Top Vacation Home Destinations: An Honest Review of the Best Places

Quick Answer for Those in a Hurry: The best places to buy a vacation home for short-term rental profit and enjoyment include Lake Anna, Okaloosa Island, Sandbridge, Rehoboth Beach, and Gulf Shores, according to recent data.

Read more for a deeper dive into choosing the perfect vacation home destination.

In the changing landscape of real estate investment, vacation homes stand out as both a personal retreat and a financial strategy. For many, the idea of owning a vacation home feels like a dream come true. But when dreams meet reality, the success of such investments heavily relies on location, market trends, and management.

Vacation homes can be anything from a cozy cabin in the woods to a sunny beachfront property. They offer an escape from the daily grind and can also generate substantial rental income when not in personal use. However, making the most out of this investment requires understanding the market dynamics of vacation rentals, the importance of location, and the benefits of professional property management.

For savvy real estate investors looking for hands-off returns, selecting the right vacation home in a profitable location is paramount. This choice, coupled with the expertise of a dedicated property management team, can turn a vacation property into a steady source of income while providing a personal oasis.

Infographic showing the top 5 places to buy a vacation home based on cap rates, average rental revenue, and median home sale price - best places to get a vacation home infographic pillar-5-steps

In the sections that follow, we’ll explore where and why certain destinations are prime for purchasing a second home, how nearby amenities and attractions boost rental appeal, and the significant role of property management in ensuring your investment yields high returns. Let’s dive in.

Where People Are Buying Second Homes

When it comes to investing in a vacation home, knowing where to buy is just as crucial as the why. In recent years, certain locations have emerged as hotspots for second homes, each offering unique attractions and promising investment returns. Let’s take a closer look at Ocean City, Barnstable Town, Naples-Marco Island, and Salisbury.

Ocean City is a classic example of a beach resort town that has long attracted vacation home buyers. Its appeal lies in its miles of sandy beaches, family-friendly boardwalk, and a variety of entertainment options. The area’s strong rental demand during the summer months makes it an attractive option for those looking to generate rental income from their vacation home.

Moving north, Barnstable Town in Cape Cod offers a different vibe. It’s known for its quaint villages, seafood shacks, and maritime activities. The charm of New England, combined with the potential for both summer and off-season rentals, makes Barnstable Town a sought-after location for vacation homes.

Down in Florida, Naples-Marco Island stands out for its luxurious lifestyle, pristine beaches, and high-end shopping and dining. The area’s reputation for affluence and its natural beauty draw in those looking for a vacation home that offers both relaxation and investment potential.

Lastly, Salisbury, located in the broader region encompassing parts of Maryland and Delaware, offers a blend of rural charm and beach life. Its proximity to popular spots like Ocean City, MD, and Rehoboth Beach, DE, adds to its appeal as a location for a second home that can cater to a variety of vacation preferences.

Each of these locations has its unique charm and potential for investment. However, consider factors such as the local real estate market, rental demand, and climate risks before making a decision. For those not looking to buy, understanding what makes these areas attractive can also provide insights into the vacation rental market’s dynamics.

Read more about how to assess the potential of a vacation home investment in our next section, where we’ll dive into the ideal distance for a vacation home, the impact of amenities and attractions, and the crucial role of property management in maximizing your investment.

In the following sections, we’ll explore the profitability of renting out vacation homes, including insights on vacation rental ROI, the benefits of long-term vs. short-term rentals, and how platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo can enhance your rental strategy.

Ideal Distance for a Vacation Home

When thinking about the best places to get a vacation home, how far it should be from your primary residence is a big question. Let’s cut through the noise and focus on what really matters: convenience, accessibility, and making the most out of your investment.

Driving Distance is a key factor. Most people want a vacation home that’s close enough to drive to easily. This means less time traveling and more time enjoying your getaway. It’s about finding that sweet spot where the drive is not too long but far enough to feel like an escape.

The National Association of Realtors suggests that the ideal distance for a vacation home is within 50 miles of your primary residence. Why? Because this distance is manageable for a weekend getaway. It’s close enough for spontaneous trips but still offers that sense of being “away from it all.”

Driving distance map - best places to get a vacation home

Consider this: a vacation home within 50 miles can be reached in about an hour, depending on traffic. This makes it feasible to leave after work on a Friday and come back late on a Sunday, maximizing your weekend relaxation time. Plus, being relatively close means you can keep an eye on your property easily, whether you’re managing it yourself or checking in on a property management service.

But, don’t just take our word for it. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Convenience: A shorter drive means less planning and packing, making spontaneous trips more feasible.
  • Accessibility: Easy to check on the property, perform maintenance, or meet with renters if you decide to rent it out.
  • Investment Potential: Properties within a good driving distance can appeal to renters looking for weekend getaways, potentially increasing your rental income.

In conclusion, while the allure of distant, exotic locations is undeniable, the practicality of a vacation home lies in its accessibility. A property within a 50-mile radius strikes a balance between escapism and convenience, making it a wise choice for many potential vacation home buyers.

We’ll delve into the profitability of renting out vacation homes, highlighting how to make your investment work harder for you.

Read more about leveraging platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo for your vacation rental, and understand the dynamics between long-term and short-term rentals.

Profitability of Renting Out Vacation Homes

When considering the best places to get a vacation home, an essential aspect to weigh is the potential for rental income. Whether you’re eyeing a cozy cabin in the mountains or a beachfront bungalow, understanding the return on investment (ROI) can help guide your decision.

Vacation Rental ROI

The ROI of a vacation rental property hinges on several factors including location, rental demand, and how well you manage operational costs. For instance, properties in high-demand tourist areas like Lake Anna, Va., or Okaloosa Island, Fla., can offer cap rates (a measure of ROI) of over 9%, according to Vacasa’s analysis. These numbers suggest that with the right property in the right location, the income generated can significantly offset expenses and even yield profits.

Long-term Rentals vs. Short-term Rentals

When it comes to renting out your vacation home, you have two main paths: long-term rentals, where tenants sign leases for six months to a year (or longer), and short-term rentals, which are typically listed on platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo.

Long-term rentals provide a steady income stream and less turnover, which can mean lower maintenance costs. However, they might not offer the same income potential as short-term rentals in high-demand vacation spots.

Short-term rentals, on the other hand, can command higher nightly rates, especially during peak tourist seasons. They offer flexibility; you can block out times for personal use. Yet, they require more hands-on management and can see income fluctuations during off-peak seasons.

Airbnb and Vrbo

Platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo have revolutionized the vacation rental market. They provide a seamless way to list your property, manage bookings, and communicate with guests. Utilizing these platforms can significantly increase your property’s visibility and booking potential. However, success on these platforms requires competitive pricing, high-quality photos, and top-notch guest experiences.

To maximize profits, consider using dynamic pricing tools that adjust your rates based on demand, season, and local events. Also, investing in professional cleaning and property management services can enhance guest satisfaction, leading to better reviews and more bookings.


Renting out a vacation home can be a profitable venture, especially if you choose a location with high rental demand and manage your property effectively. Short-term rentals, facilitated by platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo, offer considerable income potential but require active management. In contrast, long-term rentals offer stability with potentially lower returns. Your goals, lifestyle, and willingness to engage in the rental process will determine the best approach for you.

As we explore further, we’ll address some frequently asked questions about vacation homes, providing insights to help you make informed decisions on this exciting investment opportunity.

Top Places to Buy a Vacation Home in 2023

Finding the best places to get a vacation home involves a mix of good investment sense, understanding the local market, and recognizing what makes a destination appealing to renters and vacation-goers alike. Based on recent data and market trends, here are standout locations for 2023.

Read more about each destination to see why they might be the perfect spot for your next investment.

Lake Anna, Virginia

  • Cap rate: 10.32%
  • Median home sale price: $405,500
  • Annual gross rental revenue: $64,121

Lake Anna offers a freshwater haven with 200 miles of shoreline. It’s a great spot for water sports and has a high season in summer, extending into fall with its attractive foliage. The area’s unique aspect is its warm water, courtesy of nearby power plants, making it a year-round attraction.

Okaloosa Island, Florida

  • Cap rate: 9.08%
  • Median home sale price: $360,000
  • Annual gross rental revenue: $53,832

This gem on the Gulf of Mexico is known for its white sandy beaches and is a hit with families during summer and snowbirds in winter. Its walkability and proximity to attractions make it a prime spot for investors.

Sandbridge, Virginia

  • Cap rate: 6.47%
  • Median home sale price: $928,900
  • Annual gross rental revenue: $88,702

Sandbridge offers a quieter, more secluded beach experience compared to its bustling neighbor, Virginia Beach. Its appeal lies in its vast coastline and the nearby Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, making it ideal for nature lovers.

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

  • Cap rate: 6.46%
  • Median home sale price: $618,000
  • Annual gross rental revenue: $58,992

Rehoboth Beach is a charming beach town that becomes a bustling hub in the summer. Its boardwalk and LGBTQ-friendly atmosphere make it a popular destination for a broad audience.

Navarre Beach, Florida

  • Cap rate: 6.42%
  • Median home sale price: $420,000

Positioned between Destin and Pensacola, Navarre Beach is known for its serene beauty and emerald waters. Its slogan, “Florida’s Most Relaxing Place,” speaks to its laid-back vibe, making it a hit for families and couples alike.

Gulf Shores, Alabama

Gulf Shores is a haven for those seeking a mix of beach life and outdoor activities. With its soft sandy beaches and community events, it’s a great place for investors looking for a family-friendly vacation spot.

Palm Coast, Florida

Palm Coast offers miles of canals and pristine coastline, making it a paradise for water enthusiasts and golfers. Its natural beauty and quieter atmosphere provide a different experience from the more crowded Florida destinations.

Corolla, North Carolina

Corolla is known for its wild horses and historic lighthouse. It’s a unique beach destination that combines natural beauty with a touch of history, appealing to a wide range of vacationers.

Nags Head, North Carolina

Nags Head boasts a classic beach vacation vibe, with its fishing piers and water sports. Its appeal lies in its simplicity and the variety of outdoor activities available.

Rockaway Beach, Oregon

Rockaway Beach offers a different take on the beach vacation with its rugged coastline and quirky attractions. It’s a fantastic spot for those looking to escape the typical beach crowd and enjoy the Pacific Northwest’s unique charm.

Each of these locations offers something special for both vacation-goers and investors. Whether it’s the high cap rates of Lake Anna and Okaloosa Island or the unique attractions of places like Rehoboth Beach and Navarre, there’s a perfect spot for every investor’s needs and preferences.

We’ll dive into the specifics of investing in winter vacation homes, highlighting destinations that promise both enjoyable getaways and profitable investments.

Winter Vacation Home Investments

Winter brings a special kind of magic to vacation homes. Imagine owning a cozy retreat where every window frames a snowy wonderland. Now, let’s talk about the best places to get a vacation home for those who love winter sports or simply enjoy the beauty of snowy landscapes. We’ll focus on Big Sky, Killington, Teton Village, Vail, and Stowe. Plus, we’ll touch on insights from Vacasa about rental revenue and cap rates.

Big Sky, Montana
Big Sky stands out with its breathtaking views and world-class skiing. According to Vacasa, a vacation home here can bring in about $108,772 in annual rental revenue. That’s impressive! However, keep in mind the median home value is $730,814. But with a strong cap rate of 8 percent, it’s a solid investment for those willing to dive into the higher end of the market.

Killington, Vermont
If you’re looking for something a bit more affordable, Killington might be your spot. Known for its large ski resort, it’s a haven for winter sports enthusiasts. The area boasts a cap rate of 7.5 percent and a more accessible median home value of $361,007. Plus, you could add around $46,000 to your annual income through vacation rentals.

Teton Village, Wyoming
Ready to splurge? Teton Village is near one of the most famous ski towns and offers a staggering potential rental income of $190,000 from short-term rentals. However, the median home prices here soar into the millions ($2,158,856, to be exact). It’s a premium investment that could pay off handsomely for those with deep pockets.

Vail, Colorado
Vail attracts about 1.3 million visitors a year, making it a bustling location for a vacation home. With a median home price of $1,337,867 and a cap rate of 5.10 percent, owners could see over $110,000 in rental income. It’s a blend of luxury and opportunity, nestled in one of the country’s most beloved winter destinations.

Stowe, Vermont
Stowe offers a similar cap rate to Vail but with a significantly lower rental income of $58,734. The median home value here is $700,158, making it a more approachable investment for those captivated by Vermont’s charm.

Why These Locations?
Each of these destinations offers something unique. From the expansive terrains of Big Sky to the quaint charm of Stowe, investors have a variety of options to match their budget and lifestyle preferences. Plus, with the insights provided by Vacasa, we see a clear picture of potential returns, helping to make informed decisions.

Vacasa’s Role
Vacasa’s report sheds light on the financial aspects of owning a vacation home in these winter paradises. The company’s analysis of rental revenue and cap rates is invaluable for investors looking to make the most out of their property. It’s about finding a balance between a place you love and one that can also generate significant income.

In conclusion, investing in a winter vacation home offers both the joy of owning a stunning getaway and the potential for a profitable venture. Whether you’re drawn to the slopes of Big Sky or the cozy town of Stowe, there’s a winter wonderland waiting for you. It’s crucial to consider both the emotional and financial aspects of such an investment. With the right research and planning, you can find a winter vacation home that brings you joy and financial rewards.

Let’s address some of the most frequently asked questions about vacation homes. This will help clear any doubts and ensure you’re well-informed before making your investment.

Read more about the profitability of renting out vacation homes

Frequently Asked Questions about Vacation Homes

When considering the leap into vacation home ownership, it’s natural to have questions. Let’s dive into some of the most common inquiries to help you navigate this exciting venture.

Where do most people have second homes?

Ocean City, Barnstable Town, Naples-Marco Island are hotspots for second homes in the U.S. These locations offer a mix of beautiful landscapes, leisure activities, and strong rental markets, making them attractive for both personal enjoyment and investment opportunities.

  • Ocean City is known for its boardwalk, family-friendly beaches, and vibrant community events.
  • Barnstable Town, part of Cape Cod, offers serene beaches, quaint villages, and a slower pace of life.
  • Naples-Marco Island area in Florida is famed for its luxury living, golf courses, and pristine natural reserves.

What is a good distance for a vacation home?

The National Association of Realtors suggests that most people buy vacation homes within 50 miles of their primary residence. However, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario. The “ideal” distance depends on your lifestyle, how often you plan to visit, and whether you intend to manage the property yourself or hire a management company.

  • Driving Distance: Being within a comfortable driving distance allows spontaneous weekend getaways and easier property management.
  • Within 50 Miles: Staying relatively close to your primary home can simplify maintenance and visits.

Is renting out vacation homes profitable?

Yes, renting out vacation homes can be profitable, especially when leveraging platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo. The return on investment (ROI) depends on several factors including location, property size, amenities, and how well you market the property.

  • Vacation Rental ROI: Properties in high-demand areas with the right mix of amenities can yield significant returns.
  • Long-term Rentals vs. Short-term Rentals: Short-term rentals often provide higher ROI due to the flexibility of charging premium rates during peak seasons.
  • Airbnb, Vrbo: These platforms have made it easier for homeowners to rent out their properties and reach a global audience.

In conclusion, whether you’re dreaming of a beachfront condo in Naples-Marco Island or a cozy cabin near Ocean City, understanding the market, managing expectations, and leveraging the right platforms are key to making your vacation home both a delightful retreat and a profitable investment. The best places to get a vacation home are those that meet your personal and financial goals. With the right approach, you can enjoy the best of both worlds: creating lasting memories and generating income.

As we wrap up these FAQs, consider how a vacation home fits into your lifestyle and investment portfolio. With careful planning and the right location, your vacation home can be a source of joy and financial rewards for years to come.


Investment Strategy

When it comes to the best places to get a vacation home, strategy is everything. It’s not just about picking a beautiful location but also understanding what makes a vacation home a smart investment. The key is to balance personal enjoyment with potential rental income, ensuring your vacation home serves as both a retreat and a revenue generator.

Here’s the simple truth: location, demand, seasonality, and operational efficiency are the pillars of a successful vacation home investment. Properties in high-demand areas often come with higher purchase prices but can command significant rental rates. Conversely, more affordable properties might not see the same demand, affecting their rental income potential.

Weekender Management

At Weekender Management, we understand that diving into vacation home investment can seem daunting. That’s why we’re here to simplify the process. Our expertise isn’t just in managing properties; it’s in maximizing your investment’s potential. We offer a comprehensive suite of services designed to take the guesswork out of vacation home ownership.

Here’s how we make a difference:

  • Market Insights: We analyze market trends to help you choose a property that promises a good return on investment.
  • Operational Excellence: From maintenance to marketing, we handle all aspects of property management, ensuring your vacation home is well-cared for and generating income.
  • Guest Experience: We go above and beyond to create memorable stays, encouraging positive reviews and repeat bookings.
vacation home management - best places to get a vacation home

Investing in a vacation home with Weekender Management means you’re not just buying a property; you’re making a strategic investment. We leverage our market knowledge and operational expertise to ensure your vacation home not only meets but exceeds market expectations.

In conclusion, the best places to get a vacation home are where you find the perfect blend of personal enjoyment and investment opportunity. With the right strategy and the support of Weekender Management, you can enjoy the best of both worlds: a personal haven that also serves as a profitable investment. Let’s make your dream of owning a vacation home a reality, ensuring it’s not just a place to create memories, but also a wise financial move.

Read more about how we can help you navigate the vacation home market and maximize your investment. Let’s embark on this exciting journey together.

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