Friday, June 21, 2024

Bridgeworthy: Pinecrest, Vintage Glamping in Cleveland National Forest

If you like the Lafayette Hotel, watching movies in the pool at The Pearl, and cooking a steak at Turf Supper Club, you may be a candidate for glamping at Pinecrest Retreat. I am talking about trailer camping, and this hidden spot is only 45 minutes away, just shy of Julian.

One of the privately owned trailers at Pinecrest. They come in all shapes and sizes and the sites are simple to very ornate.

The Pinecrest retreat has a great history dating back to the ’60s and a small fleet of five vintage trailers you can rent overlooking a junior-sized Olympic swimming pool. 

Junior sized Olympic swimming pool from 1961 left by General Dynamics.

There are four ’50s-era trailers; The Safeway, Spartan, Mansion, and Imperial, and an Airstream from the ’70s. Each is decked out with a kitschy theme, like the Atomic Age, Cowboy, or Island Tiki. The trailers all sleep up to four guests and come with a picnic table, Weber kettle grill, and a chiminea. 

Pinecrest Retreat was established in 1961 by Convair, an American aircraft manufacturing company owned by General Dynamics. The retreat was a trailer park for employees. In 1994, General Dynamics sold the Convair Division, and the retreat transferred into private ownership. Pinecrest gets its vintage vibe from the old-time trailers left behind.

The 1959 Safeway Sleeps four, Pinecrest Retreat.

The first time I drove through the gates at Pinecrest, the scene surprised me with all the old hip trailers of various shapes and sizes. It was like stepping back in time. The 1954 comedy classic, The Long, Long Trailer starring Lucille Ball and Dezi Arnez, came rushing back at me. I hadn’t thought of that movie since childhood. I half expected June Cleaver or Marion Cunningham to pop out of one of the trailers holding a casserole. 

The 1953 Imperial, sleeps four, Pinecrest Retreat.

On one of my favorite visits to Pinecrest, we were one of three families, all friends, that rented sites next to each other for the weekend. Each family hosted two meals for the group and provided a signature cocktail to make things easier. 

The fully functional kitchens allowed for meals you wouldn’t usually have while camping. Blueberry muffins came out of one of the kitchens for breakfast. Another trailer provided mac and cheese. As the former Executive chef at Neiman Marcus, I executed popovers with strawberry butter.

The kitchen inside the 1951 Mansion. Having a fully functional kitchen is a game changer.

The sounds of martinis rattling in the shaker filled the air as picnic tables received linens, china plates, and proper silverware. One family even brought a candelabra. 

One of the bedrooms in the 1951 Mansion, Pinecrest Retreat.

We could watch the kids swim in the pool from our campsite. During the day, we took advantage of the horseshoe pits and played cornhole by the pool. When the kids got restless, we drove the 5 minutes into town and had lunch at the Julian Beer company

Evenings are magical, with all the trailers lit up at night and the smells of meals cooking.

Beside the pool are beautifully maintained men’s and women’s locker rooms with showers. There is even a clubhouse with a vintage vibe, complete with a turntable and records. Reserve this entertaining space for special events.

If you prefer a cabin, Pinecrest has one A-Frame with all the bells and whistles that sleeps five.

Poolside looking up at the five rental trailers at Pinecrest.

There is nothing quite like this retreat. It is what you make it; while booking several trailers with friends is a blast, our family has always met fun people when we go on our own. One neighbor was the head brewer at Green Flash, and he had a fun cooler full of goodies. This place feels like what a neighborhood used to be; as long as you feel comfortable saying howdy, you will have a good time.

The season at Pinecrest starts in May and runs through November. Book now, as once the weather changes, the trailers book up. Agitate the gravel, summer in Coronado can be like Antsville. Pinecrest is the bee’s knees. If you head up I’ll catch you on the flip side.


Clyde Van Arsdall
Clyde Van Arsdall
Clyde is a trained chef that has worked in hospitality for nearly 40 years. In addition to cooking, he is a freelance food writer and storyteller. Currently he works for CH Projects managing the pool and Beginner's Diner at the Lafayette Hotel. Clyde is a third-generation Coronado local, CHS graduate, and father of three. He also owns and operates Olive Avenue Supper Club, a boutique catering company specializing in culinary experiences. You can follow his culinary journey on Instagram @oliveavenuesuppper and read all his stories at www.oliveavenuesupper.comHave a story for The Coronado Times to cover? Send news tips or story ideas to: [email protected]

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