This is not your ordinary rustic Brown County cabin. Designed from the ground up just a couple years ago by Brian Burtch of Fountain Fletcher’s NEON Architecture and boasting a boxy modern vibe that calls to mind shipping-container construction, the 820-square-foot Plāhaus (“play house,” get it?) sits off the ground on concrete piers for elevation and the sake of appearances. Two bedrooms and a main living area pop out from either side of a soaring concrete-block wall that splices the property; Indy-based Bohall Design and Fabrication gets credit for the shelving, the carpentry, the metalwork, and the raw plywood wall treatments, giving the earthy, natural aesthetic a thoroughly modern upgrade. Oh, and that name? A nod to owner Bob Blass’s German heritage, and his sense of humor.
1891 Schoolhouse Inn
Smartly renovated in 2016, the former one-room Cottonwood School shows its age—in a good way—through preserved original details like buffed heart pine flooring; wainscoting; tall, wavy-glass windows; and the 1891 belfry with bell still intact. Surrounded by woods and butterfly gardens on a peaceful acre of Morgantown land, the two-bedroom inn earns an “A” for location, just far enough away from the traffic of downtown Nashville and its nearby state park. Accommodations check in at just under 1,000 square feet, but live large thanks to an airy great room. If you do need to plug in, high-speed fiber-optic internet is available with conference call capabilities, a rarity in rural Brown County. In short, this schoolhouse rocks.
The Goat Conspiracy Cabin
In Mellencamp territory near Belmont and within spitting distance of Salt Creek, this 3,000-square-foot cabin gives patrons an opportunity to bunk—gracefully—on the grounds of a working 46-acre goat farm. The nontraditional layout skillfully pairs a modern cathedral-ceilinged main suite boasting high-end finishes and a Jacuzzi tub with the original structure, showcasing a nicely outfitted kitchen and a kid-friendly upstairs loft furnished with twin beds, toys, games, and a treasure chest of clothes for playing dress-up. Hop onto a public tour of the farm to greet the free-range chickens and 175 or so friendly hooved residents. Guests also receive a complimentary basket of local goodies.
Still Waters Log Cabin
A quintessential Brown County patchwork of wood floors and high ceilings, this three-bedroom log cabin extends its 10-acre footprint by backing right up to Yellowwood State Forest. Although the residential-style rental is fairly new, most of the reclaimed wood used in the construction dates back 150 to 200 years to establish a solid sense of place, and features like a soaring native-stone fireplace, a pool table, a hot tub, and a porch swing make it easy to settle right in and feel at home. An idyllic private fishing pond encourages guests to cast a line and try their luck.
Dunlap Hollow Cottage
If you want a newly renovated site that is over 100 years old, the Dunlap Hollow Cottage is the perfect spot. Originally built in the 1920s and recently fixed up, this cabin combines rustic charm with modern amenities in a natural setting. Inside, guests have a hot tub, television, Wi-Fi, and other contemporary offerings. Outside, guests can enjoy a hiking trail in the cabin’s backyard, rugged cliffs, caves, seasonal waterfalls, and so much more within driving distance.
Dunlap Hollow Cottage is less of a romantic spot (although couples will still love the charming style) and more of a family destination. After dinner, families can gather around the firepit or hang out on the porch’s hammock swings. And when it’s time to call it a night, parents will appreciate the separate bedroom with a queen-sized bed, while the kids have their own lofted space with two single beds.
You’ll have to earn your stay by trekking down a flight of stairs and through the woods to reach Otium, one of two properties built into locally sourced shipping containers nestled into a quiet Ohio forest clearing halfway between Columbus and Cleveland. Your reward is the sight of a breathtaking one bed, one bath tiny-home accommodation rising up out of the wilderness like some sort of magical oasis. Inside, the color palette and finishes blur the lines between indoors and outside through natural tones and textures to mimic those you’ll see through the floor-to-ceiling window. The outdoor shower gets shut off once temperatures dip below freezing each fall, but the al fresco tub is a popular year-round highlight. Be prepared to fully switch off while you’re there—cell service is spotty, and there’s no Wi-Fi.
Idyll Reserve 2
Hocking Hills, Ohio
This retreat was developed by a sister, a brother, and his wife from a kit home by Hygge Supply, an innovative, environmentally conscious modular home company. The founding trio made Idyll Reserve a place that marries indulgence and mindfulness.
Guests can choose between a one-bedroom or larger family cabin, providing options for couples looking for a romantic break from reality or families who want to make memories that last a lifetime. The southern Ohio region is famous for its unique and breathtaking terrain so visitors can enjoy natural landscapes while embracing contemporary luxuries like soaking tubs, barista-quality espresso machines, and a chef’s kitchen.
The Lily Pad
Created by a husband-and-wife team from a shipping container, the cabin was made to be a romantic getaway for couples, nestled on 30 acres of woods that provide near-complete privacy. Despite the small size, the Lily Pad packs a lot in its tiny frame, including a full kitchen, gas fireplace, swing bench, and even a garage door that makes the cabin become one with the outside.
There’s a petting zoo on the property (you read that right) and, nearby, guests can enjoy ziplining and Old Man’s Cave, the start of a trail that goes through deep sandstone walls and near waterfalls, and is the area’s most famous attraction only two miles from the cabin.
Open year-round, the beautiful scenery and private space attract guests in all seasons and even on major holidays.
Gatlinburg Ober A-Frame Dreams
Anyone seeking a true mountain experience need look no further than this charming A-frame located on Ski Mountain in Gatlinburg’s popular Chalet Village. It’s only five minutes to all the entertainment Gatlinburg offers, but—thanks to its position up on the mountain—still feels rustic and secluded. In fact, it’s a regular occurrence to see a mama bear and cubs strolling across the property.
Although the owners loved the overall design of the cabin when they bought it, they’ve renovated the bathrooms and updated the kitchen to set the space apart with a hip, modern aesthetic. They call the wall of windows in the living room a “showstopper,” and once the leaves begin to fall, the mountain views are unparalleled. With its spacious floor plan, the cabin can accommodate up to nine guests and includes added perks like a large wraparound deck, a hot tub, and a basement game room with several arcade machines.
Just Out of Nashville
Take an A-frame but make it nautical. The unique, boat-like shape of this Smithville cabin certainly differentiates it, and nods to the history of its lake community locale. While it’s nestled in the trees for a truly secluded feel, the location remains surprisingly close to amenities.
Though built in the 1960s, the interior is a perfect blend of retro and modern. Thanks to its A-frame style with large windows, the cabin is awash in natural light and feels bright and energizing throughout. The owners didn’t want to detract from the vintage vibes, so they opted for a minimalistic yet cozy aesthetic in the decor and furnishings. Outside, an enormous deck offers additional space to spread out and relax. A minimum seven-night stay is required, which makes it perfect for remote work or reconnecting with family.
Bloomington Springs, Tennesse
Treehouses have come a long way since our childhoods, and though they might still be for the young at heart, their amenities have improved greatly. This luxurious, adults-only treehouse sits 15 feet above the forest floor and is packed with unique elements. During a trip to Australia, the owners were inspired to create their own whimsical, welcoming getaway.
Though the structure itself is traditional and was built by local Amish craftsmen, it boasts numerous features throughout that set the treehouse apart. The front door came from an 1848 mansion, while a salvaged stained-glass window (also from the 1800s) shines a kaleidoscope of colors above the luxurious bathroom’s clawfoot tub. Romantic touches are also found throughout, like the vintage Rock-Ola jukebox that’s sure to inspire some slow dancing. Even better? The owners provide quarters for guests to make their musical selections.
The Coalmont Cabin
If you don’t need tons of space but still want top-notch accommodations, look no further than this former fishing cabin that’s been reimagined, remodeled, and reinvigorated. Under 500 square feet, this tiny cottage offers minimalistic Scandinavian vibes, with architectural features that blur your sense of indoor/outdoor. Its unique location—on a 2.5-acre peninsula—gives you all the perks of waterfront living and forest life in one package. Some original cabin elements were preserved, like the rainbow poplar ceiling and beams that were refashioned to create the loft stairs.
The owners designed the space as a retreat for their family, and the corresponding amenities are plentiful. From lawn games and ziplining to fishing and kayaking, there’s something for nearly every age. Plus, two spacious decks offer room to spread out for stargazing or enjoying a cookout. Couples seeking a weekend away will appreciate the saltwater hydrotherapy hot tub, the cozy fireplace, and private setting.
West Bay Modern Cabin
Traverse City, Michigan
Located between Traverse City and Suttons Bay, this familiar-looking retreat comes with its own private beach and a bit of an architecture lesson. “I had called it an A-frame,” laughs one of the owners, Carlie Humphrey, who says devotees of the style convinced her otherwise. No matter what you call it, its interiors are decidedly modern and light-filled, with vaulted ceilings and plenty of windows. You can even watch the sunrise from the large windows facing West Bay. Replete with kayaks, a bonfire pit, and an outdoor shower, there are plenty of amenities to get everyone out on the water.
Indian River, Michigan
Nestled in the charming town of Indian River, the Fernside is a cozy spot for couples who want to get away for a romantic weekend without sacrificing convenience. Modern luxuries like linen bedding, opulent soaps, stylish cookware, and high-speed internet give guests the comforts of home while the firepit, breathtaking stars, and a river within earshot put anything on your Calm app to shame. Open year-round, there is no shortage of beaches, farmers markets, or restaurants near Fernside A-Frame. In the winter, enjoy the beauty of the snow-covered landscape inside the cabin or take to the nearby snowmobile and ski trails. And despite being in a rural area, the cabin is connected to a generator so guests can enjoy their vacation without worry.
Traverse City, Michigan
Craftsman-style abode meets woodland fairy queen’s bedchamber at The Snug, a “cabin in the woods, a retreat, a work of art,” says owner Cathy Stocker. But here, privacy is king. The cabin sits on 10 acres of secluded forest surrounded by more than 200 undeveloped acres above Lake Leelanau, just six miles from downtown Traverse City. Called The Snug after the U.K. tradition of a small, comfy room for curling up with a book or movie, this cabin is lavish but modest at 650 square feet. Stocker says many guests arrive with plans for climbing the dunes, biking Sleeping Bear Trail, or wine-tasting. But oftentimes they wind up canceling those in favor of kicking up their heels around the cabin. “It’s a place to snuggle in and get cozy.”
Evenfall is a truly gorgeous stay that will remind guests more of a penthouse suite in New York City than a rustic cabin. With steel walls, floor-to-ceiling windows, an open living area with chic furniture, a wood-burning fireplace, an island kitchen with two (!) dishwashers, and concrete floors that radiate heat (an essential in the winter), this is a premium experience at a premium price.
And it’s not just Evenfall that will leave you smiling. The building is perfectly integrated into its surroundings, giving guests superb sunset views of the North Manitou and Fox islands from Evenfall’s two patios with firepits. Nearby are two beaches—Peterson Park and Christmas Cove—for those who want a brief dip, and it’s a quick drive to visit the Grand Traverse Lighthouse.
Built in the 1970s before tiny houses were a thing, this 575-square-foot cottage found new life when a California transplant remodeled it as a place to embrace winter. Located on an acre and surrounded by a national forest, Hygge House is a snug yet modern three-sleeping-room bunkhouse (note the full-size beds) designed with masterful efficiency for groups of friends or a family who will spend most of their time in nature or exploring the charming town of Cable. In the winter, the village stays bumping with a full slate of ski races. But with large windows looking out across a private acre, it’s tempting to hunker down in the living room under an 18-foot-tall ceiling with a good book, too.
Designed by a Minneapolis architect, LongHouse is a newly built, two-bedroom, 1,200-square-foot Scandinavian-style home overlooking a lake and a landscape replete with wildlife. Once it was completed, co-owner Bruce McPheeters and his wife realized the full power of its setting, both natural and designed—as a Stage IV cancer survivor, she found peace and strength at LongHouse. That’s one reason the retreat is ADA-accessible, perfect for a guest with a caregiver. Douglas fir dominates the luxurious, high-quality interior. Each bedroom has glorious views, a fireplace, and a multi-jet shower. A footbridge over a dry creek bed leads to a separate screened-in room, heated and with motorized screens. Snowshoes are provided and hiking abounds in the area, but visitors tend to give in to the relaxation and recreation here, venturing only as far as the firepit and tubing hill on the property. LongHouse is solidly booked, but the owners announce cancellations on their Instagram account.
Adeline’s House of Cool
Part fun house, part pleasure dome, Adeline’s House of Cool is the Xanadu of cabins. It has a true wraparound porch; a huge indoor hot tub at 20 feet long, 10 feet wide, and 6 feet deep; a band of mariachi figures in the back, a taxidermied bear growling behind a waist-high fence in the living room “to keep him in check,” says owner Brian Urbanowski. “It’s a whimsical place,” he says. “I try to add a bit more flair to it every year.” A large game room will keep everyone entertained. It includes a pool table, a 20-foot bar, a jukebox, a piano, and a pinball machine. Phones throughout the house connect only to each other and don’t dial out, so you can feasibly order a drink from the bar and have it sent to your room. Get used to it, says Urbanowski. “Every room has a surprise.”
Hillhouse at Camp Wandawega
Camp Wandawega is often lumped together with the resurgence of nostalgic summer camp–style resorts, where guests take craft lessons, catch fireflies, and swim off a dock in time-capsule paradise. But Wandawega has soul, which has attracted big lifestyle brands like Anthropologie and Instagram for corporate retreats, and earned it a place among Travel + Leisure’s world’s greatest hotels in 2013. Founded nearly 100 years ago as a speakeasy and later occupied by Latvian priests fleeing communist invasion, it’s now under the ownership (and stewardship) of a former camp regular from Chicago and his wife, Dave and Tereasa Surratt, who have brought Wandawega into a stylish new era. The Hillhouse is the historic preservation of a 1920s cabin once owned by a Ziegfried Follies dancer who later ran for governor of Wisconsin just to empower women. Its fireplace is built with rocks from the site, and beams from the basement became the mantel. This attention to artful detail, along with all of today’s rustic-luxe trappings, keeps the place booked despite the high price. “I’m embarrassed to say it, to be honest,” says Tereasa of the rate. But the revenue offsets costs of donating about 30 percent of the camp’s business so underprivileged kids and artists can stay for free.
Cabin at Freedom Falls
Privacy is getting harder to find than a flat parking spot in the Red River Gorge as new cabins crowd views through the trees and valleys. Such sweet seclusion makes this three-bedroom log home stand out, even though it’s also close to the restaurant hub in Slade. Set on two acres with its own waterfall (hence the name), the posh vacation pad built in 2019 is fit for long-weekend hangs. The spacious interior has the feeling of a mountain lodge with soaring ceilings and a showy staircase. King beds, queen bunks, leather furniture, a hot tub, a large porch, an outdoor bar, and a pool table keep everyone comfy and entertained. Guests gravitate to the falls day and night, when custom landscape lighting adds a warm glow. Thanks to the water feature, it’s the rare place where a rainy day makes things better.
A master carpenter spent six years building his dream cabin in the middle of Red River Gorge, carefully nestled blufftop around rocks and trees near the landmark Nada Tunnel. Seclusion Cabin lives up to its name with a quiet, private setting ringed by thick woods. Of the two bedrooms, one is located in a separate treehouse, ideal for a couples’ weekend or a family adventure. The deck on the treehouse rooftop has a dramatic 360-degree view of the gorge, and the 14 fish in the koi pond all have names, shared by the caretaker who lives next door. Inside, signs of the carpenter’s artistic passion, including handcrafted furniture and unique floors made from 4×4 ends, give the cabin more magic. The only downside is feeling like one reviewer who said, “I’m afraid I will never love another cabin this much.”
The Nestled Inn Glamping Cabin
Backing up right onto Daniel Boone National Forest, this cabin is a dream come true for those who appreciate the lost art of porch-sitting. Its tenets? Sit back, relax, and unwind, with bonus points if your seat of choice is a rocking chair or a swing. Thankfully, this cabin has both. The incredible wraparound porch offers a front-row seat to views of the forest that can be enjoyed with a cup of coffee in the morning or a glass of wine as the sun sets.
If you manage to tear yourself away from the outside, you’ll be treated to an interior that’s equally cozy and welcoming. It has a classic cabin feel, thanks to the floor-to-ceiling wood paneling, but cute decor and light furnishings balance out the wood tones. Whether you want to stay close and hike around the property, or take a short drive to local favorites like Cave Run Lake and Red River Gorge, the fresh-air options are endless.
Maple Oak Treehouse by Garden of the Gods
Stay at this cabin and get up close and personal with stunning fall foliage. The home is built between a red maple and a white oak, making it the real McCoy in terms of treehouses. “Others might tell you they have a real treehouse, but theirs might only be a few feet from the ground,” says owner Elizabeth Canfarelli. “Here, when the wind blows, you’ll know for sure you’re up in a tree,” she laughs. Although 16 feet up, this cabin comes with all the amenities one expects, such as Wi-Fi, A/C, plus a kitchen and a bathroom. When not taking in the fall colors, guests can catch and release at the pond on the property or enjoy tetherball or cornhole.
Goose Island Cabin
Named for the tiny island just offshore where geese roost every spring, this cabin also sees turkey and deer on the regular. It’s a “legit settlers’ cabin,” explains owner Tim Benedict, stressing the cabin’s rustic, homestead charm. Occasionally, he’ll invite guests to pop over to his honey farm for a bit of agritourism. Otherwise, visitors can always try their luck playing home on the range with a pair of binoculars to peer through the Nachusa Grasslands, home to herds of wild bison. “It’s always a happy surprise for guests with the bison preserve so close,” says Benedict. The cabin was built in 1907, but updated with electricity, hot water, showers, and kitchen amenities. Air conditioning runs only in the bedroom, but fans are installed throughout. A wood-burning stove adds to the cozy fall appeal, as do the massive porch and comfy brown-leather couch.
Written by Megan Fernandez, Jenna Hadley, Jeana Harris, Amy Lynch, Michelle Mastro, and Niko Vercelletto