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Out on a Limb

Branch out from ordinary hotels—or learn how to build your own retreat—at these adult tree houses.

By April 2015Comments

Photographs by Kate LeSueur

Cypress Valley Canopy Tours, Spicewood

After swooning over tree houses on Pinterest, weekending in one is even better. Significant upgrades from our childhood forts, adult tree houses​ are climbing in popularity as private retreats and luxury lodging (enthusiasts can attend the Fifteenth World Treehouse Conference this fall in Oregon). Whimsical and nostalgic, treetop guesthouses let us escape into nature without forfeiting climate control and a good night’s sleep. If you fancy your own abode among the leaves, Texas builders like Austin Tree Houses, ArtisTree, and AzzanArts can hammer out the details. But even Texans without a backyard can, for a fee, explore a tricked-out tree house—or borrow one for the night. 

After the zip lines close at Cypress Valley Canopy Tours, a few lucky guests sleep in quarters suspended 45 feet above a spring-fed creek. The Nest, supported by several bald cypress trees, is a split-level extravaganza with multiple decks, observation towers, and rooms linked by stairs. There’s even an outdoor shower tucked between the kitchenette and sleeping quarters. The secluded Lofthaven, a yurt embracing a cypress trunk, beckons couples across its 65-foot suspension bridge. Lying in the queen bed or the hammock at night, you’ll hear the owls and feel your room gently swaying in the wind. 1223 S. Paleface Ranch Rd, 512-264-8880, cypressvalleycanopytours.com.

Davis Ranch Retreat, Spring Prairie

This pint-size spa was built to offer bed-and-breakfast guests a quiet place for a massage, but a Murphy bed makes overnight stays possible too. Guests may enjoy libations on a tiny porch while watching Longhorns amble by. If the rural atmosphere is lulling you to sleep, hop into the steam shower, where disco lighting, surround sound, and blasts of water from all directions will jolt you awake again. 1110 Peach Creek Rd, 512-921-1500, davisranchretreat.com

River Road Treehouses, New Braunfels

Built over a dry creek bed, these cabins offer a tree house atmosphere that won’t trigger claustro- or acrophobia. A full kitchen, a flat-screen TV, and a ground-floor master bedroom provide homey comforts, but the sturdy footbridge to your leaf-shaded deck reminds you that you’re in nature. The cabins and their private waterfront park are between two tubing outfitters on the Guadalupe River, making float trips easy-treesy. 12660 River Rd, 888-993-6772, riverroad​cabins.com

Rainbow Hearth, Burnet County

You won’t find clocks or TVs at this holistic healing center on Lake Buchanan, the better to tune in to the vibe of these ancient Comanche ceremonial grounds. Instead, a bell summons you to organic meals with purified rainwater and microgreens grown on-site. The accommodations include a tree house yurt that rests on a deck built over a ravine. The king bed is perfect for post-massage naps, and there’s a tub for two. 1330 Waterway Ln, 888-756-7878, rainbowhearth.com

Phoenix Commotion, Huntsville

While you can’t stay overnight at the Phoenix Commotion tree house, you can crib inspirational ideas during one of its quarterly tours. Sustainability evangelist Dan Phillips’s Commotion project constructs affordable housing from supplies that would otherwise be trashed. On view is the two-story Tree House, a Hobbit-scale artist’s residence that features reclaimed stained glass, a wine-cork floor, a relish plate as a front-door window, and—best of all—secret compartments.  phoenixcommotion.com

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