15 cool vacation rentals from coast to coast

Tour our top picks of unique and eye-catching vacation homes.

Updated in 2024

A vacation rental on an island in Topsail Island.
The living room lined with books at a unique vacation rental in Austin, TX.

Sometimes finding a fun vacation home is half the adventure. If you're looking for a vacation rental with a little something extra, these 15 homes—each a one-of-a-kind getaway—are a great place to start. Splash the summer away in a pool with all the works or check living like a celebrity off your bucket list and book an extravagant escape. From treehouse bungalows in Costa Rica to beachfront beauties, we offer awesome vacation homes for every style of traveler.

And speaking of style, some of these homes are no stranger to awards or magazine features recognizing their eye for design. We hope these cool homes inspire wanderlust, and maybe a little intrigue, whether you’re planning your next big adventure or simply admiring some enviable interiors.

A vacation rental in Topsail Island.
Located in Snead’s Ferry, NC

1. Sneads Island

An island all your own

Ever imagine having a private island to yourself? Bask in water views from almost every room and almost every direction during your stay in this luxurious and unique vacation home, resting on its own little island in the middle of Alligator Bay, just north of Topsail Island. Cool off with a dip in the private swimming pool, catch up on a good book while lounging on the sun deck, and after dinner (or before—we won’t tell), gather family and friends for s’mores around the outdoor fire pit.

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Unique vacation rentals North Carolina
Located in Lake Lure, NC

2. Parabull’s Point

Lakefront luxury

This isn’t your average lake house vacation. While you’ll enjoy panoramic water views from the main house’s sporty living room to its large deck, there is also the guest cottage, the private boat house, the massive chef’s kitchen, and a 75-foot water slide to consider. A walk around the estate’s grounds only adds to its wow factor, revealing a waterfront hot tub and an outdoor patio to savor meals and the 14-foot cascading waterfall.

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unique vacation rentals in the smoky mountains
Located in Pigeon Forge, TN

3. Smoky Mountain Station

Authentic train tiny home

Just outside of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, your traincation awaits. Train enthusiasts, youngsters, and those young-at-heart are welcome aboard this 1916 CSX caboose-turned-tiny home, fully decked out with a replica ticket stand, modern amenities, and two cozy bedrooms. This unique vacation rental rests in the heart of the Smoky Mountain action, only 1.6 miles from Dollywood and less than a mile from the Rocky Top Mountain Coaster. Head out on a day of hiking or amusement park fun and wind down the night by the fire pit or hot tub.

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The living room library of a vacation rental in Austin, Texas.
Located in Austin, TX

4. The “Novel” Retreat

Curious and creative

Get ready to experience a home full of imagination on and off the page. Aptly named The "Novel" Retreat, this Austin vacation rental is full of carefully curated novelties and, well, novels. With equally colorful and plush bedrooms, rest assured—there won't be any arguments over room selection. It's equal parts creative and comfortable. You're going to love it staying at this museum-like property.

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Unique vacation rentals in Costa Rica
Cabo Matapalo, Costa Rica

5. Casa Contiki

Romantic tropical paradise

Sneak away to a romantic tropical retreat for two. This treehouse-style getaway, just steps away from the beach, ensures you’ll never miss a relaxing ocean breeze. Add some freshly picked tropical fruit to your breakfast before you head out for a day of horseback riding by the ocean. Tucked away from the busy streets, with nearby nature tours, waterfall hiking trails, and jungle wildlife, you’ll feel you have this private corner of Costa Rican paradise to yourself.

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Unique vacation homes in Michigan
Located in Union Pier, MI

6. Barefoot Beach House

One cool pool

Upgrade your family reunion or summer trip away to this vacation home with a water park just beyond the back door. The 8-bedroom, 9-bathroom home along Lake Michigan will house plenty of laughs and elbow space for your whole crew. Outside, delight in a pool day unlike any other, with a 7-foot waterfall, a slide into the swimming pool, a goldfish pond, and an adjacent hot tub. Of course, when you’ve had enough fun at the pool, there’s also the private beachfront to Lake Michigan ready to keep the good times rolling.

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The back fire pit at a ski rental in Breckenridge, CO.
Located in Breckenridge, CO

7. Benoit Lookout Estate

Winter wonderland

Meet the best place to spend your snow days. This luxury-meets-cozy vacation rental promises winter thrills for skiers and non-skiers alike. In the morning, wake up to snowcapped mountain views of Breckenridge and get ready to start your day, whether that’s hitting the slopes (just step out the door to the base of Peak 8) or never leaving the massive 14-person hot tub. Warm up with some time in the steam room, a dip in the soaking tub, or cozying up by any of the home’s five fireplaces. End your evenings by challenging your little ones to a competition in the game room or with a coveted après-ski spot by the stone fireplace, watching the snowflakes dance outside.

Tour Skiers Palace >

Located in Portland, OR

8. Firehouse 17

Historic firehouse fun

For a stay with a story, slide into your vacation with a historic 1912 firehouse. This renovated landmark, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987, is fit with a firepole, beautiful antique furnishings, and a pool table. Though the days of horse-drawn ladder trucks and steam pumpers are gone, much of the original firehouse’s craftsmanship and details remain, including the carriage doors, providing an ideal fusion of character and contemporary comforts—an unforgettable experience for history buffs, creatives, and families alike. If you’re visiting Portland, this local (and pet-friendly) treasure keeps you within walking distance of bars, restaurants, and shops for effortless adventuring.

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unique vacation rentals in on the Oregon Coast
Located in Oceanside, OR

9. Boxer Bay

Panoramic ocean views

Step out on Boxer Bay’s large deck and it might be a challenge to pull yourself away from watching the waves. Whether on a romantic retreat or seeking some quiet time, you’re sure to find it in this vacation home’s unique design, as its curved structure frames the dramatic Oregon coastline as the focal point. The home’s tasteful interior suits the soothing ocean atmosphere, where you can ease back, soak in the hot tub, and savor some well-deserved R&R. Though you can feel free to indulge in the seclusion, there’s WiFi and nearby restaurants and cafes to keep you connected.

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unique vacation rentals in Seattle
Located in Seattle, WA

10. An Indian Dream Cabin

Architectural gem

The Puget Sound has no bad angles—luckily, neither does this architectural stunner. This scenic oasis sits just 6 miles from downtown Seattle, but you wouldn’t know it given the setting’s serene atmosphere, featuring a koi pond, luxury fire pit, and several patios to take in the sweeping water and mountain views. This vacation home’s open design and floor-to-ceiling windows allow you to feel in perfect harmony with your surroundings—never missing a sunrise or sunset. Balance a little remote work on your vacation with WiFi and the private home office or take a hiatus from the world lounging the days away.

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The exterior of a shipping container vacation rental on the lake in Hot Springs, AR as seen from the dock.
Located in Hot Springs, AR

11. The Outlook Shipping Container

Renovated shipping container

This shipping container-turned-dream house is designer style and lakeside relaxation rolled into one. Located on the shores of Lake Hamilton, just 6 and a half miles from downtown, you’ll enjoy the eye-catching scenery inside and out, with chic interior touches and soothing lake views. While most shipping containers are often converted into tiny homes, this awesome vacation rental was constructed from four shipping containers, culminating in spacious living rooms, floor-to-ceiling windows, and an upper and lower deck. Kick back with the family, stargaze on the large deck, or enjoy a day of boating on the lake.

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Stone castle vacation rental with a mountain view in Sandpoint, ID.
Located in Sandpoint, ID

12. The Castle Chateau De Melusine

Fairytale castle

A vacation of the noblest kind awaits. Perched on Schweitzer Mountain, this Medieval castle invites you to step back in time and live the fairytale you’ve always dreamed of. Complete with vaulted ceilings, stained glass windows, a stone fireplace, a hot tub, Medieval decor (including armor, swords, and statues), a proper knight’s table, and a rooftop dragon, you’re in for an enchanting experience as you explore Northern Idaho or ski the slopes at nearby Schweitzer Mountain Resort. Open a bottle of mead with dinner, make paper crowns for your kids, and savor the mountain views from the hot tub. Add a touch of magic to your family vacation or romantic getaway in this cool rental.

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Vacation rental with a pool in the jungle in Uvita, Puntarenas.
Located in Puntarenas, Costa Rica

13. Lost Pools Bungalow

Tropical off-grid adventure

Outdoor adventurers, meet your perfect bucket list match. Deep in the lush jungle of Costa Rica, indulge in a tropical off-grid getaway over 160 acres of this mini-eco compound. From three treehouse-like bungalows, you’ll be able to swing into one activity after another, between hiking the walking trails, sampling the fruit trees, mixing drinks at the bar, swimming in the private pool, or taking a dip in any of the surrounding natural pools and waterfalls on the property. This one-of-a-kind vacation home is the ideal place to unplug and unwind, as there’s no WiFi, but plenty of opportunities to reconnect with nature while spotting tropical birds and jungle animals. As a bonus: during your stay, keep a running tally of how many decorative sloths you find.

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The exterior of a unique vacation rental in Glacier.
Located in Columbia Falls, MT

14. Gateway to Glacier

Geodesic dome mountain cabin

Visually and scientifically intriguing, this vacation home’s prime location and secluded nature make it a fantastic backdrop for your next mountain getaway. Not only does it rest on a private wooded acre on the edge of Glacier National Park, but you’ll find that even the architecture is engineered for easy relaxation. Geodesic domes are built to promote seamless air circulation and keep temperatures even throughout the home—plus, they add a unique cool factor to any vacation. After hitting the nearby ski resorts or exploring the national park, come back to cozy up by the fireplace and tell stories around the outdoor fire pit.

Tour Gateway to Glacier >

The vineyards and villas in Kenwood, CA.
Located in Kenwood, CA

15. Tuscany in Sonoma

A Tuscany-style retreat in wine country

Experience Tuscan opulence without stamping your passport or sweating the international airfare. Views of rolling vineyards, a grove of olive and fruit trees, a clawfoot soaking tub, and an Olympic-sized swimming pool—this vacation home truly has it all. After whipping up an incredible meal in the stunning chef’s kitchen, grab a bottle of wine from the nearby winery and dine alfresco while admiring the sunset. Relax by the poolside while catching up on a good book or dive in for a cool refresher. Kids will love paying a visit to the chickens and sheep on the property, as well as the chance to squeeze fresh lemonade.

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