Digital nomads, rejoice: Work and play no longer have to be separate. While you’re still remote, get some fresh air without using all of your vacation days. Switching up your routine a little can inspire new thinking and deepen your focus — all while you enjoy all the luxuries of vacation on your off-time. 

Ready to get out of the house? Pick one of these places based on how you like to feel at work and change up the scenery.

Bust Stress: Vacation Rentals With A Pool

Make your co-workers jealous by joining the company meeting poolside. Lounge in the sun while you knock projects off your list, then enjoy a crisp plunge in the water. Bonus: all of our homes are vetted in person, which means these pools are as good as they look. 

Private Swimmer’s Paradise in Goodyear, AZ

Soak in the desert sun from this Goodyear home with a resort-style hot tub and pool combo. Work on your tan while you work from the sprawling patio, complete with a fully shaded outdoor area. The interior’s open layout and farmhouse furnishings are so beautiful that you’ll want to stay in and make meals at home — but when you’re ready to get out, grab ice cream at The Frozen Monkey and take a stroll around South Lake Park.

Palatial Luxury Home In Homestead, FL

If you’re feeling fancy, this Florida short-term rental is like stepping into a palace you can call your own. Here, 6,500 square feet of space is yours — meaning you can find a new place to work remotely every day. Sit al fresco in the expansive outdoor cabana or lounge by the palm-tree lined pool worthy of a magazine shoot. On weekends, day trip to the Florida Keys or take it easy with a bottle of local wine from Schnebly Winery.

Modern Poolside Oasis In Austin, TX

The moment you set your bag down, the cerulean waters of this backyard pool will invite you to take a dip. Catch up with your group beneath the pergola, then swim laps in this sophisticated marvel as the sun goes down. Enormous windows let the light in here and make it feel like you’re by the pool, even when you’re hard at work inside. When you need to get out, experience the big city feeling by taking a walk through downtown Austin.

Honorable Mentions: Enjoy views of your own private lake and private pool at this luxurious vacation rental in Norman, OK, visit this meticulously decorated home with its own mini golf putting green and awe-inspiring pool in the Coachella Valley, or swim by day, stream movies in the home theater by night from this Pigeon Forge vacation rental.

Explore All Homes With A Pool

Get Energized: Vacation Rentals With A Gym

Exercise helps mental health and increases productivity — and companies are encouraging their teams to work out more than ever. These vacation rentals are perfect for a getaway that blends work-life balance, with a home gym to break up your day. 

Enchanting Log Cabin In Sonoma County, CA

Redwoods and red wine are waiting for you in Sonoma County. This charming cabin is the place to go glamping in the woods while still keeping a wi-fi signal. Nature is your gym here in a home that’s surrounded by trails and a few minutes from the beach, but if you want a more traditional place to exercise, hit the cabin’s small home gym. After a long work week, hop in the car, soak in ocean views, and savor wines from famous vineyards.

Private Forest Mansion In Acworth, GA

Turn your workday into a fairytale at this welcoming Acworth mansion, complete with a pool and its own movie theater. Take your lunch break in the home gym, catch up on emails from the gazebo, and toast to the day by the outdoor fire pit once five o’clock hits. There are so many ways to clear your head — whether it’s playing billiards, or cooking a meal for your group and enjoying it in the sprawling dining areas.

Honorable Mentions: This budget-friendly vacation home in Glendale, AZ offers all the perks of a private resort, including a pool and a putting green. Or, go big and work remotely from this enormous vacation home sitting over the lake in Kaiser, MO. You can also sit out by your own private creek and access some of Colorado’s most pristine trails from this home amid the treetops in Evergreen, CO. 

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Find Quiet: Vacation Rentals With An Office

Evolve only rents homes with private entrances, which means that every place on our site is perfect for finding focus. But if you’re looking for a getaway where you can separate your 9-5 from your night of relaxation, these picks come with a home office and the bliss of complete quiet.

Enormous Retreat In Erie, CO

This vacation rental is made for remote work retreats with multiple offices, plenty of separate seating areas, and a boardroom-style table. Travel with friends and tackle the workday separately from your own private spaces, then reconnect over a game night in the living room. Wind down while strolling downtown Boulder (just a short drive away) with the Flatiron mountains as your backdrop.

Upscale Cabin In Show Low, AZ

Enjoy a life of luxury from this scenic cabin equipped with its own lofted office for working remotely. Catch up about the day around the outdoor fire pit or sip wine on the sprawling wood patio immersed in the forest. If you feel like getting outside, explore the easy Show Low Bluff Trail on foot or spend a leisurely day fishing at Fool Hollow Lake.

Honorable Mention: Work remotely from this vacation rental in Fairplay, CO, and enjoy a cozy, log cabin exterior with a clean, modern interior. 

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Cozy Up: Vacation Rentals With A Fireplace

Good books are meant to be enjoyed next to a crackling fireplace. After a long day at the (virtual) office, sink into the couch at one of these places and find your cozy. All you need to bring is hot cider and groceries — each of our homes comes fully equipped with all the amenities you need to stay in for the night.

Dreamy Dome House In Idyllwild, CA

Hit the road and head to Idyllwild, which sits in California’s San Jacinto mountains. Pets are welcome at this airy dome house that’s a theater to thousands of night stars. Once you’ve closed up your laptop for the day, hit the trails at Mount San Jacinto State Park, then bring home a mountain pie to share from Idyllwild Pizza.

Spacious Modern Hideaway In Incline Village, NV

Rise to the sound of trees rustling out this bright property filled with natural light. Kick your feet up in the loft to get some focus, then spend happy hour in the hot tub before cooking up a feast in the gorgeous, modern kitchen. When you’re ready for fresh air, take an evening bike ride along Lake Tahoe, or just sit out and enjoy the lake.

Cabin In Breckenridge, CO

Breckenridge is an outdoor paradise — and this enormous cabin that sleeps 14 is just the place to enjoy it. Take your calls from the quiet porch, indulge in a midday break to shoot some hoops in the in-home basketball court, and wind down by the fire after an evening of exploring the area’s sites. Window shop along Main Street and grab takeout, or find a hike like Hoosier Pass you can do as the sun goes down over the mountain. 

Honorable Mentions: Sip a nightcap on a porch overlooking the creek at this vacation home in Frisco, CO, or soak your bones in the hot tub surrounded by trees in this Alto, New Mexico cabin.

EXPLORE ALL HOMES WITH A FIREPLACE

Explore All Homes With A Fireplace

Fuel Creativity: Vacation Rentals With A View

Get some new perspective on what you’re working on from one of these places with a view. Find yourself thinking in new ways as you walk along the beach or sit out on the lake, free to let your mind wander. Just be sure to bring a notepad with you as you roam these houses for the moment a great idea strikes.

Hilltop Haven In Bay City, OR

If you’ve ever had the dream of looking out to the shoreline from a hot tub, this is just the place for you. This hilltop home in the Pacific Northwest is a destination for remote work, with several cozy seating areas, an unbelievable porch view looking over the coast, and a hot tub where you can dip and drink it all in. After work, take a scenic, slow drive along the Tillamook Bay and end the evening with scoops at the iconic Tillamook Creamery

Lakeview Retreat In Albion, MI

A lake with a private dock is yours at this calming escape in Albion, MI. This home is filled with windows so you never miss the view, even when you’re inside. There are so many places to work at this home on the golf course — whenever you need some fresh thinking, just pick a new room. The spacious kitchen opens right up into the living room, so you can share stories as you prepare the dinner to share. Days off can be spent on the course, dipping in the lake, or curling up next to a roaring fire while keeping the view.

Beachfront Home In Topsail Beach, NC

Creativity is often sparked by a long walk, and here, you can take that walk out on the beach. Sit out on one of the two decks facing the waves, then step out onto the sand when you need a break. Sunsets here look like a postcard, and you can enjoy them from a bright, cheerful house that is decorated to feel like vacation in every room. Spend the weekend grilling up porch on the outdoor barbecue and catching up your beach read in the pristine sand.

Honorable Mentions: Get out into the mountains at this Jefferson, CO cabin with a verdant view of the mountains and its own game room and treehouse. Or, book this cheerful beachfront home in New Smyrna Beach, FL with ocean access and take your morning coffee in the sand

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STAY EVOLVE

Enjoy the freedom to work remotely from a vacation rental anywhere, with all the comforts of home. Find your perfect place to get some fresh air and rest easy knowing that it’ll be professionally cleaned and ready for your arrival.

The dishwasher is full of dirty dishes. The beds are unmade and all linens need to be washed. The laundry detergent is close to empty. If you don’t use checklists to maintain your vacation rental, your guests are likely to encounter these kinds of problems when they first arrive.

With just a few checks in boxes, your guests are more likely to walk into a place that’s spotless — and your cleaning company knows exactly what they’re responsible for.

These tools make it easy to avoid human error, cleanliness complaints, and unwelcome surprises. Because we’ve applied the expertise we’ve picked up managing thousands of properties and created three free cleaning checklists we know will become a go-to resource for you.

WHY USE A RENTAL CHECKLIST?

As we all know, it’s natural to forget things from time to time. That’s why people in high-stakes careers, like surgeons and pilots, rely on checklists to make sure things go according to plan. As a vacation rental homeowner, checklists can help you create a great guest experience, avoid unpleasant phone calls or complaints, and get the reviews you deserve.

These cleaning checklists can also be used to help support your maintenance team. Clearly set expectations of your cleaning service by using the checklists to specify what areas of the home need the most attention. Then encourage your cleaning service to fully complete each checklist at the appropriate time (i.e. before guests arrive or after they leave). This will save you the hassle of worrying about what condition the vacation rental is in when your guests arrive.

CLEANING CHECKLIST

Guests pay a fee for the professional cleaning services that happen between each stay. This means they’re expecting standards similar to a hotel: a spotless home, free of personal clutter, that looks just like the pictures they saw online.

We analyzed the most common cleaning snafus and created a list that will make sure they don’t happen. You can download your free cleaning checklist here.

PRE-STAY RENTAL CHECKLIST

While it’s important that things are clean at your vacation rental, ensuring you have the right supplies and setup for every guest is just as important. Have your local contact or someone from your maintenance team perform a pre-stay walkthrough of your property — you can even do it yourself if you’re in the area – on the day your guest is arriving.

This checklist will ensure that nothing has happened to the property between the guest’s check-in and the last cleaning.

Download the pre-stay checklist here.

POST-STAY CHECKLIST

Sometimes, guests leave things in less than ideal condition. Make sure that everything is back in order as soon guests leave using the post-stay checklist. If something is broken, determine when it was broken and swiftly receive reimbursement from your insurance.

A post-stay checklist includes many of the same things as the pre-stay list, but it also helps you note issues that have come up during the guest’s stay — before the next one arrives.

Your cleaning service can send you the finished checklist or hold on to it for their records. If you have a guest complaint about cleanliness, you’ll have proof that your cleaning service went through each task.

Download the post-stay checklist here.

CATCH ISSUES BEFORE YOUR GUESTS DO

Just like any small business, vacation rentals occasionally run into problems. But with these lists, you’ll be able to prevent cleaning issues, detect damage, and make sure your property lives up to the standards guests expect of your home.

When you have back-to-back reservations, use all three checklists to ensure your turnover process is seamless and minimize the potential that an issue will be overlooked in the quick turn.

Download our FREE templates below! This download includes all three checklists: pre-stay, post-stay, and cleaning.

A BETTER WAY

Evolve believes that maintaining your vacation rental should be as easy as checking a few boxes.

That’s one reason we’re constantly blogging about the industry and offering free information, tips, and market reports to anyone who’s interested. We genuinely want every vacation rental homeowner to succeed.

In fact, we can charge an industry-low 10% booking fee because our success is tied to the property’s performance. We only succeed when you do. If that sounds like a pretty different approach, you’re right. Let’s chat and see if you qualify today.

So you’re thinking about hiring a property management company for your vacation rental. 

Maybe you’ve got an extra home, you just purchased a new property, or you’re exploring ways to make some extra income. It could be your first time dealing with vacation rentals, or maybe you’ve been burned by property management companies before.

A question you might be wondering is — why shouldn’t I just do this myself?

While there are owners who handle management themselves, it can be incredibly time-consuming to promote your rental, field traveler inquiries, take quality photos, write and revise the listing, answer questions about your property, vet potential guests, juggle on-the-ground services like cleaning and maintenance, and follow up for reviews.

There’s a better way. Hiring the right vacation rental management company for your home can take the stress, endless tasks, extra time, and marketing responsibilities off your plate. 

But before you hire a traditional or local property manager, make sure to ask these seven questions to know you’re getting everything you need.

1. HOW IS VACATION RENTAL PERFORMANCE IN THE AREA?

You’re looking for a manager who has a good feel for the local market. A great property manager will know the ins and outs of your location — high season, low season, competing rates, what types of property are most popular in the area, and how local regulations and trends are affecting vacation rentals. You can prep for your conversation with our market-by-market vacation rental performance reports.

Ask your potential manager questions about the local market and feel out their responses. If the vacation rental manager has reasonable answers to those questions, you’ve probably found a solid manager who spends a good amount of time thinking about how to help their clients succeed. 

If they seem uncertain or their answers seem off, you may want to keep looking. Be particularly wary if you know about regulations in the area that they don’t; every manager should be fully aware of the status of local short-term rental regulations. And don’t base their experience on years in the business. There are quite a few longtime property managers out there who haven’t kept up with changes in the industry and don’t perform well as a result.

2. WHAT ARE YOUR FEES AND CONTRACT TERMS?

Many vacation rental property management fees range from 25-50% of your rental income. And, in some areas, the rates continue to rise. 

Before hiring a local property manager, do the math to determine whether you can afford to pay that high of a fee and still meet your rental income goals.

Contracts are the biggest sticking point for owners who have wound up with a poor property manager. If you figure out in the first two months that the property manager isn’t doing their job well, but you’re locked in for a year-long contract, you’re going to be very unhappy for the remaining ten months of that year. You’ll also want to know the payment terms and timing. Some managers can take months to pay and, if you’re caught in an unfavorable contract, it can be a long time until you get paid.

If a management company requires a contract, ask whether there are any out clauses based on performance or poor service. For example, if the management company fails to clean the property three times in one year, or only gets you two bookings in six months, you should be able to leave their service without a penalty.

Above all, make sure any fees and agreements help you build a vacation rental business that prioritizes guest experience over short-term profit.

3. WHAT SERVICES ARE INCLUDED IN YOUR MANAGEMENT FEES?

You’re hiring a vacation rental management company for the high level of services they provide. You’ll want to know exactly what services are included in their fee.

Specifically ask whether the fee covers marketing, photography, writing the listing, updating the listing, observing market trends, cleaning, maintenance, pre-stay walkthroughs, or in-person visits for any issues that arise during a guest’s stay.

You should also ask about any services that are not included in their fee – for example, some property management companies will charge an additional fee if one of their employees has to visit the property outside of business hours to address a problem the guest is having. Excellent guest support should not cost more. 

Once you know what services the fee does and does not cover, ask yourself if you’re getting enough bang for your buck. If your management company covers everything from marketing to maintenance, the fee may be worthwhile. If it only covers cleaning and all other services are a la carte, you should probably keep shopping for a better deal.

4. HOW DO YOU MARKET MY PROPERTY?

This is an important one. Ask them how and where they’ll market your property. 

Many vacation rental management companies prefer to market their clients’ properties only on their own website. These days, that’s not enough. You want to be on all the major websites with highly professional listings. No matter how popular a local manager’s site is, it’s never going to get the same amount of traffic as major online listing sites like Vrbo, HomeAway or Airbnb – which means you’ll be missing out on a lot of potential guests if you’re limited to one website. Make sure you understand their marketing plan.

Marketing is a big word that includes the photography of your rental, a high-converting property listing, framing your rental for current trends and the market, and how it is promoted.

A vacation rental manager’s 25-50% ought to cover the cost of marketing your property on at least one major listing site in addition to any marketing efforts they make to raise the profile of their own site. Listen for words like “appear high in the search results” or “search engine marketing” – these are good indicators your manager has put effort into raising and maintaining their website’s profile online.

Your manager should also actively solicit reviews from happy guests and follow up with guests who have already stayed at the property to see if they want to book again next year. Ask your vacation rental manager what they do to ensure repeat business and 5-star reviews to entice new guests to come and stay at your property. 

5. WHEN AND HOW ARE GUESTS ABLE TO BOOK MY PROPERTY?

Vacation rental managers aren’t awake around the clock, (which is just fine, because most guests aren’t either) but they should be available when people are likely to be making their travel plans: before work, after work, and on weekends.

If your manager is only available to make bookings from 9-5 on weekdays, the odds are very good you’ll be missing out on bookings from people who work standard office jobs at those hours. Believe it or not, the ideal response time for inquiries is 15 minutes, so the bar is pretty high for providing the kind of service that turns into bookings. 

You should also ask if guests are able to book online and use a credit card. The vast majority of guests prefer to book online, and very few are willing to get on the phone or send a paper check in the mail. If your potential manager doesn’t offer any way for those guests to book online, you’ll again miss out on bookings.

6. HOW OFTEN CAN WE EXPECT UPDATES ON OUR PROPERTY’S CONDITION?

After every stay, you should confirm that your guests left your property in good condition and that any accidental damage was documented and addressed. Be sure to ask your potential vacation rental manager how they handle issues like broken dishes or missing items after a guest’s stay.

You’re looking for a manager who performs a post-stay walkthrough after every guest leaves, takes photos of any damages for your records, and takes steps to bring the property back up to good condition for the next guests.

Your property manager isn’t expected to pay for damages out of pocket – that cost will come from the guest’s deposit or a damage protection program like Property Protection Plus (included as part of Evolve’s lightweight vacation rental management approach). However, your manager should notice the damage, report it, and speak to the guest about retaining their deposit to cover the damage if necessary.

7. CAN I SPEAK TO SOME OF YOUR CURRENT CLIENTS?

Always ask to speak with a few existing clients prior to signing a contract. Previous and current owners can share details about working with the vacation rental managers and exactly what to expect from your arrangement.   

If a manager is reluctant to give you references or isn’t enthusiastic about current clients speaking about their experience, that’s a sign this manager isn’t going to be a good fit for you. You should be able to hear or read success stories from customers who endorse the company. 

On the other hand, if their current clients rave about this vacation rental manager and give you lots of insider tips they’ve learned since working with them on navigating the local market, full speed ahead! This manager may well be just the business partner you’re looking for.

IT’S TIME TO RETHINK VACATION RENTAL MANAGEMENT.

The traditional models of vacation rental management are outdated. Doing it yourself is a LOT of work and, as we’ve covered, working with traditional property management companies means less control with fees that are hard to justify.

But there’s a better way. You don’t have to do it all yourself. And you don’t have to sign a contract with an overpriced property manager. Evolve is different.

BOOK MORE NIGHTS WITH YOUR RENTAL

Evolve’s lightweight management approach gives you total marketing, booking, and customer support, plus the power to choose your own “home team” to clean and monitor your property. 

Basically, we drive more guests to your property for maximum income, while giving you more choices with fewer rules – all for an industry-low 10% booking fee.

We’ve helped 10,000+ homeowners earn more than $500 million in rental income. And we’d love to help you. 

See if you qualify or call one of our Homeowner Consultants today at 877.881.7584 (and if you have more questions, take a quick look at this FAQ about Evolve).  

One thing that every vacation rental owner wants is an idea of how much they can expect to make. So to help you escape the unknown — and crunch the numbers — we created a rental income calculator that will give you an estimate.

FIRST, CALCULATE YOUR MONTHLY INCOME

This is approximately what you’ll make before you pull out extra expenses. Income can vary based on seasonality and other factors, so be sure to use averages for your calculation.

NIGHTLY RATE: Here’s where you enter what you expect to charge on average, per night. Get an overview of the local market by checking out our Vacation Rental Performance Reports, or browse listing sites to see how much other owners in your area charge.

NIGHTS BOOKED: Use the average number of nights you think you’ll book per month.

MONTHLY REVENUE: This number is your extra income before things like taxes, utilities, and property management fees.

NEXT, SUBTRACT YOUR EXPENSES

Just like any other income, the lower you can keep your expenses, the more money you’ll have in your pocket.

INSURANCE AND PROPERTY TAXES: Enter what you’ll spend on insurance, property taxes, and short-term insurance (optional, but highly recommended for peace of mind).

MORTGAGE PAYMENT: This is how much you pay for your vacation rental every month. 

UTILITIES: Estimate how much you might pay for electricity, wifi, cable, AC, and heating every month. Be generous with the number.

OTHER EXPENSES: Toiletries and linens. Furniture and decorations. HOA and maintenance costs. There are a lot of little expenses — and hidden costs — you’ll want to factor in to build your budget.

LASTLY, FACTOR IN YOUR MANAGEMENT AND MARKETING COSTS

Property managers take up to half of everything you earn (30-50% on every booking). Slide the property management fee bar to the right to estimate these fees if you plan to use a manager.

Even if you choose to manage your own property, it still costs a separate fee to list on every single online marketplace. Find your marketing cost by adding together the percentages of marketplaces you think you’ll use.

  1. Airbnb – 3%
  2. HomeAway/Vrbo pay per booking – 5%
  3. HomeAway/Vrbo subscription – NA
  4. TripAdvisor/FlipKey – 3%
  5. Booking.com – 15%

If you’re like most homeowners, this section will take the most money out of your vacation rental income potential. It will probably also seem a little overwhelming — but it doesn’t have to. Because Evolve handles the hardest parts of property management for you, including listing your home on all of the sites for free.

So go ahead: try crunching the numbers again with 10% in the property management slider, and zero marketing costs. That’s the Evolve difference. 

You may not be able to change your mortgage payments or HOA fees, but you can make sure you’re earning as much rental income as possible with your vacation home when you choose Evolve.

See if your home qualifies today.


“Aren’t you just like Airbnb and Vrbo?”

We get that question a lot from people who haven’t worked with us yet. It’s easy to see why. We’re all in the same industry, short-term property rentals. You can find and book great properties on our website or on theirs. And the fact that every Evolve property appears on Airbnb, Vrbo, and other online marketplaces just adds a little more to the confusion.

So let’s clear things up and outline exactly how Evolve is NOT Airbnb, Vrbo, HomeAway, TripAdvisor, or any other online marketplace.

They’re marketplaces. We’re a management company.

Airbnb, Vrbo, and similar websites are online “marketplaces” where guests find properties and homeowners find guests. Essentially, they act as a distribution channel for owners or property managers, attracting potential guests to their website but leaving the management of the properties and listings to the owners (or whoever is representing the property) themselves.

Evolve is a vacation rental management company. That means we actively manage our properties on behalf of our owners, ensuring maximum bookings and eliminating the stress of the traditional vacation rental process.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Evolve is a BIG customer of the online marketplaces. We have more than 11,000 properties listed on their sites, and we constantly take advantage of the latest strategies to ensure our owners’ properties are always positioned for maximum traffic and conversion.

Behind the scenes, we have teams of specialists working on the hardest parts of managing a vacation rental: marketing, booking, and customer service. Our teams do everything from creating search-topping property listings to dynamically setting rates to answering guest questions and asking for online reviews. We even hire professional photographers at no cost to owners to show each property in the best possible light.

As a result of our approach, Evolve properties outperform most others on the online marketplaces. So we don’t compete with Airbnb, Vrbo and the rest. We work with them–and everybody wins.

Our homes are different, too. Always perfect for vacation.

Unlike most marketplaces, we don’t offer home sharing, extended stays, campsites, trailers, or other mobile structures. Each Evolve property has its own entrance and kitchen (typically a house or condominium). A lot of Evolve guests appreciate having the comforts of home when they travel, and our properties reflect that.

We take even more guesswork out of vacation rental by making sure our properties meet our four core standards. We believe guests simply won’t have the experience they’re looking for unless the property they’ve booked is:

By focusing on properties ideally suited for vacationing and making sure each one lives up to our standards, we’re building a brand that guests can trust to have the time of their lives.

A different experience for owners and guests.

Since Airbnb, Vrbo, and the like don’t handle property management, homeowners have traditionally been forced to either hire a local company to do it or fend for themselves. Evolve is different.

We give homeowners performance-focused marketing and booking support, plus the flexibility to choose their own partner(s) to clean the property and greet guests. Evolve handles all guest inquiries, bookings, and pre-stay communications. We can also connect owners with hundreds of vetted partners nationwide that can handle cleaning and guests.  

With Evolve’s help, every guest enjoys a booking experience that feels as professional as the world’s top hospitality brands. We handle all inquiries directly, resolve guest and owners questions, and communicate directly with cleaners to ensure the property is ready for every guest. Our unique approach makes vacation rental actually feel like vacation for owners and guests.

So we’re not Airbnb or Vrbo. But we’re all friends.

Once you work with Evolve, you quickly discover the difference between our service and all of the others. It starts with the way we charge owners nothing to join (plus an industry-low 10% management fee) and list properties on all the major online marketplaces––not just Evolve’s site. It continues with the way we market your listing and promptly handle every query, seven days a week. And it becomes clear in all the ways we make vacation rental easy for everyone.

Owners should be able to relax, trusting that their property is living up to its potential. And guests should be able to relax with an experience that feels like a big hospitality brand. That’s the Evolve difference.

Learn more about Evolve and how we can help you find success with Airbnb, Vrbo, and other online marketplaces.

Your Free Welcome Book Template is Here!

Sure, your property listing covers a lot of info about your home — but guests will still have some questions when they arrive. Like, which local coffee shop has the best ambiance? What’s that one trick to getting the dishwasher started? How should they handle check-out?

Your welcome book is the perfect place to answer common questions, and it’s also one of the most searched for vacation rental amenities. By providing essential info up front, you can free guests from encountering snags during their stay.

We think that putting together this important resource should feel easy — which is why we made you a free welcome book template. All you have to do is download it and plug in your home’s info!

WHY MAKE A WELCOME BOOK?

Welcome books have a big impact on your guests’ experience. Here are some reasons to block off a few minutes and fill in this template.

Welcome books help others navigate your rental property and treat it the right way.

Guests want to know how to watch a movie at night or adjust the temperature in your house. Giving them a resource on how to get comfortable living in your rental is sure to make their vacation stress-free for both of you.

Welcome books provide local highlights and a sense of your personality.

The reason many guests book vacation rental properties is to immerse themselves in the location. Recommending restaurants, coffee shops, stores, and more can turn a good trip into the best trip ever. Lead your guests to the most delicious slice in town — or teach them how to avoid crowds at a local attraction — and they’ll want to book with you again in the future.

Welcome books show guests that you care.

Your advice on how to make the most of your property gives guests the friendly engagement they’re looking for. It also protects their personal space and privacy by providing valuable information without requiring personal interaction.

Welcome books help you get great reviews.

Your guests are likely to reward your thoughtfulness in their reviews. Even better, you or your guest contact may get fewer questions during their stay, and you’ll be sending new customers to your favorite local shops and restaurants, ensuring they thrive!

Sounds pretty great, right? But where should you start?

WHAT TO INCLUDE IN YOUR WELCOME BOOK

From a friendly “hello” letter to your home’s policies, these are the sections you’ll need to put together the most useful welcome book.

A PERSONAL WELCOME NOTE

Guests who choose vacation rental are looking for a unique home with a real person behind it. Writing a note to personally welcome them to your property is another way to separate yourself from a hotel — and reinforce their decision to stay with you.

HELPFUL LOCAL CONTACTS

Make sure your welcome book provides at least one name, telephone number, and email for a local contact near your property. This person can be you, a local property manager, or even a neighbor — but they should be easily reachable, and available to come to the home on short notice. Nobody wants unanswered guest complaints to derail a pleasant stay.

You’ll also want to include contact details and addresses for the following emergency resources, just in case:

Remember, guests don’t have all of the resources they’d typically have at home. They’ll feel more at ease if they know you have their safety in mind.

YOUR PROPERTY’S POLICIES

Even if you send your policies in a pre-stay email, (Evolve does!) it’s still important to reiterate them at the property. Including policies in your welcome book can help you resolve common vacation rental issues and complaints because guests will have a difficult time arguing that they weren’t aware of the rules.

You should include all of the following information in your welcome book:

An in-home reference guide will help remind guests how best to enjoy your home and leave it in good shape for the next guests.  Another perk of including your policies: you’re way less likely to find broken or misused items after a stay!

HOW-TO INSTRUCTIONS

When your guests can’t figure out simple things like how to turn on the hot tub, they can get frustrated and wind up taking out that frustration in their review of your property. Even if every appliance works perfectly, spending valuable relaxation time figuring out how to use it is no one’s idea of a fun vacation.

Include helpful instructions for your:

This is also a good place to note any quirks of your property. For example, if the Wifi works very well all over the house, but not in the family room downstairs, make sure your guests know that. If they aren’t expecting an issue, they’ll be annoyed by it, but with a little forewarning, they’ll feel like they know exactly what they can expect, and it’s less likely to trouble them.

WHERE TO GO AND WHAT TO DO

You know all of the insights you’ve collected about your neighborhood? Now’s the time to share your expertise — because everyone loves a good recommendation from a local! Try to suggest activities that would appeal to a range of guest types, such as family-friendly museums or romantic places for a dinner out.

Be sure to give addresses and phone numbers for each of your recommendations. Adding the amount of time it takes to get to the destination is a great idea, too. Include at least a suggestion or two in each of the following categories:

And share places where you personally enjoy going. This isn’t to say you can’t include popular attractions you haven’t visited in person. Just let your guests know that you haven’t tried them yourself, but you’ve heard good things and you hope they’ll tell you how they liked them! You can then use the guest feedback to gauge whether that activity merits a mention in your Welcome Book.

HOW TO GET AROUND

Help guests explore your area by creating a section devoted to local transit. Be sure to include contact info, directions, schedules and any other details that guests might find helpful, like:

READY TO CREATE YOUR BOOK?

Here’s the good news: we’ve already created one for you.To make things easier for you and your guests we created a free downloadable template. Enter your email in the form below to get your free, customizable copy. Then, type your information into our template, print the completed welcome book, and display it in an obvious area of your rental property, such as the kitchen counter. And if you’re looking to start booking more nights on your vacation rental, we can help with that, too.

Vacation rentals can be lucrative investments. They offer rental income in the short term and build equity in the long term. It’s an exciting proposition attracting more investors, especially as travelers embrace vacation rentals as their preferred accommodations.

For the third year in a row, we’re happy to share our list of the ten best places to buy a vacation rental. Our experience working with over 10,000 vacation rental properties across the United States has given us insight into more than 500 markets and how they perform.

This year, we’re including our estimated capitalization rate (cap rate) to help with rankings. Cap rate compares the net rental income generated per year against the purchase price of the property. It’s a good indicator of a property’s earning power and a reliable way to determine where you might get a better return on your investment.

To calculate our cap rates, we started by looking at the median annual rental revenue for Evolve properties in 500+ markets. We also applied yearly expenses of 30% to reflect the costs associated with operating a vacation rental. We then divided that by the median home price on Zillow for properties in each market.

If you’re looking to purchase a vacation rental property, make sure you take a closer look at these areas. Your numbers may differ based on operating costs, property values, and other factors, but this list helps shine a light on promising locations for investors.

1.Maggie Valley, North Carolina

A new addition to our list, Maggie Valley is in the Smoky Mountains area outside of Asheville, North Carolina.

It tops our list with a strong cap rate of 17.5%. Driven by low real estate costs with a median price of $155,500 and a median income of $38,949 per year, the Maggie Valley area presents an appealing investment option.

Proximity to the region’s famed mountain range is the primary tourism draw in this area. And the natural resources provide year-round activities, with hiking in the summer, leaf peeping in the autumn, and skiing in the winter.

If you’re looking at this area for a potential investment, shop around for a property that has a nice outdoor area where guests can enjoy the surrounding mountain views. Our data also shows that homes with hot tubs, fire pits, and decks typically perform better than average.

2. Saint Augustine, Florida

Consistently a top vacation destination for American and international travelers, Florida is an obvious frontrunner for short-term rentals. The warm weather allows for year-round tourism and lower real estate costs leave plenty of room to generate a sizable rental income.

But with so many beach towns, where is the best place to buy in Florida?

St. Augustine rises above the rest in our research with a cap rate of 17%. The median home price is $209,100 and you can earn an estimated median revenue of $50,989 in this area.

That’s an attractive rate of return, and it has the potential to increase further when you have top amenities like a private pool, hot tub, and proximity to the beach.

Rich in history, outdoor recreation, and prime beach access, St. Augustine offers great vacation rental potential for investors.

3. Gatlinburg Area, Tennessee

Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville have been proving their weight in gold for years. These family-friendly vacation rental destinations have a high demand for accommodations ten months out of the year and they provide a steady source of rental income.

With relatively low housing prices and few restrictions for short-term rentals, it’s no surprise that this area has become a top destination for vacation rental investors. Cabins are the preferred type of housing for regional visitors, and we found that the median home price ranges from $162,000 to $202,300 across Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg.

While the area is generally affordable, you might run into prices as high as $800,000 for larger (five bedrooms+) and more luxurious properties. Essential amenities for the Gatlinburg area are hot tubs, mountain views, and game rooms.

While the median for rental revenue is around $42,751, we do see six-figure revenue potential for larger properties in the area. If your rental is in good shape, with a desirable location and popular amenities, you stand a high chance of earning even more.

4. Surfside Beach, Texas

An hour down the coast from Galveston, this Texas town is known for beautiful beaches and a laid-back community. With few tourist traps or boardwalk shops, most Surfside Beach visitors spend their evenings cooking family dinners at home rather than hitting the town. That makes fully equipped vacation rentals all the more successful in this area.

We found the median home price for Surfside Beach was $136,500, which is a bargain compared to the stilted homes in the Galveston area that range from $200,000 to $400,000.

A median revenue of $29,321 gives this lesser-known area on the Gulf Coast an impressive cap rate of 15%.

If this coastal Texas town checks all the boxes for you, look for a property that offers ocean views and proximity to the beach. Fortunately, Seaside Beach is situated on a narrow tract of land, so beachfront real estate is not too hard to come by.

5. The Poconos, Pennsylvania

The Pocono Mountain region has been drawing tourists to its lakes and ski resorts for more than 100 years. With a strong demand for accommodations and a large inventory of real estate at affordable prices, it’s easy to see why this region is one of our top five places to buy a vacation rental.

The median home price in the Poconos ranges from $118,300 on the low end to $144,300 on the high end. With a property that has an open calendar, the median rental income you can expect to generate ranges from $25,058 all the way up to $40,278 per year.

We found that results vary from town to town, but we see the strongest returns with properties in Tunkhannock Township, Tannersville, and Pocono Lake.

Large lakefront properties that can accommodate a group perform best in this market. It’s also a good idea to look for houses that are updated or that you can renovate after purchasing. This traditional market has many outdated properties, and you can beat out the competition and charge a higher nightly rate with a home that has modern kitchens, bathrooms, and furnishings.

6. Pequot Lakes, Minnesota

Situated in the Brainerd Lakes area north of the Twin Cities, vacation rentals in the Pequot Lakes area are hugely popular in summer months. Even better, they get bookings during the slow winter season for holidays and weekend retreats.

This market provides advantages to buyers in the Midwest because it’s a great investment opportunity where you can make strong returns, but it’s also close to home. That makes regular maintenance easier and offers the added benefit of having a second home for your personal use when you don’t have guests in residence.

While the median home price is $204,600 for properties in this area, larger homes that sleep eight or more people tend to see the best success. So it pays to invest in a larger property if you have the budget.

Something to consider with an investment in the Pequot Lakes area or a similar market is that rentals here tend to have a shorter season. With cold winter months, you face some pressure to hit your revenue goals during the high season, which requires smart pricing and aggressive marketing strategies.

7. Shenandoah Valley Area, Virginia

Spanning two hundred miles across the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains, the Shenandoah Valley is an outdoor oasis. Visitors enjoy exploring National Parks and Forests, outdoor sports (skiing, fishing, golfing, canoeing and more) and a segment of the famed Appalachian Trail.

With an area that large, home prices and rental income will obviously vary. Still, the median home price in the markets that made our list is $227,500, earning $37,763 per year in estimated annual revenue.

To increase your income potential, look closely at the four-season resort areas of Massanutten and Wintergreen. They can expand your booking season via snow sports in the winter and water parks during the peak summer booking window.

Profit-driving amenities include hot tubs, a deck with a view (and a grill), and game tables like billiards and foosball. If you’re looking to invest in this area, the closer a property is to Massanutten Resort or Shenandoah National Park, the better.

8. Branson, Missouri

With theme parks, specialty museums, shopping, and hundreds of shows per year, there’s no shortage of things to do in Branson. This Ozark getaway is a family-friendly vacation spot that has caught the eye of investors who want reliable returns and a lower price point.

The median home price hovers around $145,000, making this an affordable place to buy a vacation home. Our data revealed that rentals in Branson generate $24,062 in rental revenue per year at the median for a 11.6% cap rate.

The tourism season spans from March to December, so you have the opportunity to book ten months out of the year and reach an impressive occupancy.

Another benefit of investing in this area is that there are few regulations standing in the way of vacation rentals. Some areas west of Branson may come with restrictions, but the area is generally friendly toward short-term rentals.

The vacation rental inventory is a mix of condos, cabins, and homes. So no matter your budget, you can find something in this market that will perform well. Amenities that can help you succeed include proximity to popular attractions (the Shows District, Table Rock Lake, and Silver Dollar City), decks, and lake or mountain views.

9. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

For the third year in a row, Myrtle Beach makes our top-ten list. The seaside town is known for its 60-mile stretch of beaches, as well as theme parks, museums, and shopping. It’s also home to festivals, bike rallies, car shows and other events that draw crowds and drive up demand for accommodations.

Yet, Myrtle Beach is a budget-friendly place to invest. Condos frequently sell for under $100,000, and Zillow data shows the median home price is around $144,700.

If you buy in this market, beach proximity is important. However, unlike Surfside Beach, you don’t have to be on the water to be successful. Rental properties within one or two miles of the beach will also book and perform well.

When you’re buying a condo in a resort or community, be careful with association fees and restrictions. Higher fees typically get you nice facilities, upkeep, pools, and other amenities that are attractive to guests, but you may pay a lot for those add-ons.

10. Hot Springs, Arkansas

Hot Springs, Arkansas is named for Hot Springs National Park, a treasured natural feature that draws visitors for its mineral-rich water.

A prime benefit of investing in this market is that your money stretches here. The median home price is $148,800 and generates a healthy $24,425 per year at the median for estimated annual revenue. That leaves plenty of flexibility to pocket the income or pay off your investment quickly.

For the best returns in this market, look for properties close to downtown Hot Springs or on Lake Hamilton. In our experience, waterfront homes tend to achieve higher occupancy rates and command better nightly rates than properties farther from the action.

Lake views, updated interiors, and dock access are additional amenities that can improve your performance in Hot Springs.

So, where should you invest?

As always, the answer depends on your budget, your revenue goals, and your personal preferences.

You might want to purchase in a proven market like Gatlinburg or Poconos even if that means stiffer competition to get bookings. Or, you might want to buy in an area that isn’t as saturated, like Hot Springs or Surfside Beach, where you get more for your money.

We always encourage investors to think about where they’d like to visit. One of the key benefits you get from a vacation rental is that you get a second home for yourself. Where would you want to stay?

This list is a great place to start your consideration process, but it’s by no means definitive. There are many popular destinations that didn’t make our list. Think of this as a snapshot of the markets that you might want to explore if you’re looking to get the biggest return on your investment.

If you want more information, Evolve is constantly updating resources like these to help you better understand the vacation rental market:

If you’ve already chosen a property and need to get your vacation rental off the ground, let us help.

With Evolve, you get everything you need to start a successful vacation rental: professional photos, a custom listing, competitive rates, vacation rental expertise, and full-time teams to support you.

There are no upfront costs and you pay just a low 10% fee per booking. Learn more about our services and contact us to see if your home qualifies.


Have you ever thought about investing in a vacation home to use a short-term rental? We asked Daniela Andreevska at Mashvisor to share some insight on why real estate investors are wise to consider this avenue as they get started with their first real estate investments.

Looking for the best way to make money outside your 9-to-5 job? How about real estate investing?

It can be intimidating to dive headfirst into the world of real estate investment, but buying a vacation rental home is one avenue that’s gaining a lot of popularity. We think it might just be the best way to enter the real estate business and become a property investor.

There are many benefits to buying a vacation rental and we have put together a list of the top reasons that we think you should consider this as your first step in real estate investment.

1. Own a Dual-Purpose Property

If you’re a first-time real estate investor, you are probably considering all the options and thinking about what’s best for you.

Buying a vacation rental home has one clear advantage: It can serve dual purposes. You can use it as a second home and spend your own vacations there with your family, and then rent it out to guests the rest of the year.

Buying an investment property for the sole purpose of renting it out long-term does not give you this option.

2. Generate Rental Income

One of the major advantages of real estate investing in general, and investing in rental properties in particular, is the fact that you gain a source of steady income.

How? Through rental income.

The idea is that you will be renting out your second home to guests when you aren’t using it. You’ll be making money without having to necessarily buy an “investment” property. After all, your vacation home is your second home. It just happens to make money on the side.

When you buy a vacation home and use it as a short-term rental, the money you make from bookings actually helps you pay the mortgage and other expenses (property tax, insurance, maintenance, and repairs) for the place where you spend your vacations.

3. Build Value through Appreciation

In addition to making money in the short run, a vacation rental home also makes money – potentially a lot of it – in the long term.

A second home is a real estate property, and real estate generally appreciates in value over time. When you are ready to sell your vacation rental property, you can usually sell it at a higher price and cash in on the profit. The best part is that you don’t have to do anything to enjoy this benefit. Natural real estate appreciation will take care of it.

If you want to make even more money when selling your property, you can make modifications and improvements to push up the market value of your vacation rental (known as forced appreciation).

4. Earn Tax Deductions

Similar to your primary home or an investment property, a second home also provides tax deductions. These apply to mortgage payments, property tax, rental income, insurance premium, utilities, and other rental expenses.

However, the situation with a vacation rental can get somewhat complicated depending on the number of days you live in your property and the number of days you rent it out to guests. So, if you decide to buy a vacation rental, we recommend that you work with a professional accountant and/or a real estate attorney to assure that you are taking maximum advantage of tax deductions without breaking any tax laws.

5. Take on Less Risk

Investing in vacation rental exposes you to lower risk than other types of real estate investment. First, vacation homes are in top tourist destinations, so you can attract lots of guests, reach high occupancy rates, and charge a high nightly rate.

The combined effect is high rental income. And rental income is how investors make money from their rental properties.

One way to reduce your risk even further is to choose a location and a property that works as either a traditional, long-term rental or as a short-term rental. If you find that you have a low occupancy rate, low rental income, and negative cash flow, you have the option to switch strategies and become a traditional landlord.

And in the worst case scenario, if a long-term rental strategy also fails to bring you a positive cash flow, you still have a second home to use with your family. This will save you the cost of renting hotels or other people’s vacation homes until your property has appreciated enough in value to sell it. After all, if your vacation rental is located in a popular destination, appreciation should not take more than a few years to kick in.

6. Learn About Real Estate

No matter how many real estate books you read or how many real estate classes you attend, you will not become an expert real estate investor until you actually buy an income property and start managing it.

Buying a vacation rental home provides you with an easy entry into the world of real estate investment because it’s often less stressful than other real estate investment strategies, such as becoming a full-time landlord, fix-and-flip, wholesaling, etc.

7. They’re Easy to Manage

While some people take on vacation rental management as a full-time job, you don’t have to do this in order to start making money in real estate. It’s feasible to make owning a vacation rental a part-time job that doesn’t take up too much of your time, especially if you use a vacation rental management service.

Management is a major concern for inexperienced investors, and it can potentially turn into a real nightmare for first-time vacation rental owners. Imagine having to clean your property, change the sheets, wash the towels, and refill the toiletries between each guest – sometimes multiple times a week – all the while working your 9-to-5 job.

Most owners don’t have time for that. Instead of handling it themselves, they’re hiring property managers or vacation rental management services to take over those time-consuming duties. Then they are free to oversee the aspects of vacation rental management they want, like talking to guests, making recommendations, and collecting rental income.

You’re interested – now what?

Investing in a vacation rental home is an easy entry point to real estate investment that provides endless opportunities to learn and carries lower risk than other options. But if you are a beginner real estate investor, you might be wondering how to go about the whole process of buying a vacation home as an investment property.

Here’s a list of the main factors you need to consider as you look for vacation rental properties:

Choose a popular location

Experts say that “location, location, and location” are the three most important factors in a successful real estate investment, and they are not mistaken. When buying a vacation rental home, choose places where other travelers – besides you and your family and friends – would enjoy. To check out some of the best places to buy a vacation home to start investing in real estate in 2018 based on data from Mashvisor, click here.

Learn local short-term rentals legislation

Regulations on short-term rentals have been tightening in many places around the U.S., so once you’ve chosen a location for buying your second home, make sure you will be allowed to use the property as a short-term rental and make sure you won’t be taxed too heavily for it.

Conduct comparative market analysis

Before buying your income property, conduct some real estate market analysis to make sure you’re not overpaying for your second home. Real estate comps are the only way to assure you can get positive cash flow from renting out your vacation home on a short-term basis.

Perform investment property analysis

Compare the rental property you’re considering buying with other vacation rentals around the area to see how you can stay competitive while making money in real estate. Predictive analytics can also help.

Mashvisor’s rental income calculator allows you to conduct all the necessary analyses you need in order to make the best real estate investment decisions quickly and easily.

More people are buying vacation rentals as their first real estate investments because it’s a sound financial decision. The demand for vacation rentals is at an all-time high and continues to grow. There’s low risk, because at the end of the day, you have a second home where you can vacation for free. And with new cost-effective vacation rental management systems, you have access to the help you maximize the return on your investment.

Daniela Andreevska is the Content Marketing Director at Mashvisor. Mashvisor helps real estate investors quickly find traditional and Airbnb investment properties.

Beachside bliss is the heart of Myrtle Beach, where over 90 golf courses, 1,800 restaurants, and hundreds of stores, amusement parks, and live entertainment options hug 60 miles of pristine coastline. 

Also known as the Grand Strand, this popular beach town consistently sees a wave of tourists every summer. According to World Population Review, an estimated 14 million visitors pass through the idyllic boardwalks and sandy shores of Myrtle Beach each year.

It’s this family-friendly destination’s unique blend of thrills, sights, and relaxation that make it a beloved vacation spot to return to year after year — which, in turn, makes it a top location to own a short-term rental property. 

To help you understand the scope of investment opportunities within this in-demand market, we created a free downloadable vacation rental market analysis ideal for prospective buyers

Inside our free report you’ll find:

Download Our Complete Myrtle Beach Vacation Rental Investment Analysis

Why Myrtle Beach Is a Great Place to Own Vacation Rental Property

From the tiny, tight-knit town of Loris to the bustling boardwalk of The Beach, the 14 unique communities of Myrtle Beach offer their own attractions, atmosphere, perks, and properties, all with access to the sandy shores of the Atlantic and mild year-round temperatures. Add in the area’s relatively low cost of living, and it’s not surprising to see why the U.S. News and World Report named Myrtle Beach the Fastest-Growing Place in the U.S. for 2021-2022. 

For vacation rental investors who are eager to enter a hot market, that makes Myrtle Beach an ideal place to be. 

While the beaches of Miami and Panama City are magnets for energetic college students, the smaller-town Southern hospitality of Myrtle Beach is more popular with East Coast families relaxing on their school breaks. According to our market analysis, Myrtle Beach has a long peak season — the surge starts building around spring break in April, and peaks during the summer vacation stretch from June through August when occupancy hits an annual high. 

But back-to-school season doesn’t mean your occupancy numbers are in trouble. Myrtle Beach continues to attract a variety of visitors thanks to its golf courses, performing arts, and restaurant scene. So no matter the time of year, there are opportunities to book many kinds of guests — especially if you know what they want in a vacation rental.

It’s also worth mentioning that, even with an influx of new residents and beachgoers, the real estate in Myrtle Beach is more affordable than many of its neighbors along the South Carolina coast. Zillow reports a median home value of $300,680 for the average home, with plenty of desirable beachfront properties available.

One of the many reasons travelers choose unique vacation rentals over a run-of-the-mill hotel chain: the built-in experiences they offer. After all, there’s a certain thrill attached to booking a cool, private home that allows you to fully tap into your best vacation self. 

Whether you want to bring the whole family or find a one-of-a-kind vacation rental for two, these unique homes will inspire a forever-talked-about adventure.

1. The Jurassic Retreat

Entrance to vacation rental jurassic retreat with brontosaurus

Just in time for the June 2022 release of Jurassic Park: Dominion, this family-friendly vacation rental is a dinosaur-lover’s dream getaway tucked into the Washington woods. Be prepared, though: you won’t have this spacious three-bedroom to yourself. You’ll share your unique vacation rental with a life-size tyrannosaurus rex, velociraptor, and triceratops! 

The modern-meets-prehistoric home also has a private hot tub, open-concept interior, and all the amenities you could ask for while journeying back in time about 65 million years.  We recommend cueing up the 75” Smart TV, so the whole gang can watch their favorite dino flicks.

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2. A Wild West Getawayy

Wild west vacation rental saloon with a wagon and bath house

Pack up the wagon and get the horses ready because we’re taking a trip to the wild, wild west. This cowboy-approved ranch in Lucerne Valley, California looks just like the set of your favorite Western movie. Staged with a rustic post office, classic barber shop, and saloon on the property, you and up to nine others can make a quaint frontier town your very own.

When you’re ready to saddle up and explore, this unique vacation rental doesn’t disappoint. The property offers off-roading adventures in the open desert, and is only a short drive from San Bernardino National Forest and Big Bear Lake. It’s your vacation, of course, so if you’d prefer to lay low under the tin roof and snuggle up next to the fireplace, we fully support that decision.

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Speaking of support: All of our homes are backed by our Rest Easy Promise that your one-of-a-kind vacation rental will be safe, clean, and ready for you and your loved ones’ arrival.

3. The “Balinese” Oasis

Floridian shoreline with thatch hut and palm trees near vacation rental

Treat yourself to an international experience without needing to stamp your passport. This tropical sanctuary on Florida’s eastern coast is loaded with spa-like amenities (hello soaking tub, tiki huts, and waterfront hammocks), making it the perfect destination for honeymoons and girls’ trips alike.   

From nearby white-sand beaches to bottlenose dolphins splashing around a lagoon, there’s also no shortage of memorable adventures right outside your door. This cool place to rent is sure to delight travelers of all types — and it never hurts to feel like you’ve traveled internationally while saving time and money.

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4. Castle in the Smokies

Vacation rental castle at night

Whether your loyalties lie with Rapunzel or you’re more of a Harry Potter fan, this regal castle makes fantasy a vacation reality. Snuggled in the majestic Smoky Mountains, you and up to 15 other guests can have uninterrupted views of Mount Le Conte — even from your private hot tub — and plenty of space to explore. (You can also enjoy nearby Gatlinburg and all it has to offer.)  Once back at home, your fortress has plenty of entertainment options, be it a game of pool, darts, foosball, or Pac-Man. No matter the activity, it’s bound to be a leveled-up experience in this unique home thanks to the majestic touches that help you royally relax.

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Not quite ready to book? Favorite your top picks now for easy reference when planning your future vacations.

5. The Cozy Dome

Geometric dome vacation rental house in woods

Embark on a one-of-a-kind vacation when you stay in this quaint dome just outside of Blanco, Texas. With room for two and the character of an above-ground hobbit home, it’s an affordable vacation rental perfect for couples or the solo traveler.

The innovative architecture is what sets this studio space apart from so many other vacation rentals — it’s like a tiny home, but with an extra pop of personality. And with a state park, winery, and lavender farm nearby, there are plenty of opportunities for adventure before returning to your snug hideaway.

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6. Riverside Shipping Container

Shipping container converted into vacation rental home

If rich history, bold character, and wide-open spaces make your list of vacation must-haves, you won’t want to miss out on this shipping container home. Family-run since 1899, the 400 acres of organic farmland give you plenty of room to roam — along with direct access to the Spring River — while the modern living space is a perfect fit for four. 

Pack your days with fun-filled activities in nearby Branson, then come back home for some incredible stargazing from the large raised deck. (You can also warm up by the fire pit during chillier seasons.)

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7. A Disney Lover’s Dream Home

Disney themed game room with bright lights in vacation rental

When it comes to family-friendly retreats, this themed vacation rental near Disney (it’s a mere 10 minutes away) stands out from the rest. With an action-packed game room, heart-warming references to your favorite characters, and space for 10, it’s the perfect accommodation for a multi-generational family adventure.

After a day full of fun in Orlando, you can take a break from the crowds and kick back in a private, screened-in swimming pool. Or, challenge your companions to a competitive game of foosball in the air-conditioned arcade. Wherever your Disney vacation ideas lead you, when staying here you’re pretty much guaranteed to make lifelong memories with the ones you love most (and Mickey Mouse, of course).

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8. A Schoolhouse Studio

Schoolhouse converted into a vacation rental

Entertain your inner history buff by making a renovated schoolhouse your vacation home base. Complete with quirky decor like old school desks and chalkboards — not to mention packed with nostalgic games like marbles and jacks — it’s an affordable vacation rental that’s certainly far from ordinary. 

And since every school session needs time for recess, it’s convenient that this West Virginia studio is located just minutes from vineyards and hiking trails. The studious traveler can also grab a book and unwind by the gas fire pit in the private backyard, making this unique home a solid A+.

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9. Cliffside Alaskan Escape

Gorgeous cliffside Alaskan vacation rental home with mountain views

With sprawling acreage and breathtaking natural surroundings, there’s nothing quite as unique as a dream-worthy villa that sits a little higher than other Alaska vacation rentals — especially when it’s literally perched on the side of a cliff.

It takes going off the grid (while still enjoying ultra-modern amenities) to new heights, too. The luxurious villa has room for nine guests, a hot tub overlooking the Alaska Range, and 22 acres ready for adventurous exploration. Just imagine: after a day of glacier hiking, you take a bayside soak while eagles soar up above. Aren’t you feeling more relaxed already?

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10. The Luxury Treehouse

Beachside luxury vacation rental treehouse with moss

Star in your own whimsical adventure when you stay in this fancy treehouse rental on Hilton Head Island. Fit for six guests, its light-filled interior and panoramic views offer a truly unique treehouse experience. Whether you’re inside cooking up a favorite meal or relaxing on the private deck, the airy architecture keeps you connected to nature throughout your stay.

You can also venture out to explore 12 miles of beaches, historic local hotspots, and a full range of good eats found in Hilton Head. Once you’re ready to slow it down, your upscale treehouse is a welcoming retreat for watching the sun set over the marsh.

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11. Ted Williams’ Former Home

Statue of Ted Williams in front of his house now vacation rental

It’s not every day that you have the opportunity to claim a Red Sox Hall of Famer’s home as your own. Ted Williams and his Vogue model wife, Dolores, previously lived in this timeless Vermont sanctuary. Filled with memorabilia from his 19-year MLB career in Boston, it’s a baseball family’s dream getaway — you can even take a seat next to Williams himself (in statue form) while the whole crew roasts marshmallows by the backyard fire. 

Of course, a trip to this unique vacation rental wouldn’t be complete without a day skiing on nearby Killington Mountain or fishing in the Connecticut River. Once back home, make time to enjoy the expansive backyard with a few rounds of catch.

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12. The Medieval Mansion

Two suits of armor and a medieval tapestry above a table with goblets in vacation rental

While the exterior of this unique home doesn’t look out of the ordinary, one step inside and you’ll be transported to the thirteenth century with rooms full of castle- and dungeon-style decor. Set just outside of Salt Lake City, it’s a vacation rental truly fit for kings and queens — there are even armor-clad knights guarding your living spaces to help you truly rest easy. 

After you unpack, take a stroll through the nearby botanical gardens or conquer the slopes of Park City. Spend your nights playing themed board games or snuggling up in the massive home theater. Braveheart, anyone?

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Looking for another medieval adventure? Consider the Castle of Joy, a fantasy-like destination in North Carolina ideal for up to eight guests.

13. A Historic Church

Interior shot of a converted church vacation rental with a living room and TV area

Centrally-located in downtown Durand, this beautifully-renovated historic church has tons of charm. With warm wood interiors, original stained glass windows, and a spiral staircase worth drooling over, the open concept floor plan (including a large loft) can fit up to 10 guests comfortably.

You’ll feel the warmth of the Wisconsin sun as it colorfully lights up your space each morning. But don’t forget to enjoy the great bars, dining, and hiking trails this charming small town has to offer as part of your ideal Midwestern vacation.

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Find the Unique Vacation Rental for You

If an exciting and memorable vacation is what you’re after, these unique vacation rentals are sure to deliver. And no matter where your inner adventurer takes you next, you can rest easy knowing your comfort is the highest priority when you book with Evolve.

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Looking for more travel inspiration? From desert escapes and luxurious getaways to family road trip itineraries and wine regions worth exploring, we have plenty of ideas to help plan your next vacation.

Hundreds of investors and second homeowners enter the vacation rental industry every day. For those who have never before taken on the responsibility, managing a short-term rental or investment property like a business is a tall task. That’s why we asked a handful of now-seasoned owners to reveal what they wish they knew when they were just getting their rental properties off the ground. 

We’ve taken their feedback and paired it with our own expertise — from managing thousands of vacation rentals across the country — to create a comprehensive list of strategic tips for first-time vacation rental owners.

In This Article:

Do Your Vacation Rental Homework
Don’t Pinch Pennies Upfront
Welcome Guests with Simple Luxury to Suit a Variety of Tastes
Let Professionals Handle the Brass Tacks
Price Your Home for Year-Round Success

Speaking of support: All of our homes are backed by our Rest Easy Promise that your one-of-a-kind vacation rental will be safe, clean, and ready for you and your loved ones’ arrival.

1. Do Your Vacation Rental Homework

From setting rates and figuring out which listing sites are best to staying in the know on vacation rental tax guidelines, there’s a wealth of knowledge first-time vacation rental owners must absorb to be successful.  Pave the way to profitability by doing your homework. When you leverage hospitality advice from experienced sources, you help avoid first-time mistakes and may expedite your journey to recurring passive income like these owners.

For an easy head start, this free, 18- page guide explains what it truly takes to successfully manage a vacation rental, and it could be the tool that accelerates your success.

2. Don’t Pinch Pennies Upfront 

When you’re just getting started with vacation rental, it’s tempting to cut corners in an effort to maximize your returns. This often takes two common forms: 

Frugality might seem like a responsible driving principle, but it forces owners to work tirelessly to generate rental income results. Ultimately, investing in your vacation rental upfront and releasing the reins of absolute control mean a simpler path to success — and more money in your pocket in the long run.

You might be thinking, “Okay. I’m on board. But what exactly will that entail?” Here’s the short of it: upgrade your vacation rental with simple luxuries, and onboard services that can take your business venture to the next level. Our next two tips will help you navigate these recommendations in more detail.

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3. Welcome Guests with Simple Luxury to Suit a Variety of Tastes

When decorating your vacation rental, it’s important to create a comfortable and convenient space for any guest to enjoy. To achieve this goal, start with a base canvas of classic, crisp lines and color palettes. Exercise design discretion and prioritize neutrality to appeal to a wide array of tastes. Incorporate subtle accents that evoke the feel of the area to position your vacation rental as an idyllic extension of the destination.

Similarly, make an investment in new, high-quality furniture when you first open your rental’s doors. The scuffed living room set you’ve had for years might be perfectly comfortable for you and your family, but it looks like wear and tear to guests.

The final step in capturing understated luxury? Keep each room well-stocked with necessities. You may be surprised by how much of a difference the right amenities and local decor can make to your rental’s success. Our free, easy-to-use vacation rental inventory checklist helps you take stock of important household items in every room.

Through big and small amenities like spices in the pantry, toiletries in every bathroom and throw blankets in the living spaces, your guests will enjoy the comforts of home in YOUR home — which is exactly what provides that kick-back-and-relax feel guests are looking for.

4. Let Professionals Handle the Brass Tacks 

Managing a profitable vacation rental on your own can be incredibly daunting. Despite the time and energy investment required, first-time owners often think, “I need to do everything myself to preserve as much of the revenue as possible.” 

But the reality is that by outsourcing some business elements to a trusted management partner, you’ll achieve a polished professionalism right out of the gate — and avoid setbacks that often accompany inexperience.

After hiring a vacation rental management service to help, owners often realize that their revenue results can significantly outweigh the rental income they’d give up in the process. And the best part: they see a return on investment faster, while doing a lot less work.

5. Price Your Home for Year-Round Success

All too often, vacation rental owners make mistakes when establishing daily rates for guests.

Some apply a flat rate to an entire calendar year, only to find their listings struggling when peak season ends and competition dwindles. Others price too high year-round, and consistently lose out to cheaper rentals nearby.

For owners who come out of the gate with the lowest prices on the market, occupancy soars—but when returns are tallied, they’ve ultimately undercut themselves, and miss out on revenue they should’ve had in hand.

There are a number of pricing strategies worth consideration when you’re first starting out in vacation rental. The key across every option is to pay attention to market data, seasonal fluctuation, and your direct competition. Be sure to measure your home against others with equivalent amenities and conveniences. And stay away from applying personal value to certain luxuries. Just because you’d pay $100 extra per night for a 3-car garage doesn’t mean your guests will see it that way.

Bottom line: a dynamic pricing strategy is crucial for achieving solid net occupancy and making top dollar on every booking. At Evolve, we’ve developed an exclusive algorithm to analyze billions of ever-changing data points and help you continuously beat out your competition. As a result, our owners see record-breaking success, earning 24% more compared to those using traditional pricing methods.

Give Your Vacation Rental a Profitable Head Start with Evolve

Whether you’re a first-timer or a highly-seasoned property owner, with the right resources and strategies under your belt, you’re sure to leave mistakes at the door — and join the ranks of the most successful vacation rental owners.

That’s why we created our free downloadable guide that’s full of all the secrets you need to truly make your home a success.

Inside you’ll find:

We’re here to help you earn more while stressing less, and are confident our professional insights and guidance can help your home shine.

Check out some of our other helpful resources:

Pour over these articles, be a sponge, and use this knowledge to empower your next steps in vacation rental success.

Known as a year-round recreational haven, there’s a never-ending conveyor belt of things to do in Park City. Skiing and mountain biking barely scrape the surface of the outdoor adventures that wait within this Rocky Mountain mecca, and the lively downtown scene packs a punch full of historic walks, fine dining, and flourishing cultural identity. 


If that sounds like your type of destination, get your trip started by booking one of our idyllic vacation rentals (the cabins here really set the scene for a memorable experience). Then create the ultimate to-do list with these top things to do in the area.

The Best Outdoor Activities in Park City 

Outdoor adventure is the name of the game in Park City. From skiing and mountain biking to living out your Olympic dreams, this historic mountain town is a sports enthusiast magnet — and these are the top activities worth trying.

man in bike gear mountain biking intensely on a mountain

1. Shred Snow and Dirt at the Best Mountain Resorts 

Originally Utah’s silver mining hub, Park City Mountain Resort has evolved into the largest ski resort in the U.S. with 7,300+ acres of skiable slopes. An annual snowfall of 365 inches (dubbed The Greatest Snow on Earth) and world-class terrain parks are just a few of the features this mega resort offers, and it’s particularly fun for families and beginner-to-intermediate skiers. 

Deer Valley Resort is another option; one that’s sure to suit your luxury-seeking side thanks to its thoughtfully designed terrain. Ranked a top ski resort in the U.S., it’s also one of just three skier-only mountains in the country. Coupled with the soft snow and convenient location near Salt Lake City, it’s no wonder it became a venue site for the 2002 Olympics. 

Of course, these resorts aren’t just for snow bunny activities — once the powder melts, both Park City and Deer Valley transform into a mountain-biking haven. With a combined 470 miles of trails, there’s plenty of singletrack, downhill, and family-friendly terrain for both novice and pro riders to shred.

2. Live Out Your Gold Medal Dreams at Utah Olympic Park 

Originally built for the 2002 Winter Olympics, Utah Olympic Park has since been transformed into a dynamic multi-use facility for both elite athletes and casual visitors. You can dive into Olympic history at the museum, watch pros train on the Nordic ski jump, or test your own skills in one of the on-site adventure activities like the Comet Bobsled and zipline course.

3. Soak Up the Sun with Another Mountain Sport…  

“The Greatest Snow on Earth” might be Park City’s biggest attraction, but summer in Park City opens up a whole new world of outdoor sports and adventures. For those looking to hit the water, Weber River is going to be your go-to for some white water rapids (consider booking a guide trip with a company like Park City Rafting). The more risk-averse travelers of the group can also get their exercise and fresh air fill by choosing from a variety of hiking options in the area. Some of the most popular hikes are listed on AllTrails, where you can find a trail that will meet your group’s fitness levels for ultimate enjoyment. Last but not least, golfers can indulge in some friendly competition at Park City Golf Course — one of the best ranked courses in the area, which offers reservations as well as lessons.

The Best Downtown Activities in Park City 

The mountains meet a mini-metropolis in downtown Park City. Hosting everything from fine dining and designer boutiques to history and local spirits, these are the must-dos that’ll keep you on your toes.

arial view of Downtown Park City with snowcapped mountains in the distance

1. Sip and Socialize at High West Distillery 

Flaunting the title of Utah’s first distillery since the American Prohibition, High West Distillery serves up small-batch, award-winning whiskeys and vodkas along with modern Western fare. But that’s not all that makes it one of a kind: High West is also the only ski-in gastro-distillery in the world — so there’s no delaying après-ski.

2. Explore Historic Main Street

If the Mountain Resort is the heart of Park City, Historic Main Street is definitely the soul. Chock-full of bars, restaurants, art galleries, nightlife, and undeniably great people-watching (keep your eyes peeled for a celebrity sighting), Main Street has a little something for everyone. For those short on time, be sure to put Wasatch Brewery for local drafts, and No Name Saloon (a legendary classic) at the top of the list. 

3. Dine Like a Local at Davanza’s 

A long-time local’s hangout, Davanza’s has served as the neighborhood watering hole since 1979. Offering everything from burgers and fries to pizzas and tacos, this restaurant has the grub you crave after carving turns or bombing singletrack all day. Pro tip: don’t miss out on the famous fry sauce!

The Best Cultural Activities in Park City 

A tiny silver mining town turned ski mecca, Park City offers a rich cultural heritage amongst its world-class adventures. Tap into the city’s softer side with these activities that’ll infuse some spirit into your itinerary.

interior view of an empty theater with red seats and people setting up the stage for a performance

1. Fall in Love with Cinema at Sundance Film Festival

Cinephile or not, the Sundance Film Festival is practically a required Park City experience. Boasting the title of largest film festival in the U.S., this 10-day spectacle — running between late January into early February — brings movie lovers from all over the world to indulge in new independent films, up-and-coming musical talent, and of course, many celebrity sightings.

2. Become a History Buff at the Park City Museum

Deep dive into Park City’s colorful past via the Park City Museum’s interactive exhibits and century-old artifacts. Be sure not to miss the city’s original basement jail, where you’ll learn the ins and outs of the mining and skiing narrative this city is known for.

3. Catch a Live Performance at the Egyptian Theater 

An iconic landmark, the Egyptian Theater has remained a staple of the Historic Main Street scene for nearly 100 years. Check out weekly live performances at this unique gathering place offering everything from drama and comedy to musicals and concerts.

Explore More of Park City, Utah 

Park City offers a rich mix of history, outdoor adventure, and downtown action, all housed within a beautiful mountain setting. To learn more about visiting — including where to find a great vacation rental to serve as your home base — check out our vacation-made-easy guide to Park City!

Rest Easy with Evolve 

The moment you book your vacation, you should start looking forward to your trip — not worrying about the little details. When you choose Evolve for your Park City vacation, you can feel confident that the home you book will live up to our standards.

Every Evolve vacation rental comes with a team of hospitality experts, and we’re here to help make your stay comfortable 24/7. To help you feel even more confident, we created our Rest Easy Promise: if a stay doesn’t match our standards, we’ll make it right.

FIND PARK CITY, UT HOMES

When sweater weather hits and everything needs a dash of pumpkin spice, you know fall has officially arrived. And in regions with the perfect blend of cooling temperatures and leafy trees, autumn announces itself with a vibrant shift from fresh greens to splashes of red, orange, yellow, and purple. 

It’s a breathtaking cycle that attracts flocks of leaf-peepers to the most colorful corners of the country. From secluded mountain peaks to sprawling city parks, we’ve picked the best places to see fall foliage in 15 tree-studded states. Follow our guide to discover scenic drives, outdoor activities, key stops, and places to stay in four distinct regions so you can catch the colors at their brightest.

Best Places for Leaf Peeping in New England

A barn nestled in a valley during fall in Vermont

As the maple leaves ignite at summer’s end, the northeast transforms into the epitome of autumn. These gorgeous states feel straight out of a storybook, offering everything from quaint towns peppered with historic buildings to local farms where you can pick your own produce.

1. Vermont 

As the nation’s leading producer of maple syrup, Vermont’s forests offer delicious benefits along with their world-renowned foliage. 

📅 When to go: Mid-September for northern Vermont; mid-October for southern

📍 Towns to visit: Stowe, Bennington, Plymouth, Woodstock

🍁 Things to do: Ride the forested zipline or gondola at Mount Mansfield; hike or bike the Mount Peg Trail System; stroll the Eshqua Bog Natural Area boardwalk.

🚗 Must-do drive: Scenic Route 100 Byway is Vermont’s “Main Street.” Its winding route through the wooded Green Mountains is a leaf peeping paradise, and there are plenty of breweries, farms, and towns to stop at along the way.

🏠 Where to stay: This picture-perfect mountain cabin in Bridgewater is the ideal group getaway — it sleeps up to 15, has a relaxing hot tub, and is close to downtown Woodstock!  

2. New Hampshire

Wear your favorite flannel in the White Mountains while seeing double the trees reflected in mirror-clear lakes.

📅 When to go: Late September for northern Vermont; mid-October for southern 

📍Towns to visit: North Conway, Franconia, Sugar Hill

🍁 Things to do: Admire the woods from the Conway Scenic Railroad; take an autumn ATV tour along the interconnected trails of Ride The Wilds.

🚗 Must-do drive: The Kancamagus Highway cuts through the White Mountain National Forest, offering views of the Swift River, waterfalls, and Rocky Gorge tucked away in the trees.

🏠 Where to stay: This secluded Conway cabin combines rustic accents with a luxurious home theater room, outdoor fireplace, and forest-side hot tub.

3. Massachusetts

Take a trip back in time to historic small towns, breathe in the bay air, and get lost in the jaw-dropping landscapes.

📅 When to go: Early- to mid-October

📍Towns to visit: Cape Cod, Lenox, Great Barrington, Concord

🍁 Things to do: Enjoy the fruits of the local trees at Berkshire Grown harvest markets; soak in the famous scenery of author Henry David Thoreau’s home at Walden Woods.

🚗 Must-do drive: The Mohawk Trail follows a former Native American trade route through the Berkshire Mountains between the dense Hudson and Connecticut River valleys.

🏠Where to stay: Look out across Lake Buel from the deck of this romantic cottage, then head out to explore nearby Great Barrington or hike a part of  the Appalachian Trail. 

Best Places for Leaf Peeping on the East Coast

Road in Massachusetts winding through the woods

Even though New England has earned its reputation as one of the best places to see fall foliage, its nearby neighbors offer equally gorgeous views. Covered in diverse terrain and never too far from metropolitan hubs, these states will have you seeing red (and orange, and yellow) come fall.

4. New York

Sugar maples are the New York State tree, so you can expect a dynamic display of colors from Long Island all the way to Upstate. 

📅 When to go: Tail-end of September through October

📍Towns to visit: Catskill, Canandaigua, Margaretville, Hudson

🍁 Things to do: Walk the The Hudson River School Art Trail that inspired landscape painters like Thomas Cole; take the Fall Sky Ride to the top of Bristol Mountain for views of the Finger Lakes; experience Adirondack fall foliage on a rafting tour through the Hudson River Gorge.

🚗 Must-do drive: New York State Route 42 has been deemed “The Notch” because of the way it cuts into the dense forests of the Catskill Mountains.

🏠 Where to stay: Gather friends and family to share 125 private acres of the Catskill Mountains in this rare retreat. Spend your days roaming the landscape, soaking in the views from the wraparound porch, or exploring nearby Margaretville.

5. Pennsylvania

Welcoming you to “Pursue Your Happiness,” Pennsylvania’s historic sites and heritage trails present its storied past in a colorful shroud of changing leaves.

📅 When to go: Early October for northern Pennsylvania; mid- to late-October for southern

📍 Towns to visit: Stroudsburg, Tobyhanna, New Hope, Wellsboro

🍁 Things to do: See fall colors from new heights while skydiving in the Poconos Mountains (or explore the same region on two feet); drive through every covered bridge on a scenic drive around town.

🚗 Must-do drive: Thanks to its unmatched views of the Allegheny National Forest, Pennsylvania’s Route 6 was named “one of America’s most scenic drives” by National Geographic and connects 400 miles of small towns and wondrous sights.

🏠 Where to stay: Bring the whole family (including the pup!) to this kid- and pet-friendly cabin on Pocono Lake, complete with community perks like a clubhouse, beach access, and tennis courts.

6. Maryland

Head west from the crab-catching capital of Chesapeake Bay to discover a rainbow of fall colors in the lush nearby forests.

📅 When to go: Early- to mid-October

📍 Towns to visit: Oakland, Ocean City, Anapolis

🍁 Things to do: Time your trip for the annual Autumn Glory Festival in mid-October, a five-day celebration of the changing leaves that includes craft markets, fall foliage driving tours, and a parade. 

🚗 Must-do drive: Chesapeake & Ohio Canal follows the Potomac River through the state and gives you the opportunity to admire the scenery from your car, a boat, and canoe.

🏠 Where to stay: Escape to your private piece of the forest at this cozy lodge just outside Oakland. Whether you wander through two acres of woods or venture to four state parks, all are within 10 minutes of your rental.

Best Places for Leaf Peeping in the Midwest 

View of Split Rock Lighthouse in Minnesota, surrounded by fall foliage

Before winter covers the trees in notorious amounts of snow, the abundant wooded lands of the Midwest offer a bounty of places to see fall foliage. Autumn begins a bit earlier in these states, so plan ahead before the season snowballs into freezing temperatures.

7. Michigan

With over half of the state being covered in trees, you won’t have to look far to find breathtaking fall foliage here. 

📅 When to go: Mid-September to early October in the Upper Peninsula; late September to late October for the Lower Peninsula

📍 Towns to visit St. Ignace, Traverse City, Port Huron

🍁 Things to do: Awe in the majesty of woods and water at Tahquamenon Falls; hop in a hot air balloon to soak in the sunrise over the leaves; drink in the apple orchards at local cider mills.

🚗 Must-do drive: M-25 whisks you along Michigan’s “thumb” coast for a tour of resort towns, scenic overlooks, beaches, and forested parks.

🏠 Where to stay: Step out onto the dock of this cozy cottage in Traverse City to admire the panoramic views across from your own private beach. With room for six, it’s a getaway worth sharing.

8. Wisconsin

From the deep woods of the north to the rolling hills of the Driftless south, Wisconsin’s diverse landscape offers a mishmash of leaf-peeping opportunities. 

📅 When to go: Early- to mid-October

📍 Towns to visit: Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin Dells, Mercer

🍁 Things to do: Summit the limestone cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment for amazing tree-to-shore views; hike the tree-covered hills of Devil’s Lake National Park; visit the majestic Northwoods in time to see the loons migrate south. 

🚗 Must-do drive: Wisconsin Lake Superior Byway hugs the southern shoreline of Lake Superior and the Bayfield Peninsula, known for its Apple Festival.

🏠 Where to stay: Tucked away in a grove of trees, this spacious Wisconsin Dells home has accommodations for 13 guests. Fix yourself a drink at the wet bar and bask in the surrounding trees from the comfort of the fire pit and screened porch.

9. Minnesota

Make your way through forested trails and winding waterways to hit all of the best places to see fall foliage in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

📅 When to go: Mid-September for northern Minnesota; mid-October for southern

📍 Towns to visit: Brainerd, Grand Marais, Ely

🍁 Things to do: Marvel at the brilliant paper birches and aspens of the Lake Superior Forest; explore hundreds of miles of the Paul Bunyan Trail on foot, bike, and ATV; see the clear waters of Lake Superior pop against the colorful forest from the top of the Sawtooth Mountains.

🚗 Must-do drive: Minnesota River Valley Scenic Byway meanders along the Minnesota River through six vibrant state parks and a variety of historic sites. 

📅 📍🍁 🚗🏠Where to stay: Live your best lake life at this sunny and open cabin just north of Brainerd. With colorful scenery and a shared dock, it has everything you need for a weekend on the water with your favorite fishing buddies.

Best Places for Leaf Peeping in the West 

Alberta Falls in Estes Park, Colorado during the fall season

Across the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Coast, the autumn landscape is aglow with golden aspens. Whether you’re most comfortable holding a walking stick or a glass of Cabernet, these states of the wooded West provide a leaf-filled backdrop to your favorite activities.

10. Washington

Hidden gems await within Pacific Coast beaches, sage-covered hills, and of course, colorful trees.

📅 When to go: Mid-September to mid-October

📍 Towns to visit: Seattle, Bellingham, Oyster Dome

🍁 Things to do: Explore the gorgeously curated botanical gardens and parks of Seattle; discover relics of the logging industry in the old growth of Snoqualmie National Forest; peer down from scenic viewpoints of the San Juans and Skagit flats.

🚗 Must-do drive: Chuckanut Drive Scenic Byway you between the tree line of the Chuckanut Mountains and the white sand of the bay.

🏠 Where to stay: This remodeled A-frame cabin will make you feel like you’re in a fairytale. Nestled into the magical woods outside Olympic National Forest, the lofted home with room for four even features its own tiny treehouse!

11. California

In a state that’s big enough to be split into 12 distinct regions, fabulous fall colors can be spotted near coasts, valleys, mountains, lakes, and just about every other kind of natural feature. 

📅 When to go: Mid-October for high elevations; late October for lower elevations

📍 Towns to visit: Lake Tahoe, Napa, Mammoth Lakes

🍁 Things to do: Celebrate the Alpine Aspen Festival in Hope Valley; watch the grape leaves change hue while tasting their harvest in a renowned wine country.

🚗 Must-do drive: State Route 89 connects Lake Tahoe to June Lake with mountain views, national forests, and glimmering waters along the way.

🏠Where to stay: Stunning Sierra Nevada views greet you from all directions in this modern mountainside yurt. Zen vibes meet modern convenience in the heart of the Eldorado National Forest, where hikes, lakes, and resort towns await in all directions of this South Lake Tahoe stay.

12. Colorado

Before wintertime skiers hit the slopes, head to high elevations and soak in the perfect combination of mountain majesty and exquisite fall foliage.

📅 When to go: Mid-September to early October

📍 Towns to visit: Aspen, Estes Park, Steamboat Springs

🍁 Things to do: Play among the aspens at the Lost Forest rope course; hike high-elevation trails at the massive Rocky Mountain National Park; spot tree-dwelling creatures at the North Star Nature Preserve.

🚗 Must-do drive: San Juan Skyway winds through popular mountain towns while providing stunning views of massive aspen groves.

🏠 Where to stay: Unleash your inner mountaineer in this homey log cabin found 15 miles outside of Aspen. Listen to the rushing creek from your porch swing or take your fishing pole to the nearby Roaring Fork and Frying Pan Rivers to catch some dinner.

Best Places for Leaf Peeping in the South

Fall views of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina

You may not think of The South as one of the best places to see fall foliage, but as the sweltering summer heat makes way for the milder fall, their trees change shades as brilliantly as anywhere else (though it does happen a bit later in the season). Bonus: since it may not be top-of-mind for most tree tourists, you’ll have more space and peace to enjoy the sights for yourself.

13. North Carolina

Discover small towns with gorgeous hikes, delicious food, and inspiring art nestled into the Great Smoky and Blue Ridge Mountains.

📅 When to go: Mid-October to early November

📍 Towns to visit: Asheville, Bryson City, Highlands

🍁 Things to do: Marvel at over 100 tree species in the Blue Ridge Mountains; take the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad on a scenic tour; enjoy music, quilting, food, and fun at the annual Harvest Festival the third weekend in October.

🚗 Must-do drive: Blue Ridge Parkway rambles through the mountainside, with spectacular views of Linville Gorge and Mount Mitchell. With an intentionally slower speed limit, you’ll have extra time to spot every little leaf.

🏠Where to stay: You don’t even need to step outside to take in the spectacle of the Smoky Mountains from every corner of this romantic Bryson City hideaway. Breathe in the mountain air from the screened-in porch and discover a new detail in the surrounding forests every time you look out the window.

14. Georgia

Even miles from the coastline, Georgia’s wildlife is never too far from the water. Dip your feet in a lake, hear the roar of a waterfall, and watch the reflections of the leaves.

📅 When to go: Early- to mid-November

📍 Towns to visit: Dahlonega, Blue Ridge, Tallulah Falls

🍁 Things to do: Saddle up at a local ranch for a horseback tour of the Appalachian Trail; try your hand at geocaching in the Blue Ridge Mountains; hear the roar of Tallulah Gorge’s six waterfalls echo through the forest. 

🚗 Must-do drive: Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway is wrapped in the gorgeous vistas of the Chattahoochee National Forest.

🏠Where to stay: Head to the hills just south of Blue Ridge to the privacy of this open-concept cabin. Spend your time on the wraparound porch, soaking in the mountain views and the hot tub jets.

15. Tennessee

After visiting the leaf-filled mountains that inspired Dolly Parton in her youth, you’ll be singing about their beauty to everyone you know.

📅 When to go: Late October to late November

📍 Towns to visit: Gatlinburg, Franklin, Chattanooga

🍁 Things to do: Take a fall color cruise across the Tennessee River Gorge on the Southern Belle Riverboat, complete with live narration.

🚗 Must-do drive: Cherohala Skyway takes you on a “ride above the clouds” through the Cherokee National Forest.

🏠 Where to stay: This secluded Smoky Mountain A-frame is ready for your family adventure. With access to community amenities like tennis courts, a pool, game room, and playground, there’s plenty to do just around the corner or a few miles away in Gatlinburg.

Rest Easy While Catching the Changing Colors

After chasing the fleeting fall hues, you’ll want to arrive at a home that’s as vibrant as those autumn leaves. That’s why every stay on our site is backed by our Rest Easy Promise that your vacation rental will always be safe, clean, and ready for you and your family.

If you want to create a bucket-list itinerary for every season of the year, be sure to check out our other travel blogs that are sure to spark your wanderlust. From the best places to stargaze and must-see roadside attractions to tiny houses worth visiting and dreamy desert vacations, there’s a full spectrum of incredible getaways waiting to dazzle you.

2Beach vacations have long been an American pastime, and vacation rentals have been emerging as the ideal hosts. At these waterfront properties, travelers can cook their fresh catches in spacious kitchens, fall asleep to the sound of crashing waves, and sink their toes in the sand as soon as they step out of their rental properties.

But the coronavirus pandemic reshaped most aspects of American life, including travel, so demand for wide-open spaces and sprawling beaches is more popular than ever. Travelers are heading to beaches and national parks en masse, which can lead to increased bookings and higher profits for those who own nearby properties. 

Plus, as the vacation rental industry flourishes — it’s projected to see market growth of $62.7 billion between now and 2024 — there’s widespread appeal for short-term property investment in coastal communities. 

All of this is why now is the time to consider buying a beach house vacation rental. From the craggy coastlines in Oregon to the sun-soaked shores of Florida, here are the best beach towns to buy an investment property in the next year.

How We Chose the Best Places to Buy an Investment Property

The By the Numbers data below is based on a combination of proprietary and public data, but the three main metrics we took into account are:

We also evaluated a property’s potential to outperform market expectations with an Evolve partnership. Below, you’ll see The Evolve Difference, showcasing how we helped some of our top beach house homeowners maximize income in each area, resulting in them significantly surpassing the market’s projected revenue.

1. Surfside Beach, Texas

The secret’s already out about the popularity of Galveston vacation rentals, but nearby Surfside Beach is a smaller, quieter stretch of sand and surf in the Lone Star State that’s rightfully gaining attention as an alternative Gulf Coast vacation destination. 

The best part about investing in this slightly lesser-known area: the comparatively low home prices. The beach town also has a 10.5 percent cap rate, which is the ratio between a property’s net income and its market value — a key measure of success that can indicate your return on investment. 

Our Real Estate Services (RES) experts say Surfside Beach is also a big draw for nearby city dwellers looking for an easy-to-reach beach escape, which can help keep your rental booked year-round. Houstonians can get to the beach in an hour, while Surfside is a doable weekend trip for those in other major metros like Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin. 

2. Traverse City, Michigan

Surrounded by port towns, lighthouses, and rolling dunes, this scenic Michigan city nabbed the second spot on our list as it’s a Midwest vacation magnet. 

Along with its spectacular beaches (and there are a lot both big and small to explore), Traverse City has earned the reputation of being the “Cherry Capital of the World” and is gaining recognition as an up-and-coming wine destination. It also has prime  leaf-peeping opportunities in autumn, and vacationers often visit come winter to glide through Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on snowshoes. 

Of course, it’s smart to stock your vacation rental with beach-friendly amenities that’ll help your home stand out to booking travelers. But our RES team also recommends finding a property that has amenities you can use year-round, like a fire pit. (If the home doesn’t have those amenities, you’ll want to look for opportunities to add value by bringing them in.)

3. Murrells Inlet, South Carolina

Once a hideout for the infamous pirate Blackbeard, Murrells Inlet remains full of treasures for outdoors lovers. It’s an immerse-yourself-in-nature destination where travelers can kayak, birdwatch, harvest oysters, or charter a deep sea fishing excursion, then cap off the day with live music at a waterfront restaurant along the MarshWalk

Murrells Inlet also neighbors Myrtle Beach, a close runner-up on our list of best places to buy a beach home. But with an 8 percent cap rate — double that of Myrtle Beach’s — it stands out as a top investment area that offers vacation-goers all the same beach fun.

4. Cape Coral, Florida

Cape Coral lands in the fourth spot on our list of best places to buy a beach house and ninth on our overall list of where to buy a vacation rental property because of its appeal to a wide variety of travelers. 

Along with the scenic Gulf Coast beaches, Cape Coral has lush golf courses and kid-friendly attractions like the Sun Splash Family Waterpark. It’s also a top boating and fishing destination, and is teeming with canals boasting more than 400 miles of beautiful waterfront property. 

Of course, high HOA fees can often be a deterrent to Florida investors. But our RES experts say Cape Coral remains an area without heavy regulation, so you won’t have to cut through a bunch of red tape before seeing a solid ROI on your income property.

5. Ocean Shores, Washington

With a long stretch of peaceful beaches and shorelines that disappear into the horizon, Ocean Shores is a gem in the Pacific Northwest that appeals to travelers looking to avoid crowds. An ideal basecamp for day trips to Olympic National Park, tourists can gawk at the glacier-capped mountains and recharge in the Hoh Rainforest, which is billed as the quietest spot in the United States. 

That level of peace and quiet can also appeal to remote workers, as scenic destinations like Ocean Shores are becoming more popular even in shoulder seasons. Look for properties that can be tailored to suit a variety of travelers, like families, business travelers, and those vacationing with pets. Once you have your home, adding low-cost amenities like beach blankets, hiking guides, and board games can help your rental shine.

6. Newport, Oregon 

With 363 miles of Oregon coastline, this scenic Pacific Northwest stretch is filled with public beaches, tucked-away coves, and coastal hiking trails that wind through old-growth forests. Over the decades, though, Newport has also solidified its reputation as a favorite beach along the coast thanks to its quirky tourist attractions, historic lighthouses, and photo-worthy landmarks like the Yaquina Bay Bridge.  

Our RES team says decks and patios are in high demand in Oregon coast rentals, as vacation-goers love witnessing the moody beaches from sunrise to sunset. Bonus: while Newport median revenue hovers around $29,000 annually, we’ve seen Evolve owners earn more than $50,000 in the same timeframe.

7. Gulf Shores, Alabama

With turquoise waters and sugary white sands, this picturesque Alabama beach destination has a long tradition of bringing families together for vacations year after year. Together, Gulf Shores and its next-door neighbor, Orange Beach, boast 32 miles of shoreline, translating to highly sought-after waterfront properties.

To make sure you nab a profitable one, our RES team says to work with a local realtor who can help you best understand what amenities your HOA dues will cover. Pools hold a lot of appeal for travelers, as they like to move towels from the sandy shores to shaded pool decks — so finding a home with that amenity will serve you well.  

Our RES experts also say investors fare well here because travelers tend to book long stays along Alabama’s southern coast, oftentimes vacationing for more than a week. Long stays mean less turnover (and associated costs to bring in cleaning and service crews), so you’re likely to keep more money in your pocket.

8. Lahaina, Hawaii

Once a historic whaling village in the mid-1800s, this Maui vacation destination remains a National Historic Landmark and is a spectacular basecamp for those exploring the Hawaiian island. Sun seekers who come here can swim in the freshwater pools at Haleakalā National Park, witness otherworldly lava formations in ʻIao Valley State Park, or time a trip from November to May to try and spot a breathtaking whale migration

While homes are expensive to buy in Lahaina — the median listing price hovers around $787,000 — and many parts of Hawaii have expensive HOAs with strict regulations, that shouldn’t deter investors who really want to buy a beach property in Hawaii. Median annual revenue dances in the $48,000 range, and some Evolve owners have brought in nearly $72,000 annually. (Not to mention, buying here means you have your own Hawaii beach house ready for personal use whenever you please.) 

More great news: our RES experts say two-bedroom vacation homes perform well in Lahaina, so you don’t necessarily have to purchase a sprawling property if you’re on the lookout for something more affordable. You can also partner with local, Evolve-vetted real estate agents to navigate HOA regulations and find a property that can excel in the vacation rental market.

9. Ocean City, Maryland

Clean beaches and a bustling boardwalk with twinkling carnival lights bring travelers to this iconic beach city along the Atlantic Coast every summer. But it’s important to note that, while those blue crab-slinging waterfront restaurants and adrenaline-pumping amusement park rides offer tons of family-friendly excitement, Ocean City also has an equally-as-appealing quieter side. 

The beach destination boasts serene golf courses and is just 20 miles from the Assateague Island National Seashore, offering opportunity for travelers to watch wild ponies roam and comb the white sand beaches for seashells. 

To maximize on an investment in this quintessential summer destination, our RES team recommends using the slower off-season to do maintenance upgrades on your property that entice travelers to book. It’s also helpful to prioritize projects around outdoor space — like creating an al fresco dining area with grills, or adding yard games for guest use — as those coming to beach towns often want to spend as much time as they can breathing in that fresh, salty air.

10. Destin, Florida

Destin is postcard-perfect with its teal waters and powdery white sand beaches. Located along the Emerald Coast where Florida’s Panhandle greets the Gulf of Mexico, this sun-soaked playground has a knack for drawing multi-generation families for vacations. 

For this reason, our RES team says spacious vacation rentals (usually those with around six rooms) tend to net the highest ROI in this beach town. That’ll serve as the home base for travelers craving an array of adventure — Destin has everything from snorkeling and deep sea fishing excursions to a bustling boardwalk and excellent shopping.

11. Bethany Beach, Delaware

A well-kept boardwalk and pristine shorelines help Bethany Beach earn a coveted spot on our best places to buy a beach house list, despite it being a lesser-known escape (for now). This quaint and quiet mid-Atlantic enclave has everything you’d want in a beach town — from bike and surf shops to farmers markets and movies on the sand — without the crazy beach crowds.  

A strong inventory of luxury properties drive up the median home price to nearly $700,000 in this small beach town, so buying here does require a large upfront investment. But our RES team says finding property with close access to the beach or a private pool or hot tub can help you hit your occupancy goals and see a return on investment faster.

12. Cape Cod, Massachusetts 

You may know this charming Northeastern summer vacation town for its clam shacks, lighthouses, and rolling sand dunes. But there’s so much more to discover here, which is why travelers book lengthy summer vacations in Cape Cod, staying an average of five days in the high season and booking nearly three months in advance.

Average home prices hover in the $570,000 range, and unsurprisingly, our RES experts say those with private beaches, porches, and ocean views are the ones to seek out in your house-hunting journey. You could also look into adding beach-friendly amenities, like beach chairs, towels, and coolers to up the convenience factor for guests and likelihood of them leaving a five-star review.

Take the Next Step with Evolve

Investing in a vacation rental property is a personal decision, but you don’t have to navigate your options alone. Whether you’re drawn to one of our tried-and-true beach towns or enticed by the untapped potential of a lesser-known up-and-comer, our Real Estate Services team can help you take the next step.

We have the data to contextualize your investment opportunities and define your objectives, preferred local real estate agents who specialize in vacation rental purchases, and an arsenal of management tools to help you reach your personal and financial goals once you’ve closed on your short-term rental property and are ready to jumpstart your business.

For additional research, here are some resources to help you better understand the potential of vacation rental investment:

Now that you’re ready to talk about purchasing the home of your dreams, let’s get the conversation started today.

There’s something magical about relaxing under a starry night sky. 

But it’s rare to find places with so little light pollution that you can truly enjoy the expanse of the Milky Way and all its constellations — particularly if you’re not interested in pitching a tent or trekking with the masses to big-name dark sky sites like Death Valley National Park or Big Bend National Park. 

That’s why we’ve created a list of the best places to stargaze in the U.S. that don’t require you to go too far off the beaten path. These destinations are all certified International Dark Sky Parks, but are still easily-accessible from nearby towns. It’s the perfect way to enjoy the best of both worlds: the clearest, darkest skies with a comfy and convenient home base.

1. Flagstaff National Monuments 

Located in: Coconino County, AZ

Established to preserve the majesty of natural landmarks and protect archeological sites, the Walnut Canyon National Monument, Sunset Crater National Monument, and Wupatki National Monument are dark sky heavyweights. Grouped together as the Flagstaff National Monuments, they earned a singular Dark Sky Park designation in 2016, thanks in part to Flagstaff’s progressive legislation to prevent light pollution in the area. 

Visitors to these southwestern monuments can see a glittering dome of stars expand around breathtaking red rock formations. Guided night hikes and art by starlight parties run throughout the year, and lucky guests might even get to see a meteor shower. (Visit between April 19 and May 28 to catch this celestial event!) 

Where to Stay Nearby

This rustic-chic Flagstaff cabin sleeps up to 12, making it perfect for a group getaway. You can get stunning mountain views during the day, then sneak a preview of the dark skies you’re after from an Adirondack chair on the expansive wrap-around deck. 

SEE MORE FLAGSTAFF HOMES

2. Joshua Tree National Park 

Located in: San Bernardino County, CA

Everyone knows Joshua Tree National Park is a daytime must-see on a trip to Palm Springs, but it truly lights up at night as the International Dark-Sky Association calls it the “last pool of natural darkness remaining in Southern California.” 

Those who venture out after dark can experience the glow of the Milky Way unobstructed. While visitors are free to explore the park at night without guidance, star parties, astronomy lectures, and guided ranger tours are also available for those seeking a little education-building alongside their stargazing activities. 

Where to Stay Nearby

Add a splash of color to your desert getaway when you book this vibrant bungalow located just five miles from Joshua Tree National Park. You can get cozy around the backyard fire pit before and after your Milky Way adventure.

SEE MORE JOSHUA TREE HOMES

3. Buffalo National River

Located in: Marion County, AR 

As the very first National River in the U.S., the Buffalo River received a one-of-a-kind International Dark Sky Park designation in 2019. A lush watering hole for outdoorsy travelers and locals alike, this scenic spot winds through Northern Arkansas and has misty coves, stunning cliff faces, and peaceful waterfalls. 

Twinkling constellations rise over the trees to give the Buffalo National River true storybook status at night. To celebrate the area’s impressive dark skies, the National Parks Service (NPS) offers a number of educational ranger-led programs. They also team up with local astrological societies to host star parties throughout the year

Where to Stay Nearby

This quiet hideaway in Flippin, Arkansas provides an ideal home base for a more remote retreat. Rolling acreage right outside your door means little light pollution, so you’ll be able to enjoy sweeping views of the Ozarks and the skies above right from your spacious deck. 

SEE MORE FLIPPIN HOMES

Make Your Stargazing Adventure a Reality with Evolve

While exploring dark sky sites is most of the fun, having a comfy and convenient homebase could make or break your vacation. Our Rest Easy Promise helps you stay in the moment and travel without surprises (except for the occasional shooting star!). 

FIND YOUR PERFECT HOME

If stargazing is only the start of your bucket list adventures, be sure to check out our other travel blogs that’ll give you all sorts of vacation-planning ideas. From the best small towns in America and family road trip ideas to our favorite hygge cabins and renowned wine regions, an abundance of memorable getaways await.

There is a beautiful comfort to winter. We set our stresses aside to build snowmen in the yard, sing around the piano, unwrap thoughtful treasures, and make rich new memories. The season for holiday travel is upon us, and this year, we’re celebrating the Danish art of coziness, otherwise known as hygge (pronounced hoo-gah). 

Hygge is a feeling of coziness and connection — but in order to achieve that feeling, you need the right scenery. Read on to learn the key elements to achieving hygge by way of our unique home rentals and explore ideas for your winter vacation.

“Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and allow ourselves to let our guard down.”

Meik Wiking

Cozy Homes That Connect With Nature

Nature has a way of reminding us of our inner worlds, welcoming us to slow down and put our devices away. We’re able to relax more, breathe in the fresh air, and delight in our surroundings — an integral part of hygge living. This retreat in Saxapahaw, North Carolina is a wonderful example of a cozy home, with giant windows that peer into the forest and a rustic, crafted design.

Cabin with large windows in Saxapahaw, NC
Welcoming woodsy vacation rental in Saxapahaw, NC
Dining room table, living room furniture, and chandelier in home with wood panels
Chic modern mountain getaway in Winthrop, WA

Another place that has just the right setup for indulging in quality time together is this luxury getaway in Winthrop, Washington, which immerses you in 360-degree mountain and river views. With plenty of snug seating nooks, a wood interior that brings the outside in (a big part of hygge design, according to HGTV), and an open layout, you can keep the conversation and the cocoa flowing.

Honorable Mention: This Montana cabin rental lets you watch wildlife from your window, just a short drive from Yellowstone. Massive windows look out into the landscape, and it’s perfect for two guests. Some of the most hygge places are known for being small (and if you own a small home, The Spruce has some hygge style tips here).

Hygge Living Tip: Turn on soft music that makes you feel calm. Then, find yourself a spot by the window and curl up with a classic book and a hot beverage.

Cozy Homes With A Fire

Thoughtful lighting contributes to evenings filled with soft laughter, movie nights tucked under blankets, and meals that linger. When a fireplace is crackling, our mood lifts and we feel at peace. This cozy A-frame cabin nestled in the Colorado mountains has a wood-burning fireplace and a dinner table looking straight into the scenery. Part of the magic of hygge is working on something together, like throwing logs over the fire as a soup simmers on the stove.

Gray couch and wood coffee table inside A-Frame cabin
Enchanting A-Frame in Leadville, CO
Wood cabin with large windows facing the forest in Gatlinburg, TN
Cozy cabin in Gatlinburg, TN

This Gatlinburg mountain home also comes with the fireplace of holiday dreams, circled by plush leather furniture arranged for conversation. While sprawling in size, this place offers many places to come together and bond. Spend winter days relishing the views from a hot tub, then dive into a game of pool together at night inside the warmth of the wood interior.

Hygge Living Tip: Bake something together. Hygge celebrates things that are lovingly worn-in, much like the cookie recipe that’s been in the family for years. If you need inspiration, check out this roundup of Scandi comfort food recipes from Brit+Co.

Cozy Homes With A Soft and Light Interior

Hygge homes tend to feature white furnishings, soft textures, and modern open layouts that invite conversation (Apartment Therapy describes the style as having an uplifting ambience). Take this upscale Topton, North Carolina home, for example. It feels completely free of clutter, sets you right over a serene lake, and is draped in sheepskin and blankets. Make new traditions by the fire here while the aroma of nutmeg and mulling cider fills the house.

Sitting area in modern wood cabin
Eclectic, modern retreat in Topton, NC
Sophisticated farmhouse-style getaway in Bloomington, IN

This Bloomington, Indiana home is all charm and it is fit for a memorable small family holiday. Bring your pet along and watch the snow fall as you bake cookies, humming along to your favorite holiday classics. The light interior makes it easy to settle in, and enchanting bistro lights dotting the outside of the home add holiday charm. 

Hygge Living Tip: Bring a question or memory to discuss over the dinner table — or share a few things you’re grateful for before digging in.

HOW TO HYGGE AT HOME

Not traveling? No problem. Here are a few ways to try out some hygge ideas right from home this season.

“LIGHT” FLAMELESS CANDLES: When it comes to hygge, lighting is everything. Candles can make your home feel like a different world — and flameless candles are an easy, safe way to keep the aesthetic for hours. You can also achieve a similar effect with fairy lights, as referenced in this article from Buzzfeed.

BRING OUT SOFT TEXTURES: Hygge is all about texture. The physical feeling of something soft and comfortable lends itself to cozy experiences and conversations. Treat yourself to a new sweater or a hand-knit throw. Bonus points if it’s handmade or a family heirloom, since hygge celebrates items and pieces with a story behind them. 

DECORATE WITH PLANTS: Inviting the outside in is a key element to a hygge setting, and one of the simplest ways to do this is with plants. Houseplants like succulents or Pothos will do the trick, but it’s also the perfect season to bring home a real tree. 

SET UP A “HYGGEKROG”: You read that right. A hyggekrog is a small reading nook perfect for unfolding a new book, ideally near a window. Remove all clutter, round up the blankets, add a soft cushion, and make sure you’ve got a view. 

HOST A SMALL DINNER PARTY: Have two to four friends over for dinner and cook something new together. Be sure to choose a stew or something that takes a while to simmer and creates a lovely fragrance.

ENGAGE, WITHOUT TECHNOLOGY: Set your phones aside and dive into real conversations. Ask your family or friends questions about their lives, play a board game, read a book out loud and discuss the plot, or try out a winter craft together. 

Want even more tips on how to make your own home cozier? Check out this how-to article on how to master the concept of hygge from Dwell. And if you’re looking for a destination that’s cozy in itself, you’ll want to read our travel guide to the most charming small towns in America

COZY HOME RENTALS FOR YOUR HOLIDAY TRAVEL

Find the perfect cozy rental for your holiday travel — knowing that it’ll be professionally cleaned and ready for your arrival. Our Rest Easy Promise helps you stay in the moment together and lets you travel without surprises (except for what you’ve gifted each other). 

Be sure to check out The Little Book of Hygge for more ideas on how to celebrate the season.

Find Your Hygge Home

There’s a reason that Winter Park has been named Colorado’s Top Adventure Town by Elevation Outdoors. It draws crowds to its alfresco scene year-round, home to world-class skiing, mountain biking, fishing and hiking. There’s truly an adventure for everyone in “Colorado’s Playground.” 

In winter months, you can plow through fluffy powder at Winter Park Ski Resort and sled your heart out at Fraser Tubing Hill. When the cold departs, biking and hiking trails — along with photo-worthy wildflower fields — reveal themselves from beneath the blanket of melting snow.

For a truly elevated Winter Park visit, book a vacation rental steps away from the chairlifts or tucked away in an aspen forest. Coziness is key for enjoying the ultimate Rocky Mountain retreat.

Shred the Slopes at Winter Park Resort

Skiers on lift in winter apparel

Winter Park Resort and its sister mountain, Mary Jane Mountain, serve as the town’s mainstay anchors, dominating the skyline as you descend into Fraser Valley. From smooth groomers to steep black diamonds, the mountains’ diverse terrain offers ski slopes designed for both the novice and seasoned skier alike. 

Even more adventure can be found at Winter Park’s Railyard Terrain Park, home to a number of jumps, jibs, and rails perfect for both skiing and snowboarding. New to snow sports? Winter Park features a remarkable ski school available for both kids and adults, so you can shake off those first-time nerves and get to practicing your turns.

Enjoy Year-Round Adventures: Mountain Bike, Hike, and Snowmobile

From downhill mountain biking to adventurous snowmobiling, Winter Park has a plethora of outdoor experiences in store for you, no matter the time of year. Visiting during the heart of winter? Include a dog-sledding trip with Dog Sled Rides of Winter Park and a snowmobiling excursion (guided or unguided) with Grand Adventures in your trip itinerary. For more laidback winter days, head to the hills of Fraser Tubing Hill or Coca Cola Tubing Hill at Winter Park for adrenaline-fueled descents down steep, snowy lanes, quickly followed by a hot cocoa in the warming station.

Those who prefer warm weather to the cold will love Winter Park’s vast hiking trails that wind deep into the Rocky Mountains. Berthoud Pass and the James Peak Wilderness are two of the most popular high-elevation trails, but for more recommendations (plus important safety information) you can check out Hiking In Winter Park

Mountain bikers can keep the good times rolling on the trails of Trestle Bike Park. Grab a lift ticket, rent a bike, and take a class if needed before diving head first down the 40 miles of gravity-fed dirt.

Après Ski on Winter Park’s Main Street

Main Street shops and restaurants in Winter Park, CO

There are those who come to ski and those who come to après ski — thankfully, Winter Park offers the best of both worlds. Prop up your skis (and your feet) for evening refreshments on Main Street. Hernando’s Pizza Pub, Deno’s Mountain Bistro and The Ditch on 40 are classic haunts for after-skiing eats and drinks, while Tabernash Tavern (just up the road) treats your palate to international culinary entrees and an extensive wine list.

Thirsty? We thought so. Grab a cold brew at one of Winter Park’s many breweries like Hideaway Park Brewery and Big Trout Brewing Company. Or, lift your spirits at Idlewild, offering everything from locally made whiskey and gin to rum and vodka.

Take a Day Trip Through Grand County

While Winter Park features a lifetime of adventure, don’t miss out on the rest of Grand County’s spectacular sights. Within Grand County, Colorado, you’ll find several quaint mountain towns and a myriad of outdoor destinations. 

A quick drive up Highway 40 brings you to Granby, home to family-owned Granby Ranch. Here, the skiing is beginner-friendly, the panoramic views are unparalleled, and summer nights never seem to end.

The valley transforms into an oasis as you make your way north into Grand Lake, an idyllic destination for hiking, paddle-boarding, and boat tours. Additionally, the area is known as the ‘Western Gateway’ to Rocky Mountain National Park, which is truly a sight to behold. 

Farther west, discover the Rocky Mountain spa paradise of Hot Sulphur Springs. This small mountain town features Gold Medal Waters for fly fishing, along with 23 thermal pools that line the Colorado River. Rejuvenate sore quads in the natural hot springs before making your way back to your Winter Park vacation rental.

Get Your Winter Park Visitors Guide

From its snow-covered mountains to its small, ski-town charm, Winter Park has all of your mountain-retreat desires covered. For more details on visiting the area and discovering something you love, order the visitors guide here: Get your free Winter Park Visitors Guide

Rest Easy with an Evolve Vacation Rental

Patio with brown round table and chairs in a Winter Park, CO vacation home

The moment you book your vacation, you should start looking forward to your trip — not worrying about the little details. When you choose Evolve for your Winter Park vacation rental, you can feel confident that the home you book will live up to our standards.

Every Evolve vacation rental you book comes with a team of hospitality experts, and we’re here to help make your stay more comfortable 24/7. To help you feel even more confident, we created The Rest Easy Promise: if a stay doesn’t match our standards, we’ll make it right.

Find Winter Park vacation rentals you can count on.

The U.S. has an estimated 15 million skiers, who every year flock to the mountains in droves.

For prospective vacation rental owners searching for homes in popular ski towns, the draw of busy winter months is quite enticing. Many are looking to purchase a property before the slopes get lively, and stand to achieve impressive returns with the right investment.

And the interest from potential buyers often goes beyond investment value. Not only are they able to offset their mortgage by renting out their ski vacation home, but they fall in love with the idea of having a second home in a great ski destination because they, too, can enjoy visiting whenever they please.

So, what’s the catch? There are a number of often-overlooked factors to consider on the journey to vacation rental property perfection. Ski seasonality, limited inventory, and competitive list prices frequently deter homeowners from making the ROI they expect.

But fear not. Whether you’re looking for the honest truth about classic markets or hoping to get the most bang for your buck in a lesser-known ski area, we’ve compiled the ultimate guide to sorting through your ski rental options. We’ll start with your absolute best investment opportunities, and then provide our top recommendations for those interested in making iconic hotspot dreams a reality.

How We Qualified The Best Places to Buy Ski Rentals

The selections below are based on a combination of proprietary and public data. We analyzed rental performance data in ski towns across the country to uncover the locales in which bookings lead to higher median value. We used Zillow’s median listing prices for homes in each area and, to help calculate cap rate, estimated the annual expenses of running a rental at 30% of total revenue. While every individual owner’s situation will be different, this information should help focus your search and contextualize every option.

Here are the best places to buy ski vacation property across the country—suited to an array of homeowner goals.

Off the Beaten Path | Snowshoe and Massanutten

Snowshoe, WV.
Snowshoe, West Virginia

Prospective ski rental owners who believe maximized ROI comes first and foremost can find great value in unexpected places. 

Try Snowshoe, WV for an out-of-the-box take on the ski rental. Here, list prices are incredibly low, yet properties are conveniently located close to the foot of Snowshoe mountain, and see a considerable return on investment for vacation rental owners. Skiing and natural beauty make this diamond in the rough a valuable, largely-untapped opportunity for our owners. 

Massanutten, VA also poses unique ski town value to potential buyers. Built around a quaint ski resort, this destination draws tourists for snow sports at large, but also offers visitors year-round recreational activities like a waterpark, golf range, and ample shopping. Massanutten is a great option for those seeking to expand their view of what a ski rental can be. It also neighbors McGaheysville, a Virginia town you might remember from our 2020 best places to buy a vacation rental.

The Iconic Destinations | Breckenridge and Winter Park

Winter Park, CO.
Winter Park, Colorado

If you were playing a game of word association and someone said “ski town,” you might instantly think of Aspen, Tahoe, Vail, or Stowe. While these idyllic destinations are often top of mind, they offer limited inventory at steep prices. It’s also important to note that California markets, in general, are highly regulated and present more difficult obstacles for property investment.

For buyers seeking that classic feel but hoping for easier entry into the market, we recommend diverting your attention to ski towns like Breckenridge and Winter Park, CO. Still quite iconic, and you’ll find more inventory to acquire at lower price points. With proximity to Denver and the opportunity for year-round sightseeing, these ski towns will also help you achieve consistent occupancy rates—even when the high season comes to a close. 

*The Evolve Difference: Winter Park owners make $1,800 more in annual median rental revenue with Evolve.

The Best of Both Worlds | Killington, Summit County-Adjacent, and Salt Lake City

Killington, VT
Killington, Vermont

If you’re hoping to invest in a ski rental property at a lower financial threshold, but want to stay closer to that classic feel, not to worry. These ski towns, while less of a departure from our iconic hotspots than Snowshoe and Massanutten, still afford owners easy purchase, solid ROI, and measurable overall value—making them strategic alternatives.

Satisfy skiers drawn to Vermont’s iconic Stowe by investing instead in Southern Vermont’s Killington. Prospective homeowners can find shockingly cheap townhouses that still sit close to the ski mountains, and get a much higher return on investment than they would farther north. The charm and quintessential value of Vermont ski season, of course, remains paramount for visitors.

Give your guests the Summit County, CO experience without the hefty price tag by purchasing a property in Alma or Fairplay, CO. You’ll get a lot more bang for your buck and see high net occupancy without paying top dollar for the Summit County zip code. 

*The Evolve Difference: Alma owners make $12,000 more in annual median rental revenue with Evolve.

Eschew Park City, UT listings in favor of Salt Lake City properties. It’s not in the challenging and expensive Park City area, but is an easy drive over to the slopes for your ski-savvy guests. Even better? SLC properties have high summer occupancy rates as well, so you can rest easy knowing your ski rental returns will take you right into warmer weather. For income-focused buyers, SLC isn’t first on the list, but with less market competition and year-round occupancy, it remains the best option for Utah ski rental investors.

*The Evolve Difference: Salt Lake City owners make $2,300 more in annual median rental revenue with Evolve.

Boost Your Success With Evolve

While some of our recommended ski towns boast more upside than others, it’s important to remember that Evolve owners frequently outperform the market expectations. As seen above, owners in Winter Park, for instance, make $1,800 more each year with Evolve than the market median suggests, while Alma owners see a whopping $12,000 more in annual vacation rental returns. That’s the Evolve difference.

How does Evolve pull it off? Our exclusive pricing algorithm sets competitive rates year-round that earn 24% more than traditional pricing methods. We give your property distinct visibility on top sites like Airbnb and Vrbo by applying professional marketing expertise. And we’re committed to the guest experience by enforcing the highest industry standards and providing 24/7 support. Great reviews mean even more bookings.

If you’ve surveyed our recommended ski towns for rental properties and are ready to take the next step, learn more about our real estate services. We have the data to contextualize your investment opportunities and define your objectives, preferred real estate agents who specialize in vacation rental purchases, and, of course, that arsenal of management tools to help you reach your personal and financial goals.

With so many great options across the country, there’s no better time to dive into your search. Once you’ve zeroed in on the perfect home, we can help you take it to the next level, too.  

Click here to start the conversation about purchasing a ski rental.