With two tween boys who spend most of their days pinballing between school, sporting events and social activities, an unscheduled weekend is a rare commodity in our household. So when my husband and I discovered an empty block on the calendar during peak leaf-peeping season, we agreed to step away from our computers for three days and take a family road trip to the mountains, in hopes of getting a little closer to nature—and to each other.

Having had our last two camping trips foiled by bad weather, however, we needed to come up with a more foolproof plan. Our solution: the luxury tree house at Shenandoah Crossing. We envisioned camping without the schlep—cool enough to earn us some parenting cred with our kids, yet sturdy enough to be comfortable, regardless of what Mother Nature had in store. 

Rest Your Head in the Clouds

A Choice Hotels Ascend Collection property, Shenandoah Crossing is part of the Bluegreen Vacations family of resorts, a timeshare-style destination where anyone can book accommodations on dates that go unclaimed by members. The 1,000-plus-acre property comprises a marina, equestrian stables, multiple pools, sports and exercise facilities, a general store and a restaurant, but the resort’s single tree house is its hidden jewel.

Tucked away in the forest and sidling up to a private lake, our tree house accommodations felt at once secluded and indulgent. The three-bedroom cabin provided more than enough room for our family (it sleeps six comfortably), and the elevated master bedroom—with its en suite bathroom and indoor/outdoor shower—was a far cry from a camping tent. The light-filled open living room and dining areas (complete with fully stocked kitchen!) were just what we needed for casual meals and downtime, while the wraparound deck with a grill and outdoor fireplace was perfect for late-night s’mores-making.

Making Connections (Wi-Fi Not Required)

On our first morning, my husband went kayaking with the boys while I enjoyed a little forest bathing. And though we had access to TV and free Wi-Fi, it was easy to find alternatives to screen entertainment. Instead of reaching for the remote one lazy afternoon, my younger son grabbed me to go play a round of mini-golf in the resort’s outdoor gaming area.

While the resort offers a 48-room lodge, 157 cabins and 29 luxury yurts, as well as ample parking space for RVs, there’s only one tree house—although it’s almost as challenging to discover in person as it is to find online (non-members can make reservations through choicehotels.com). And, as with all good tree houses, there was a delicious element of secretiveness here: Unmarked on even the resort map, this spot was ours and ours alone, if only for the weekend.

Can’t make it to Shenandoah Crossing? Here are six tree house resorts around the country to add to your bucket list:

Kodiak Greenwood

The Post Ranch Inn Tree Houses in Big Sur, CA
If your idea of roughing it in nature includes five-star accommodations and a fully-stocked minibar, then the Post Ranch Inn might have your dream tree house. Located on the cliffs above the Pacific Ocean, each tree house features a king-size bed, fireplace, soaking tub and a skylight to watch the stars as you fall asleep. The room comes with a set of binoculars to take in the view of the Pacific Ocean from your private rooftop deck.

The Aviary at Wheatleigh in Lenox, MA
Situated on 22 acres on the cusp of the Berkshires, Wheatleigh is a former private residence that’s been converted into a world-class boutique hotel. You can sleep among the leaves in the property’s Aviary room, an over-the-top two-story studio that comes with a price tag to match.

Primland Tree Houses in Meadows of Dan, VA

At Primland Resort’s three adults-only tree houses, guests can order a private dinner served on the wraparound balconies overlooking the Dan River Gorge, often referred to as “The Grand Canyon of the East.”

Out ‘n’ About Treehouses in Cave Junction, OR

Situated in the southwest corner of Oregon, just north of the California boarder, the Out ‘n’ About Treehouse Treesort looks like it could be the set of the Ewok Village. Five treetop cabins offer overnight accommodations, while zip lines, giant swings, ropes courses and horseback rides keep you busy during the day.

Treehouse Cottages in Eureka Springs, AK

In addition to the four tree house cottages that are hidden among a tree canopy in the Ozarks, there are also three hillside tree houses near Eureka Spring’s historic downtown area. Proprietors Terry and Patsy Miller designed and built each home themselves, incorporating thoughtful details such as a heart-shaped Jacuzzi and a full kitchenette in each abode.

Treehouse at Winvian Farm in Litchfield, CT

If the Mad Hatter lived in a tree house, this would be it. At this 113-acre retreat, you’ll find 18 different themed cottages, ranging from a fully restored and luxuriously appointed helicopter to a funky two-story tree house, complete with steam shower, Jacuzzi, fireplace and two bicycles for guests’ use.