When you think about owning a summer home, you usually imagine beaches, warm weather, and backyard barbecues with the kids. On CNBC’s list of the 12 best cities to buy a vacation home, eight of them were in Florida. But what if that’s just not you? What if sunshine, humidity, and tourist traps aren’t what you look for in a vacation? Barron’s list is more varied, and it proves you don’t have to stick to the typical summer vacation to get the most out of a second house or condo. If you love mountains, trees, lakes, and other natural wonders, you will enjoy investing in a hideaway surrounded by nature instead of theme parks. If your ideal home away from home involves majestic views and peace and quiet, here are some suggestions for places where a home will help you skip all the vacation stress and commune with nature the old-fashioned way.
1. Springdale, Utah
Located in the Southwest part of the state outside the borders of Zion National Park, Springdale is a minuscule town, clocking in at 529 residents in the 2010 census. Forbes has called Springdale one of America’s 20 prettiest towns, and if you’re willing to pay a median price of $850,000, you can own a home there. For the tiny community, Zion is their backyard, with its majestic Kolob Canyons, the scenic Virgin River, and amazing views from Lava Point. The 229-square foot park is rich with wildlife and every kind of natural rock formation there is, making it one of the most beautiful national parks the United States has to offer.
2. Durango, Colorado
Durango is a city of 16,000 people in Colorado’s La Plata County which is famous for its 32 parks over 839 acres and its proximity to many natural wonders. It’s located in the heart of the Animas River Valley, and the river itself lets visitors enjoy fly fishing, kayaking, and white water rafting. Durango is also nearby to five major mountain ski resorts and 36 miles from the majestic Mesa Verde National Park. Its rich cultural life and historic downtown area is a huge draw for residents all year long, and because it’s a slightly larger town, home prices have a nice range. You can invest in cabins, cottages, or condos from around $200,000 to well over $1 million.
3. Prince Edward Island, Canada
Just 200 kilometers off the coast of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island is one of the most beautiful places in Canada and also one of the smallest – you can tour the entire island by car in less than a day. Still, its lush coasts, lighthouses, old rustic farms, and cherry blossom woods attract hundreds of visitors. The province offers sandstone cliffs, rolling hills, and the amazing foliage of Prince Edward Island National Park. And it’s remarkably cheap to buy real estate there, with Kanetix comparisons now available in PEI. The average home is around $190,000, which can include restored cottages and beautiful rustic houses in many different areas of the island.
4. Gatlinburg, Tennessee
A rustic, mountain town near the Great Smokies, Gatlinburg is a popular tourist spot in the state if you’re looking for a quieter, more rural alternative to Dollywood’s Pigeon Forge. It’s bordered by mountains on every side and offers breathtaking forests and access to the only ski resort in Tennessee. The Gatlinburg Trolley takes visitors through neighborhoods filled with comedy and musical theater shows, even a famous haunted house. There is some surprisingly affordable real estate available, too. A 2-bedroom house can cost you less than $90,000, though there are plenty of options for large mountain cabins closer to the $1 million range. All in all, this corner of Appalachia offers quite a deal.
5. Braceridge, Ontario
Built around a waterfall on the Muskoka River, Bracebridge is a popular town of 15,000 residents in the idyllic Muskoka Province. The region is often referred to as “cottage country” and is home to lakes, farming villages, country clubs, and scenic vistas. Bracebridge is one of six townships in Muskoka, and it offers a railway station, historic buildings, and the famous Santa’s Village, a Christmas theme park which attracts thousands of visitors a year. The area is so beautiful that many celebrities purchase vacation homes in the vicinity, where they can easily hide away from urban life. Some of the homes are pricey, but you can find a good deal for $400,000 or less in many areas of town.
If you’ve ever experienced rural life, you know how much it can reduce stress and leave you rejuvenated before you have to return to the hectic schedule of your daily life. When you’re planning to invest in a vacation home, you want to aim for that level of stress-reduction, especially if the beauty of nature appeals to you much more than a tourist-packed beach in Florida or California. Outside the box, your options are always many.