The 10 Most Popular Cities for Renting a Beach House This Summer

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After what feels like a lifetime of being stuck at home, the pre-covid world is slowly starting to make a comeback. As tie-dye masks, quarantinis and virtual happy hours slowly become a thing of the past, many of us are looking forward to doing some revenge traveling this summer. “There's so much pent-up demand for people to travel,” according to Vacasa CEO Matthew Roberts. He says that “pandemic-driven demand has caused the market for vacation home rentals to leapfrog at least a few years in terms of growth...more traditional hotel travelers, such as baby boomers, tried Airbnb and Vrbo for the first time and decided they liked it.”

However, people aren’t just craving the usual vacation hotspots. After over a year of being sequestered to our homes, many of us are looking to try something new. A recent Vacasa survey found that buyers aren’t just looking for beach houses in Florida and Hawaii, but in less expected places like the Washington Coast and lakefront Michigan. Not in the market to buy but still want to spend this summer by the sand? See below for a list of the ten most popular cities for buying beach houses this summer, plus our pick of swoon-worthy rentals in each spot.

The 25 Best Beach Towns in America

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1. Cape Hatteras, N.c.

Median home price: $379,248

Home to the tallest brick lighthouse in the country is Cape Hatteras, a barrier island that stretches for about 70 miles on Carolina’s outer banks. The coast is lined with picturesque sandy dunes and ends at the lovely Hatteras lighthouse—a gorgeous spot that’s just begging to be Instagrammed. While the island is known for its world-renowned fishing, there’s still plenty to do for those who are less aquatically inclined. If your expertise aligns closer with eating fish, rather than catching fish, we recommend trying a top-rated restaurant on the island, like Harbor House Seafood or Cafe Pamlico. In terms of activities, the calm Hatteras waters are perfect for windsurfing, kayaking, or taking a boat tour where you’re guaranteed to see sea turtles in the summertime.

Places to stay:

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2. Ocean Shores, Wa

Median home price: $250,255

You may be thinking, “Washington? For a beach rental?” And our answer is YES. People usually equate the Evergreen State with snow-capped mountaintops and RVs, but that’s only because they haven’t explored the exquisite southeastern coast. Ocean Shores is the ideal spot for young families who are looking for fun with the kids by day, and romantic outings with the S.O at night.Whether you’re visiting Pacific Paradise (Mini golf! Bumper boats! Arcade games!) or taking a stroll through Damon Point at sunset, there’s always something to do in this eclectic little beach town. (Lounging on beautiful North Jetty beach is a must-do, with or without children.) Oh, and if you don’t have Murphy's Homemade Ice Cream & Fudge as the first place to visit on your itinerary, you’re missing out.

Places to stay:

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3. Dauphin Island, Al

Median home price: $289,623

We guarantee that you won’t regret visiting the sunset capital of Alabama on the Gulf Coast (unless you forget to pack the sunscreen). This scenic 14-mile stretch off the coast of Mobile is the perfect spot to sit back, relax, and enjoy the white sandy dunes of Dauphin Island Public Beach. Then, when you need a break from floating in the bathwater-warm waves of the Gulf, you can take in the abundance of wildlife with a visit to the Sea Lab Estuarium or Audubon Bird Sanctuary. P.S. the entire island is considered a bird sanctuary so pack your binoculars.

Places to stay:

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4. New Buffalo, Mi

Median home price: $319,306

New Buffalo, located 70 miles from downtown Chicago, is a calm and quaint escape from city life. This charming little town combines the tranquility and relaxation of an oceanside experience with magnificent views of Lake Michigan. Not into soft, golden beaches? No problem—there’s no shortage of activities here, from water sports on Lake Michigan, hiking at Galien River County Park, or visiting local distilleries and the Four Winds casino. (Just remember, you left the city to slow down.)

Places to stay:

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5. Corolla, Nc

Median home price: $560,599

Corolla is an increasingly popular hub between the Atlantic Ocean and Currituck Sound (and we can understand why). This idyllic escape from reality is the perfect place to leave your troubles behind and forget about your hurried life back home. While oceanside dining at Outer Banks Boil Company and hikes on the Currituck Banks are pillars of the Corolla lifestyle, there are tons of activities to partake in, including kayak tours, Jet Ski rentals, deep-sea fishing charters and go-karting. But we haven’t even gotten to our favorite part... there’s a free attraction that will take your breath away: herds of wild Mustangs (descended from horses that escaped from Spanish explorers in the 1500s) that roam freely on Currituck Beach. If you’re headed to Corolla, this should be at the top of your to-do list.

Places to stay:

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6. Kauai South, Hi

Median home price: $593,554

Thanks to the warm and sunny weather of south Kauai, hundreds upon thousands of tourists come to the island every year to enjoy its spectacular beaches. The breathtaking southern shores of Kauai are home to some of the country’s best beaches, most notably Poipu Beach, which offers everything from air, helicopter and balloon tours, to scuba diving, whale watching and specialized tours for social influences and travel bloggers (hey, you always wanted to start your own website). Book a beach rental here ASAP and ready thy Instagram.

Places to stay:

beach umbrellas await vacationers in early morning on the isle of palms south carolina
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7. Isle Of Palms, Sc

Median home price: $708,920

There are some beaches that feel like you’ve got a front-row seat to New York fashion week and then there are the more, shall we say, casual sandy shores. If you’d rather kick back in the latter, this is the spot for you. Surrounded by pristine white beaches from every direction is the barrier island of Isle of Palms—a chillax, resort lifestyle destination where the most popular fashion statement is flip-flops and a T-shirt. After maxing out on tanning and beach volleyball on Isle of Palms County Park Beach, we recommend taking a 30-minute drive to Charleston, which has a ton of family attractions like The South Carolina Aquarium and Fountain Walk, a new dining, entertainment and shopping complex nearby.

Places to stay:

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8. Wailea, Hi

Median home price: $885,086

Wailea is located in South Maui, a 30-minute drive to the main airport. If you’re looking for an authentic Hawaiian getaway, this is mecca. Wailea Beach is filled with young children and adults enjoying the warm waves just feet away. Golf grounds like Wailea Golf Club have brought acclaim to the area and boutiques in the Shops at Wailea are perfect for fashionistas who need a break from the beach. This location is absolutely breathtaking, a fact that will become obvious when you enjoy a morning stroll along the Wailea Beach Path and explore Little Beach's volcanic rock formations in the afternoon. If you’re looking for luas and luxury, Wailea’s the place for you.

Places to stay:

a beautiful beach scene in the kahala area of honolulu
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9. South Kohala, Hi

Median home price: $639,908

The towns of Puako, Waikoloa Village, Waimea, Kawaihae and the Kawaihae Harbor are all part of the beautiful South Kohala area. It's one of the most popular tourist locations on Hawaii's Big Island, yet it's still possible to while away an afternoon in relative peace and quiet. Lush, green expanses of rolling hills define Evenings at Kahua Ranch, which one reviewer describes as a “Fantastic night, [with] great service, delicious and plentiful food, genuine hospitality, live band, beverages for all.” South Kohala is noted for its outstanding food scene, and trying Merriman’s famous Wok Charred Ahi or CanoeHouse's grilled rack of lamb is a must. Other top-rated restaurants you won’t want to miss include Napua at Mauna Lani Beach Club and Brown's Beach House (the weekly farmers' markets are also excellent). The rentals are fairly priced, and with activities ranging from dolphin quests to circle of fire helicopter tours, there's something for everyone in South Kohala.

Places to stay:

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10. Bolivar Peninsula, Tx

Median home price: $299,354

Last but certainly not least, there’s Bolivar Peninsula in Texas. As the expression goes, everything is bigger in Texas, and the Peninsula offers a staggering 27-mile length of beautiful sandy shores like Crystal Beach. According to locals, “it’s one of those places that takes you back in time—where mom and pop shops line the streets and the Big Kite and Surf Shop retailers are the main game in town.” Within this laid-back, slightly off-the-grid Gulf Coast destination, there are tons of must-see areas, including Gilchrist, High Island and Port Bolivar. If you’re looking for a relaxed summer without distractions, this is the place for you.

Places to stay:

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Assistant Editor

Sydney Meister is PureWow's Assistant Editor, covering everything from dating trends and relationship advice (here's looking at you, 'soonicorns') to interior design, beauty...