10 unique treehouses you can rent and stay in Michigan, nearby states

Greg Tasker
Special to The Detroit News

Treehouses, like other unusual accommodations, have become increasingly popular the past few years, even more so as the pandemic has lingered.

Part of the appeal is the escape into nature, to unplug away from home, away from crowds and tourists. The uniqueness of treehouses — typically built on stilts or connected to trees and high above the ground — is also appealing. And then there’s nostalgia for some — who didn’t play in a treehouse as a child?

Silver Bullet exterior

Treehouses and other unusual lodgings have become so popular that airbnb.com recently debuted a Flexible Destinations Tool on its website. Click on "I’m Flexible," and you’ll find unique listings of accommodations — from treehouses to tiny homes to domes to A-frames and even private islands. The most-booked listings include treehouses, beachfront and houseboats.

“We’ve learned that where travelers are staying is often more important than traveling to a specific destination,” says Haven Thorn, a spokesman for airbnb.com. “It’s clear that more and more people are discovering the great outdoors.”

Lona Oliver stayed for the first time at a treehouse — Tree House Ridge in Thompsonville — last month. The northern Michigan resort just opened last year. She and her husband, Marc, planned a getaway there after a family ski trip fell through.

“There were trees all around the house. It was snowy and wintry. There was this real sense of being out in the woods, away from it all,” says Oliver, a second-grade teacher who lives in Owosso. “The back was all glass windows and you could look into the trees and see snowy owls and other animals. It was just beautiful.”

Oliver and her husband plan to return to Thompsonville to experience the treehouse in other seasons.

You can experience a treehouse, too. We’ve compiled a list of 10 treehouses to check out in Michigan and across the Midwest.

Serenity Now Treehouse

Whitehall, Michigan

Perched among four strong oak trees in the woods of western Michigan, this one-bedroom tree house exudes simple rustic charm. Built in 2016, the tree house sits on a hillside overlooking Silver Creek, not far from the small town of Whitehall and Whitehall Lake. Despite its small size, the treehouse boasts kitchen amenities, and indoor and outdoor showers. The deck overlooks the creek and is ideal for dining al fresco among trees. Lake Michigan is nearby. Guests can use a rowboat for a float along the creek. Rentals are available through airbnb.com.

Outpost Treehouse

East Leroy, Michigan

Inspired by a fire lookout tower, this small two-story structure south of Battle Creek stands on its own amid white pines in the middle of a 65-acre working farm. There are no cooking facilities inside but there is a bar sink, small refrigerator and a coffee maker. The first-floor bathroom is accessible from the outside; an umbrella is handy in the event of rain. A wrap-around deck offers great viewing of wildlife, everything from white-tail deer and coyotes to turkeys and owls. The owners added a glamping tent with two beds last year. Rentals available through airbnb.com.

Tree House Ridge

Thompsonville, Michigan

The first resort of its kind in Michigan, Treehouse Ridge opened the first of 10 planned treehouses — about 500 square feet each — last year. The Hoffmann Haus sleeps four to six people, offers a full-service kitchen, washer and dryer, heated floors, and a fireplace. A second treehouse is expected to be open by summer. A former logging site, the 40-acre resort is thick with pines and hardwoods and is the highest point in Benzie County. Skiing at Crystal Mountain is just a few minutes away. Traverse City is about a half hour drive. Information: treehouseridgemi.com.

The Mohicans Treehouse Resort

Glenmont, Ohio

Little Red

The Buckeye State seems to have the edge on treehouses. Consider this resort in the Mohican Valley, about halfway between Columbus and Cleveland. The 77-acre resort is home to nine state-of-the-art treehouses (one of them is a vintage 25-foot camper). Stocked with all kinds of amenities, the treehouses were built with old and new materials, including 100-year-old barn siding, ladders and sliding barn doors. The early designs were a collaboration with Pete Nelson, host of Animal Planet’s Treehouse Masters. Among them: Little Red, now undergoing a revamp to make it larger. Stand-outs include the Tin Shed, which features a corrugated metal exterior, a full-sized garage door, and a 100-foot extension bridge connected by a steel spiral staircase. Information: themohicans.net.

Little Red treehouse

Cannaley Treehouse Village

Toledo, Ohio

Just across the border, you’ll find this treehouse village, believed to be the only one in a public park. Designed by Pete Nelson (see above), the village lies in Toledo’s largest metropark, Oak Openings Preserve, a popular birding destination, with hiking, biking and equestrian trails. Cannaley features six-, four- and two-person treehouses. They all have electricity, with heat and air conditioning. Restrooms and shower facilities are nearby. One of the treehouses, The Nest, offers an alternative to stairs — a curly tube slide. Three platforms can accommodate tents or hammocks for overnight camping. The treehouses have been extremely popular since the village opened in 2020; many are booked a year out. Information:metroparkstoledo.com.

Silver Bullet

Enchanted Treehouse on Lake Michigan

Grand Haven, Michigan

Perched on dune and surrounded by trees, the Enchanted Treehouse is more like a fully equipped cottage. Built in the 1970s, the 1,450-square-foot, post-and-beam-style cottage offers plenty of space — 1,450 square feet — with three bedrooms and multiple bathrooms. There’s a full-service kitchen, fireplace and other amenities. The cottage was designed to maximize views of Lake Michigan while minimizing the environmental impact on the dune. Many guests rave about the views of Lake Michigan. A series of steps lead down the dune to a 100-foot-long private beach. Rentals available through vrbo.com.

Ten Acres Treehouse

Nauvoo, Illinois

Called the Captain’s Quarters and decked out in a nautical theme, this whimsical treehouse stands in a grove of trees in western Illinois, not far from the Mississippi River. Guests cross a small bridge to reach the two-story, 400-square-foot treehouse, and are greeted inside by a large map of the world. A small window seat offers a cozy nook to read, with a collection of books handy. The treehouse sleeps up four to six and has kitchen amenities, including a microwave. A wraparound deck immerses guests in the surrounding woods. The property also is home to a log cabin rental and an older treehouse, built in 2013, and inspired by “Treehouse Masters.” Information: tenacrestreehouses.net.

The Looking Glass Treehouse

Campton, Kentucky

How about renting a pair of treehouses as an overnight rental? The Looking Glass is a pair of mirrored tree houses deep in the woods of east-central Kentucky. Rows of mirrors adorn the exterior of the tree houses, reflecting the surrounding forest back to guests. Perched in Tulip Poplar and Pignut Hickory trees, the accommodations include a full-service kitchen in one structure and sleeping and lounging quarters in another. Guests reach the octagonal bedroom through a trapdoor. Panoramic windows offer a 360-degree view of the landscape. A bathroom is separate from the other structures, at the foot of the stairs leading to the treehouses, connected by a bridge. Rentals available through airbnb.com.

Hocking Hills Treehouse Cabins

Hocking Hills, Ohio

These one-of-a-kind treehouses are located in southeastern Ohio, at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The resort offers four one- or two-bedroom treehouses, each named after a native tree, set amid 15 acres of wooded, rolling terrain. Among the favorites is the White Oak. Accessible by a bridge, the White Oak has a wrap-around deck, and a private balcony. A hidden door leads to a bedroom with bunk beds. The Maple boasts a swing that overlooks a gorge and waterfall. The most interesting is The Hemlock, shaped like a silo and ideal for couples. All the treehouses boast wood-fired hot tubs and various amenities. Information: hockinghillstreehousecabins.com.

Enchanted Garden Treehouse

Schaumburg, Illinois

The owners boast this treehouse outside Chicago is as authentic as they come. Built on stilts, expect this cedar treehouse to rock gently during strong winds. It sits above a waterfall and Koi pond. Eco friendly, the treehouse has Pella windows, a fireplace, kitchenette with sink, microwave, coffee maker and fridge. Ask about bathroom options; there is a private outdoor shower. Steps away, a teepee is ideal for kids, outfitted with padded cots, lights and a fake fire pit flame. It’s a 45-minute train ride to downtown Chicago. Rentals available through airbnb.com.