Vacation rentals are huge lately and if a person isn't renting one, it's likely that the thought of owning one may have crossed their mind. Of course, there are obvious benefits to owning a vacation home that far surpasses the typical 'you'll never need to pay for a place to stay' logic that immediately comes to mind. It's also a place that could turn into an eventual retirement home, a place for family and friends to gather, and it eliminates all of the stress of booking a temporary stay. Therefore, it essentially pays for itself as time goes on.

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One of the great things that the U.S. has going for it is options. There's a seemingly endless list of places to go and take vacations, and many of these would also serve as great places to find vacation homes. However, we should play devil's advocate here: owning a vacation rental is great... but how much will it cost? What happens if the area surrounding the home turns out to be a place that was never worth it in the first place? If the house or town depreciates, how can that money be made back? The first step to avoiding these issues is to figure out which vacation destinations in the U.S. have been voted the best for vacation homes - starting with these.

Blue Ridge, Georgia

Georgia is a beautiful state which makes it a great vacation destination for many people on the East Coast. With the best of both worlds, mountains and ocean, it's easy to see why this would be a desirable place to own a home. According to The Evolve Team at evolve, studies have been conducted to reflect the popularity of locations, vacation home values, and annual costs to determine which locations are the best, and Blue Ridge, GA, is one of them.

Blue Ridge is a mountain town and quite different from the throngs of Spanish moss-lined streets of Savannah, which is where most people head. However, its rustic, wooded charm is part of why it's such a beautiful place to own a house, let alone take a vacation. Located in the Chattahoochee National Forest, avid hikers will enjoy waterfalls, scenic mountain views, and the ease of travel between nearby towns and cities from Blue Ridge.

The Poconos, Pennsylvania

The Poconos has come in as number one for three years straight now in terms of the most popular place to own a vacation rental. With low costs, options for both waterfront and mountain view properties, and the ease of access from every state around it, the Poconos is practically investment gold nowadays - the hardest part will be deciding which area of the Poconos to start your house search.

More and more people are seeking to rent out actual homes as opposed to staying in resorts and hotels so, if renting out a vacation home is something that also interests you, then the Poconos is still your best bet. There's much to love about this area from its outdoor recreation to the small towns that dot this part of Pennsylvania, and it's not all that bad during the winter months, either.

Hot Springs, Arkansas

Yet another destination that's located right near a national park is Hot Springs, which is just outside of Hot Springs National Park. Arkansas isn't usually spoken of due to its views but there's nothing quite like the vista that the Ouachita Mountains present, complete with mineral hot springs (as its name implies) and bathhouses.

This is a truly relaxing vacation for those interested in looking outside the typical rental area box. Nearby is also a botanical garden that spans 210 acres, and hikers will enjoy the plethora of waterfalls that dot this landscape. The best part is the cost of living, which is well below the average compared to many other rental locations.

Branson, Missouri

Branson has been on the list of the best destinations for vacation houses but this year, it's looking even more lucrative. The Ozarks is still a premier destination in Missouri and Branson is one of the best towns from which to see it all.

Homeowners won't be far from many outdoor recreational activities such as hiking, fishing, and swimming, but in town, there's plenty of Branson's local flavor to experience - literally! From restaurants to entertainment, including the Branson Scenic Railway, there's nothing not to love about this part of Missouri.

Cape Coral, Florida

We've mentioned plenty of woodside escapes but not many beachside oases and Cape Coral is the latter. This coastal region of Florida has grown a reputation for its nature and natural wonders, which keep visitors coming to explore the wetlands and nearby mangroves for years now.

Located right on the Gulf of Mexico,  this will feel like a truly tropical vacation home without ever having to leave the country. There's plenty to do year-round, especially for those who enjoy water sports, and there's more good news - the HOA is far laxer here than any other in the state.

The Catskills, New York

Much of upstate New York has a reputation for being far more affordable than anywhere else in the state, and the Catskills are a great example of this. With mountain scenes practically anywhere you go, it's easy enough to find a home that exudes that rustic woodsy charm.

It's also up and coming - some Catskills towns have seen exponential growth, according to evolve, over the last few years, which means good news for those seeking an investment property. It's an easy drive from New York City and the surrounding Tri-State area and is a great compromise to other, more expensive northern New England properties.

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