Enjoy a Weekend Away in the Backyard

Aug 20, 2014 | Updated Oct 20, 2014

Mike Dietrich, Houzz Contributor

Let me first confess that my idea of camping is a long, luxurious stay at a five-star hotel with a spa and a Michelin-rated restaurant. But when my two sons were growing up they had an entirely different perspective. They actually liked sleeping on rocks and eating food covered with gnats.

Backyard camping is a great compromise. The kids get s'mores over a firepit at night, and I get my latte in the morning. It's a win/win, and a winning way to bring families together.

Even I can appreciate this backyard setup. My grandchildren would think I was the baddest grandpa if this were part of our property. If you have the space, this playhouse/play space combo is a wonderful spot for children.

Tepees are an ancient idea, but a completely modern backyard concept.

Of course, anyone can buy a tepee, but why not make it extra-memorable and create one yourself? If you're so inclined, there are online resources that can show you how.

Create a trio of tepees, and the whole family can build memories without pulling out of the driveway.

Or find a bunch of recycled timbers and build this wonderful Hobbit-esque dwelling. Forget occasional camping: The kids could sleep here every night!

Kids can sleep on just about anything, but if you want adults to use a structure like this, make sure to include a comfortable air mattress and bedding.

I love this backyard cabin. Ecologically friendly, with walls that open for ventilation, all you need is a chest full of board games for entertainment throughout the night.

Or park an Airstream in the back 40! This art deco-style trailer has been fantastically retrofitted. If refurbishing an old Airstream isn't in the budget, how about just renting one for the weekend? The kids would think you're really awesome, and it would be a great way to not have to "rough it" while camping in the backyard.

If there were a seven-star rating, this tree house would merit it. Its lofty perch with stunning views is perfect for summer slumber parties.

A classic British Out of Africa tent appeals to me. Don't you love the little cookstove? All that's missing is a pair of director's chairs and a folding wooden table covered with a white tablecloth, and silver for an afternoon tea or a romantic tȇte-à-tȇte. (Don't forget a vase of pretty flowers.)

For the person who does not want to venture too far afield, there is always the screened porch. There's still an air of adventure there -- as well as that vital protection from raccoons and snakes, and a short route to the bathroom. Comfortable, pretty beds will up the hospitality quotient. I'd sleep here all summer.