Less than a 90-minute drive from Pasadena, up the 2 freeway into the Angeles National Forest, French-owned Huttopia opened its first West Coast location in August. The tented resort in Paradise Springs makes for an easy way to camp without all the gear, and you can choose to cook while you’re there—or not. “When you say glamping, people expect to have a hotel room in the outdoors,” says Margaux Bossane, Huttopia’s development manager. “We have real beds, hot water in your tent, BBQs with cooking equipment provided, but we keep the camping spirit.”
This hybrid approach to an outdoor vacation is popular, with over 40 Huttopia locations spread throughout Europe since 1999. The new Southern California outpost is the fourth in the United States and, like each Huttopia site, it serves pizza made from a signature French recipe, as well as crepes and cold brew. There’s a full schedule of daily evening activities, such as outdoor movies, plus a kids’ club in the mornings and afternoon yoga classes.
The Paradise Springs retreat is open now with 12 tents, available through November, and will relaunch at its full capacity of 80 tents and all activities in 2022. To visit, turn off route 138 into a secluded canyon. Past Huttopia’s two big gates, continue down a dirt road to a parking lot, where you’ll leave your car beneath the pines while you’re on-property—though to go hiking nearby at Big Pines and Devil’s Punchbowl, you will need to drive, and the mountain town of Wrightwood is 30 minutes by car. Many Angeles National Forest trails remain closed following last year’s Bobcat Fire. But you wouldn’t know that from being at Paradise Springs.
As the name suggests, water on the property isn’t a problem. During the fire, the site became a base for firefighters because of its natural water source. It’s also a reason that the Beery brothers came up into the mountains in the 1920s. To escape both the city and prohibition, they opened Noah Beery’s Paradise Mountain Resort and Trout Club to share with fellow Hollywood actor friends, including Charlie Chaplin and Clark Gable. Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller, who famously starred in Tarzan in 1932, trained in the large rectangular swimming pool, which Huttopia has refurbished and reopened for guests. Three buildings remain from those early days. One original structure houses the restaurant, and another a library and game room.
And then there’s the critical question of camping: Where do you go to the bathroom? Some tents have their own composting toilet, sink, and shower. The ones that don’t are a short walk from a shared bath house. Next year, tents will be scattered among the 150 acres, spread out for privacy, but also close enough that it’s comfortable to walk everywhere. “We want people to experience the outdoors and to enjoy a sense of community,” says Bossane. “You come to feel lost in the woods, and you end up meeting people, especially with the kids all barefoot running across the grassy open areas without having to worry about cars. It’s a little heaven.” Read: There’s no cell phone service, but there is certainly Wi-Fi. From $210; canada-usa.huttopia.com