Many of us dream about owning a vacation home, but there are quite a few factors to consider before making a decision. Some dream of a colorful home by the shore; others envision a warm log cabin tucked high in the mountains.
Vacasa, a vacation rental management platform, offers a website for dreamers of all budgets. And this year, the company gathered a helpful list of the top 25 places to purchase a vacation home.
Vacasa based the list off of data collected over the last 12 months, factoring in capitalization rate, which refers to the rate of return on a real estate investment.
Below, we detail each of their top 25 picks, counting down to Vacasa’s top pick. Each promises its own unique oasis that’ll be completely different from your hometown. Whether you’re a dreamer like I am or you’re actually on the lookout for a vacation home for you and yours, read on.
25. Panama City Beach, Florida
Panama City Beach has a fun reputation -- often for treating younger crowds to its white sand beaches and shoreside grub. Panama City Beach is fun for the 50+ crowd, too, though. This 27-mile stretch of shoreline is home to delightful beaches, fresh-caught seafood, a hopping nightlife, and water activities for the whole family. If you’re interested in vacationing in the Gulf of Mexico, Panama City Beach might be the destination for you.
24. Corpus Christi, Texas
Corpus Christi blends Texan charm, the Gulf of Mexico, and rich maritime history into one appealing destination. This lesser-known destination is one of our five top weekend getaways in Texas. In addition to quick access to the ocean, the city offers a naval museum, aquarium, botanical garden, and more aquatic fun.
23. Harbor Springs, Michigan
Though there’s plenty to love about consistently warm weather, some folks want to experience all four seasons. Michigan is the right state to experience it all. Visitors (and homeowners!) can expect balmy summers and ice-cold winters for the perfect mix of diverse experiences year-round. The lake and small-town charm await in Harbor Springs.
22. Mammoth Lakes, California
“Finding things to do in Mammoth Lakes is the easy part. Narrowing down that list to match the length of your stay is the hard part,” said TravelAwaits writer Wendy Lee. Mammoth Lakes is only an hour from Yosemite -- making the area a convenient hub to one of the most gorgeous parks in the country. Mammoth Lakes is more than its neighboring park, though, thanks to excellent mountain biking, hiking, wildflower-searching, and other fun outdoorsy opportunities.
21. South Kohala, Hawaii
South Kohala is on the northwestern tip of the Big Island. Hawaii consists of unmatched beaches, jungle, mountains, and volcanoes, so any real estate there is precious. Fortunately, South Kohala is a more low-key, off-the-beaten-path spot that beats the crowds without compromising on views, beaches, or food.
20. Mount Hood, Oregon
Nothing offers a true vacation getaway quite like being tucked away in the mountains. Mount Hood -- located in its namesake national forest -- is a remote getaway that’s still only about a two-hour drive from Portland. Winter brings skiing, snowboarding, and other wintery fun; whereas summer brings hiking, wildflowers, and water fun. Regardless, you can’t lose being so close to the rugged wilderness.
19. Key West, Florida
Though the Keys are a well-known location, there are still plenty of must-visit places you most likely don’t know about. With pristine beaches, a calming atmosphere, and an abundance of activities both slow- and fast-paced, there’s something for everyone in Key West. Plus, you’re afforded gorgeous weather year-round.
18. Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Nestled in the quaint Yampa Valley in Northern Colorado, Steamboat Springs offers mountain activities as well as restorative hot springs. In fact, this cozy hideaway in the mountains ranks number two on our list of the best hot springs in all of Colorado. For some major R and R, Steamboat Springs could be a great fit for you!
17. Breckenridge, Colorado
Breckenridge is another Colorado fan favorite. The area is known for world-class skiing and stargazing. Skiing is what people often visit for, but Breckenridge is also a great hub for other woodsy Colorado activities like hiking, rafting, kayaking, and more.
16. Silverthorne, Colorado
With a population of less than 5,000, Silverthorne isn’t at all a city getaway, but that’s why it’s loved so greatly. This area of Colorado is a paradise for anglers -- fly fishing and lure fishing await. The small, cozy mountain town also wows residents with hiking, skiing, and golfing, as well as shopping.
15. Big Bear, California
Nestled in San Bernardino National Forest in Southern California, there’s a lot to love about this slice of Cali. It’s in driving distance of major cities such as Los Angeles, San Diego, and Malibu, but with all that Big Bear offers, you might not even bother with bigger cities at all. Big Bear offers entertainment year-round, rain or snow, warm or cold. A winter trip promises incredible skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and cozy hot cocoa nights. Summer travelers will love the six marinas in the area as well as the Alpine Zoo.
14. Kissimmee, Florida
Kissimmee is located in Central Florida just 30 minutes from Disney World and Universal Studios. With such close access to both epic amusement parks, you’ll never run out of excitement or day-trip opportunities. LEGOLAND and SeaWorld are nearby as well. Though Kissimmee isn’t by the ocean, it’s on the northwestern corner of Lake Tohopekaliga, so water is still near.
13. Vail, Colorado
Colorado is beautiful just about everywhere in the state, but Vail is known as one of its crown jewels. If you’re looking for a Rocky Mountain paradise near a sprawling network of mountains, hikes, trails, shops, and fantastic restaurants, Vail is a dream come true. Winter sports, good food, a bounty of festivals, and much more await in Vail, right in White River National Forest.
12. South Kauai, Hawaii
This area of Hawaii is loaded with dreamy junglescapes reminiscent of Jurassic Park. The views are incredible and bucket list worthy. Steep hills and volcanoes merge effortlessly with sandy beaches and palm trees. South Kauai is for dreamers.
11. Killington, Vermont
Killington comes alive in the cool, fall months, so this area makes a perfect stop on a fall foliage road trip. Killington is particularly beautiful in the autumn season, but the area makes for a great home away from home year-round. In the winter, snow activities, including plenty of skiing opportunities, delight. For a slower-paced vacation, you can enjoy golf in the warmer months.
10. Blue Ridge, Georgia
With a population of less than 2,000, a visit to Blue Ridge, Georgia, is bound to be quiet, cozy, and restorative. It’s a great location to unplug from the hustle and bustle of city life and recharge. Blue Ridge promises lovely views of Chattahoochee National Forest. Atlanta is about an hour and a half south.
9. Ellijay, Georgia
Just a few miles south of Blue Ridge lies Ellijay, another ideal location for a vacation home in Georgia. This city is known for being the apple capitol of Georgia because of not one but two charming apple festivals. Apple orchards, colorful hiking trails, and vineyards are just three -- of many -- reasons this area is the perfect fall destination. Visitors also enjoy exploring historic downtown Ellijay year-round.
8. Palm Springs, California
Palm Springs has a little bit of everything. Even if you’re an active vacationer who likes to stay occupied, you’ll never run out of things to do here. This lovely getaway is the definition of a fun-filled destination. There’s shopping galore, spas and golf courses, as well as an assortment of outdoor activities for travelers of all ages and abilities.
7. Conway, New Hampshire
New Hampshire offers another fall wonderland. New England charm is what you can expect here. You’ll experience everything from waterfalls and steep ledges to cozy restaurants and scenic railroads. There’s a variety of experiences here, but all of them contribute to an overall sense of coziness, warmth, and autumnal bliss. Outdoor experiences as well as antique shopping delight no matter the season.
6. Corolla, North Carolina
Corolla is one of our favorite beaches in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Nestled between Currituck Sound and the Atlantic Ocean, Corolla has lovely beach views from both sides. It’s also home to historical sites such as Currituck Beach Lighthouse. Vacationers share the land with wild horses who call the local beaches their home.
5. Dauphin Island, Alabama
Beaches, bird watching, Civil War history, and tasty seafood meals await on Dauphin Island. This island is a paradise for any beach lover who enjoys learning about the history of the area as well as about regional birds and wildlife that call the area home sweet home.
4. Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Gatlinburg could be your gateway to the magnificent Smoky Mountains National Park, the most widely visited national park! The town of Gatlinburg is home to fewer than 5,000 devoted residents, providing you a quiet mountain getaway without the noise emanating from a huge city. There’s a bounty of fun in Gatlinburg -- including family-friendly museums, mountain adventures like zip lining, a diverse range of restaurants with Southern inspiration, and more.
3. Poconos, Pennsylvania
The Pocono Mountains offer everything you could want in a vacation destination. Outdoor activities including kayaking, white water rafting, hiking, and everything in between are readily available. There’s the comfort of community, too -- with quaint nearby villages, live performances, pubs, and shopping all within reach. For a destination tuned into the simpler life, the Poconos are where it’s at.
2. Cape Hatteras, North Carolina
Another treasure on the Outer Banks, gorgeous Cape Hatteras comes in as number two on Vacasa’s comprehensive list. Cape Hatteras is a barrier island tucked in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. What makes this land so unique is that wind and sea have shaped the island, creating an authentic beachscape with sand dunes, marshes, and natural topography unlike anywhere else.
1. Big Sky, Montana
What is there not to do in Big Sky? It’s a mecca for all things outdoors. It’s paradise personified. Warmer months welcome mountain bikers, zip liners, hikers, and golfers, and mean endless walks and adventures; fall and winter promise skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding, sleigh rides, and more. You can stay year-round and find something new to love about Montana every single day.
Vacasa’s list is just the tip of the iceberg. The U.S. is filled with vacation homes well-suited for any traveler of any age. Hopefully, their list inspires you to consider what you want for your dream vacation home! For more inspiration, consider our experts’ insights on all things vacation rentals and family vacations.