Looking for a summer vacation, but tired of the beach? Concerned about pandemic-era travel on expensive planes and cruise ships, but really need to recharge away from the crowds and the big-city stress? Why not book a quaint cabin in the woods?
Imagine quiet contemplation, channeling your inner artist, and just breathing in the beauty of nature, all while enjoying the luxuries that modern cabin life has to offer.
The three LGBTQ-friendly Texas options featured below are not the cabins of summer camps you may remember—they are luxe lodgings. This could be your modern-day “Summer of Thoreau,” so pack your bags (and maybe the kids and the dogs) and hit the road for the most relaxing vacation you’ve had in years.
Several Texas locations
Jon Staff founded Getaway House in 2015, and he now has almost two dozen wooded sites around the country featuring tiny cabins with their own bathrooms and kitchens, as well as outdoor fireplaces and picnic tables. His newest Texas location is Getaway Brazos Valley, which opened in June 2020 in Navasota. That property boasts 46 cabins across 142 acres.
“My favorite features are the lack of Wi-Fi, followed by the big window along the bed,” Staff notes. “Waking up with the view really allows our guests to feel immersed in nature and surrounded by the beauty of the outdoors. To emphasize the joy of being offline, as soon as you check in, guests will find a cellphone lockbox to gently nudge people to put away their phones. That allows them to truly unplug and appreciate their surroundings, and to fully embrace the experience.
“Nothing compares to the deep exhale you experience when you truly take a break from the city and get into nature. There’s something truly restorative about getting out of the concrete jungle and into the quiet woods. I would recommend that our first-time Getaway guests truly embrace the experience. Put your phone in the lockbox, start a fire, and enjoy the serenity within nature. Our cabins are equipped to make sure your stay is as comfortable as possible so our guests can reap the benefits of the outdoors without the noise of day-to-day responsibilities.”
Circle J Guest Ranch
The Circle J opened in spring of 2005 when four men purchased the original 100 acres in the piney woods of beautiful East Texas. In the early years it was open exclusively to gay men, with clothing optional. Although no longer clothing-optional, it is still an adults-only ranch and they do host private groups or special events that are clothing-optional. One regular clothing-optional event is the monthly Men’s Club weekends.
“We like to say that we are proudly gay owned and operated, but hetero-friendly,” say the owners, who are in the final stages of completing a new 5-acre RV park for long-term and residential use, adjacent to the east side of the original 100-acre property. The projected grand-opening is the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.
“We now have a restaurant on the property, we offer horseback riding, hiking trails, and a 2-acre spring-fed pond for swimming, fishing, kayaking, and canoeing. But the most unique aspect of the property may be the natural formation of huge boulders on the hilltop above the pond. The largest one is 8 or 9 feet tall, near a community firepit where guests gather after dusk to enjoy a warm fire and chill out with one another, often late into the night.”
For those not pitching a tent or staying in their RV, the Garden View Suite is a private room with a magnificent view from the floor-to-ceiling window across from the king-size bed and with custom lighting and an electric fireplace. Truly “glamping” at its best.
Hat Hill Hideaway
This charming artist’s cabin, hidden atop a breathtaking hill in the Texas Hill Country, is owned by Houston gallery owner Megen Pastor and her wife, Laura Goodson. Situated near a bubbling creek, it’s sure to help you channel your own artistic endeavors. You can also buy some of the couple’s lovely artwork, jackets, and curated vintage. There are RV hookups and a trampoline, and while the creek isn’t deep enough to swim in, there is a swimming hole nearby.
The couple’s website describes this lovely little getaway: “Your home away from home is a one-bedroom cabin with a detached two-bed bunkhouse that is usually where we send the kids off to if they are old enough. Wi-Fi capable, but we hope you don’t end up using it that much. Our motto—Keep the kids off the streets and in the creeks. Master bedroom closet is shop-able and so is the art, meaning take whatever you want and be charged at the end of your stay, or go online and buy it.”
This article appears in the May 2022 edition of OutSmart magazine.