25 Prime Locations for a Vacation Home

Spots to Invest in a Vacation Home

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Spots to Invest in a Vacation Home
Mark Prytherch/shutterstock


Owning a vacation home is a luxury some people can only dream about, given the high cost of real estate in many parts of the country. But not all markets are priced out of reach. In quite a few vacation destinations around the country, a home can be purchased for $325,000 or less -- often far less. The property can also help pay for itself: When you're not there, you can rent it out.

At Cheapism's request, the real estate website Trulia has identified some of the most budget-friendly markets for vacation homes in the U.S. based on median sale prices. All of the markets are located in ZIP codes with at least 3,000 housing units and where at least 25 percent of those units are for seasonal or occasional use, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Millinocket, ME
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Median Home Price: $71,661
A place that bills itself as Maine's biggest small town, Millinocket offers a little something for everyone on vacation. Perfect for lovers of the great outdoors, Millinocket is the gateway to Mount Katahdin, cited as one of the world's best hiking places by National Geographic. The town is also home to the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail and provides easy access to the North Maine Woods, the West Branch of the Penobscot River, Baxter State Park, and a sprawling network of lakes and trail systems.

Needles, CA
Courtesy of cityofneedles.com


Median Home Price: $85,000
Think of Needles as a vacation destination for desert lovers. The town is located on the western banks of the Colorado River in the Mohave Valley, not far from the borders of Arizona and Nevada. (Important side note for poker lovers, it is just 110 miles from Las Vegas). Named after "The Needles," a group of mountain peaks in the Mohave Mountains, the city is the gateway to the Mojave National Preserve.

Iron River, MI
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Median Home Price: $89,500
A vacation destination that's part of Iron County in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Iron River offers trophy fishing, cross-country skiing, hunting, camping, and boating. There's also fine dining in the region and a variety of local theaters. And come fall, there's a slew of harvest festivals and related events.

Bushkill, PA


Median Home Price: $93,900
Bushkill is less than two miles from Bushkill Falls, an attraction known as the Niagara Falls of Pennsylvania. The series of eight waterfalls is located in the Pocono Mountains and is surrounded by a network of hiking trails. The waterfalls are just one reason why Bushkill is a popular vacation getaway. Other activities and attractions in the area include tubing, zip-lining, and the Pocono Indian Museum.

Cuba, NY.
Cuba, NY. by Clay Tanner (None)


Median Home Price: $94,000
Located in the southwest corner of New York, the major recreational attraction for vacationers here is Cuba Lake, less 5 five miles from the village. A man-made reservoir, Cuba Lake provides waterfront for more than 300 homes. About 13 miles north of the village, you will find Rushford Lake, which is also still technically in the town of Cuba. Rushford is noted for some of best trout fishing in the state.

Moore Haven, FL
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Median Home Price: $100,000
A vacation town perched on the banks of Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee River, Moore Haven attracts those in search of some of the best freshwater fishing around. The area also offers camping and scenic hiking trails. And when not exploring the outdoors, don't miss the Sour Orange and the Cane Grinding festivals held here.

Rapid River, MI
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Median Home Price: $112,500
A small town in Michigan's Delta County, Rapid River is located along Lake Michigan. This vacation destination is known for great walleye fishing and an abundance of fishing charters. There's also plenty of picturesque scenery throughout the region, including such places as Peninsula Point, Little Bay de Noc, and Rapid River Falls.

Salt Springs, Marion County, FL
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Median Home Price: $120,000
If vacationing in the woods is your idea of paradise, Salt Springs may be ideal. The community is located in the heart of 383,000-acre Ocala National Forest, which is the second-largest national forest in the state. The area is probably even more famous for its many springs. At the Salt Springs Recreation Area, for instance, there's a subterranean spring that flows year-round at a constant temperature of 72 degrees.

Wisconsin Dells
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Median Home Price: $169,556
During the last ice age, glaciers carved a 5-mile series of gorges now known as the Dells of the Wisconsin River. These sandstone formations have made the Dells a popular tourist attraction since before the Civil War. The modern city of Wisconsin Dells is known as the "Waterpark Capital of the World," and nearby Mirror Lake State Park is known for its natural beauty.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
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Median Home Price: $179,132
One of South Carolina's most famous vacation destinations, Myrtle Beach can also be relatively affordable. This popular family vacation spot is known for its 60-mile stretch of beach and a beachfront boardwalk lined by countless restaurants, souvenir stands, and arcades.

Sean Pavone/shutterstock


Median Home Price: $189,593
A city that needs little explanation thanks to the fact that it is home to more than a dozen theme parks, Orlando is yet another place where it's not necessary to spend a fortune to secure a vacation property. And just in case Walt Disney World isn't your thing, there are plenty of other options here, including golfing, museums, a science center, and public parks.

Ocean City, WA
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Median Home Price: $189,900
If your idea of an ideal vacation destination involves escaping nearly everyone and everything, look no further than Ocean City. As of the 2010 census, the population was around 200 people. What the area lacks in people, it makes up for in beautiful beaches and scenery. Ocean City is bordered on the north by Copalis Beach and on the west by the Pacific Ocean.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee
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Median Home Price: $199,900
Another high-profile vacation destination, Gatlinburg is famous for its proximity to the 520,000-acre Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Downtown Gatlinburg is home to a variety of family attractions, as well breweries, distilleries, and wineries.

Daytona Beach, Florida
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Median Home Price: $219,000
Daytona Beach is legendary as a spring break hotspot. There's a boardwalk along the beach with rides and arcades, and a bandstand that hosts free summer concerts. Located on the state's Atlantic coast, the city is also famous for being the location of the Daytona International Speedway, which hosts the legendary Daytona 500 NASCAR race.

Sneads Ferry, NC
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Median Home Price: $223,392
A colorful town that dates back to the 1700s, Sneads Ferry began as a rural fishing community. It has since grown to include about 9,750 residents. The town's name is tied to ferries that used to transport passengers across the New River, but today, Sneads Ferry is known for its fishing industry. About 385 tons of shrimp are caught here each year, and the community hosts an annual Shrimp Festival to honor the local seafood industry.

Borrego Springs, CA
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Median Home Price: $229,000
There's so much to love about Borrego Springs. The community is located in the middle of the stunning Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the largest state park in California. The town is also known for being an official International Dark Sky Community, which means it's dedicated to protecting the night sky from light pollution. In other words, it's a great place for stargazing. And for vacationing.

Chincoteague Island, VA
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Median Home Price: $232,000
A town on an island of the same name, Chincoteague is legendary for its beauty and for being a much-loved, beach-oriented vacation destination. Among the highlights of this lovely vacation getaway is the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, on nearby Assateague Island, which is known for its wild Chincoteague ponies. Chincoteague residents are fond of pointing out that it's a place with no high-rises, boardwalks, or traffic jams. Instead, what you will find is a relaxed atmosphere and unspoiled nature.

North Conway, NH
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Median Home Price: $239,900
Another mountain vacation getaway, North Conway boasts a backdrop of more than 700,000 protected acres in the White Mountain National Forest. There are activities here to occupy vacationers year-round, including skiing, hiking, fishing, and golfing. And come fall, it's one of the best places in the country for leaf peeping.

Desert Hot Springs, CA
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Median Home Price: $248,800
Often referred to as California's spa city thanks to the many healing offerings tied the area's natural hot mineral water, the most popular activity here is spending time at any of the dozens of local spas. As an added bonus, Joshua Tree National Park is located nearby, offering endless hiking opportunities.

Jensen Beach, FL
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Median Home Price: $289,900
Located between Fort Pierce and West Palm Beach, this seaside community used to be known as the "Pineapple Capital of the World." It still hosts an annual pineapple festival, but is now also known for seafood-oriented fine dining and an array of water activities, including boating, sailing, fishing, surfing, and scuba diving. The area also attracts several species of endangered sea turtles during nesting season.

South Padre Island, Texas


Median Home Price: $299,500
An incredibly popular resort island off the southern coast of Texas, South Padre offers vacationers an abundance of lovely beaches. It is also home to the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, where a five-story watchtower provides views of migrating birds. Other highlights that make this a top vacation getaway include the South Padre Island Dolphin Research & Sealife Nature Center, which offers boat tours and touch tanks, and the Sea Turtle, Inc. facility, which rescues and rehabilitates turtles.

Carolina Beach, NC


Median Home Price: $299,900
A vintage seaside boardwalk, miniature golf, bike rentals, and scenic white-sand hiking trails are just some of the reasons vacationers love Carolina Beach. Additional highlights include the Carolina Beach Fishing Pier, where you can cast a line, and Carolina Beach Lake, which offers paddle boarding. There are also regular seafood festivals and beach concerts.

Wells, ME


Median Home Price: $307,541
When it comes to picturesque beach towns of the Northeast, Wells is one of the most noteworthy. Founded in the 1600s, it is also the third-oldest town in Maine. Located north of Ogunquit and south of famed Kennebunk, Wells offers picturesque beaches, antiquing galore, nature trails, and numerous clam shacks for feasting on some of the region's fresh-caught seafood.

Idyllwild, CA
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Median Home Price: $322,097
Located in the San Jacinto Mountains, amid tall pines and cedars, Idyllwild is a paradise for those seeking peace and quiet and perhaps quality time in the great outdoors. The town of Idyllwild is home to just a few locally owned shops and restaurants. Area residents have worked hard to keep things slow paced and traffic free. The most popular activities here include day and weekend hikes, mountain biking, and rock climbing.

Lake George, NY


Median Home Price: $324,900
A community in New York's Adirondack region, Lake George has long been a popular vacation getaway. There's a wide range of reasons vacationers love the area, including its many hiking trails, beaches, waterfront restaurants, and majestic mountains.