The 10 Hottest Cities in the U.S. for Vacation Homes

After a year of being cooped up at home, everyone is itching for a change of scenery at this point. While most people are planning to do some serious revenge traveling, another trend is taking shape: revealed that many are buying vacation homes to help them escape the chaos of the past year. Interestingly enough, the top cities where most people are purchasing their second homes are small, charming cities just outside the major metropolises. Find out the ten hottest cities in the U.S. for vacation homes below, and for those who aren’t quite ready to commit to a mortgage but want a change of pace, we’ve included rental suggestions for each area.

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Median home price: $344,500

Located an hour and a half away from Charlotte, Marion is the perfect destination for someone who just wants a break from bustling city life without being too far out of reach. This small town is at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, so expect beautiful mountainous views and plenty of outdoor activities (swimming, hiking, fishing, etc.). The town also houses its own historic Main Street, where you can find plenty of shops, restaurants and breweries, as well as a seasonal farmers markets.

Places to stay:

  • Cozy Retreat Nestled in the Mountains (4 guests): $100/night

  • Swiss Chalet in Little Switzerland (6 guests): $145/night

  • Beautiful Log Home with Mountain View (8 guests): $220/night

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Median home price: $187,900

Fancy spending lazy afternoons in a nice lake house? Then consider looking into Sturgis, MI. Nestled between Chicago and Detroit, Sturgis houses six lakes in one of its counties (St. Joseph county) alone so all the fishing enthusiasts out there are spoiled for choice. This quaint city is home to 10,905 people, so there’s plenty of opportunity for that quality R n’ R. If you choose to bring the kids along, you can take them to Camp Fort Hill, where they can go on nature trails, swim or play waterfront games on Lake Tamarack.

Places to stay:

  • Chic Guest House Retreat (4 guests): $168/night

  • Family friendly get away (10 guests): $300/night

  • Luxury Lake House on Klinger Lake (12 guests): $743/night

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Median home price: $329,900

Perfect for people who want big city vibes without the big city crowds, Brainerd has everything you can get from say, New York, but without the madness of the city. Those with hefty palates can eat, drink and be merry in a typical restaurant setting, or keep things interesting with some lakeside dining. Art lovers and history buffs can also get their fix by visiting the Soo Line Depot Museum, Mille Lacs Indian Museum as well as the Crow Wing County Historical Society and Museum. If you have a particular need for speed, you can plan your vacay to coincide with the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, which are hosted at the Brainerd International Raceway (BIR).

Places to stay:

  • Gull Chain Beach House on Sand Beach (4 guests): $249/night

  • Lakefront Brainerd Cabin (5 guests): $445/night

  • Beautiful Lakeside Resort Cabin (5 guests): $190/night

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Median home price: $242,000

Eat your weight in stone fruit in this Louisiana gem that hosts the state’s annual peach festival. With only 21, 976 residents, Ruston is the quintessential small town. It’s home to Louisiana Tech University, so there are plenty of local restaurants and bars to keep you entertained. But you can also escape the crowds by hiking along the Huckleberry Trails Park, camping out at Lake D’Arbonne State Park or going horseback riding at Collins Natural Horsemanship.

Places to stay:

  • Meadows Manor Historic District (2 guests): $100/night

  • French Country Manor Near LA Tech (6 guests): $349/night

  • The Ponder Place (12 guests): $325/night

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Median home price: $595,000

For those who want the bragging rights of living in New York without actually being caught up in the hustle and bustle of the concrete jungle, Hudson is the way to go. Located upstate, this town offers lush boutiques and antique shops, gourmet restaurants, as well as cocktail bars with views of the Hudson River. If the lure of the big city is still calling you, Hudson is just a two-hour train ride away from Manhattan, so you can visit and make your way back to the quiet in a day. Those looking to completely disconnect and become one with nature, can do so at the Greenport Conservation Area, where they can explore various hiking trails, feed your curiosity at the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse or go on a romantic cruise on the Hudson.

Places to stay:

  • Mountain Bluebird (5 guests): $236/night

  • Old Macdonald (6 guests): $340/night

  • Art and Nature (6 guests): $464/night

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Median home price: $918,500

Stationed at the base of Nounou (the Sleeping Giant) Mountain, Kapaa or Kapa’a is a fan favorite. Not only does it offer an array of hotels, shopping centers, and restaurants, but it’s a hidden gem for going on once-in-a-lifetime outdoor excursions. Treat yourself to the Wailua River Kayak and Sacred Fall Adventure, where you kayak down the river and then hike through tropical forest to a waterfall; embark on the Kauai Waterfall Triple Trail Expedition for a chance to explore Kauai’s 3,000-acre trail system while riding on a top-of-the-class Kawasaki that you operate yourself; or get a bird’s-eye view of Kauai from an Eco-Star helicopter that takes you over the entire island in just under an hour.

 Places to stay:

  • Oceanfront Condo Vacation Rental (4 guests): $170/night

  • Beautiful Oceanview Condo (4 guests): $229/night

  • Unique Corner Ocean View Penthouse (6 guests): $470/night

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Median home price: $534,500

Vail and Aspen may be wildly popular ski destinations, but this hidden gem of the Centennial State delivers just as much fun in the snow. A winter visit means plenty of opportunity to snowboard, snowmobile, ski, and dog sled, since this small town of 9,350 gets more than 184 inches of snow each season. During the summertime, there is plenty of outdoors activity to enjoy—from hiking and camping to whitewater rafting. Get the geological scoop of the town with a tour at Fossil Posse Adventures, enjoy some handcrafted beer, kombucha and sparkling water at Crazy Mountain Brewery or explore the backcountry with a snowmobile rental courtesy of High Altitude Motorsports.

Places to stay:

  • Elegant Mountain-View Condo (6 guests): $157/night

  • Riverside Treehouse (6 guests): $152/night

  • Grand Estate with Mountain Views (8 guests): $578/night

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Median home price: $256,200

If the pandemic revealed to you that you really value a quieter pace of life, Branson may be your best bet for a relaxing getaway. This renowned lake town is known for its ability to let residents really spread out and enjoy being on the water without coming into close proximity with strangers. Retreat from the world and spend a day on Table Rock Lake, Bull Shoals Lake or Lake Taneycomo—your pick. If your inner social butterfly is looking to mix and mingle, there is plenty of opportunity to do so at the town’s various entertainment hubs or catch one of its popular theater shows, which include The Haygoods: Branson's Most Popular Show, Shanghai Circus-Amazing Acrobats and The Magic of Rick Thomas – Mansion of Dreams.

 Places to stay:

  • Rockwall Lodge (8 guests): $64/night

  • Hillside Cottage (8 guests): $64/night

  • Cozy Lakefront Home (12 guests): $293/night

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Median home price: $162,450

Wisconsin Rapids is all about offering the kind of entertainment you just can’t get anywhere else. The city hosts their annual water-skiing championships at Lake Wazeecha, as well as the national BMX Bandit cycling championship, held at the Central Wisconsin BMX velodrome. Those activities aren’t quite your speed? You can also check out the Shermalot Water-Ski Show Team and the Wisconsin Rapids Aqua Skiers Show Ski Team as they showcase their water skiing prowess, shop more than 200 varieties of Wisconsin cheese at Wisconsin Dairy State Cheese or take a scenic drive down the Cranberry Highway and revel in the town’s 49-mile cranberry growing region.

Places to stay:

  • Cabin with Private Island (6 guests): $386/night

  • Lakefront Wisconsin Home (8 guests): $450/night

  • Pines Golf Course Home (12 guests): $250/night

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Median home price: $759,950

Located on Cape Cod, Barnstable is made up of seven villages—Cotuit, Marstons Mills, Hyannis, Centerville and Osterville—and offers plenty of fishing, boating and swimming opportunities, as well as a slew of shops, boutiques, antiques and art galleries. This charming town is lined with historic gems, such as the Olde Colonial Courthouse, where the King's Court held session back in the 1600s, as well as The Old Gaol—the oldest wooden jail in the U.S.

Places to stay:

  • Bayview Cottage (6 guests): $159/night

  • Spacious Waterfront Home in Hyannis (8 guests): $131/night

  • Cape Cod Playhouse (10 guests): $198/night

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