12 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 12 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 in the smoky mountains
Located in Pigeon Forge, TN

2. 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

3. 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.

Tour The “Novel” Retreat >

Unique vacation rentals in Costa Rica
Cabo Matapalo, Costa Rica

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

5. 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.

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

6. 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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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

7. 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.

Tour The Outlook Shipping Container >

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

8. 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.

Tour Castle Chateau De Melusine >

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

9. 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

10. 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

11. 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.

Tour Tuscany in Sonoma >

The pool area and the back of a vacation home in Florida lined with exotic plants.

12. Villa De La Mar at Casey Key

Tranquil luxury in Florida

Hidden away on Florida's Gulf Coast, this Casey Key estate offers a tranquil escape immersed in natural beauty. Here, you can savor breathtaking water views from every room, spend blissful afternoons on your private beach access, and reconnect with loved ones in the luxurious outdoor living areas featuring a summer kitchen, pool, spa, and dock. With impeccable finishes, multiple living spaces, and amenities like a home theater, this architectural masterpiece provides the perfect blend of relaxation and indulgence for an extraordinary vacation experience.

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More vacation home inspiration

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