Moose Meadow Lodge & Treehouse in Waterbury, Vermont.Photo Credit : Travis Burke Photography
It’s the climb, the wide-angle view, and the chance to rule over time from your own snug domain that make staying in a treehouse something more than a vacation. Up in the leaves, the cares you left on the ground can’t encroach on the comforting feeling of nestled-in-ness. Your perspective expands to encompass both your inner child’s whims and your grown-up notions of how life should be. That makes these New England treehouse getaways worth every penny.
Perhaps you had a treehouse growing up. It didn’t look anything like this inn’s two-floor A-frame offering, lofted between a willow and a white pine. Pete Nelson and his team from Animal Planet’s Treehouse Masters built and styled the interior of this stunner in just 18 days for an episode that aired in 2018. Since then, it’s been the scene of elopements, proposals, and playful escapes (no kids allowed). Heat and air conditioning keep the treehouse comfy year-round, but summer’s long, languid days allow for maximum time on the wraparound deck, listening to the waterfall and watching cloud reflections skim across the pond. Breakfasts (try the fruit-loaded waffle) and rounds of pool in the main inn are included: Expect envious looks from guests who don’t have as cool a nest. [Editors’ note: After the reporting of this article, Treehouse Village Inn was sold and is now under new ownership as Vermont Village Retreat.]
A treehouse with turndown service? Only at New England’s ultimate luxe cottage resort, where this two-story hideout—35 feet off the ground—has two gas fireplaces, a bass-pumping sound system, and a jetted tub for two. While it looks like something Dr. Seuss might have sketched, Winvian’s Treehouse is the invention of Vermont architect John Connell, who was tapped along with 14 other pros to design 18 wow-factor cottages (consider Woodlands for a treehouse vibe without the ascent). When sunlight spills in through lookout windows, or your kids’ giddiness prods you awake, hiking, bicycling, swimming, spa treatments, and fine meals await without your ever driving back out through the gate. But if you explore the adjacent 4,000-acre White Memorial Conservation Center on foot or by kayak, you can mingle with fellow branch-home dwellers like herons and beavers.
There’s a natural letting-go that occurs on this 21-acre Maine island hilltop. Choose one of three tiny houses in the trees, built with salvaged materials and spruced up in warm, minimalist, Scandinavian style, to begin your reorientation toward what constitutes a truly good life. It’s easy to bid farewell to external pressures and mundane concerns as you gaze through a windowed wall at the winding Black River and conservation lands beyond. Release the need for instant gratification, too, and embrace the ritual of lighting and tending the wood fire that will, over the course of hours, turn your private, Maine-made cedar hot tub into a soothing cocoon with an elevated view.
There are only a few rules—like take off your shoes—in this land of wee dreamy houses and dark night skies. Canopy Treehouse, Cliff House, and the Sky-Frame Treehouse perch up high, while the property’s newest wheelchair-accessible addition is built hobbit-style into domed earth. Each may be less than 400 square feet, but they’re intricately, eco-sensitively designed with kitchens, full baths, and sleeping space for four. And each has its own two and a half woodsy acres and ukulele for you to strum. If you haven’t told the kids or your adventure partner where you’re staying, brace yourself for joyful squeals as you rumble along the dirt entry road lined with oaks and pines. Wander down to your private dock, paddle out onto Littlefield Pond, and appreciate how lucky you are to cut ties with the rat race for a spell.
The treehouse that lords over the trout pond looks like a supersized fairy castle, especially when porch lights and 31 windows glow with golden softness. Vermont craftsman Eyrich Stauffer and his Yestermorrow Design/Build School students added this whimsical, private retreat to the 86 acres that surround luxuriously rustic Moose Meadow Lodge back in 2013, and it’s been the most-booked option, May through October, ever since. Have fun discovering (and Instagramming) details, like the sink carved from a rock found on-site. You can pop over to the lodge for breakfast or order “tree service.” Either way, you’ll be hooked on the pancakes crafted by inn co-owner Willie Docto. They’re so beloved by guests, he launched an online store to sell his gluten-free rice flour mix as a pandemic passion project.