All Ages

10 Best Vacation Rental Destinations in the Northeast

See recent posts by Traci L. Suppa

Savvy families know that renting a vacation property in your choice destination is an affordable way to travel. You”ll get all the comforts of home-and plenty of space-for stays of up to a week or more. In the northeast U.S., these are the most popular places for renting properties. This is where to go to enjoy the best the region has to offer: scenic Atlantic coastline, picturesque parks and lakes, and majestic mountains.

Written by Traci L. Suppa


Mystic, Connecticut

With its coastal New England vibe, Mystic is both a town and the larger surrounding region covering the eastern third of Connecticut -- a total of 42 towns in close proximity. You can swim in the Atlantic at Ocean Beach Park in New London, or enjoy the water by cruise boat. Family-friendly attractions cover everything from the Mystic Aquarium to the Mystic Seaport, a recreated 19th-century village complete with a general store, school, bank, and lighthouse.

Inland, you"ll find the Adventure Park, The Dinosaur Place at Nature's Art Village, and the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat in Essex. Even the area"s two major casino resorts, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, offer non-gaming entertainment options for families and chlldcare facilities so mom and dad can have some grown-up fun.

The common denominator of rental properties in the Mystic region is cozy charm, whether it"s a bungalow on the water or a cottage in town. Historic properties, particularly former sea captains" homes along Captain's Row on Mystic River, go for a premium.

The Poconos, Pennsylvania

Now with three major indoor water park resorts—Great Wolf Lodge and the newer Camelback Lodge"s Aquatopia and Kalahari Resort—the Poconos region has something to offer the entire family year-round. Outdoor enthusiasts have plenty to work with, as well -- more than 2,400 square miles of forests, waterfalls, and mountains spanning four counties. You can enjoy it on a mountain bike, in a canoe on the Delaware River, on a lakeside beach, or on horseback.

Other family attractions include the historic Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, Blue Lightning all season tubing park, Claws n" Paws Wild Animal Park, No. 9 Coal Mine and Museum, Bushkill Falls, and NASCAR races at Pocono Raceway. In the winter, ski resorts like Camelback, Shawnee Mountain and Jack Frost offer downhill and cross-country skiing, and well as snowboarding and snow tubing.

Rental properties range from cabins and cottages in the woods, to ski chalets and townhouses in ski resort areas like Albrightsville and Tannserville, as well as houses with water views on Lake Ariel and Lake Harmony.

Ocean City, New Jersey

With 8 miles of beach, this highly-rated destination lures about a million summer sun-worshippers annually. You"ll spend most of your time in sand and surf, but there are other ways to entertain the troops. When not constructing castles or riding boogie boards in the Atlantic, families spend their time ay Playland"s Castaway Cove, riding go-karts, renting bicycles, or playing miniature golf. The boardwalk is a popular destination any time of day, and you can take the trolley there on Thursday “Family Nights” to enjoy free face painting, karaoke, and music.

Eight miles away, Atlantic City offers families a small aquarium and the Absecon lighthouse. Climb the 228 steps to the top for an expansive view of the coastline.

Most lodging comes in the form of rental properties close to the beach, including single-family and multi-family houses and condos that take advantage of ocean views and public beach access points. Prices are highest for new, or newly-renovated, properties – especially those along Wesley Avenue facing the water.

Cape Cod, Massachusetts

On a 70-mile long peninsula off the coast of eastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod looks like a bent arm in the Atlantic Ocean. While summer is the high season here, spring and fall are quieter, less crowded, and increasingly popular times to visit. The beaches are great for swimming, or just exploring. You can climb the dunes at Cape Cod National Seashore, or look for salt marshes, oyster ponds, and cranberry bogs.

There are many other outdoor pursuits, such as fishing in Barnstable, kayaking in South Orleans, biking the 10.7-mile Shining Sea Bikeway, and whale-watching in the fall. Indoor kid-friendly attractions include the Woods Hole Science Aquarium and the Sandwich Glass Museum.

There are literally thousands of rental properties on “the Cape;” look for properties in the family-friendly towns of Falmouth and Dennis. You can find anything from one-bedroom cottages to large multi-family houses. If you"ll be there in the chillier months, ask about heating.

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

A popular resort town, especially for Maryland and Washington D.C. families, Rehoboth Beach is one compact and walkable mile of award-winning sand and surf on a free public beach. LGBT families will find this a friendly vacation destination. The Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk is a popular hub of activities, recreation, shopping, food, nightlife and entertainment.

Other favorite activities include dolphin watching excursions, miniature golf, arcades and amusement parks, such as Jungle Jim"s and Funland. Concerts and other musical events are held during the summer season at the Bandstand on Rehoboth Avenue.

Beach and boardwalk access is the selling feature of the best rental properties on any of the 15-plus cross streets that lead east to the coastline. You can find a quieter stay along with the ocean breezes on Dewey Beach, just south of Rehoboth.

Bar Harbor, Maine

Since the early 19th century, this New England town has been on the vacation radar of tourists, who came for the seaside charm. That"s still the main draw, with nature camps lining the coast, and opportunities for fishing, water sports, and whale watching boat cruises. Kid-friendly inland attractions include miniature golf, an oceanarium, zoo, and ice skating.

Most Bar Harbor visitors use it as a home base to explore the beautiful 47,000-acre Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island, which is home to the 1,532-foot Cadillac Mountain. The Park"s mountains, waterfronts, and woodlands can be explored on foot, by trolley tour, or by horse-drawn carriage. You can watch the Great Maine Lumber Jack Show, or attend a ranger-led program offered free by the National Park Service on subjects ranging from the constellations to birds of prey.

Rentals in this area—ranging from cabins, cottages, and chalets—will suit your preference for location, whether it be in town, on the shore, or near Acadia. You can even find homes on small private islands offshore.

The Adirondacks, New York

As the largest park in the contiguous United States, the Adirondacks covers more than six million acres in upstate New York. There are hundreds of small towns, and even more lakes, spread out among seven distinct regional destinations. Outdoor recreation, particularly skiing, hiking, and water sports, make summer and winter the high seasons, but spring and fall are increasingly popular times to visit.

Families will find a lot to do in Lake George, home to Six Flags Great Escape, and Lake Placid, where several former Olympic venues are still open to the public. In nearby Tupper Lake, the Wild Center nature museum has opened the Wild Walk, an outdoor network of elevated boardwalks connecting interactive stations like a giant spider web and eagle"s nest.

Choice rental properties for summer stays make the most of the 600 bodies of navigable water that you can explore by boat, canoe, and kayak, such as Lake Saranac, Lake Champlain, and the Ausable River. In the winter, you can find a range of properties near the ski slopes of Whiteface, Gore Mountain, and Snow Ridge.

Newport, Rhode Island

Newport is known for its Gilded Age mansions, such as The Breakers or The Elms, that back up to the Cliff Walk overlooking Sheep Point Cove. That shouldn"t deter families from visiting; even The Breakers offers a family audio tour just for kids that"s focused on the children who lived there. Other local attractions in Newport and the eight surrounding Bristol County townships include Fort Adams, the Beavertail Lighthouse Museum, and Coggeshall Farm Museum, an American Revolution-era tenant farm.

Shopping and festivals are also popular tourist activities, but kids will likely prefer a day at the beach. Easton"s Beach, known as First Beach to the locals, has a carousel, playground, and skate park, in addition to water sports. Families with small children should check out Third Beach, which is smaller and quieter. Because it"s set back in a cove, there aren't many waves.

When you rent in Newport, your choices include both waterfront and downtown locations. There are cozy cottages, luxury apartments, and even historic Victorian houses with room for your entire family.

Killington, Vermont

You may know Killington as the name of the largest ski resort on the East Coast, but it"s also a town within Rutland County in the Green Mountains region. And there are technically two ski resorts, the other being Pico Mountain. Killington Resort offers 73 miles of snow sports terrain spread out over six peaks. Pico Mountain has 56 trails and the Triple Slope Terrain Park, with more vertical drop than 80 percent of New England"s ski areas.

There"s plenty to do beyond snow sports. Both the Long Trail and the Appalachian Trail—with views of Thundering Falls—are great for hikers of all abilities. You can also appreciate nature from a gondola heading to Killington Peak. The new Snowshed Adventure Center Killington Resort features 10 attractions, including the Beast Mountain Coaster.

Proximity to the slopes is the main consideration for rentals, with the majority of condo and house choices located within Killington"s borders. You"ll pay a premium for Sunrise Mountain Village, Killington's ski on/ski off community, but deals can be found in nearby areas like Rochester, Shrewsbury, and Lake Bomoseen.

White Mountains, New Hampshire

The White Mountains is a large region covering about a quarter of the state of New Hampshire, including popular resort towns like North Conway, Jefferson, Franconia, and Lincoln. Winter is high season here, and you"ll find plenty of ski resorts and XC Centers with kids' programs so the whole family can participate. Mount Washington—the tallest mountain in the northeast U.S. at 6,288 feet—is just one of 48 peaks over 4,000 feet.

Year-round, you can enjoy the natural beauty and outdoor recreation within national and state parks, including Arethusa Falls, Flume Gorge, and the Appalachian Trail. In the summer and fall, there are dozens of family attractions, including age-old favorites like Story Land, Santa's Village, Conway Scenic Railroad and the Cog Railway.

Peaceful rental properties with beautiful mountain or lake views include cabins, chalets, condos, and traditional houses. Some have amenities like ski in/ski out access or swimming pools. Look for “four-season” homes with heating and air conditioning.

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