*Traveling during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic increases your risk and the risk of those around you. Please be mindful and observe local restrictions, stock up on supplies and fuel close to home, wash your hands, WEAR A MASK, and practice social distancing with locals. Your safest bet: bookmark this article for post vaccine 2021.
Southwest of Palm Springs and Joshua Tree, two hours from downtown Los Angeles, nestled in the San Jacinto Mountains, lie the amebous towns of Idyllwild, Pine Cove, and Fern Valley—three unincorporated (although census-designated) mountain communities with an uncanny concentration of amazing cabins.
Idyllwild is the largest and most well known of the three, and is often used to reference the entire region. The historical homeland and an important destination today for the Mountain Cahuilla Native Americans, the area was called “Strawberry Valley” by settlers. Surrounded by Tahquitz Peak (with nearby Lily Rock) and Suicide Rock, the terrain is covered in bright pine trees and huge boulders, making it a popular spot for rock climbing, mountain biking, camping, and hiking today.
All three towns maintain a small, artsy feel, and it’s not difficult to find 420-friendly cabins to crash at, or good food and shopping downtown. Below’s list of the best vacation rental cabins on Airbnb, mostly located in Idyllwild-Pine Cove, showcase the region’s quirky and friendly vibe and vibrant mid-century and 1970's era cabins. Julias Shulman and The Dude would no doubt both approve.
Vibe: MCM Hunting Lodge
Take in the views of Marion Mountain from the floor-to-ceiling windows of this tastefully decorated A-Frame. With mid-century pieces from top-to-bottom, inviting earth-tone color pallet, pops of cozy textiles, luxurious master bath, and heated floors, this is the perfect place to sit back and recharge. Pop a record on and take your morning coffee outside to the deck to relax among the trees, or head to town for a day of exploring.
Vibe: One with Nature
Built atop, among and over mountainous boulders is this optical marvel of a house. With an equal amount of wooden planes and corners outside as in, this house is a destination to explore itself. Peek outside from the various windows and skylights or take in the views of Suicide and Lily Rock from the patio(s). A casita on the property provides space for a couple more people to come along and pets are welcome too. Nearby Lake Hemet is a popular spot for outdoor activities, as well as the hiking trails throughout the Idyllwild area.
Vibe: Architectural Wonder
Take a step back and take in the perfectly rustic and retro vibe of this cabin in the woods. Sleek wood paneling gives way to small portions of exposed boulders that the house is built on and into. Nature lovers will appreciate the way that design and nature are in harmony with one another, inside and out, and it’s not just because of the hot tub that’s positioned to face the sun setting behind the mountains...but it helps.
Vibe: Cabin-kit Cute
Full of bright, cheerful mid-century modern pieces, this colorful A-Frame is straight out of a 60’s cabin kit. A woodstove provides some heat while the expansive deck is a great place to feel the cool mountain breeze. A close walk to town and all its amenities, this A-Frame is a great option for the design aficionado looking for a little fun.
Vibe: Green Mountain
Floor-to-ceiling knotty pine paneling and some questionably mountain-inspired decor do not take away from the scenic views that you can spot from the comfort of the Lazy Arrow Lodge’s big, wraparound deck. You’ll probably want to spend most of your time out there, but inside, the glass-fronted walls let in tons of natural light to enjoy when you aren’t relaxing around the fireplace.
Vibe: A Room with a View
If you’re looking to spend most of your getaway on a deck with an incredible view, this cabin is for you. While the interior has plenty of to offer, with modern furnishings and charming wood accents, the deck is the main attraction here. Look out over Idyllwild’s beauty from the hot tub and picnic table or gather around the outdoor lounge area complete with a fireplace. Idyllwild Nature Center is nearby, where one can begin to learn about the Cahuilla Native culture and history of the San Jacinto Mountains.
Vibe: Southwestern Villa
Six decks, five acres, and four floors will just have to do for your weekend getaway. Do your best to rough it for a few days and nights in this sprawling Santa Fe-inspired home, if not for the views but the private trails on the property. Design details like a herringbone ceiling with wooden beams add some character, but if nothing else, you can at least enjoy the warmth of the fireplace from the comfort of your own bedroom.
Vibe: Cabin with a Hot Tin Roof
This pared-back mountaintop retreat is modern and minimal by design. Downstairs, a wide-open floor plan flows upward into an airy loft space featuring braided rugs and hammock swings, of course. The tin roof and pipe railings bring an industrial touch to this otherwise clean cabin that plays off the subtle rustic, relaxed vibe. Just in case you were wondering, there’s another hammock outside.
Vibe: Creative Crash-Pad
This modern rustic A-Frame was designed for creative retreats or a romantic getaway. The interior is simple yet thoughtfully put together, and a large wooden table and ample space to cook provides the space for great family-style meals. A front and back deck are great spots for relaxing and taking in the sun or stars, complete with chairs and a bbq for outdoor grilling.
Vibe: Grown-Up Cedar Treehouse
Looking for luxe creature comforts in the mountains of Southern California that can fit a large group? Book your stay at this woodland cabin clad in cedar siding (so is the hot tub, btw) with huge floor-to-ceiling windows that show off this spectacular view. This might not be a place for those who favor minimal design or tiny footprints, but it’s hard to beat that location and its easy access to the outdoors.
Vibe: In the Pines
Cozy and private, this small black cabin blends into the grouping of pine trees that sit on the fenced-in property. Ignore the artwork and enjoy the warm, woodsy feeling of the cedar paneling that runs top to bottom, and make a fire when there’s a chill in the air. This little cabn is the perfect size for small gatherings indoors or out.
Vibe: Alpine Nostalgia
While we don’t condone the plush chocolate brown leather sofas or patterned upholstery, this rustic A-Frame is, well, pretty damn idyllic. Built in the 1960s, decades later it still has that vintage charm in the form of wood siding contrasting with red window panes and a spacious deck that’s built right into the surrounding woods. It sits streamside, plus, there’s rock climbing, hiking, and mountain biking in the San Jacinto forest.
Vibe: Black & White
Circle up your vaccinated friends and pile into the Cedar Haus. Located close to downtown Idyllwild and the hiking trails at the Idyllwild Nature Center, this contemporary cabin is a white, bright alternative to many of the rustic cabins available in the area. With plenty of room inside and on the secluded, forested property outside, you can enjoy some R+R against a beautiful mountain backdrop.