Camp Out in a Comfortable Tent or Airstream in Northern California

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By Marissa Hermanson
When husband and wife Chris Hougie and Teresa Raffo came across a defunct campground outside of Mendocino, California, the 36-acre property’s raw beauty inspired them to embark on a new adventure.

The couple, who also spearheaded Cornerstone Sonoma, breathed new life into the property by bringing the comforts of home to the great outdoors with a high-end campground called Mendocino Grove. Just opened this past May, the outdoor retreat offers an array of adventurous accommodations from canvas tents to vintage Airstream campers. "Our vision was to create something un-fussy with clean lines," says Raffo. 

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San Francisco interior designer Wade Hine of Wade Hine Interior Designs was brought in to execute Hougie and Raffo’s vision by taking a utilitarian and nostalgic design approach. "The location and colors of the rugged nature, and the beauty of the place—that's where I drew my inspiration," says Hine. "I wanted to create a comforting and calm experience for guests that wouldn't be overly refined." 

Classic 12- by 14-foot canvas tents are outfitted with queen beds, while larger 16- by 20-foot family tents include a queen bed and two sets of bunks or a queen and two twins. 

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"I love the idea of a canvas tent because of the way they breath," says Raffo of the Davis Tent structures. "There's something really special about sleeping in canvas." Naturally, each tent also has an outdoor living area that includes a redwood front porch with two leather butterfly chairs, a fire pit, and a picnic table. 

Accommodations were brought to life with organic materials like indigenous wood, vintage-inspired decor, and "touches of whimsy." Shelters are furnished with a minimalist mindset including a table, nightstands, folding chairs, coatrack, steamer trunk, lanterns, and jars of loose-leaf tea. Hine created a cozy vibe by layering organic textures like sisal rugs, down duvets, gray flannel sheets, and wool blankets.

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"The idea was to really make it feel peaceful so that the nature around you could pop out more," says Raffo. 

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Two vintage Airstream trailers with electricity, heat, and running water are available for those who are looking for cushier accommodations. The wood-paneled mobile homes, which can sleep two adults and a child, are outfitted with queen beds, a half bath, and outdoor kitchen. 

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And for the camping enthusiast who already has all the gear, Mendocino Grove offers "pitch-your-own-tent" campsites, where guests can plop down and set up their own shelter. 

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Nearby, a central bathhouse with a contemporary spa-like feel is outfitted with redwood, marble vanities, and subway tile-lined showers. 

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For the 2018 camping season, Mendocino Grove is planning on adding a dry sauna to the bathhouse for guests to warm up during Northern California’s wet, chilly days. 

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At the morning campfire, a light breakfast and coffee is served, and after sunset, campers can enjoy a group campfire or huddle around the fire at their campsite for a more intimate evening. 

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If visitors are looking to do some cooking, they can stock up on provisions in town and light up one of their propane grills. The campsite offers an array of rentals such as ice chests, s’mores kits, and camp boxes, which include everything you’ll need for eating and cooking, from utensils and dishes to a frying pan. 

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Situated on a picturesque bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, there’s plenty of picturesque views from the campground. Just a quarter mile walk north, campers will find themselves in downtown Mendocino where they can mosey up and down the quaint town’s streets. And, with wine country, Big River, beaches, and Van Damme State Park nearby, there are tons of outdoor experiences to occupy visitors during the day before they head back to the campsite for a restful night’s sleep.

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