The Japanese practice something called shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing. Despite the ritual’s name, no swimsuit is required, and you don’t need to get wet.
Forest bathing is an opportunity to disconnect from hectic schedules and 21st-century distractions and plug into nature. Simply spending time outside in the woods (minus your cell phone, of course) has been linked to lower blood pressure, a stronger immune system, and improved overall well-being. And as a nation with one of the highest life expectancies in the world, the Land of the Rising Sun might be on to something!
Imagine the benefits of camping under tall oaks, surrounded by fragrant pines. You’re likely to rise naturally with the sun (instead of hitting the snooze button several times), spend an active day outdoors (rather than sitting in front of a computer), and sleep soundly under the stars (and not stay up too late binge-watching Netflix). That is, unless you find a sleeping bag uncomfortable and the thought of a pit toilet stresses you out.
Thankfully, there’s glamping. This luxurious take on tent camping is like forest bathing with benefits. From cute cabins to round yurts, with amenities like luxurious linens and solar-powered lighting, these nine incredible glamping destinations in Upstate New York put the glam in glamping.
1. Camp Orenda, Johnsburg
When it comes to soaking up the benefits of forest bathing, Camp Orenda in the Adirondack Mountains has you covered (and then some). Breathe in the benefits of the trees surrounding the six canvas cabins while snuggled under a down comforter in a real queen-size bed. Enjoy a hot shower under a canopy of old-growth trees in the cedar-frame outdoor shower. (And if you’re wondering about the toilets, there are heated seats and a sink with running water to wash up.)
Continue to disconnect, unwind, and relax by leaving the cooking to the Camp Orenda staff. That’s right -- your nightly canvas cabin rental includes three meals a day. Enjoy a hearty farm-to-table dinner cooked in a cast-iron skillet or on a griddle over an open flame with accommodations for dietary restrictions. In the morning, start your day with a continental breakfast plus fruit and yogurt, and enjoy your lunch on-site or request it packed up as a picnic.
Access to kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, and mountain bikes is also included in your cabin rental at Camp Orenda.
2. Firelight Camps, Ithaca
Less than 10 minutes from downtown Ithaca, the luxurious tents at Firelight Camps feel worlds away. With smooth hardwood floors underfoot and bird’s-eye views from a private balcony, your safari tent among the trees may make you feel as if you’ve been transported to another continent.
You’ll sleep soundly in a plush king or queen bed with multilayered bedding to accommodate the Upstate New York temperatures. A bathhouse with flushing toilets and hot showers is just a short walk from each safari tent. And a delicious, locally sourced breakfast is served each morning. Firelight Camps calls it a continental breakfast, but I call it “continental plus,” because it goes beyond the typical coffee, tea, and pastries by including oatmeal and hard-boiled eggs.
While each tent includes battery-powered lanterns, a few tents have electric heaters, floor lamps, and power outlets. If you are concerned about evening temperatures dipping below 60 degrees (a common occurrence in Upstate New York, especially in late spring and early fall), you may want to opt for one of the electrified options. Just don’t get too connected to your electronics and miss the chance to connect with nature!
3. Gather Greene, Coxsackie
While the cabins at Gather Greene are about the size of an affordable hotel room in New York City, they offer all of the same comforts while wrapping you in a lullaby sung by nature (rather than a congested city). Each of the 17 wood-and-glass cabins has two windowed walls that frame the wooded mountaintop setting. And unlike at many glamping accommodations, you’ll enjoy a private bathroom featuring a walk-in shower, flush toilet, sink, and vanity. There’s even a mini-fridge in each cabin, something you won’t always find in a New York City hotel room!
4. Harmony Hill Retreat, East Meredith
While a treehouse yurt sounds like a place where a Dr. Seuss character would live, it’s actually a circular tent designed by Mongolian nomads. (I think it looks a bit like the teepee that Horton stepped on when he heard a Who.) While the Mongolians herding sheep and goats don’t have running water or electricity in their yurts, the accommodations at Harmony Hill are decked out with modern bathrooms, ceiling fans, space heaters, and fully equipped kitchens. But if you’d rather leave the cooking to someone else, Stone & Thistle Farm will deliver farm-fresh meals to you at Harmony Hill.
If you’re seeking a larger accommodation (or don’t think you can adequately forest bathe without a wrap-around porch), Harmony Hill also offers mountain chalet cabins.
5. Hotel Caravana, Amenia
If you’ve dreamed of an Airstream camping experience but don’t have a sleek silver bullet camper (or the right vehicle to tow it), then Hotel Caravana is the glamorous camping destination for you! Enjoy the perfect blend of boutique hotel charm and retro cool by staying in one of Hotel Caravana’s old-school Airstreams.
Each Airstream is outfitted with a bathroom and shower, sound system, Wi-Fi, heating, and air conditioning. Breakfast snacks are included, and you can either prepare your other meals in the kitchenette or order room service to your Airstream from 3 to 9:30 p.m.
Pro Tip: Not all glamping experiences are the same. For example, some accommodations require glampers to bring their own bedding, so be sure to follow the directions provided by the campsite and plan ahead for a sensational stay.
6. The Old Game Farm, Catskill
What this glamping destination in Upstate New York lacks in glamour (you’ll be using an outdoor camp toilet rather than flush toilet), it makes up for in uniqueness. Located on the site of a 150-acre abandoned zoo, The Old Game Farm offers four secluded campsites with canvas tents, queen-size beds, Adirondack chairs, and fantastic views. While there are no longer wild animals at the zoo, you’re likely to spot wildlife wandering through the woods or grazing in the clearings.
Pro Tip: If these campsites seem a little too rustic for your taste, The Long Neck Inn has five bed-and-breakfast-style rooms that include private en-suite bathrooms and other modern luxuries.
7. A Tiny House Resort, South Cairo
Tiny houses are a big trend, inspiring HGTV shows like Tiny House Hunters, Tiny Luxury, and Tiny House Nation. Check one out for yourself by glamping in one of 11 unique options in New York’s Hudson Valley at A Tiny House Resort. These small glamping spaces in the Catskills are big on luxuries, with flush toilets, showers, full kitchens, Wi-Fi, heating, and air conditioning.
Pro Tip: If you need a bit more space than a tiny house can provide, or you just need to pair your time in nature with the soothing sound of rushing water, consider booking a waterfall rental like a cabin with views of Niobe Falls or a cottage built on the bank of a babbling stream.
8. Treetopia Campground, Catskill
At the Treetopia Campground, you’ll find a smorgasbord of glamping accommodations, including canvas tents and campers. The tent sites include portable flush toilets, and a shower house is just a short walk away. The Airstream Experience stars a brand new 2020 Airstream with a full bathroom and kitchen. And you can super-size your experience by booking the Airstream Jumbo, featuring a separate master bedroom at the front of the rig.
If you’re visiting Upstate New York hauling your own Airstream or in another type of recreational vehicle, Treetopia Campground also has RV sites with water and electric hook-ups.
9. Yale Manor Yurts, Romulus
Strategically located in the heart of Upstate New York’s Finger Lakes Region, the yurts at Yale Manor blend pastoral lake views and modern amenities as expertly as the region’s winemakers blend grapes into award-winning wines. Enjoy the sun setting over Seneca Lake or unwind in front of the fireplace, taking comfort in the knowledge that you don’t need to hike to a bathhouse. Each of the 700-square-foot circular structures includes a full private bath with a flush toilet, running water, and hot shower.
Pro Tip: You can also stay in one of the Manor’s five bedrooms and enjoy a gourmet morning meal with this bed-and-breakfast alternative.
Whether you’re seeking an experience that’s a few steps up from tent camping or you want all of the conveniences of home in a rustic setting, these nine glamping destinations in Upstate New York are sure to help you unwind and reconnect with nature. And, who knows -- a little forest bathing near one of these luxurious camping accommodations just might add a few years to your life!