the city and breathe in some greenery, all while clinging to my creature comforts.

To that end, Sonoma County is my favorite place for glamping. A perfect blend of nature and luxury, it’s a choose-your-own adventure destination where you can roast sausages on the fire or hit some of the world’s best restaurants.

On my recent wine country road trip, I settled at Autocamp Russian River for the weekend. The campground’s retro-styled Airstreams are futuristic, like silver bullets nestled in a charming residential neighborhood in the town of Guerneville. Quiet and wooded, the area offers glampers a seamless connection to nature. The trailers are simply decorated—lots of soft white linens and a spartan gray couch—but their minimalism makes them all the more aesthetically pleasing, with sizable outdoor patios outfitted with firepits and comfy chairs.

House of Happy Walls Sonoma

The former home of Jack London’s wife, Charmaine, the House of Happy Walls now serves as a museum to the author in his namesake state park

I could easily have spent my entire vacation at Autocamp, reading by the fires, cooking in my well-equipped kitchen, and lounging on the sofa in my trailer. But to do so would be to miss out on the bounty Sonoma County offers, so I loaded up on complimentary breakfast in Autocamp’s common space before taking an early morning hike in the nearby Armstrong Redwood Forest. The sequoias in this area have stood the test of time—and then some. The oldest tree in the grove, the Colonel Armstrong, is estimated to be over 1,400 years old. Areas of the forest that have been razed by wildfires served as sobering reminders of the importance of preserving the forest and its ancient trees.

After hours of losing myself in the woods, I headed to the Jack London State Historic Park to scope out the longstanding cottage where the famous writer penned countless stories, dreaming of the farm he wanted to build on the land. At the park, I took a ride with the Triple Creek Horse Outfit. My horse for the day guided me through the woods and into a clearing, where I discovered a perfect view of the hills and vines stretched out below me.

Triple Creek Horse Outfit

Triple Creek Horse Outfit’s ride options through Jack London State Park range between 30 minutes and 4 hours

Photo Credit: Julie Vader

After bidding my horse goodbye, I drove through the countryside and stumbled upon VJB Cellars, where I stopped for a wine tasting—because who comes to Sonoma and doesn’t drink wine? I walked away with a bottle of their 2019 Barbera, a full-bodied red with pleasant raspberry notes.

Back in Guerneville that evening, I wanted something hearty for dinner. At Brot, I found what I was craving. In German, “brot” means bread, but its figurative meaning, according to the restaurant’s owner Crista Luedtke, is “livelihood.” I started my meal with a black salt–spangled Bavarian pretzel, dunking it into spicy and sweet mustards and whipped butter. Afterward, I feasted on chicken paprikash and silky mashed potatoes. I was too stuffed for dessert, but I took an almond cake with star anise and seasonal berry compote to-go for a midnight snack in my Airstream.

Never one to end the night too early, I wandered over to Main Street Bistro and Cabaret and ended up sharing a drink with the owner, Suzi Feehery. As we sipped, the Americana band The Pat and Mike Show gave a bluesy performance. Suddenly, the ground started shaking and our phones yelped with an earthquake warning. It was mild, so the band played on, treating us to a cover of Brandi Carlile’s “The Eye,” which was pretty fitting for the post-tremor haze we all felt.

Main Street Bistro Sonoma

Main Street Bistro and Cabaret offers nightly live music and a robust menu of Italian food 

The amenities at Autocamp Russian River include few planned group activities, but I liked it that way. After settling back into my Airstream, I enjoyed a peaceful night with a bottle of rosé, my firepit, a book (Joan Didion—every journalist’s favorite journalist), and the campground’s complimentary s’mores kit. Freed from the responsibilities of life at home, I simply did what I liked: slathered on a face mask, luxuriated in my rainfall shower, ate my takeaway cake, and watched movies on my Airstream’s TV (I had to bring a Roku for this, but it was worth it). I loved the solitude, and I slept more deeply that night than I had in a long time.

The next morning, it was time to depart. Truthfully, I didn’t want to leave Sonoma’s peaceful vistas behind. Even now, I find myself counting the days till my next visit, when I can return to unwind and breathe in wine country.


By Nylah Iqbal Muhammad

Nylah Iqbal Muhammad is a James Beard Award-nominated writer with bylines in Travel + Leisure, Vogue, and New York Magazine. Her work explores culture, politics, food, and how they all intersect, with a focus on North American Indigenous, African Diasporic, and South Asian foodways.

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