Treehouses are no longer just for child’s play. While they still do serve as playhouses for lucky kids, they’ve taken on new functions as private home offices or studios, as elevated guest quarters, and as hotel accommodations, as well. Some are real houses that just happen to be located in trees.
Modern treehouses are also typically quite eco-friendly. They have traditionally been built using salvaged materials, and now designers and builders have taken it further with energy-efficient features, such as composting toilets, or utilizing solar panels and fuel-cell power.
We found cool treehouses located all over the world. They’re also all over the map in terms of style: Some are proper houses on high, but this collection also showcases the variety of uses for buildings in trees. One structure is intended as an office, one is a restaurant, one very big example is partly a church, and one house actually is for kids but will no doubt inspire envy in adults.
Here are five treehouses worthy of a climb:
Location: The Olympic Peninsula, Washington
This small-scale charmer built in 2005 by Treehouse Workshop has a kitchenette, a bath, a sitting room with fireplace, balconies, and it sleeps four. It has a window seat accessible by ladder, and the house itself is accessible by ramp, which was built using salvaged Madrona logs.
Alnwick Garden Treehouse
Location: Alnwick, Northumberland, England
The Treehouse at The Alnwick Garden is one of the world’s largest treehouses, and it’s probably safe to say it’s the world’s largest treehouse restaurant. The restaurant serves a seasonal menu sourced from local fare. This patchwork wooden structure of shingles and planks features a fireplace, decks, rope bridges, and, of course, tree limbs growing through the rooms. It looks like something out of a fairy tale or Harry Potter, which is appropriate given its proximity to Alnwick Castle, which starred as the Hogwarts School in two of the Harry Potter films.
The Minister’s Treehouse
Location: Crossville, Tennessee
This 10-story treehouse towers nearly 100 feet tall and has an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 square feet of space—it may be the largest treehouse in the world. That space includes the only penthouse for miles around, a basketball court, a church (including a choir loft), and a VIP balcony. Builder Horace Burgess told USA Today that his inspiration came from God: "I was praying one day, and the Lord said, 'If you build me a treehouse, I'll see you never run out of material."' Those materials have included recycled wood from sheds and bars, and judging by the size of this place he did not run out.
The Djuren is one of many extraordinary treepods designed by the German modern architecture firm Baumraum, many of which are trapezoidal, orb-shaped, or resemble vintage camp trailers. This treehouse serves as a retreat for adults or a playhouse for the family’s young children, and there’s room on the terrace for a table and some chairs.
Robert Louis Stevenson Legacy House
Location: Northern California
This getaway cabin perched among redwoods, another creation from Treehouse Workshop, has a wraparound deck to take in the grove of surrounding trees. It’s located on property that once belonged to Robert Louis Stevenson, and the reclaimed materials for this home include doors and windows that came from the celebrated Scottish writer’s house.