It seemed like kismet when the coveted Little Red Treehouse had a vacancy on our September anniversary. Sure, it was a Sunday when wineries and many restaurants along our route would be closed, but if a star like Matthew McConaughey talks up The Mohicans you jump at the chance to stay there.
It would be a one-of-a-kind getaway – my idea of “glamping” – the perfect balance of nature with simple comforts and rustic charm. Just the two of us unplugged and unwound.
Then, it happened. Our would-be romantic treehouse retreat became a Swiss Family Robinson adventure. When the bags are packed and you find yourself without a sitter, what’s a mom to do? Load up the littles (and wine) and roll with it.
The Mohicans in Glenmont, Ohio (about an hour and 45 minutes from Cleveland) offers six treehouses, two of which were designed by world-renowned treehouse builder Pete Nelson of Animal Planet’s Treehouse Masters. Each one sleeps two to four guests.
Tucked in the woods up a hill, Little Red is striking. It looks like a church atop a platform in the trees. A rocky dirt path off the unpaved road leads to a wooden staircase and 30-foot extension bridge connecting to a wraparound deck with outdoor seating. It’s isolated despite other cabins down the road. The barn-red structure bears the name “brewhaus” since the interior was originally designed as a brewery/tasting center for Tree House Brewing Company Beer.We had all the amenities – a kitchen, living room with built-in sofa and Amish rocker, cozy queen loft bedroom (tall enough to crawl inside and sit up), TV (for DVDs only), heating unit, indoor bathroom and outdoor shower. Covered in wood and windows (but shockingly few bugs), we felt a part of nature.
After child-proofing the kitchen, blockading the steep loft ladder and barricading the glass door, we inflated the air mattress, broke out the Paw Patrol figurines and set up camp.
With patchy cell and GPS service along the winding roads, we raced against the setting sun, dodging deer to make it back to our tree before dark. The prospect of getting lost in the woods sounds dangerously exciting as a couple, but with two littles in the backseat it’s just plain scary.
Before bed we built a fire, made s’mores by firelight (and iPhone flashlights), sang kumbaya (not really) and took turns brushing our teeth in the kitchen sink.
I envisioned the two of us as lovebirds in a treetop nest. Instead, I woke up atop the wood floor nestled in the hole of a mattress donut with my two-year-old thanks to a slow leak. But guess what? We laughed. And the sunrise through the five-foot stained glass made it all seem magical. Fittingly, we capped off the trip with a walk through the covered Bridge of Dreams in the Mohican River Valley.
The plaque on the loft ladder said “love grows best in little houses.” Cheers to that. Close quarters bring you together literally and figuratively. The romance may have been wanting, but there was no shortage of love inside that treehouse and many memories from a special weekend.
Here are six tips for mastering a treehouse getaway:
- Plan ahead. These book up for weddings so make reservations in advance.
- Pack light. You haul it up the steps – and, in the case of Little Red, over the long narrow bridge – so don’t expect to wheel in heavy stuff.
- BYO… fire materials, refreshments and folding chairs unless you want to sit on logs by the fire. If you want to make s’mores, watch movies or play board games, bring them along.
- Map it out. The treehouses are tucked away just south of Loudonville, Ohio. Satellite service may wane, so you’ll want to know where you’re going.
- Explore seasonal activities in the area. Zipline with local Tree Frog Canopy Tours, canoe, hike, bike, ride horses, and more during warm months. In the fall, Landoll’s Castle offers ghost tours in addition to regular tours.
- Clean up after yourself. Leave nature as you found it. That’s the rule.
Am I ready to join Tiny House Nation? No. (I’d have to seriously edit my wardrobe.) But it sure was fun for a night. What unique getaways have you taken?