TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals has rounded up 10 super affordable US getaways this winter for staying in a rental, many of which are worthy of the “hidden gem” moniker due to their great attractions and recreation yet relative anonymity.
The list includes vacations of all types: Florida’s coast, the mountains and beaches of the Carolinas, Oregon’s secret harbor and of course skiing spots out West. Even picturesque Cape Cod makes our hidden gem list – specifically for winter time – due to the shear tranquility and natural beauty of its vacant beaches.
Each location boasts rental homes that won’t break the bank this winter. Temperatures are mild to warm (okay, so Cape Cod may have snow!), and you’ll enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, biking, kayaking and canoeing, or simply indulging in stellar restaurants, shops, breweries and the wondrous sights of America’s diamonds in the rough.
Here are 10 hidden gems with affordable – and highly rated – rental homes this winter.
GARDEN CITY BEACH, SOUTH CAROLINA
AVG Rental Review Score*: 4.06/5.00
AVG Weekly Rate*: $709
Winter Temperature*: 58-64 degrees
Just 10 miles to downtown Myrtle Beach and part of the famous “Grand Strand,” Garden City is a delightful alternative to Myrtle of Surfside Beach. Rentals here come with vast Atlantic Ocean views in all directions, for just $709 per week on average for a two-bedroom home. There’s shopping malls, outlets and specialty boutiques, delectable eateries serving fresh-caught seafood, plus an arcade and live music regularly on the famous pier.
BANNER ELK, NORTH CAROLINA
AVG Rental Review Score: 4.80/5.00
AVG Weekly Rate: $765
Winter Temperature: 45-50 degrees
There’s nothing cozier than a family cabin rental in the woods, where nights are spent around the fireplace drinking hot cocoa and enjoying each other’s company. Banner Elk offers this in spades, with rentals going for just $765 per week on average for a two-bedroom property. Depending which winter month you visit, you may catch temperatures warm enough for hiking and outdoor recreation, or it could dip low enough for fresh powder on the slopes. A Banner Elk home offers an ideal home base for hitting the two local ski areas – Beech Mountain and Sugar Mountain.
CAROLINA BEACH, NORTH CAROLINA
AVG Rental Review Score: 4.29/5.00
AVG Weekly Rate: $833
Winter Temperature: 55-65 degrees
The mild winter temperatures are splendid for exploring the gorgeous Carolina Beach State Park or perusing the boardwalk, with pizza shops, ice cream parlors and a sit-down restaurant. The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher – labeled one of America’s best aquariums by the Travel Channel – is just 4 miles away. If you can hold out until March you’ll even get beach-like weather, as the temps at winter’s tail end can reach the high 60s. For just an average of $833 for a weeklong stay in a two-bedroom home, Carolina Beach is a no-brainer.
AVG Rental Review Score: 5.00/5.00
AVG Weekly Rate: $845
Winter Temperature: 35-45 degrees
Winters in Chelan are a little chilly, but they make for some of the best snowmobiling out West. There’s also nearby Echo Valley Family Ski Area for more traditional downhill skiing and tubing – great for all ages. At just $845 per week for a two-bedroom home, you can get the full Chelan experience without the hefty price tag.
FORT PIERCE, FLORIDA
AVG Rental Review Score: 4.75/5.00
AVG Weekly Rate: $849
Winter Temperature: 75-78 degrees
So you’ve decided on a warm-weather escape, huh? Florida is an obvious option, but what about allthose other tourists with the same idea? You know Orlando, Kissimmee, Davenport and Disney’s other surrounding towns will be crowded and uncomfortable.
Instead, opt for a trip to Fort Pierce, where a two-bedroom rental costs just $849 per week on average this winter. Known as the “Sunrise City” – the sister city to San Francisco, the “Sunset City” – Fort Pierce is part of Florida’s Treasure Coast and thus offers outstanding beaches at your fingertips. You’ll also enjoy fine dining, boutique shops and live entertainment – especially at the 1,200-seat Sunrise Theater for the Performing Arts.
AVG Rental Review Score: 4.37/5.00
AVG Weekly Rate: $885
Winter Temperature: 37-42 degrees
Cape Cod is, of course, one of the East Coast’s most stunning summer destinations. But we’re calling it a hidden gem during the winter because it can be just as charming. The New York Times once wrote, “To enjoy Cape Cod in winter, you must close your eyes and listen.” Indeed, it is more quiet and peaceful, but that means no crowds, traffic jams, or overly enthused 20-somethings singing and dancing on the beach (though there is nothing wrong with that!). Stay in a two-bedroom Sandwich vacation home for just $885 this winter and be treated to the pure beauty of Massachusetts without the hustle and bustle. Alas, you’ll still enjoy some of the Cape’s staples, like the delicious food tours, restaurants and charming shops.
AVG Rental Review Score: 4.17/5.00
AVG Weekly Rate: $892
Winter Temperature: 42-50 degrees
Recreation abounds in Redmond, from mountain biking, fishing, hiking, rock climbing, white-water rafting, skiing and golf. December and March bring mild temperatures for outdoor adventure, while the core of winter offers great skiing at nearby slopes. Mount Bachelor and Hoodoo are both roughly 35 miles away, respectively, where you’ll find Oregon’s best powder. Maybe a ski home is in your future, at just $892 per week on average for a two-bedroom.
AVG Rental Review Score: 4.31/5.00
AVG Weekly Rate: $968
Winter Temperature: 60-70 degrees
Relaxation is the main attraction in Navarre, where you’ll avoid many of the tourists that flock to some of Florida’s more crowded beaches. Stay in one of Navarre’s pristine two-bedroom beachfront condos or cottages for just $968 per week on average – you’ll see why SmarterTravel calls it one of “Florida’s Best Hidden Beaches.”
AVG Rental Review Score: 4.50/5.00
AVG Weekly Rate: $1,016
Winter Temperature: 35-45 degrees
Named for its legendary founder Buffalo Bill Cody, this Wyoming gem remains as full of Old West adventure as it was during the days when Bill himself roamed the grounds. Serving as the Eastern gateway to Yellowstone National Park, Cody is just a few miles away from pristine wilderness where actual buffalo can still be seen. Snowmobiling and ice-skating are popular winter activities, and you can also spend the day on the slopes at Sleeping Giant Ski Area or cross-country skiing at the Wood River Valley Ski Touring Park.
DEPOE BAY, OREGON
AVG Rental Review Score: 4.61/5.00
AVG Weekly Rate: $1,108
Winter Temperature: 45-55 degrees
Depoe Bay has the smallest natural navigable harbor in the world, and fishermen or whale watchers can be from dockside to viewing or fishing in a matter of minutes. It’s considered the “Whale Watching Capital of the Oregon Coast” due to spectacular pods of grey whales that make their home here. Many shops and restaurants have ocean views, just like your affordable vacation rental.