Saturday, April 21 , 2018, 1:20 am | Fair 55º


Donna Polizzi

Here & There

Donna Polizzi: Glamping Near Santa Margarita Lake Gets You Back to Nature — in Style

Santa Margarita KOA provides a range of accommodations to meet your every definition of ‘roughing it’


Glamping — or glamour camping — in the great outdoors is the perfect way to strengthen relationships or simply enjoy solitude and nature. For me, there is no better place to calm my mind, gain clarity and strategize.

Those who know me are rolling their eyes, but I know some of you can relate. I love to write, and nature relaxes and inspires me ... which makes me want to (and I use the term lightly) work.

I recently took the opportunity to spend a couple of nights at the Santa Margarita KOA Campground, at 4765 Santa Margarita Lake Road in San Luis Obispo County. It is a beautiful 70-acre campsite built into the side of a mountain near Santa Margarita Lake, about 21 miles from San Luis Obispo.

The location is ideal and has accommodations to suit every taste. Guests can bring their tent, RV, rent a yurt or take it up a notch by choosing one of the several deluxe cabins. Dirt and gravel sites dot the oak- and pine tree-studded mountainside and choices are in abundance.

The deluxe cabins offer many different floor plans that can include showers, bath tubs, and full or partial kitchens. Some cabins have air conditioning, heating, cable TV and Internet service.

The one in which I stayed was butted against a mountain and was elevated to the point that my view was phenomenal. It had two bedrooms with very comfortable queen beds and a loft. The weather can be quite hot in the summer, and I was grateful for air conditioning. It also was awesome to hike all day and come back to a hot bath and a fire pit.

Many of the campsite areas are huge and can accommodate large groups of people. It is very convenient that one family can stay in a deluxe cabin while friends can pull alongside and hook up their RV.

Some of the areas will allow pets for a small fee.

The campground is well maintained, and the amenities are numerous. The cabins look new, and everything was surprisingly clean and well maintained.

One of the best features is the service. The staff is friendly and helpful, and the on-site general store has everything from ice to soup to nuts. Firewood is available, and there is a decent selection of wine and cold beer. At night, staff members drive around and offer more firewood or other supplies.

If you need a gathering spot, there is also a huge party yurt that can hold up to 40 people.

Get settled and let the fun begin. Have you ever seen a Jumping Pillow? It’s kind of like a bounce house without walls surrounded by soft beach sand. You’ll feel like you’re flying.

There is nothing better than a brisk morning hike through the beautiful campsite. Don’t be surprised when you come across Kevin the Emu, a friendly bird that is the Santa Margarita KOA campground mascot.

Play a game of volleyball, take a dip in the pool or simply sit, smell the pine trees and listen to the birds sing. In the evening, you can barbecue your favorite foods and take in spectacular sunset views.

Nearby is the beautiful Santa Margarita Lake for hiking and great photo opportunities. Be aware that you cannot swim in the lake because it’s San Luis Obispo’s reservoir of drinking water. It’s a nature lover’s retreat with thousands of acres of open space available to hikers, bikers and equestrians. The lake itself is known for its boating and great fishing opportunities.

One of my favorite wineries is Lago Giuseppe Winery, and it is only a half-mile away.

Once the sun sets, throw a bundle of wood into the large fire ring, uncork a good bottle of wine from one of the many wineries in the area ... and be amazed by the millions of stars above.

Click here for more information about the Santa Margarita KOA Campground, or call 805.438.5618. Reservations can be made by emailing [email protected], or calling 800.562.5619.

— Donna Polizzi is a regional travel expert and founder of Keys to the Coast, a free Central Coast travel resource providing honest recommendations on the best places that locals want to go. She can be contacted at [email protected]. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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