Tree Houses – Not Just For Kids Anymore

Treehouses are experiencing a renaissance of late. While once thought to be nothing more than a fun hide-out for kids and their creative imaginations, adults now recognize treehouses as a place of tranquility – to be one with nature while suspended safely in the unique canopies of trees. Talking with treehouse masters, Pete Nelson of Nelson Treehouse and Rico Rivera of Buffalo Treehouse, gave us a bird’s eye view of this small but growing community. It’s very obvious that this group of passionate dreamers are all about sharing, learning, and pushing the industry forward.

COVID has undoubtedly added to the popularity of treehouses as many of us have been drawn to the serenity of the outdoors like never before. Pete Nelson explained, “they’re not just a flash in the pan, they’re here to stay. We’re making functional art that connects people directly with nature, and the trees are responding in an even better way than we ever could’ve hoped for. I can’t even think of the words for how beautiful that is.” Nelson added, “if you pick your trees carefully, you could have a treehouse that lasts for generations. Something you initially intended for your kids to use, can turn into your office after your kids are done with it or a quiet place to unplug in retirement. The options are endless and make for a fascinating journey.”

Travelers are now seeking this piece of nostalgia as they look for more unique vacations which focus more on their relationship with nature while limiting personal contact at overcrowded resorts and hotels. According to Pete Nelson, “a fully appointed treehouse with kitchen, bathroom, heat and air conditioning … we’re building those around $400,000.” And many are being offered to travelers for up to $300 a night – the price of an upscale hotel. “The rental side of things is hot and heavy – definitely a fun new market,” added Nelson. Rivera explains, “I believe treehouses are evolving more than just a vacation rental trend and becoming a viable option for people to live full time. They offer smaller living, lower carbon footprint, lower cost of living and a re-connection to nature. Our company is currently working on concepts for treehouse communities that we hope to get off the ground in the very near future.”

The allure of treehouses over the traditional log cabin in the woods often has more to do with their childlike whimsy. For example, one tropical treehouse on Hawaii’s Big Island requires guests to climb up a ladder and through a trapdoor while their belongings (such as suitcases) are hoisted to their room with a pulley system. As if staying in a tree wasn’t exciting enough, you get to feel like a kid again! Another treehouse in Crane Hill, Alabama, doesn’t allow children to stay, yet they still installed the kind of suspension bridges you’d find on a playground to allow access throughout the two parts of the treehouse.

Luxury treehouse vacations aren’t the only way to get in on the fun. You can build your own treehouse out of recycled lumber for a fraction of the cost. Get your kids involved in an enticing project and create something that will last. Treehouses provide a rustic and unique way to experience nature – to become one with the trees we always look up to but never down from. Their modern amenities make for a relaxing, secluded retreat as we all search for ways to step away from reality safely. “There is nothing quite like “being” in the trees. It’s a great way to inject some magic into your life,” said Rivera. Nelson added, “You can live in a tree house full time and I absolutely plan to. You can make them as comfortable as your normal house.”


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