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The top 10 ‘hidden gems’ for summer vacation home rentals

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What are the top hot spots American vacationers are booking in home rentals this summer?

The lists are as numerous as the destinations themselves. Vacation rental management company Vacasa has compiled its own Top 10 list by “combing through a comprehensive set of Vacasa and partner data” (including combined occupancy during June, July and August from 2017 through June 2019) to determine the most popular destinations being booked in the markets it serves. (Vacasa operates in 29 U.S. states and 16 countries in Europe, South Africa and the Americas.)

The Top 10, in increasing order of popularity, are: Portland, Oregon; Kissimmee, Florida; Playa del Carmen, Mexico; New Orleans; Miami; Honolulu; Seattle; Milan, Italy; San Diego; and — topping the list — Rome, Italy.

Nice list — but the Portland, Oregon-based firm has gone one better: Aware that popularity necessarily means crowds, the firm also identified “undiscovered towns and smaller cities,” with a similar look and feel to the Top 10.

“These hidden gems allow travelers to escape flocks of tourists, endless lines and crowded restaurants,” Vacasa says. “Plus, they can score some deals.”

Here’s a look at the company’s Top 10 “hidden gems,” for your vacation consideration.

Source: Vacasa

10. Bend, Oregon … instead of Portland

The Old Mill District In Bend, Oregon.

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Citing Portland, Oregon’s famed breweries and “eco-friendly culture,” Vacasa call the Pacific Northwest city “an outdoor playground for travelers.” It may rain half the year, the firm notes, but Portland is “beautiful during the summer, making it hard to beat.” However, Bend, Oregon, just 150 miles to the southeast, is a viable — and potentially more cost-effective — alternative summer vacation destination, reports Vacasa. The company notes that, while both cities offers a similar focus on art, music and craft beer, Bend is less busy and “perhaps even more outdoorsy” than its larger sibling.

9. Davenport, Florida … instead of Kissimmee

Lake in Davenport, Florida.

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Beloved by Walt Disney World-bound vacationers, family fun hub Kissimmee, Florida, comes in at No. 9, but travelers might also consider nearby Davenport. Located about 20 miles to Kissimmee’s southwest and 10 miles from Disney, the hidden gem of Davenport has “plenty of accommodation options and it’s often more affordable” than Kissimmee or Orlando, according to Vacasa.

8. Tulum, Mexico … instead of Playa del Carmen

Seaside Mayan ruins in Tulum, Mexico.

Kelly Chang Travel Photography | Getty Images

Popular Mexican beach resort town Playa del Carmen is an escape from the hustle and bustle of busier Cancun to the north, but its increased popularity has travelers-in-the-know looking even farther afield. Some have discovered Tulum, just an hour from Playa del Carmen. It’s not only “much less commercialized,” according to Vacasa, but boasts “more authentic restaurants and stores,” along with a set of world-famous seaside Mayan temple ruins.

7. Savannah, Georgia … instead of New Orleans

Savannah, Georgia

Daniela Duncan | Moment | Getty Images

Few U.S. cities are as unique and iconic as the Big Easy, landing it the No. 7 spot on Vacasa’s list of top summer destinations. But let’s face it: New Orleans‘ myriad charms — from Mardi Gras, voodoo lore and Bourbon Street bars to air boat swamp tours, alligators and Cajun-Creole cuisine — mean big crowds and hefty tabs. Why not try just as charming but less crowded Savannah, Georgia, three states west on the Atlantic Ocean? Vacasa notes that, “like NOLA, Savannah is known for its historic district and antebellum charm.” The company suggests a sunny horse-drawn carriage ride through the city’s cobblestone streets as a must on any visit.

6. Daytona Beach, Florida … instead of Miami

Daytona Beach, Florida.

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The sunny Greater Miami area — from South Beach to Coral Gables to Little Havana — is the sixth-most-popular destination with Vacasa customers, but consider less crowded and just as lovely Daytona Beach, a four-hour drive to the north. Lively Daytona “has tons of rides, arcades, concerts and clubs,” says the home rental company.

5. Princeville, Kauai, Hawaii … instead of Honolulu

Resort in Princeville, Kauai, Hawaii.

M.M. Sweet | Moment | Getty Images

No. 5 Honolulu is beloved for its “stunning beaches, volcanic Diamond Head crater and many hotels,” according to Vacasa. Not so loved: The Hawaiian capital’s high prices and crowds. Scenic Princeville and other hidden gems on Kauai may not be much cheaper, but they’re a lot less populated. Known for its “wild beauty and cliffside views overlooking the sea,” Princeville is, says Vacasa, the perfect Hawaii alternative for sun and sand seekers.

4. Boise, Idaho … instead of Seattle

Ann Morrison Park and Boise, Idaho, skyline in fall colors.

Steve Bly | Photographer’s Choice | Getty Images

“Surrounded by water and lush forests,” Seattle is “perfect for outdoorsy foodies who have a passion for pop culture.” Here’s the thing: It’s not No. 4 on this list for nothing. Since the Emerald City is a must on many regular travelers’ bucket lists, it’s hard to claim bragging rights after a visit. Many have been there, done that before you. Virgin territory awaits, however, 500 miles to the southeast in Boise, Idaho. This “up and coming” Pacific Northwest city is home to “an active arts community” and boasts a “lively downtown filled with shops, restaurants and nightlife,” says Vacasa.

3. Lake Como, Italy … instead of Milan

Lake Como in northern Italy’s Lombardy region.

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Coming in at No. 3 is the Italian city of Milan. Popular with travelers thanks to its food, fashion and retail scenes, cosmopolitan Milan flaunts a New York-style vibe and pace. Looking for quieter but just as upscale escape? How about a visit to what locals in Italy’s Lombard region claim is “the most beautiful lake in the world?” Scenic Lake Como, nestled at the foot of the Alps, lies an easy day trip from the metropolitan mania back in Milan.

2. San Clemente, California … instead of San Diego

California coastal town of San Clemente,  just north of San Diego County.

Art Wager | E+ | Getty Images

San Diego, the No. 2 most popular destination booked by Vacasa clients, is often cited by visitors as one of the most beautiful U.S. cities they’ve visited. In addition to the seaside views, vacationers are keen on the town’s famous boardwalk, Mexican restaurants, surfing opportunities and city zoo — not to mention a lively party scene. While it may not be as busy, equally attractive if smaller San Clemente — an hour’s drive north of San Deigo — is known as the “Spanish Village by the Sea,” says Vacasa. What’s the appeal? How does “unbeatable ocean views” and sunshine “300 days out the year” sound?

1. Senigallia, Italy … instead of Rome

The Rocca Roveresca fortification in Senigallia, in Italy’s Marche region.

Marco Maccarini | Photolibrary | Getty Images

Drum roll, please! Topping Vacasa’s list of most popular summer vacation destinations is … Rome. Viva Italia! The Italian capital is packed with historical art and architecture; world-class entertainment, retail and dining venues; and a range of accommodations from hostels to five-star hotels. But all the big city fun comes at big city prices, and big city crowds. Less than four hours east of Rome by car, sunny Senigallia — on the country’s Adriatic Sea coast — is “a stunning, laid-back little beach town.” Vacasa adds that “like Rome, it’s rich with history, stretching back more than a thousand years, but travelers won’t have to pay through the nose for food or a place to stay.”

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