Tapping Into a Road Trip Tradition at Santa Barbara Autocamp

Some 90 years ago, weary travelers driving the California coast started camping in a Sycamore grove in Santa Barbara. The spot, not far from the ocean and downtown Santa Barbara, was the perfect place to rest for the night. It was next to a river, had shade and is close to Highway 1. 

Road tripping is a quintessential American tradition, and there’s no better and more iconic route than California’s Highway 1. It snakes along the coast offering dramatic views of the ocean and mountains. It has cities and it has redwoods. It’s incredible, and the stretch north of Santa Barbara may be my favorite part. 


The business of catering to tired travelers by building unique and comfortable roadside motels is an American tradition as old as the road trip itself. Luckily the good people at the Santa Barbara Autocamp, with an obvious respect for road trip history, have tapped deep into this tradition by offering remodeled airstreams for nightly rentals in the same camp travelers established some 90 years ago.  

The modernized Airstreams have TVs, kitchens, heat, AC, bathrooms, and the one I stayed in had a tub as well. They also come with beach cruisers which makes the three mile ride to Stearn’s Wharf and the beach pretty easy. The Autocamp gives rental car road warriors a way to experience camping for a night or two in California without pitching a tent. Next time you’re in California, do check it out.