Milwaukee Edition

The Teeny-Tiny Vacation Option

Mini-Dwellings Make Travel a Lark

photo courtesy of Pat Capozzi

photo courtesy of Pat Capozzi

Tiny vacation cottages offer a simple, cozy setting for taking time off together and spell crazy fun—a huge improvement over sterile motel rooms.

Most of us are oriented to a typical American house averaging 2,300 square feet, making it a childlike hoot to step into the petite footprint of a tiny house one-tenth the size. Vacation rentals of “tinies” are available nationwide in all shapes and styles—including treetop aeries.

Tree houses range from rustic to luxurious. Marti MacGibbon and her husband, Chris Fitzhugh, spent a romantic weekend at the Out ‘n’ About Treehouse Resort, in Cave Junction, Oregon. “The Peacock Perch is a favorite,” says MacGibbon. “It also helps me overcome my fear of heights.”

In Hawaii, Skye Peterson built a tree house from recycled materials in five native ohia trees outside Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. The eco-friendly, solar-powered, passive-energy vacation home enchants guests with firelight at night and breakfast in the morning.

For those that prefer ground-level vacationing, glamorous camping, or glamping, offers an outdoor experience with the comforts of home. Yellowstone National Park’s Yellowstone Under Canvas has summer options for every budget through September 7, including an onsite gourmet restaurant. Tipis offer the basics, while a roomier safari tent adds a wood-burning stove with complimentary firewood. A deluxe suite with private bath sleeps a family with king-size and sofa beds. All face majestic views of mountains, water and wildlife.

Going small can mean living large. The phenomenon even has its own newsletter at

Rustic Karenville, eight miles from Ithaca, New York, isn’t on any map. Owner and builder Karen Thurnheer and her husband, Robert Wesley, live in a 270-square-foot cabin amidst a small village of tinies next to the 9,000-acre Danby State Forest. The little buildings don’t have running water; some have woodstove heat, electricity if the generator’s running and there’s a composting outhouse. “The houses are silly and fun,” she says. “There’s fresh air and at night a million stars.”

Sarah and John Murphy welcome travelers to enjoy urban life with amenities in the heart of Music City via Nashville’s tiniest guest house. With a complete kitchen and bath, conditioned air and Wi-Fi, its 200 square feet can accommodate four.

Rhode Island’s Arcade Providence historic shopping mall took a hit from Internet shopping. Now it’s vibrantly alive as micro-apartments (bedroom, bath and kitchen in 300 square feet) fill the second and third levels, while first-floor stores cater to residents and destination shoppers. The “no vacancy” sign is regularly posted for apartments acting as dorms or pied á terres.

On the West coast, near the 150acre Lily Point Marine Park, in Port Roberts, Washington, a secluded gingerbread cottage affords a gas fireplace, solarium and upstairs deck for viewing wildlife. “It’s relaxing and romantic,” says owner Pat Capozzi.

Artsy and trendy, Caravan is the first tiny hotel in the United States. Since 2013, guests have enjoyed a choice of its six tiny houses in Portland, Oregon’s Alberta Arts District.

After stays in guesthouses and hotel rooms, a tiny house felt spacious, so I decided to build my own as a home base.
~Lauren Juliff, professional travel blogger

Simple-living students, retirees and even families with small children and pets are embracing the concept longer-term. “The best part,” says Macy Miller, a Boise, Idaho architect who built her own tiny of recycled materials at a cost of $12,000, “is no mortgage.” To avoid local minimum-size zoning requirements, her house is mounted on a flatbed trailer. The 196-square-foot space is also home to her boyfriend James, toddler Hazel, and Denver, a 150-pound great dane. Recently, Miller blogged, “I’m designing what may be the first tiny nursery as we expect baby number two!”

As Thurnheer observes, “There are lots of silly people like me who love living tiny.”

Connect with freelance writer Avery Mack at

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