The top 10 ‘hidden gems’ for summer vacation home rentals

What are the top hot spots American vacationers are booking in home rentals this summer?

The lists are as numerous as the destinations themselves. Vacation rental management company Vacasa has compiled its own Top 10 list by “combing through a comprehensive set of Vacasa and partner data” (including combined occupancy during June, July and August from 2017 through June 2019) to determine the most popular destinations being booked in the markets it serves. (Vacasa operates in 30 U.S. states and 16 countries in Europe, South Africa and the Americas.)

The Top 10, in increasing order of popularity, are: Portland, Oregon; Kissimmee, Florida; Playa del Carmen, Mexico; New Orleans; Miami; Honolulu; Seattle; Milan, Italy; San Diego; and — topping the list — Rome, Italy.

Nice list — but the Portland, Oregon-based firm has gone one better: Aware that popularity necessarily means crowds, the firm also identified nearby “undiscovered towns and smaller cities,” with a similar look and feel to the Top 10.

“These hidden gems allow travelers to escape flocks of tourists, endless lines and crowded restaurants,” Vacasa says. “Plus, they can score some deals.”

Here’s a look at the company’s Top 10 “hidden gems,” for your vacation consideration.close dialogWhat’s your earning IQ?Take the quiz to find out.


Source: Vacasa10. Bend, Oregon … instead of Portland

GI: The Old Mill District in Bend, Oregon.

The Old Mill District In Bend, Oregon.Jeffrey Murray | Aurora Open | Getty Images

Citing Portland, Oregon’s famed breweries and “eco-friendly culture,” Vacasa call the Pacific Northwest city “an outdoor playground for travelers.” It may rain half the year, the firm notes, but Portland is “beautiful during the summer, making it hard to beat.” However, Bend, Oregon, just 150 miles to the southeast, is a viable — and potentially more cost-effective — alternative summer vacation destination, reports Vacasa. The company notes that, while both cities offers a similar focus on art, music and craft beer, Bend is less busy and “perhaps even more outdoorsy” than its larger sibling.
9. Davenport, Florida … instead of Kissimmee

GI: reflection over lake with sunrise

Lake in Davenport, Florida.rustycanuck | iStock | Getty Images

Beloved by Walt Disney World-bound vacationers, family fun hub Kissimmee, Florida, comes in at No. 9, but travelers might also consider nearby Davenport. Located about 20 miles to Kissimmee’s southwest and 10 miles from Disney, the hidden gem of Davenport has “plenty of accommodation options and it’s often more affordable” than Kissimmee or Orlando, according to Vacasa.8. Tulum, Mexico … instead of Playa del Carmen

GI: Premium: Mayan Ruins, Mexico

Seaside Mayan ruins in Tulum, Mexico.Kelly Chang Travel Photography | Getty Images

Popular Mexican beach resort town Playa del Carmen is an escape from the hustle and bustle of busier Cancun to the north, but its increased popularity has travelers-in-the-know looking even farther afield. Some have discovered Tulum, just an hour from Playa del Carmen. It’s not only “much less commercialized,” according to Vacasa, but boasts “more authentic restaurants and stores,” along with a set of world-famous seaside Mayan temple ruins.7. Savannah, Georgia … instead of New Orleans

GI: Lush street in Savannah

Savannah, GeorgiaDaniela Duncan | Moment | Getty Images

Few U.S. cities are as unique and iconic as the Big Easy, landing it the No. 7 spot on Vacasa’s list of top summer destinations. But let’s face it: New Orleans’ myriad charms — from Mardi Gras, voodoo lore and Bourbon Street bars to air boat swamp tours, alligators and Cajun-Creole cuisine — mean big crowds and hefty tabs. Why not try just as charming but less crowded Savannah, Georgia, three states west on the Atlantic Ocean? Vacasa notes that, “like NOLA, Savannah is known for its historic district and antebellum charm.” The company suggests a sunny horse-drawn carriage ride through the city’s cobblestone streets as a must on any visit.6. Daytona Beach, Florida … instead of Miami

People On Beach Against Blue Sky

Daytona Beach, Florida.Karen Hartman / EyeEm | EyeEm | Getty Images

The sunny Greater Miami area — from South Beach to Coral Gables to Little Havana — is the sixth-most-popular destination with Vacasa customers, but consider less crowded and just as lovely Daytona Beach, a four-hour drive to the north. Lively Daytona “has tons of rides, arcades, concerts and clubs,” says the home rental company.5. Princeville, Kauai, Hawaii … instead of Honolulu

GI: Woman relaxing at tropical resort

Resort in Princeville, Kauai, Hawaii.M.M. Sweet | Moment | Getty Images

No. 5 Honolulu is beloved for its “stunning beaches, volcanic Diamond Head crater and many hotels,” according to Vacasa. Not so loved: The Hawaiian capital’s high prices and crowds. Scenic Princeville and other hidden gems on Kauai may not be much cheaper, but they’re a lot less populated. Known for its “wild beauty and cliffside views overlooking the sea,” Princeville is, says Vacasa, the perfect Hawaii alternative for sun and sand seekers.4. Boise, Idaho … instead of Seattle

GI Boise skyline in autumn

Ann Morrison Park and Boise, Idaho, skyline in fall colors.Steve Bly | Photographer’s Choice | Getty Images

“Surrounded by water and lush forests,” Seattle is “perfect for outdoorsy foodies who have a passion for pop culture.” Here’s the thing: It’s not No. 4 on this list for nothing. Since the Emerald City is a must on many regular travelers’ bucket lists, it’s hard to claim bragging rights after a visit. Many have been there, done that before you. Virgin territory awaits, however, 500 miles to the southeast in Boise, Idaho. This “up and coming” Pacific Northwest city is home to “an active arts community” and boasts a “lively downtown filled with shops, restaurants and nightlife,” says Vacasa.3. Lake Como, Italy … instead of Milan

GI: Italy, Lombardy, Lake Como, Bellagio

Lake Como in northern Italy’s Lombardy region.Westend61 | Westend61 | Getty Images

Coming in at No. 3 is the Italian city of Milan. Popular with travelers thanks to its food, fashion and retail scenes, cosmopolitan Milan flaunts a New York-style vibe and pace. Looking for quieter but just as upscale escape? How about a visit to what locals in Italy’s Lombard region claim is “the most beautiful lake in the world?” Scenic Lake Como, nestled at the foot of the Alps, lies an easy day trip from the metropolitan mania back in Milan.2. San Clemente, California … instead of San Diego

GI: Aerial View of San Clemente California

California coastal town of San Clemente,  just north of San Diego County.Art Wager | E+ | Getty Images

San Diego, the No. 2 most popular destination booked by Vacasa clients, is often cited by visitors as one of the most beautiful U.S. cities they’ve visited. In addition to the seaside views, vacationers are keen on the town’s famous boardwalk, Mexican restaurants, surfing opportunities and city zoo — not to mention a lively party scene. While it may not be as busy, equally attractive if smaller San Clemente — an hour’s drive north of San Deigo — is known as the “Spanish Village by the Sea,” says Vacasa. What’s the appeal? How does “unbeatable ocean views” and sunshine “300 days out the year” sound?1. Senigallia, Italy … instead of Rome

GI: Rocca Roveresca

The Rocca Roveresca fortification in Senigallia, in Italy’s Marche region.Marco Maccarini | Photolibrary | Getty Images

Drum roll, please! Topping Vacasa’s list of most popular summer vacation destinations is … Rome. Viva Italia! The Italian capital is packed with historical art and architecture; world-class entertainment, retail and dining venues; and a range of accommodations from hostels to five-star hotels. But all the big city fun comes at big city prices, and big city crowds. Less than four hours east of Rome by car, sunny Senigallia — on the country’s Adriatic Sea coast — is “a stunning, laid-back little beach town.” Vacasa adds that “like Rome, it’s rich with history, stretching back more than a thousand years, but travelers won’t have to pay through the nose for food or a place to stay.”


Ten million Florida homeowners are watching vacation rental bills

Florida is home to the largest number of residents living in a community association. 

Some 10 million homeowners live in neighborhoods with community associations and are protected by time-honored, deed restrictions adopted by a majority and, in some cases, a super-majority vote of those who pay the bills and will be most impacted by them — homeowners. 

These homeowners voluntarily pay more than $2 billion every year to protect their quality of life, home values and property rights through enforcement and compliance through deed restrictions. 

Now, renting out one’s home or a bedroom on a short-term basis is nothing new. However, our laws have not kept up. In fact, Florida actually went the other way to benefit those who exploit home-sharing as for-profit, commercial businesses under the false pretense of “property rights.” 

And guess where those unregulated, commercial businesses with no offices are headquartered?

Right inside Florida’s neighborhoods. 

Mark Anderson


These unregulated businesses then went even further and convinced our Legislature to remove what little oversight that existed — with some exceptions for cities who had existing rules — leaving our neighborhoods exposed as a last line of defense against unregulated proliferation of these commercial businesses.

Our neighborhoods, in many cases, changed almost overnight. 

A buyer’s market is a good thing, but in neighborhoods, the opposite happened. 

While some associations already had protections in place, many did not. Those which did not amended their covenants to halt further proliferation of these commercial businesses inside their neighborhoods, and those efforts continue to this day. 

In the 2018 legislative session, some of these commercial operators tried to remove any local government or neighborhood oversight. The Florida Legislature thankfully sided with homeowners and rejected this idea.

However, this year, some lawmakers are backing bills to remove the last vestiges of the few remaining local rules in place to protect the public. These bills unequivocally state that constitutional  “property rights” apply to anyone who chooses to rent their home, or multiple homes or hundreds of homes by the night, with no regard for the rules they agreed to comply with. 

They say that because vacation rentals are “residential in nature,” they therefore are permitted to exist in our neighborhoods, again, with no acknowledgment of the rights of millions of our fellow Floridians who contractually agreed to play by the rules.

At best, these bills — House Bill 987 and Senate Bill 824 — create confusion and conflict with adopted or yet-to-be adopted protections for our neighborhoods, forcing our associations to increase costs by hiring pricey lawyers to defend the rights of their homeowners. 

At worst, these bills violate deed restrictions for an entire neighborhood by allowing anyone who owns a home — or hundreds of homes they don’t live in — to disregard the rules, which they, as a homeowner, legally agreed to comply with. 

This is wrong for our homeowners, our economy and our state. 

Ten million Florida homeowners who vote, who pay their taxes and pay even more to protect their way of life are depending on our Legislators to stand up, once again, for them and oppose these bills.

And they will be watching.

Mark Anderson is executive director of the Chief Executive Officers of Management Companies, representing management of more than 14,000 homeowners associations, more than 18,000 managers, and more than 6 million homeowners.


Furnished Vacation Rental: 2-Story Townhome on Sykes Creek 3BR/2½BA

Available nightly, weekly, monthly, or long-term.
Scroll for full feature list.

104 Parrotfish Ln 101, Merritt Island, FL 32953
$2,900.00 Monthly or $1,000.00 A Week.

Come enjoy this incredible vacation home available Nightly, Weekly, Monthly, or long-term! Brevard’s newest and Premier Waterfront Community located at Stunning Cape Crossings. Property sits just off SR528, west of the Barge Canal on Merritt Island. Kennedy Space Center, Port Canaveral, and beaches, are just minutes away. OIA is 40 minutes away. This Stunning corner unit is located water side and a few steps from the Boat Slips and Pier. This Key West Style Two story Town Home is fully furnished and decorated with nautical flare. All utilities including wifi are included in stay. Resort Community offers pool, sauna, fitness center, and much more. Boat Slips are available for rent through the marina, Rates may vary.

Directions: SR 528 east to exit St Rd 3-Courtenay Blvd to North over Barge Canal. Make U turn to then right into Cape Crossings.

Brochure: CCR_brochureE

Property Features


  • Bedrooms: 3
  • Split Bedroom: Yes
  • Master Bedroom/Bath: Shower, Walk-In Closet


  • Baths – Full: 2
  • Baths – Half: 1

Exterior and Lot Features

  • Lot Description: Corner Unit
  • Patio
  • Porch
  • Dwelling View: Direct, Water View

Interior Features

  • Breakfast Bar
  • Built-In-Features
  • Ceiling Fan(s)
  • Kitchen – Island
  • Open Floor Plan
  • Security/Safety: Smoke Free

Building and Construction

  • Style: 2 Story
  • Style: 2
  • Construction: Combination
  • Roof: Shingle – Wood
  • Total Floors in Bldg: 2
  • Exterior Finish: Siding
  • Floor: Carpet, Tile

Waterfront and Water Access

  • Waterfront Type: Canal Navigation,Sykes Creek

Garage and Parking

  • 1 Car Garage
  • Number of Garage Spaces: 1

Heating and Cooling

  • Heat: Electric
  • Cooling: Electric
  • Water Heater: Electric


  • Electric
  • Sewer
  • Telephone


  • Dishwasher
  • Dryer
  • Range – Electric
  • Refrigerator
  • Washer

Amenities and Community Features

  • Water Amenities: Dock/Slip Community

Pool and Spa

  • Pool-Private or Community: Yes
  • Pool – Private: No
  • Pool – Community: Yes
  • Pool Features: Hot Tub/Spa, Inground

Other Property Info

  • City: Merritt Island
  • State/Province: FL
  • County: Brevard
  • Area: 250 – N Merritt Island
  • Subdivision/Condo Nm: CAPE CROSSINGS
  • Directions: SR 528 east to exit St Rd 3-Courtenay Blvd to North over Barge Canal. Make U turn to then right into Cape Crossings.
  • Tax ID: 24-36-11-00-00505.0-0000.00
  • Condo Unit #: 101
  • Front Door Faces: S
  • Property Subtype: townhouse

Rental Info

  • Rent Includes: Basic Lawn Maint, Cable, Electric, Pest Control, Pool Maintenance, Sewer, Trash P/U, Water
  • Furnishings: Full

Call Rachel DeCamp, 321-403-7155, or email 

2019 Florida Vacation Rentals Act revival may come too late for some

David Hefner bought a three-bedroom home with a pool on Treasure Island near Clearwater for $700,000 in November as a “secondary residence” his West Virginia family would enjoy several times a year. He invested another $100,000 in improvements and renovations. “The home has everything – and it’s on the water,” he said.

Hefner said he always intended to buy a beach-area home that he could offer as vacation rental. Without subsidizing his mortgage payments with rental income, he could not afford such an investment.

His prospective neighbors were doing it. There were dozens of single-family homes in Treasure Island and surrounding areas listed on digital vacation rental sites such as Airbnb, VRBO and HomeAway, he noticed.

Hefner did so, too. Within two months, “I had 22 weeks booked,” he said.

At $3,000 a week, Hefner anticipated about $60,000 in rental income from the home.

But that money instantly disappeared in a visit from a Treasure Island code enforcement officer.

Hefner said the officer told him he was responding to an “anonymous email” alerting him that Hefner was violating the city’s short-term rental ordinance that prohibits single-family homes from being rented for any period of time more than twice a year.

The officer explained the city was responding to a rash of complaints regarding “illegal rentals” and there could be “no exception to the rule,” Hefner said.

He had to cancel his bookings and hope the proposed Vacations Rental Act was adopted by the Legislature during its 2018 session.

“Knowing that the law might change, it was a glimmer of hope,” he said, noting the digital sites all assess the state-local 13 percent sales tax, meaning he would have paid $7,800 in taxes to local and state governments.

The Vacations Rental Act – Senate Bill 1400, sponsored by Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, and House Bill 773, sponsored by Rep. Mike La Rosa, R-St. Cloud – imposed state preemption in regulating short-term rentals.

The bill proposed removing short-term vacation rentals from hotel and motel regulations, and establishing a uniform inspection program conducted by the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR).

Proponents said state preemption was necessary to protect private landowners rights and unshackle the restrictions on private homeowners – such as Hefner – to participate in a growing $31 billion state short-term rental industry from a restrictive local regulation.

Opponents, including local governments and the state’s hospitality industry, argued the bill would preclude homeowners from managing their own neighborhoods, claiming it was another example of the Republican-led legislature using preemption to strip municipalities of their capacities to address street-level concerns.

SB 1400 passed the Senate Regulated Industries Committee, but never made it out the chamber’s appropriations and community affairs committees for a floor vote. HB 773 also never made it out of committee. Similar 2017 bills shared the same fates.

Proponents say the measures got lost in the time crunch after the Valentine’s Day school shooting in Parkland became a pressing priority during the last three weeks of the 60-day session that adjourned March 9.

Opponents said pressure by local government advocates and hotel industry representatives, such as the Greater Miami and The Beaches Hotel Association, made passage highly unlikely.

Nevertheless, Vacation Rental Act proponents say they will try again to get the bill introduced and passed in 2019.

Florida Vacation Rental Management Association (FLVRMA) President Jennifer Frankenstein-Harris told members that despite bills restricting local regulation of short-term rentals failed two years in a row, the fight is not over but just beginning.

“The truth is, we are only in the midst of this discussion,” she said. “As president, I personally guarantee the Florida Vacation Rental Management Association will continue to bring forth education and a fierce determination to fight for the rights of property owners across the state of Florida. I assure you this fight is far from over.”

Florida Airbnb spokesman Benjamin Breit said “it’s too early to tell” if Airbnb will again lobby for the measure, noting it will be querying November election candidates about their views on vacation rentals.

“From our post-session conversations with state lawmakers and our 45,000-plus statewide hosts, it certainly appears there is an appetite to revisit this issue in order to provide regulatory certainty for an industry that infuses hundreds of millions of dollars into Florida’s economy,” Breit said.

Indeed, the vacation rentals issue could be a state Legislature campaign issue, said Kurt Wenner, vice president for research with Florida TaxWatch.

Wenner said Florida TaxWatch has never taken a stand on the issue but may do so soon. “That is something that we are considering taking a look at,” he said. “What kind of impact it has” on local governments and on housing values.

“Is it good or bad?”

If regulatory relief does come in 2019, it will likely be too late for Hefner.

“It’s a bummer to see that the bill was not addressed during their last session,” he said. “I’m going to need to sell my home because of local city regulations.”

“In fact,” he added, “my Realtor is actually at the house now.”

Photo credit: Mark Winfrey | Shutterstock

By John Haughey |

Solutions’ Ranks in Top 10 (Prime Buyer’s Report)

Solutions Property Management named in The TOP 10 Property Managers in Brevard County FL

Property managers in Brevard County FL bearing The Prime Buyer’s Report TOP 10 symbol are those property management companies that have exceeded the minimum Florida regulatory standard.  They are those proven by our independent research to have passed the TOP 10 requirements for value and reliability, that carry liability insurance as protection for you the client, who use only employees legal to work in the U.S., and for whom our staff has called previous clients to verify high satisfaction with them for property management in Brevard County FL, including vacation rentals, apartment buildings, rental homes, and commercial property management such as for office building management, malls and other retail properties.


Florida bill would prevent local restrictions on vacation rentals

As Orange County and Orlando look into allowing short-term home rentals under some conditions, a bill filed in Tallahassee might take that choice away from them entirely.

Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, introduced a bill last week that would strip local governments of the right to regulate short-term vacation rentals such as Airbnb and give all such power to the state.

Stuebe’s bill, which did not have a companion bill in the House as of Tuesday, states property owners have “constitutionally protected” rights to use their residential properties as vacation rentals.

“Vacation rentals play a significant, unique, and critical role in Florida’s tourism industry, and that role is different from that of public lodging establishments,” it states.

If the bill passes during the upcoming state legislative session that begins next week, it would have a major impact on Central Florida cities and counties.

Current law prevents any new restrictions on short-term rentals but allows older laws from before 2011 to be grandfathered in. Under that law, both Orlando and Orange County currently ban short-term rentals of less than 30 days.

Both are looking into allowing “hosted” rentals, in which the owners stay on property. The Orlando city planning board approved such a change in November, with staff drafting an ordinance to be voted on by the City Council.

Orange County is looking into how other places have dealt with short-term rentals before the commission decides to make a decision on hosted rentals.

Under Steube’s bill, such local discussions would be for naught. All regulation and control of such rentals would be “preempted to the state,” with owners needing to obtain a license every year. A license would not be able to be transferred from one place or owner to another.

The state could refuse to issue or renew a license if an owner has been found guilty of crimes ranging from soliciting prostitution to dealing drugs.

While local governments couldn’t create any additional restrictions, local law enforcement would be required to help the state go after any illegally operated rentals.

A spokesman for the Travel Technology Association, an industry trade group that includes Airbnb on its board, said they were aware of Steube’s bill and were taking a look at it.

TTA vice president Matt Kiessling said last month he thinks vacation rentals should be allowed with no conditions. Any restrictions are due to “antiquated laws,” he said, and limiting it to hosted rentals would be difficult to enforce.

“Whether it’s a primary or secondary residence, it’s irrelevant,” Kiessling said. “Owners should be able to do as they wish with their properties.”

The bill is just one of several controversial bills Steube has filed in the past few months, including one that would prevent local governments from enforcing protections on treesand one that would eliminate Daylight Saving Time., 407-418-5920 or @stevelemongello