If you’re the type of traveler who prefers to zig when everyone else zags, then you’ll appreciate these unique alternatives to the ho-hum four walls of a hotel room. From a human nest to a big purple bubble, bed down somewhere truly memorable on your next North American vacay. Traveling with a family? We have even more ideas here.
Sleep in a Bubble - Quebec
Overlooking a pristine forest landscape, be lulled to sleep by a babbling brook from the comfort of your overnight accommodations in a giant purple bubble. A three-hour drive from Quebec City, Canopée Lit has a mix of tree house cabins and roomy inflatable tents (in fun colors), big enough for a twosome. Bubbles are well equipped with composting toilets and showers just outside the front door. If you crave privacy and tranquility off-the-grid, this is a little slice of heaven near the Saguenay fjord.
Eau, What a Feeling - Florida
You’ll have to pack light for your underwater stay at Jules’ Undersea Lodge, located just off the shores of Key Largo. It's a watery journey for scuba divers spending the night at this futuristic-looking facility that sits on the ocean floor in a mangrove lagoon. Created in the '70s for those craving surf more than turf, big windows (that don't open) provide perfect views of migrating aquatic life. Book the JUL for two package, which includes underwater pizza delivery (for real!) and a hot breakfast.
Nesting Period - California
At Trees Bones Resort in Big Sur, California, overnight guests can book a memorable avian-inspired experience as they curl up in a nest built for humans – really giving you something to tweet about. Fashioned out of tree branches and roots, you don’t need to be able to fly to get up there – just climb the ladder and settle in. It comes with stellar ocean views and a full-sized futon mattress, but you’ll have to bring your own sleeping bag. And like a real bird’s nest, it isn’t fully rainproof so you may want to pack a tent as backup.
Well Rounded - BC
These other worldly-looking orbs dangle from the treetops amid the tranquil rainforest on Vancouver Island, about 37 miles north of Nanaimo, British Columbia. At Free Spirit Spheres, you'll be rocked to sleep in your own private wooden sphere that sways in the breeze, perched10 feet off the ground. There isn't a bathroom inside, but you will find an outhouse at the base of your host tree. Bedding, towels, bathrobes, an electric heater, and snack basket are also supplied for cozy glamping.
Prison Break - Ontario
If you're in search of something cheap and cheerful in Canada’s capital, consider a place with a criminal past. The Ottawa Jail Hostel operated as a prison for more than 100 years and offers stays in real cells adorned with steel bars. Overnighters can take a free tour of the facility to learn about its notorious past and the cast of characters who bunked down here. Considered to be one of the most haunted buildings in Canada, people have claimed to hear the squeak of cell doors and chains rattling in the night. Doing time has never been so spooky or as fun.
Pipe Dreams - Mexico
45 miles outside Mexico City in Tepoztlan, you can spend the night in a hotel constructed out of stacked sewer pipes. The cement rooms at Tubohotel are basic and compact, but the experience is like no other – reminiscent of camping comfortably. Toilets and showers are housed in a separate building, so mid-night bathroom users may want to bring a flashlight. It’s a very social place where singing and drinking with fellow guests can run into the wee hours of the morning.
One Track Mind - Pennsylvania
Train enthusiasts will find their happy place at the Red Caboose Motel in Ronks, Pennsylvania, where former railway cars were given new life as rustic accommodations in 1970. Families can take over a small caboose equipped with bunk beds and doubles for mom and dad. Spend the day chugging along to nearby attractions like the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania and National Toy Train Museum and it'll be full steam ahead for a memorable holiday.
Wheeling and Dealing - Arizona
The term “trailer park” conjures up certain images, but these don’t apply to The Shady Dell in Bisbee, Arizona. Its 11 mid-century trailers come equipped with all the essential 1950s staples, including a record player, martini glasses and diner booths. The retro vibe continues with a stash of decades-old magazines and televisions that look practically prehistoric. Consider booking a stay in the 1947 Airporter bus transformed into a wacky Polynesian-themed room, complete with a hand-carved outrigger bar.
Sea Worthy - California
There’s no risk of getting seasick on this ship. The Queen Mary is enjoying her retirement moored in Long Beach after traveling the Atlantic since 1936. Once a vacation hub for the rich and famous, its staterooms still channel the elegance and sophistication of the Art Deco period, but have been updated with modern amenities like widescreen televisions and mini-fridges. Make a point to visit the vintage 1930s cocktail lounge to toss one back to America's heyday.
Tent for Rent - BC
The First Nations people were onto something brilliant when they invented the teepee. Warm, cozy and smartly designed, it is a perfect place to crash at Goldenwood Lodge in Golden, BC, not far from Banff and the stunning Canadian Rockies. You'll be outfitted with bedding and cooking gear, and can BYOSB (bring your own sleeping bag) or rent one on site. Be sure to take advantage of the fire pit for s’mores and ghost stories.