Featured

What Makes AvantStay Different?

Welcome to AvantStay! We believe you deserve so much more than an ordinary short-term vacation rental experience. But what makes AvantStay different? We’re all about what you can dream. Every travel experience should be one-of-a-kind, filled with hospitality and free of worry. We shine with our attention to detail, commitment to customer service, hotel-quality amenities, and services like a dedicated concierge team to ensure every stay with us is more unique than the last. In choosing us, you’re not just choosing another short-term rental company—you’re choosing an elevated experience. 

Homes Catered To Groups

AvantStay home catered to groups for vacation rental

We have homes of all types, but most of our homes are best experienced with friends and family. Large dining areas, state-of-the-art kitchens, and yards great for gatherings make getting together with all your loved ones a breeze. Plus, plenty of bedrooms (many with their own bathrooms) means no one’s sleeping on the couch this time. 

A Dedicated Concierge

AvantStay dedicated concierges on vacation rental

With our extraordinary concierge team at your disposal, you can let your imagination run wild when it comes to trip activities. To start, we offer services like you would expect at a five-star hotel — in-room massages, mid-stay cleanings, and private transportation. But, when you’re staying with us, the sky’s the limit! From booking a private chef to prepare dinner for the family, to pre-stocking your fridge with groceries before you arrive, to even arranging for hot air balloon rides or local excursions, our concierge team can make any vacation dream you have a reality.

Award-Winning Design

AvantStay's interior design is custom for every home

As travelers ourselves, we know how crucial the interior design of a home can be when planning the vacation of your dreams. We’ve actually built an in-house interior design team. And it’s not just any interior design team—they’ve actually won awards for it, including best design from Marriott Homes & Villas in 2021. We make sure our homes match the vibe of your trip, whether it be on the coast or in the woods, so you’re fully immersed in the magic of your vacation. 

Our homes are also decked out with amenities, so you’ll never be sitting around wondering what to do next. From cornhole to board games, from billiards to the hot tub, we believe fun comes in all shapes and sizes and is best experienced with your loved ones. The amenities for each home are different (our estates collection has some truly awe-inspiring ones), but we can promise that you will never be bored. 

Customer Service By Humans, For Humans

Firepit at AvantStay's Buena Vista property

Our dedicated area managers are here to make sure your experience is delightful. We also have team members available 24/7, so even if you need something in the middle of the night, we’re there to help. That way, you aren’t at the whim of the homeowner’s availability and you won’t get a computer trying to help you in a crisis. We want every aspect of your experience to be as relaxing as possible, because that’s why you go on vacation in the first place. 

Happy Homeowners

Woman lounging at an AvantStay property

On top of the personal relationship we keep with our guests, we also take deep care and thoughtful steps to ensure our homeowners feel proud and reassured when their property is in our hands. 

We pride ourselves on:

  • Best-in-class in-field operations
  • Smart-home technology to keep our homes and guests safe
  • Complimentary updated interior design
  • A proprietary software platform that manages it all and keeps homeowners informed

We care for these homes as though they were our own (some are even employee-owned), and we continue to build and grow sustainably to build value for our homeowners. If you’re interested in partnering with us, you can learn more about our Vacation Rental Management

While most of our properties are homes designed for group travel as mentioned above, we also have cozier rentals and even boutique hotels, because sometimes you just want to get away without the crowd. Most importantly, we’re ever-growing to fit the needs of the modern-day traveler, meaning we’re adding new properties in new destinations all the time. 

So, where will you go next?

2023 Short-Term Rental Trends: Optimize Your Home for Success

The short-term rental market continues to grow exponentially with both supply and demand at an all-time high. Domestic travel, especially in drive-to markets, remains steady even in the current economic climate. To get a better understanding of what guests look for when booking a vacation, we dove into the numbers. 

Using 6 months of proprietary data (January 1, 2022 – June 30, 2022) from AvantStay.com and over 25,000 vacation rental bookings, we learned more about where guests want to travel, how they travel, and what matters to them most during their stays. 

  • Scottsdale – top destination booked  
  • February– most popular month booked  
  • Family vacation – top reason for booking  
  • 67 days – average booking lead time 

Most sought-after destinations 

Nashville vacation rental home by AvantStay

These destinations reigned supreme as travelers planned their getaways in the first half of 2022. Country music fans flocked to Nashville and snowbirds headed south and out west to escape the cold. Here are the top 10 most searched-for destinations on the AvantStay platform: 

  1. Nashville, TN
  2. Oregon Coast, OR
  3. Scottsdale, AZ
  4. San Diego, CA
  5. Big Bear, CA
  6. Oahu, HI
  7. Lake Tahoe, CA
  8. Coachella Valley, CA
  9. Destin, FL
  10. Temecula, CA

Get to know our guests 

We combine the amenities of a hotel with the comfort and privacy of a home, creating the premier vacation rental platform for group travel. We’ve hosted over 750,000 guests in groups of all sizes, but here’s a snapshot of an average AvantStay reservation:

  • 4.5 days – average length of stay
  • 6 – average number of guests per booking 
  • Wednesday – most popular day to book a trip

Interested in more vacation rental trends and what AvantStay guests consider “must haves” when booking a stay? Check out our complete 2023 Vacation Rental Trends report for the top amenities filtered for and more!

AvantStay Employee Spotlight – Franco Mannucci, Human Resource Business Partner

Name

Franco Mannucci

Where are you based?

Bay Area, CA (San Jose specifically)

Job Title

Human Resource Business Partner (HRBP)

How long have you worked at AvantStay?

Since March 28, 2022

How would you describe your job & responsibilities to someone who doesn’t work in your field?

An HRBP is a strategic partner to company leadership and a support function to company personale. Daily functions widely vary from employee relations, engagement, development, org planning and retention all the way to developing, coordinating, and implementing policies, processes, and initiatives to ensure compliance and company needs are being met.

How do you like to start your work day?

As I shared above, a day in the life of an HRBP varies drastically. I like to start my day by visualizing tasks at hand, competing priorities, and executing a plan of action. My day starts with a cup of joe in hand, lo-fi music for white noise, as I review inquiries that have come in since the prior business day. Then I jump straight into manifesting my plan of action!

What teams do you collaborate the most with at work?

People & Talent, Business Affairs, HQ and Market Ops

What is your favorite thing about working at AvantStay?

Working amongst an organization of individuals who are hungry, excellent, resilient, and open. Day in and day out I touch nearly every facet of the business. It never ceases to amaze me how brilliant our team is. Every individual strives to go the extra mile. We help others. We collaborate to drive new initiatives. We are open to feedback and new ideas. Most importantly, we do so with a positive attitude! Easily my favorite part of working at AvantStay

What advice would you give to someone looking to join your team?

This is a loaded question, so much advice I can share! I will keep it brief. An HRBP is a function within People and Talent. As such we are a support role to the business. It is necessary to embrace a progressive mindset focused on steward leadership to ensure you help foster an environment where talented employees are nurtured and help grow the business.

What is something that you’re proud of that you’ve accomplished in your role?

I am proud of continuously contributing to the evolution and improvement of team processes by providing feedback and sharing ideas that increase strategic output, drive efficiency and enhance technical capabilities.

Which AvantStay home is your favorite?

Favorite Home: Dakota House in Joshua Tree! I am a bit of a nomad. The Dakota House is in Pioneertown. It is so remote that I literally lost reception and drove on dirt and desert sand on my way to the property! Totally fulfilled my intent of disconnecting to reconnect. Don’t worry there is wifi and cell service once you get to the property! The house is modern boho style and an absolute gem. Stunning panoramic sunrise views from the porch. Pitch black night sky allowed for epic star gazing from the hot tub. Highly recommend! 

What is something that most people don’t know about you?

I converted a Dodge ProMaster into a home and lived vanlife 1/3rd of the year! On my bucket list is to travel by van to all the National Parks in the contiguous United States. 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I live an active lifestyle. Hobbies include running, cycling, and hiking.

Before working at AvantStay, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?

In college I did Wildness Search and Rescue at Yosemite for a summer. 

What is your favorite AvantStay memory?

My favorite AvantStay memory to date was when I was selected as HERO of the month. I was both nervous and excited to send us away that day. GTGF! 

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift. 

What’s your favorite Slack channel?

Oh man, too many to pick just one! Toss up between #avantstay-diy-channel #green-thumbs-of-avant and #petsofavantstay

What’s your favorite AvantStay employee perk?

Travel Credits

What has working at AvantStay taught you about the most?

How lucrative residential rental properties are. Great ROI!

The Ultimate Guide for Vacation Rental Taxes

Just like that, tax season is here. This not-so-festive time of year can be stressful for short-term rental owners, but it doesn’t have to be. Preparation is key when it comes to filing your taxes. Our guide will make this often tedious process a breeze. We’ll cover unique vacation rental tax rules, deductions, and everything in between. 

The filing deadline to submit 2022 tax returns is Tuesday, April 18, 2023. 

The 14-day rule

One of the most important vacation rental tax rules is the 14-day rule. According to the IRS, if a property is used as a home and you rent it out for less than 14 days in the tax year, you do not have to report income generated. On the other hand, if you rent your property for 14 days or more, you have to report your income and are subject to taxes. Luckily, you can deduct expenses that come from running your short-term rental, but more on that later. 

If you stayed at your vacation rental home for more than 14 days, or more than 10% of the total time rented, things get a little tricky. When reporting your expenses, you’ll have to categorize them by rental use and personal use. The IRS considers personal use as any time you or someone in your family occupies your vacation rental. It’s also considered personal use if you rent your home to anyone for “less than a fair rental price.” If you need to stay at your property to work on home maintenance projects, those stays don’t count toward your personal use days. Just be sure to document the time and reason for your stay. 

1031 Exchanges 

Short-term rental investors should leverage the tax benefits of a 1031 exchange. In short, a 1031 exchange is the act of “swapping” one investment property for another like-kind property. If you meet the requirements of 1031, you’re able to defer capital gains tax on the sale. Investors can use a 1031 exchange to purchase a vacation rental property, as long as the home is rented for more than 14 days in the tax year. The rules and requirements of 1031 exchanges can be complicated, so short-term rental investors should work with a tax professional before making any moves.

Short-term rental tax deductions 

If you rent your home out for more than 14 days, you’re able to deduct the expenses of running your short-term rental business from your income. Common short-term rental tax deductions include: 

  • Advertising
  • Auto and travel expenses
  • Cleaning and maintenance
  • Commissions
  • Depreciation
  • Insurance
  • Legal and other professional fees
  • Local transportation expenses
  • Management fees
  • Mortgage interest paid to banks, etc.
  • Rental payments
  • Repairs
  • Taxes
  • Utilities

One thing to keep in mind is the difference between repairs and improvements. Most repair costs can be considered tax write-offs, while home improvement costs can be a little more complicated. A repair is when you fix something that is damaged or broken, while an improvement adds value to your vacation rental. Examples of improvements include room additions, installing a pool, upgrading your appliances, and more. Divvy up these expenses and keep detailed, accurate records and receipts. 

We also suggest using IRS Publication 527 as your go-to resource for all vacation rental tax questions and consider working with a tax professional to help with the nuances of these deductions. 

Schedule C vs. Schedule E 

When filing your vacation rental taxes, you’ll have to choose the right 1040 form. The two main options for short-term rentals are Schedule C and Schedule E. With Schedule C, you’re subject to a self-employment tax which is used to fund Medicare and Social Security. With Schedule E, your rental income is considered passive and you’re not subject to the self-employment tax. 

For both forms, you’ll need to provide documented expenses, 1099s for contractor payments, property usage schedule, and gross rental income. Here’s how to determine which form you should file: 

Schedule C

Use the Schedule C form if managing your short-term rental is your primary business and you provide guests with substantial services during their stay. Examples of substantial services include: 

  • Housekeeping (during the stay) 
  • Linen replacements
  • Concierge service
  • Meals 
  • Transportation 
  • Tours and activities

Substantial services don’t include the cleaning of public areas, paying utilities, repairs and maintenance, providing WiFi, etc. 

Schedule E 

Use the Schedule E form if your short-term rental is a way to generate additional income and you don’t provide substantial services or enough involvement for the IRS to consider you a self-employed vacation rental manager. 

Local laws for vacation rental taxes 

Vacation rental tax laws vary by state and local governments. Some jurisdictions require hosts to collect occupancy taxes directly from guests. These taxes are also known as lodging, hotel, or transient taxes depending on the location. Several online travel agencies (OTAs), like Airbnb, collect occupancy taxes on behalf of vacation rental hosts, but this also varies by location. In most cases, you will be responsible for collecting and remitting any taxes. For this reason, it’s essential that you understand your local vacation rental tax laws and payment schedules. 

Partner with an expert

Ditch the operational headache of running a short-term rental on your own (and avoid self-employment taxes) by hiring a vacation rental management company. When you partner with AvantStay, you get access to our Policy & Compliance team which ensures your home is compliant and operating within all regulations governed by HOAs and other local authorities. We collect all required taxes from guests directly and report and remit taxes on your behalf in compliance with local regulations. We also provide a detailed year-end statement that includes all expenses categorized according to Schedule E. Another perk? Your management fee could be tax deductible! 

Interested in learning more about AvantStay’s management services? Our team is ready to help. Get started with our vacation rental management experts today!

Best Things to Do in Key West in February

Planning a February vacation to Key West, Florida? We’ll let you in on a secret — February is one of our favorite months of the year in Key West.

Whether you’re coming for the long President’s Day weekend, celebrating Valentine’s Day, or just planning a getaway, Key West is a great destination this February. Why not escape the cold winter this year and head to Key West? In February, the weather in Key West is an average high of 76 and low of 66, and it’s the month with the lowest amount of rain. For most people who want to escape a chilly winter on the East Coast or Midwest, it’s perfect.

Don’t wait any longer to pack your bags. Here’s our guide to the top things to do in Key West in February. 

KEY WEST EVENTS IN FEBRUARY

Valentine’s Day

Plan a romantic getaway to Key West for Valentine’s Day. There are tons of things to do here for couples, whether you prefer visiting historical sites, relaxing on the beach, or enjoying a few happy hours at one of the popular bars. Key West is great because you can just be on island time and enjoy one another’s company. Want to get adventurous? Rent jet skis together! Want to indulge in a great meal? Make a reservation at one of Key West’s best restaurants

Annual Old Days Art Festival in Key West

February 25-26, 2023

Just off Duval Street in the Truman Annex neighborhood, the Annual Old Island Days Art Festival is a must-visit in February. This massive event attracts nearly 25,000 people and brings more than 100 fine artists to the region. If you’re looking for a new piece to bring home or just want to browse beautiful pieces, this is the event for you. 

Source: Key West Food Tours

Book Your Key West Vacation For February 2022

Escape to the Florida Keys with us this February. Browse our Key West vacation rentals and book your stay in the Southernmost Point of the U.S. today. 

Serenity by AvantStay

If you’re coming to Key West during any other time of year, check out our article on The 20+ Best Things to Do in Key West for other tips, and don’t miss these mistakes when you’re planning your trip!

AvantStay’s 2022 HERO’s of the Year

Here at AvantStay, we believe our employees deserve more recognition than just your traditional Employee of the Year – instead, we recognize our HERO’s. An AvantStay “HERO” is someone who is Hungry, Excellent, Resilient, and Open. 

Earlier this month, we awarded five talented individuals from our team whose star-power really shined through last year. Please join us in congratulating our 2022 AvantStay HEROs of the year and check out what their teammates had to say!

HERO of the Year

Taylor Wright, CX Manager

“I cannot send enough praise Taylor’s way. She has taken on more challenges this year than I could write. Most notably, she’s transformed our relocations & VIP team into a well-oiled machine while simultaneously building a service improvement team. Taylor has effortlessly taken charge of ensuring AvantStay is positioned to obtain Superhost ensuring we’re learning from each review we receive. Taylor is selfless and easy to work with. She’s proactive when it comes to gaps in the organization, and she’s all about empowering her team members to take ownership, support each other, and hold each other accountable to do great work.”

Most Hungry

Cameron Herget, Brand Content Producer

Cameron takes initiative to succeed at her role, but she’s also constantly stepped up to support the team and shift to learning new responsibilities. This year, she’s moved seamlessly from focusing on social content to taking on work on the blog, emails, ads, and overall marketing strategy. She’s always fast to respond when someone on the team needs help, and she captures the bold, playful tone of our brand voice & visuals so well across channels and her hunger to improve & learn always shows through!”

Most Excellent

Will Parkhouse, Senior Director of Field Operations

“There are not enough good things to say about Will. I know I speak on behalf of the whole Field Team when I say that I think the world of Will and I know there is no better leader for his role than him. This man is ALWAYS on point! No matter the time of day or how “sticky” of a situation you may be in, Will is there with a huge smile and encouraging words. I have never encountered another person like him at work or even in my personal life. Will’s dedication and drive are unmatched. He has the most positive attitude and enthusiasm for this company and life in general. Of all the amazing assets AvantStay has, Will is definitely one of our best”

Most Resilient

Hannah Gwazdauskas, OX Training & Onboarding Specialist

Hannah is someone who serves others before herself, takes pride in doing a good job, and always has a good attitude regardless of the situation. She has been dealt an interesting hand this last year at AvantStay with shifting responsibilities, and now leading our offshore team to help alleviate the number of accounts OEM’s have and provide a great experience for all involved. Hannah is an integral part of AvantStay and deserves this award of Most Resilient!”

Most Open

Chloe Buss, Field Operations Regional Director

Chloe is always open to new ideas that may work better for certain markets or improve the flow of certain field ops teams. When I go into markets, I always ask her what I can do to assist in the market even if it is not one of hers.”

Vacation Rental Tips: How to Maximize Your Revenue in 2023 [Webinar Recap]

The short-term rental market saw unprecedented growth in 2022, with supply and demand reaching all-time highs. Now more than ever, vacation rental owners are worried about demand shifts in this post-pandemic environment. Is market saturation something to worry about? And how can owners drive strong rental performance in the midst of these changes? Our team got together to discuss what makes this market so uncertain and how vacation rental owners can stay competitive.

The current state of the short-term rental market

2022 was a whirlwind for the real estate and short-term rental markets. Here are our key observations:   

  • Interest rates have more than doubled in the last 6-7 months, and as a result, prices are plateauing, homes are trading less frequently, and buyers are struggling to obtain preferential financing.
  • Short-term rental demand remains strong. Investors that are on top of their game can continue to see strong returns on their homes and can acquire properties at lower rates. 
  • Supply growth is up YoY in most markets. We need to look at trends in each market to adjust to the new environment (Scottsdale supply is up 47% YoY and the Smoky Mountains supply is up 29% YoY). 
  • Owners and property managers are becoming increasingly sophisticated and progressing the industry forward. The end-to-end process in management is unrecognizable from 5-6 years ago. This creates an opportunity for those that approach the competitive market and play offense to see great returns.   

Revenue management and how it drives rental performance 

Emre Ilgaz, AvantStay’s Associate Director of Revenue Management, defines this process as selling the right home, to the right customer, at the right time, via the right channel, for the right price. 

“We often have the debate, ‘is revenue management an art or a science,’” says Emre, “but it’s a combination of both.” 

He also notes that while most people view pricing as the core focus of revenue management, it’s not sufficient by itself to optimize revenue. Pricing needs to be supported with effective availability strategies, marketing, and listing and channel optimization, and they all require a strong understanding of demand and booking trends. 

Vacation rental owners should keep the following in mind when pricing their homes for success: 

1. Revenue management goes beyond pricing; it must be paired with: 

  • Strong listings and photos
  • Distribution channel optimization 
  • Effective marketing strategies 
  • Strong understanding of demand and booking trends

2. Focus on RevPAR, not ADR or occupancy alone 

At AvantStay, we optimize for the amount of revenue we give back to owners so they can make the most of their investment. The two components that go into that are the average daily rate (ADR) and occupancy. It may be tempting to either optimize for occupancy or for higher daily rates, but you need to optimize for both. Focus on RevPAR (revenue per available room), not ADR or occupancy alone. 

3. Forward-looking, real-time data drives success in a fast-changing market

Use historical data as a guide, but focus on how the market is currently pacing. Monitor demand shifts in real-time and focus on forward-looking, real-time pricing.

4. Every market is different and requires a different approach 

Understand that each market is different, and one blanket strategy isn’t applicable to all. This also goes for homes. Effective revenue management should look at the unique features of a home along with its location and proximity to local attractions, and back that with data. 

Other ways short-term rental owners can stay ahead of the market

Revenue management is key to strong rental performance, but consider these strategies to make your home shine among the competition. 

Differentiate your home 

In a competitive market, the homes that are going to get bookings and drive strong returns are the unique and exciting homes that stand out from the rest. Have the experiential amenities that guests are looking for—folks traveling to Scottsdale will be looking for rentals with a pool and lawn games, while those traveling to the Smoky Mountains in the winter will prefer a hot tub. If you have unique amenities, like a game room or putting green, showcase these in some of the first photos on your listing page to grab guests’ attention. 

Optimize your marketing and reach 

Expand your reach beyond the two main online travel agencies (OTAs): Airbnb and Vrbo. There are a ton of other websites that can help you reach new guests. First, make sure your listing is optimized with relevant keywords and professional photos to reach the right people, at the right time, and drive bookings. 

Foster five-star ratings 

There’s a direct correlation between positive reviews and bookings. Homes with higher ratings will see better performance compared to nearly identical homes with lower ratings. Create an exceptional guest experience and care for your property to encourage more five-star reviews. 

Understand market regulations 

Stay on top of your local short-term rental regulations and keep your permit up to date to avoid hefty fines and legal repercussions. These regulations can also limit your revenue management strategy as some jurisdictions track and enforce nightly-minimum restrictions or the total number of reservations you can have during the year. 

Work with a professional vacation rental manager

As the market gets more competitive, the value of professional property management continues to grow. There’s a lot of complexity to optimizing a vacation rental. Working with a property manager that understands where price points are while also supporting interior design, permitting and compliance, listing creation, distribution, and more can help drive great returns. 

That’s where AvantStay comes in. We offer end-to-end management services to give you peace of mind. From financials to design to maintenance, we take care of your home as if it were our own. Our proprietary tech suite powers bookings, operationalizes in-field management, and activates an elevated guest experience. We take care of all the work to maximize your home’s income so you can sit back and relax—it’s that simple.

Interested in learning more about what it means to partner with AvantStay? Our team is ready to help. Get started with our vacation rental management experts today!

The 12 Best Airbnbs for Watching This Year’s Super Bowl

We’re getting oh-so-close to the Big Game! Whether you’re just interested in The Puppy Bowl or actually can’t wait to see your team win, we’ve created a roundup with the best Airbnbs with private movie theaters for you to watch this year’s Super Bowl. Bring your best guac and we’ll bring the stays – these homes are sure to be a winner in your book.

1. Haywood – Smoky Mountains, TN

Say hello to Haywood. This impressive cabin comes with an 8-seat theater, an indoor pool, three expansive decks, a hot tub, and a massive kitchen for all those game day snacks you’re planning to whip up. The best part of this stay? You’re immersed in the beautiful Smokies, so on the off chance that your team doesn’t score big, you at least have a lot of land to go and comfortably scream into the void (or try any of our 35 Favorite Things to Do in the Smokies).

2. Sandstone – Scottsdale, AZ

Every game day deserves a little decompression session. Before kickoff, treat yourself to all the amenities this Scottsdale Airbnb has to offer. From the pool to the hot tub, the basketball court to the fire pit, Sandstone’s got it going on. When you feel that your R&R levels are where they should be, head back inside to the home’s indoor theater.

3. Canopy – Park City, UT

In the spirit of game day sanctuaries, let us introduce you to Canopy. This Park City stay comes complete with a sauna, fireplace, poker set, pool table, a massive deck on each level and, of course, an indoor theater for the Big Game. 

Looking for more to do in Park City? We’ve got a list for that. Check out our Top 35 Things to Do in Park City.

4. Grand Contento – Temecula, CA

Welcome to Grand Contento, which is exactly what you’ll be after a stay at this show stopping Temecula Airbnb. This home comes with a pool table and a massive private theater with room for up to 25 people. Have some stragglers in your group that are rooting for the opposing team? Perfect! Put them in the guest house where they belong. When you’re ready to be civil again, cheers to your vacation in the outdoor seating area.

5. Sycamore – Smoky Mountains, TN

One of our favorite things about our cabins in the Smoky Mountains is they all come fully loaded. Sycamore is a 6 bed, 6.5 bath stay with room for up to 18 guests. It shows its playful personality with modern rustic interiors, an indoor pool, outdoor hot tub, private home theater, pool table, al fresco dining, and an idyllic fire pit.

6. Oak and Luna – Big Bear, CA

You’re scoring big, and it’s not just in the game. Come to Oak and Luna for idyllic views of the great outdoors of Big Bear. Kick your feet back and relax while you watch the Super Bowl in this 6-person indoor theater. After a game well done, chill out in the hot tub and cheers to the good life.

First time going to Big Bear? Check out our 43 Best Things to Do in Big Bear!

7. Black Rock – Scottsdale, AZ

Is it hot in here or is it just this home? Black Rock is a star-studded stay located in Paradise Valley. Seen all across our socials and known for that stunner infinity pool, this home is something you’ve just got to see to believe. When you’re not deep in the football zone, relax by the fire pit or play a game of pool and enjoy the views of the desert around you.

8. Timberline – Lake Tahoe, CA

Bring your A game to this Lake Tahoe A-frame. Timberline is the perfect place to lounge while you’re waiting for Rihanna to come on stage. A trip here entails hot tub seshes, plenty of deck hangs, s’mores by the fire pit, a game or two of billiards, and IG-worthy interior design. This home’s theater comes with 9 seats that recline, so we hope you’re ready to get cozy.

If you’re craving a more adventurous vacation, check out our 47 Things to Do in Lake Tahoe.

9. River Rock – Breckenridge, CO

Colorado is calling. Text the group chat and tell them you’re headed to River Rock. If it weren’t for this Airbnb’s extra cozy movie theater, let it be for that lovely hot tub on the deck where you can sit and watch the snow fall. Extend your stay past the game day weekend and head to the nearby Breckenridge Ski Resort where you can spend days soaking up all Breckenridge has to offer.

10. Indio Escape – Coachella Valley, CA

Is it time for the halftime show yet? That’s what you’ll be saying while you’re waiting to soak up all there is to offer at Indio Escape. This Coachella Valley Airbnb comes with a modern fire pit, pool, hot tub, and dining table perfect for those lax al fresco moments. The movie room also comes with a mini-arcade – so you get maximum game time.  

11. Paramount Place – Austin, TX

Everything’s bigger in Texas… especially the Airbnbs. Paramount Place is known for its easy access to downtown Austin and all it has to offer. When you’re not watching the game in the cozy movie theater, try walking the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge for a different view of the city.

ISO a full Austin itinerary? Find your next adventure in our 31 Best Things to Do in Austin.

12. Pinot Point – Temecula, CA

Pinot?! This wine pairs well with pretending to know what’s happening in the game. Pinot Point is a 5 bedroom home with an infinity pool that pours off into views of the rolling Temecula hills. Make sure you’re stocked up on beer – there’s more than enough seating for everyone to have a “cheers” outside after you’ve spent the game day in this Airbnb’s private theater.

There’s a lot more where that came from! Click here for our full collection of homes with movie theaters – and may the best team win.

3 Hot Tips: How To Become a Superhost on Airbnb

With over 4 million hosts on Airbnb and 6 million active listings worldwide, how do you make your short-term rental stand out in such a saturated space? As an Airbnb Superhost, you’ll receive improved visibility, higher referral bonuses, increased bookings, and ultimately more revenue. If you’re interested in learning how to become a Superhost on Airbnb, and how AvantStay can simplify that process, we’ve got you covered. In this article we’ll answer:

  • What is an Airbnb Superhost? 
  • What are the benefits of being a Superhost?
  • What are the Airbnb Superhost requirements? 
  • How can a vacation rental management company help you become a Superhost? 

What is an Airbnb Superhost?

The Airbnb Superhost program was created to reward and promote top-performing hosts. Hosts that go above and beyond to create an exceptional guest experience are given a Superhost badge and additional promotions to reach more guests. If you meet Airbnb’s requirements, you are awarded Superhost status after each evaluation period (no application needed!).

What are the benefits of being an Airbnb Superhost? 

There are many benefits that come with being an Airbnb Superhost, including increased visibility, more earning potential, and exclusive rewards. According to AirDNA, these hosts also see a greater performance with several key performance indicators compared to non-Superhosts: 

  • 81% higher occupancy rate
  • 60% more revenue per available day
  • 5% improvement in listing traffic

Increased visibility 

As a Superhost, you’ll receive a badge that will help you stand out from other hosts and listings in your area, all while building trust with potential guests. Superhosts are also more likely to be featured in Airbnb’s promotional emails. In addition, Airbnb users have the ability to filter searches to only see Superhost rentals–that means more eyes on your listing and more bookings.

More earning potential 

Superhosts earn more simply from improved listing visibility along with the trust and expectations that come with the status. Guests know that Superhosts are the best of the best, and will likely book your home over those from other non-Superhosts. 

Exclusive rewards from Airbnb

Superhosts receive a $100 Airbnb coupon every year that they keep their status. If Superhosts refer new hosts to join Airbnb, they get an additional 20% bonus on top of the usual referral bonus.

What are the Airbnb Superhost requirements? 

Every three months, Airbnb checks if you’ve met their requirements for the past year so you can earn or keep your Superhost status. To qualify for an Airbnb Superhost badge, you must:

  • Host at least 10 trips, or have 3 reservations that total at least 100 nights
  • Maintain a 90% response rate or higher
  • Maintain a 1% cancellation rate (1 cancellation per 100 reservations) or lower
  • Maintain a 4.8 overall rating

3 Tips for becoming an Airbnb Superhost

While responsiveness and limiting cancellations are important, providing a top-notch guest experience is crucial to boost your ratings and maximizing your short-term rental income. Here’s how you can improve the guest experience to drive more five-star reviews and become a Superhost. 

Use high-quality photos in your listing

shuffleboard table in AvantStay vacation home

Take high-resolution photos of your vacation rental that accurately reflect the space, amenities, and what guests can expect when they walk into your home. Make sure you update these photos after you make any changes to your property so guests don’t leave negative reviews about an inaccurate listing. 

With AvantStay, our Design and Photography teams develop a marketing and listing plan that best highlights the experiences and amenities to our guests. We stage, style, and photograph your home to showcase the property’s best characteristics across listings. 

Prioritize cleanliness and upkeep

bathroom vacation rental cleaning checklist

Allow guests to completely unwind and enjoy their stay by keeping your vacation rental clean and ready to use. AvantStay has teams dedicated to field operations that manage utilities, services, maintenance, and housekeeping on our owners’ behalf. 

We pride ourselves on a rigorous 100-point vacation rental cleaning checklist that ensures our housekeepers perform deep cleans using products and standards that comply with (and exceed) CDC guidelines before every stay. In addition, we provide a bi-annual deep clean to ensure homes stay in great shape all year round. 

Take care of your guests

AvantStay branded mug and breakfast items

Go above and beyond to make sure guests have the best experience at your home. From communication and easy check-in, to welcome gifts and a well-stocked home, taking the time to show guests that you care can earn you a five-star rating. 

At AvantStay, guests have access to 24/7 live support via SMS, email, or phone, and we troubleshoot every issue to ensure they are well-cared for. That way, our homeowner partners can sit back and relax without any interruptions. By resolving 90% of guest issues on the first call, we receive higher ratings and better guest satisfaction, driving more five-star reviews.

We also take care of stocking the home with guest-ready supplies and provide personalized, thoughtful welcome packages ahead of every stay. 

Become an Airbnb Superhost with AvantStay

Managing a short-term rental and reaching Superhost status on Airbnb can be expensive, tedious, and time-consuming. AvantStay has been a top-rated Superhost for 22 consecutive quarters, so we know what it takes to take your home to the next level and maximize your revenue. We offer the first hands-off approach for vacation rental owners, using our proprietary tech suite to power bookings, operationalize in-field management, and activate an elevated guest experience. 

In addition, guests can use our concierge services to request mid-stay cleans, fridge stocking, arrange private chef-catered dinners, wine tastings, in-home spa treatments, transportation, and more. A pristine home paired with our personalized guest services drives higher satisfaction, more five-star reviews, and repeat visitors. 

If you’re interested in learning more about AvantStay’s best-in-class care and how we can maximize your revenue, our team is ready to help. Get started with our vacation rental management experts today!

Increase Bookings From Pet Owners: How To Run a Pet-Friendly Vacation Rental

Allowing pets in your vacation rental can be a rewarding decision. It’s no surprise that Americans love their furry friends and loyal travel companions—70% of US households own a pet and since November 2021, over 3 million pets have stayed at an Airbnb. So, why not tap into this large market to fill up your booking calendar and increase your rental income? If you’re on the fence about making your vacation rental pet-friendly, we’ll cover the perks, how to protect your home, and how to drive more bookings from pet owners. 

Why you should allow pets 

There are many benefits that come from allowing pets in vacation rentals. When you partner with AvantStay, your pet-friendly rental will shine on our platform. Only 37% of AvantStay homes allow pets, and we showcase these properties with a dedicated filter and “pet-friendly” icons (check out our pet-friendly vacation rentals collection that makes it easy for travelers to find the perfect pad for their pooch). In addition, owners with pet-friendly homes often enjoy: 

Increased earning potential

Not all vacation rentals allow pets, so you can charge higher ADRs for this special accommodation. You can also charge guests non-refundable pet fees—for example, AvantStay charges $150 per pet

Guests booking longer stays

Because guests won’t have to leave Fido at home, they’ll likely book longer stays without the stress of boarding or finding a pet sitter. 

More repeat guests

Finding the perfect pet-friendly vacation rental can be tough, so guests will likely be eager to book again after having a positive experience at your home. 

How to make your vacation rental pet-friendly

While you may be dwelling on the cons and what-ifs of allowing pets in your vacation home, there are simple measures you can take to protect your rental property and create an exceptional experience for guests and pets alike. 

Keep it clean

Hire a reliable housekeeping team who will thoroughly clean between each stay. Add extra steps to your cleaning checklist for pet-friendly vacation rentals, like deep cleaning the floors and furniture. 

Prepare your space 

Pet-proof your home as much as possible so your vacation rental can go the distance. Invest in HEPA air purifiers to reduce odor and dander, opt for tile or laminate flooring over carpet, purchase washable area rugs, and choose furniture with easy-to-remove (and wash) coverings. In addition, make sure your backyard is secured so pets can enjoy themselves off-leash. 

Update your house rules 

Update your house rules to reflect your pet policy. Be sure to include the number of pets allowed, any weight or breed restrictions, and off-limit areas for animals. If you have any fees or security deposits that cover pet accidents or damages, list those here as well. 

Provide pet-friendly amenities

Impress your guests and reel in five-star ratings by supplying pup-approved amenities. Make sure you include these on your listing page or pre-check-in communications so guests don’t waste time packing them themselves. Consider providing: 

  • Water and food bowls
  • Dog bed
  • Waste bags
  • Chew toys
  • Leash 
  • Grooming supplies
  • Treats 
  • Stain and odor removers

How to boost bookings from pet owners

Once your vacation rental is equipped to welcome pets, showcase it to the world. These simple tips can help you reach more pet owners and increase bookings. 

Update and optimize your listing

When updating your headline and description, incorporate search engine optimization (SEO) strategies to further boost your reach to pet owners. Research search terms (“keywords”) that are popular in your market and add those to your listing. Some examples could be “dog-friendly Joshua Tree vacation rental” or “private beachfront cottage – pets allowed.” 

In addition, entice potential guests to click “book now” by showcasing your pet amenities and listing nearby dog-friendly activities and attractions. Include these in your welcome book and pre-check-in communications so guests can easily access them. 

Market to pet owners  

Give your marketing strategy a revamp to make your pet-friendly rental shine; these tactics can help you target more pet owners. 

Leverage niche listing sites

While you should list your home on all of the top distribution platforms, you can reach more pet owners by using pet-friendly listing sites. A popular option is BringFido, a pet travel and lifestyle brand that connects pet owners with more than 500,000 pet-friendly places, including vacation rental homes. 

Tap into social media

Social media is a great way to reach new audiences and keep your past guests engaged. Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest are popular among travelers looking to plan their next trip, so be sure to show off your home and its pet-approved amenities across these sites. Also, ask guests to capture photos of their pets enjoying your vacation rental so you can share them across your accounts. 

Use paid advertising

Social media ads can amplify your reach to pet owners. Facebook and Pinterest make it easy to narrow your target audience. You can choose to show your ads to your ideal guest by using filters like location, age, interests, and more.

Pet-friendly vacation rentals by AvantStay 

Making your property pet-friendly can be rewarding, but can also take a lot of work and is not without its risks. We set the new standard for vacation rentals by delivering a consistent, high-quality vacation experience for both homeowners and guests. One of the ways we’re able to do this is with our dedicated concierge team. Guests can use this service to schedule mid-stay cleans, request amenities like treats, toys, and dog beds, ask for custom pet-friendly itineraries and local recommendations, and much more. This level of service drives some of the highest ratings in the industry, repeat guests, and allows us to charge premium daily rates.

For homeowners, you have the choice to allow pets in your vacation rental or not, but you’ll always receive best-in-class care with AvantStay. At your home, our local operations teams manage maintenance, upkeep, and surveillance, while our housekeeping team professionally cleans after every stay in adherence with CDC cleaning standards and our 100-point cleaning checklist—say goodbye to unwanted pet hair! 

Although guests are responsible for treating your property respectfully, there may be instances in which damages or pet accidents occur. We ensure any issues are fixed promptly and work with guests to determine what happened and collect the necessary payment. 

Employing a combination of our best-in-class care, streamlined back-end operations, and elevated hospitality brand, AvantStay helps you earn more revenue than any other property management company. We take care of all the work to maximize your home’s returns—it’s that simple.

Interested in learning more about AvantStay’s management services? Our team is ready to help. Get started with our vacation rental management experts today!

Guide to Getting the Most Out of Your 2023 PTO

It’s the beginning of 2023, meaning your PTO days just hit the refresh button. If you’re like us, you want to make the most of your days off this year. In this article, we’ll dive into four of the most common amounts of days off and tell you exactly how to spend them – so you have no excuses. Don’t be like 55% of Americans and waste days off, take them all this year and take them with us!

If you have 10 days of PTO…

You’re not working with the most here so you need to make your weekends count. Try taking off a Friday and a consecutive Monday so that you’ll have extra long weekends. Combine these long weekends with holidays you also already have off, and you’re able to get some 5-day weekends you deserve. For your weekend getaways, try this:

Joshua Tree – 2 days off

You have Memorial Day off already, so request 5/26 and 5/30 off and enjoy a desert-dwelling getaway. Stay at Lava Rocks for its pool and hot tub where you can decompress after a day of exploring Joshua Tree.

Fort Lauderdale – 2 days off

Easy to access from a nearby Miami airport, Fort Lauderdale makes for a great getaway during a weekend as Florida-friendly as the Fourth of July. Try a stay at our beachfront home Casa Bermuda and enjoy a five-day weekend when you take off Friday 6/30 and Monday 7/3.

Palm Springs – 2 days off 

Take off Thursday 11/9 and Monday 11/13 in between Veteran’s Day for a five-day vacay in the Southern California sunshine. Stay at one of our Palm Springs Hotels like Hotel El Cid.

Charleston – 2 days off 

Treat the fam to Thanksgiving done differently at one of our Southern comfort homes, like Live Oak in Charleston. Take off Friday 11/24 and Monday 11/27 for five days off.

Our homes are perfect for hosting events like Friendsgiving or Thanksgiving! Click here to see why AvantStay makes the best place to have your holidays.

Austin – 2 days off

Escape the winter in this heated TX destination. Invite the fam and take off 12/26 and 12/29 for a 5-day vacation! Stay at Barton in Austin where the views are almost as good as the feeling of warmth in December. 

If you have 14 days of PTO…

Oregon Coast – 5 days

Let’s start your PTO out with one of our favorite destinations. Try taking 5 days off (Monday-Friday) in the late spring to enjoy the OR Coast during its best season. There’s so much to explore on the Oregon Coast so you want to make sure you have enough time! Stay at The Purcell House to experience the cutest breakfast nook you’ve ever seen. With views where the mountains meet the ocean, this stay’s one you’ll never forget.

Temecula – 3 days

Hello, summer! Craving a vineyard vacation? We feel that. Take off Wednesday-Friday this summer for a 5-day vacation to Camila in Temecula. With its indoor/outdoor koi pond, pool, hot tub, views of the mountains, and room for up to 20, this stay came to impress even the snobbiest of wine-o’s (not that that’s you!)

San Diego – 2 days 

Fall’s coming in hot at this point and you need a decompression session from your busy summer. Take 2 days off (Friday and Monday) for an extended weekend in San Diego. Stay at Camden: an elevated Californian villa with lavish living in a beach town setting. Looking for things to do during your trip? Check out our 32 Best Things to Do in San Diego!

Breckenridge – 4 days

Okay, so everyone knows you need at least one ski trip a year. For yours, take 4 days off (Tuesday-Friday) in mid-November for a powder-filled trip with plenty of time to ski, snowboard, and après ski your little heart out. Stay at Frontier in Breckenridge where you have room for up to 16 guests, a hot tub, and views that look even better IRL.

ICYMI: we have ski-in/ski-out homes, too. Check them out here.

If you have 20 days of PTO…

Maui – 5 days

Wowee, let’s escape winter and go to Maui! Start your 2023 off with a lovely getaway to Hawaii. Take off 5 days (Monday-Friday) for a full week off. Stay at Hono Hideaway where you can spend mornings cozied up in bed looking at the beach through the panoramic windows. Enjoy days spent by the beach and yummy piña coladas at the bar downstairs. 

Nashville – 3 days

If you have a bachelorette party you’re either throwing or joining this year, may we suggest the bachelorette capital of the world? Bring the girls to Nashville. We suggest y’all stay at 121 Hotel and buy out the full hotel for a rodeo-ready bach getaway. Make this weekend a long one by taking 3 days off: Thursday, Friday and the following Monday (to recover, duh).

Not partaking in the bachelorette festivities this year? No worries, Music City has plenty to do. Check out our 33 Best Things to Do in Nashville.

Big Bear – 3 days

Take an extended weekend trip by taking off 3 days (Wednesday-Friday) and stay at Avalon Pines in Big Bear. This home is giving us all the summer camp vibes, minus the crowded bunk beds and wasp stings. When you’re not basking in the glory of the forest around you, check out our list of Things to Do in Big Bear – we give you 43 options, so you’ll never run out.

Destin – 4 days

Take 4 days of PTO off in August when the crowds slightly start to slim down in Destin. Stay at our beachfront home, Destiny on the Sand. Enjoy the best of the best views, walking distance to restaurants and shops, and 33’ of beach frontage. And what’s better than a private beach? Nada! See ya there.

Park City – 5 days 

Park City is best enjoyed in the winter. Come here in December and stay at Conifer. If you convince the fam to join, try taking off the 5 days between Christmas and New Year’s (12/22 and 12/26-12/29). With these days off, you’ll technically get a full 11 days off – meaning plenty of times to hit the slopes. 

If you have unlimited days of PTO or work remotely… 

Go ahead and just make a bucket list. We picked 5 destinations you’ve gotta see for yourself. No matter how long you want your getaway to be, our stays in these destinations are ready for you and the crew. We’ll bring the luxe amenities, you bring the vibes. Meet you in… 

Sedona, AZ

Brr, it’s cold! Let’s escape the snow and take a trip to Arizona. Try a stay at Roca Roja in Sedona. This stay has views for days and room for up to 12 guests. Enjoy days spent exploring AZ and a hot tub perfect for soaking away those post-hike aches. 

Lake Tahoe

You should have at least one California cabin vacation a year – we don’t make the rules. Between March and May, stay at Tamarack in Lake Tahoe to check off your cabin stay and enjoy all those summer camp cabin vibes, but this time, with drinks of your choice. 

Maui

Warm welcomes, it’s summertime! Head to Hawaii in July and stay at Hale Lokahi in Oahu. Wake up to views of the mountains from your bedroom suite and spend days lounging by the beach or enjoying any of the activities from our 51 Best Things to Do in Oahu.

Hudson Valley

Let’s head upstate! Once you’re ready for another vacay after your trip to Oahu, book a relaxing trip to Cortland in Hudson Valley. This 5-bed country home comes complete with its very own pool, fire pit, and lake. Get the group chat ready – this stay can fit up to 9 guests.

Smoky Mountains

Ever been to the Smoky Mountains? Regardless if you answered yes or no, you’ve gotta go this year. The Smokies are a must-see, especially during peak fall foliage season (mid-October to early November). Stay at Haywood and enjoy your very own indoor pool, movie theater, 3 levels of decks, and views you’ve only dreamed of

The Best Things to Do in Sedona

What is Sedona Known For?

Sedona is an Arizona desert town near Flagstaff known for its famous red rock formations, native American history, sacred and spiritual points, and energetic vortex sites. There are many reasons to make Sedona your next getaway destination. Uptown Sedona offers plenty of unique southwestern shops, art galleries, spas, and restaurants, while West Sedona provides plenty of opportunities for exploring natural landmarks, top hiking trails, and scenic parks for bird-watching and picnics. As for outdoor adventure, there is no wonder why Sedona is also known as “red rock country” with stunning scenery that can be explored by hiking trails, horseback riding, jeep tours, biking, and more!

Traveling to Sedona 

The best time to visit Sedona is March through May when temperatures are warm but not too hot. We recommend spending at least 3 to 4 days in Sedona. Visitors sometimes come to Sedona on a quick trip from Phoenix, but if you have a few days, a longer stay in this quaint desert town is worth it. There’s no shortage of fantastic areas to explore with Sedona as the perfect home base, you can easily work in a day trip to visit Flagstaff or the world-renowned Grand Canyon. 

Top Attractions in Sedona

Explore our list of the must-see things to do in Sedona to plan the perfect itinerary for your next adventure out west. 

Explore Sedona’s Natural Landmarks

The natural landmarks in Sedona are one of the top attractions to see. Most of these can be easily seen while driving, while others can only be accessed from a hiking trail.

Bell Rock

Many visitors come to hike this popular landmark. Bell Rock is one of the most famous red rock formations with a moderate 3.6-mile hiking trail perfect for families with kids to see breathtaking views of the Courthouse Butte Loop and Bell Rock. 

Cathedral Rock

You can see Cathedral Rock by driving into Sedona from the Red Rock Scenic Byway along Highway 179 or by a short hike. This impressive natural site is one of the most photographed red rock formations found on the south side of Sedona. If you take the 0.7-mile hike and climb to the plateau you’ll be rewarded with spectacular panoramic views of Verde Valley. 

Devil’s Bridge

Devil’s Bridge is a landmark with beautiful views to be seen by jeep or 4×4, or with a moderate hike. It can be busy during peak season, but certainly worth the visit to get a photo on the bridge. 

Chapel of the Holy Cross

The Chapel of the Holy Cross is a top destination for hikers and spiritual visitors. This landmark was built as a Roman Catholic church from 1954-1956 into the red rocks of Sedona within the Coconino National Forest. This is a free attraction where you can go inside the chapel to visit amazing works of art. The Chapel is not only a top attraction for hikers, and art but is also a well-known Sedona vortex site. 

Mesa Airport

Visitors are drawn to Airport Mesa for the amazing views while hiking the 3.2-mile loop trail. This trail is perfect for hiking, mountain biking, and trail running. This landmark is also an energetic vortex site with an excellent view to watch the light change at sunrise and sunset. 

Source: Go Backpacking

Enjoy a Scenic Drive

Discover the best scenic drives in Sedona along the Red Rock Scenic Byway and the Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Road. Sedona is one of the most beautiful areas in Arizona with incredible red sandstone formations to be seen from hiking trails,  Jeep tours, and while driving. Make the most of your drive and pull off to one of the nearby vistas or trailheads for incredible sightseeing and photo opportunities.

Red Rock Scenic Byway

The Red Rock Scenic Byway is often referred to as the “museum without walls” because you can easily view some of the most famous landmarks in Arizona on this drive along with stunning scenery. This 7.5-mile scenic byway starts after exit 298 off interstate 17. You can see Bell Rock and Cathedral Rock. If you choose to make a stop to visit Coconino National Forest you’ll be rewarded with many scenic overlooks. Be careful on this scenic drive because the scenery can be very distracting!

Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Road

Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Road is notably the most beautiful scenic drive in Sedona. It is a breathtaking 14-mile drive along route 89A between Flagstaff and Sedona that reaches 4,500 feet from Sedona to Mogollon Rim. Passengers should take advantage of the many photo opportunities on the way. Get the most out of your adventure and pull over to explore the trails and vistas along the way. 

Source: Sedona Bizmag

Explore one of Sedona’s Scenic Hiking Trails

Without a doubt, hiking is one of the best things to do in Sedona. For most visitors, hiking is at the focus of a vacation to Sedona. Sedona hiking trails can vary from easy to challenging. They each offer a rewarding experience with spectacular views.

Hikers enjoy Sedona because it offers a variety of canyons, vortex sites, natural arches, hidden caves, and some of the highest mountain peaks.

Sedona’s list of hiking tails is extensive, so much so that in fact you could spend weeks here and never run out of new trails to explore. 

Our Favorite Hiking Spots in Sedona

Devil’s Bridge Trail

Bell Rock

Courthouse Butte Loop

Cathedral Rock

Boynton Canyon Trail

Soldier Pass

Slide Rock State Park

Red Rock State Park

Source: Earth Trekkers

Take a Jeep Tour

Pink Jeep tours are one of the most iconic ways to experience the canyon views, vortexes, and red rocks of Sedona. You don’t need to take a Pink Jeep to experience the sights, but they’re experts and take all of the guesswork out of planning your off-roading experience to ensure you hit all of the best viewpoints. You can choose between a variety of expeditions including a journey through Antelope Canyon or a more historically focused tour of cliff dwellings in the area. If you are a more advanced outdoor explorer and prefer a more independent experience, then renting your own Jeep for a self-guided tour of the red rock formations may be the best move. 

Source: Audley Travel

Visit Energetic Vortex Sites

Feel uplifted by these supernatural energy spots in Sedona. Thousands of travelers come to Sedona every year to experience these famous vortex sites that are said to provide a meditative, mind and body wellness experience to enhance creativity. For many, it is common to feel a tingling sensation in your fingers or have an emotional experience from the magnetic fields of the vortex site.

Vortex Sites in Sedona 

You’ll find the most popular four vortex sites located at Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock at Red Rock Crossing, Airport Mesa, and Boynton Canyon. You can get to these vortex energy centers by booking a vortex tour, taking a 4×4 or Jeep, or hiking.

Source: Sedona Vortex Adventures

Stay in a Luxury Vacation Home 

Book a luxurious vacation home in Sedona. Surround yourself with the stunning colors of Sedona’s incredible landscapes with gorgeous sunsets and sunrise views from Roca Roja. The night sky in Sedona is equally stunning being in a designated dark sky community. Book your stay at the Pyramid where you can stargaze and locate all of your favorite constellations and the crescent moon from the jacuzzi without the typical light pollution of other destinations. 

Roca Roja by AvantStay

Make Sedona your Next Getaway

Are you ready to immerse yourself in the heart of the Arizona desert? With dozens of trailheads, national parks, and colorful views to experience year-round, we recommend booking your stay to experience all of the natural beauty of Sedona and the southwest!

5 Stunning A-Frame Airbnb Vacation Rentals

A-frame homes are a style we will never grow tired of. There’s something about coming home to a cabin with vaulted ceilings, exposed roof beams, and a loft space – it just feels right. Whether you’re ISO a trip to a cabin for a friends’ reunion, a birthday, or simply to get away from it all, we’ve come up with the best AvantStay A-frame Airbnbs in California – all complete with those cozy cabin vibes you’re yearning for.

If you find yourself looking for a travel experience that values your privacy, safety, and cleanliness, maybe it’s time to try AvantStay, your new travel BFF for group travel.

AvantStay is a gem in the short-term vacation rental world. We display our signature style in over a thousand homes with award-winning interior design, seamless group travel experiences, concierge services at the touch of a button, and a unique pay-per-person feature on the app. While all AvantStay properties can be booked through Airbnb, they can also be booked directly through our website. 

Apart from its top-of-the-line technology and innovation, AvantStay homes are in primo locations – places you’ve been dying to check out, and experiences you’re ready to check off your bucket list – like a stay at an A-frame! Let’s get to it.

Mountaineer – Lake Tahoe, CA

Your dream cabin just entered the chat. Meet Mountaineer, a Lake Tahoe A-frame cabin tucked away in the tall pine trees. This home features an expansive deck with lounge chairs, a BBQ, and an open floor plan with gorgeous natural light inside. Ideal for a quick getaway with your close friends, this stay has room for up to 6 guests.

Want inspo for what to do during your trip? Check out our 47 Things to Do in Lake Tahoe.

Wildhaven – Lake Arrowhead, CA

Located just minutes away from the lake you’ll find the inviting A-frame that is Wildhaven. Deep in Lake Arrowhead, this stay comes with all you need for an idyllic cabin retreat: a fireplace, billiards table, bar, board games, two balconies, a fire pit, and plenty of places to kick back and relax. Invite up to 10 guests and green light your getaway to this lovely Lake Tahoe Airbnb.

Midnight – Lake Tahoe, CA

A-frame, but make it modern. Midnight is a remodeled cabin situated in the pines of Lake Tahoe. If you’re craving a ski sesh on your next vacation, definitely head here – this stay is close to Olympic Valley. With its wood interiors, cozy furniture, and tall ceilings, Midnight is bound to be one of your favorite woodsy getaways yet.

Sun and Snow Chalet – Big Bear Lake, CA

Invite up to 9 of your best friends and head to Sun and Snow Chalet in Big Bear Lake. This stay is ideal for those who like a little bit of everything, whether that be snow, sun, or lake days. Only 2 miles away from the Snow Summit Ski Resort, this Big Bear Airbnb makes for the perfect decompression session after a long day on the slopes. When it’s warmer out, take a short trip to the lake and have yourself a day!

Looking for more ideas on what to do during your trip? Check out our Best Things to Do in Big Bear!

Horizon – Lake Tahoe, CA 

An A-frame vacay is definitely on the Horizon. This Lake Tahoe Airbnb is one of our favorites with its exposed wood interiors, ample natural light, and breathtaking lake views. Invite up to 8 guests to this cozy California cabin where you’ll spend afternoons dining al fresco, cheffing it up on the wood-fired oven, and chilling out with either a hot tub or billiards sesh (or both).

Best Spring Break Destinations for Families

Ready to plan your next family spring break trip? From islands with southern coastal charm to San Diego’s iconic parks and attractions, we have a complete list of ideal spring break destinations. Whether you are looking for a peaceful day spent on one of the best beaches in the world or an adrenaline-fueled zipline tour through the jungles of Hawaii, we have all the vacation ideas you need for booking Spring Break 2023!  

Check out our list of the best spring break destinations for families in 2023!  

San Diego 

A hub for both outdoor adventure and family fun, San Diego is a supreme spring break destination for families. In the spring, San Diego boasts idyllic temperatures for time spent outdoors with highs in the 60s and lows in the 50s.  

Make yourself an itinerary of activities to include in your spring break plans like spending the day at the San Diego Zoo or walking through iconic Balboa Park. With more than 1,000 acres of stunning gardens and park space, Balboa Park is also home to museums, restaurants, and the Spanish Village Art Center. LEGOLAND California is another theme park in the area which features an amusement park, water park, and plenty of kid-friendly attractions and shows.

For those seeking days spent on the beach, Mission Beach is a family-friendly hub for surf, sand, and sun. Or make the drive to La Jolla to see the gorgeous beaches, get in the water to snorkel, and even spot some sunbathing sea lions. Find a La Jolla vacation home with stunning ocean views or browse all of our San Diego rentals to find your ideal spring break getaway. 

Vista by AvantStay

Key West 

Spring-breaking families looking for a tropical destination need look no further than Key West, Florida! Key West is both a tropical oasis and a melting pot of culture, history, and family fun! The weather during spring break in Key West ranges between the high 70s and low 80s making it perfect for days spent soaking up the Florida sunshine. 

Some of the can’t-miss activities include snapping a picture at the Southernmost Point of the continental United States which is marked with an on-land buoy. Also on the southern side of the island, South Beach is a popular spot for families seeking a quiet destination for surf and sand. For a busier beach scene, Smathers Beach is one of the most popular on the island and a prime destination for snorkeling, sand volleyball, and more. Or perhaps you are looking for the privacy of a private pool? We have plenty of gorgeous homes like Casa de Rosalie that offer an island escape for your family complete with a private pool!  

For a day trip away from the island, get on a boat to Dry Tortugas National Park! The national park consists of 7 islands and miles of open water making swimming and snorkeling the best way to view the protected park area. On land, stroll Fort Mason which was built in the late 19th century and is one of the largest masonry forts in the United States.  

The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory invites families to come stroll amongst dozens of species of butterflies and tropical birds in the botanical gardens. And after a day of family fun, water sports, and unique historical sites, stroll Duval Street which is home to a variety of restaurants and boutiques with coastal flair. Start planning a Key West spring break and find a vacation home! 

Source: Key West

Hilton Head 

Enjoy a quiet, quaint spring break on South Carolina’s Hilton Head Island! Renowned for its beautiful beaches, golf courses, and charming coastal towns, Hilton Head makes for an ideal family spring break destination. With spring weather ranging in the low 70s and high 40s, spring break offers warm weather and plenty of opportunities for family fun.  

Book one of our Hilton Head vacation homes for rest and relaxation during your spring break vacation. We offer both Hilton Head homes with private pools as well as spacious properties with room for the whole family. We recommend a stunning vacation home like Lido which boasts six bedrooms, a private pool, and a beachfront location.  

Once you decide to explore outside of your vacation home, hop on a bicycle to pedal around on the more than 60 miles of bike paths the island offers. Other family-friendly Hilton Head activities we recommend include dolphin-watching excursions, water sports like SUP boarding, kayaking, jet skis, parasailing, and more. Hilton Head is also a renowned destination for golfers, so we recommend booking a tee time for your family or opting for mini golf to include the younger kids in your group. Start planning a Hilton Head spring break to experience the magic of Hilton Head!  

Lido by AvantStay

Hawaii  

And finally, Hawaii is a spring break destination unlike any other. We feature vacation homes on both Maui and Oahu offering two different experiences on the Hawaiian archipelago. Hawaii is known for having pleasant warm weather year-round, and springtime is no different. Enjoy temperatures that range in the low to high 70s and plenty of activities for younger kids.

Cross Hawaii off of your bucket list by planning a spring break vacation for the entire family!

Oahu  

Oahu is the most populated island of Hawaii and is a paradise for family fun and adventure. During your stay in one of our oceanfront rentals, head out to explore the white sand beaches, snorkel, or explore a family-friendly attraction like Kualoa Ranch where you can take horseback, ATV, or zipline tour! Or if you are looking for an active way to find gorgeous views, select one of Oahu’s hiking trails in a state park to follow and enjoy the journey!

Oahu is also home to other kid-friendly activities including the Polynesian Cultural Center, the Honolulu Zoo, and treating yourself to delicious shaved ice. To experience all this and more, book an Oahu vacation rental for your next spring break!

AvantStay in Oahu

Maui 

Maui is a quieter island than Oahu but offers no less excitement when it comes to stunning beaches and fun things to do! Maui’s most iconic beaches include Ka’anapali Beach, Wailea Beach, Napili Beach, and Honokalani Beach with its picturesque black sands. Maui’s peak whale-watching season falls between January and May which means that your spring break trip may overlap with an opportunity to see the blue whales.

For a road trip of adventure, drive the Road to Hana which offers breathtaking views, winding single-lane turns, and a handful of waterfalls. And if you want to trade your flip-flops for hiking boots, we recommend adventuring in the Iao Valley! Find your home-away-from-home in one of our Maui vacation rentals!

Hono Hideaway by AvantStay

Choose Your Own Spring Break Vacation Destination 

Don’t see your dream spring break destination on this list? We also offer properties in other destinations that are perfect for a family vacation such as Lake Tahoe, the Emerald Coast, Colorado, and Cabo San Lucas. Our team of experts is ready to assist you in selecting a vacation rental, offering travel tips, and ensuring your spring break is one to remember!

AvantStay’s 2022 Year in Review

We know you’re a trendsetter but figured you’d like to see your year in travel anyway. Below we’ve gathered facts you’ll love about our guests, where you traveled with us and some of our fave moments from you in your vacation era. 

Total Number of Guests 

You have a lot of friends. 300,000 of you stayed with us!

Dakota House in Joshua Tree

Top 5 Booked Destinations

We would never pick favorites, but if we did, your top 5 destinations would be: Isle of Palms, Nashville, Telluride, Big Bear Lake, and Palm Springs.

Palmetto in Isle of Palms, Charleston

Favorite Day of the Week to Book

Your fave day to book was Wednesday. Did you wear pink?

The Marley Hotel in Palm Springs

Most Booked Day 

We had the most bookings on August 10. Leo season must have had you feeling confident in your decision-making skills – how on-brand!

Roca Roja in Sedona

Busiest Vacation Days of the Year

You certainly knew how to holiday. Our most booked days this year were for Thanksgiving day and the day after (so you could decompress from all that feasting).

Colina in Temecula

Longest Stay

Some of you really made yourself at home. Our longest stay was 201 days in Key West.

Source: Key West

Favorite Homes

You fell in love with just about every home, but particularly the ones in Joshua Tree. Our top rated homes this year were: Jackrabbit Ridge, Smoketree and Dakota House.

Smoketree in Joshua Tree

Most Unique Concierge Service Requested

While all of our concierge requests are unique, one really stood out. 

For this San Diego bachelorette weekend, we crafted a total surprise for the bride with tons of fun like: custom robes for their at-home spa day, champagne welcome towers, a boozy brunch, private chef dinners, two nights of VIP Table Service at San Diego’s most popular clubs, a beach bonfire, custom cookies, custom pool floaties, and three full days of a private driver and party bus around San Diego.

Vista in San Diego

Best Event at Our Homes

ICYMI, our homes are perfect for events. With tons of sprawling properties with luxury amenities like pools, private lakes, outdoor kitchens and more, our concierge team is here to help you plan your dream celebration.

Not to fan-girl, but we kinda did during the Camp Poosh event at Buena Vista in Coachella Valley. From archery to Ephemeral Tattoo, a camp store, friendship bracelet making, and a star-studded guest list, this event really had it going on.

Buena Vista in Coachella Valley

Best Use of Employee Travel Credits

We take just as much pride in our homes as we do our stellar roster of employees. As a small token of our appreciation, our employees get  travel credits to stay at our properties so they can get an IRL experience of the brand they rep.

One of our employees really stood out using her travel credits this year. Our Social Media Coordinator, Taylor,  used her credit to give her parents an anniversary trip to 121 Hotel in Nashville. Happy anniversary Mr. and Mrs. Vance!

Visiting Arrington Vineyards in Nashville

Most Liked Instagram Post

You loved following us on IG, but the fan fav was this reel from our home Moana in Temecula. See for yourself by clicking the picture below.

Moana in Temecula

Most Liked TikTok Post

We’re proud of you for making the transition to TikTok. Here, our best video was this one where we used our astro-knowledge to decide where you should travel based on your star sign. Click the picture below to check it out.

Hacienda at Coachella in Coachella Valley

Most Unique Home Amenity 

Amenities are kind of our thing. True to 2022, our most unique amenity of the year has to go to the pickleball court at Date Palm Estate in Coachella Valley. We obviously like to stay on-trend so we had to add one to this stunner of a stay.

Date Palm Estate in Coachella Valley

Most Requested AvantStay Swag 

So you hopped up out of bed, turned your swag on, and landed on a favorite swag item of ours. Our most requested swag item was this OOO hat, which in a totally unbiased opinion, we think makes for the best way to let your boss know you’re taking time off. 

OOO Hat from the AvantStay Store

And that’s a wrap, 2022! Thanks for all your stays and shared experiences – we can’t wait to see you next year!

35+ Best Things To Do in the Berkshires Year-Round

Located in western Massachusetts, the Berkshire Mountain range is part of the Appalachian Mountain system. While cities like Boston and vacation destinations like Cape Cod receive much attention, don’t overlook the Berkshires for your next getaway.

From daring outdoor adventures to awe-inspiring museums, the small towns within the Berkshires make for an idyllic place to escape, even for a day trip thanks to its close proximity (less than three hours!) to both Boston and New York City. 

So take a peek at the 35+ exciting, educational and physical activities we’ve gathered for you in the Berkshires. Whether you’re a local looking for something new or a visitor hoping to explore, you’ll be able to find exactly what you’re looking for… And then some! 

Hike Mount Greylock

mount grey lock in the daytime

Hikers won’t get bored in western Massachusetts, especially when sleeping amongst the slopes

The first on our list is Mount Greylock, the highest point in the entire state. This nearly 3,500-foot summit is located in the Mount Greylock State Reservation, where you can see almost 100 miles and five states. 

Several hikes will take you to the top. Some are harder but quicker, while others are easier but longer. You get the gist. In the summer, you can even drive to the summit.

Enjoy live music at Tanglewood

The name Tanglewood might sound familiar if you’ve ever browsed a summer concert tour schedule. This outdoor amphitheater in Lenox is a popular stop for acts of all kinds.

Tanglewood isn’t just for rock concerts, though. It’s the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and often features classical performances. Lawn tickets for these events tend to be reasonable. Pack a blanket and picnic and enjoy the warm mountain air.

Tanglewood also has an outdoor center and year-round events besides what’s happening on the main stage. Check them out for tons of opportunities for cultural enrichment.

Walk, run, or bike the Ashuwillticook Branch Rail Trail

One way many New England towns are choosing to utilize unused rail tracks is by converting them into pedestrian trails. The Ashuwillticook Branch Rail Trail in Cheshire, Lanesborough, and Adams is one of them. 

At ten feet wide and more than 12 miles long, there’s room for all activities. The trail offers spectacular views of the Hoosic River, the Cheshire Reservoir, and the flora and fauna of the area. There are parking lots and restrooms (parents rejoice!) at a few designated stops. 

Explore Natural Bridge State Park

Natural Bridge State Park features North America’s only natural white marble stone arch. It was formed by a massive glacier more than 13,000 years ago. The enormous natural bridge stretches over a 60-foot gorge. It’s a must-see for geologists and rock enthusiasts alike. 

Take a guided tour or explore on your own with a myriad of walking and hiking trails. 

Best places to see fall foliage

Depending on the time of year you visit, the Berkshires gives us breathtaking displays of fall foliage.

One of the best places to see it is the October Mountain State Forest in Lee. The largest protected forest in Massachusetts, it has numerous hiking and walking trails. It’s also dog-friendly if you plan to travel with your pup.

We already mentioned Mount Greylock, but keep reading to learn about Monument Mountain, Onata Lake, and other tremendous places with gorgeous views of autumn leaves.

Pick apples at Hilltop Orchard

Of the many seasonal outdoor activities in the region, we might love apple picking the most. Hilltop Orchards in Richmond is a terrific place to do it. 

Not only do they have apple picking in the fall, but there are several other year-round activities that include sampling some of the region’s most delicious apple products, including apple cider, apple cider doughnuts, and apple pies. Also available? A winery and cidery on-site. Head onto their hiking trails for gorgeous Berkshire views when you’re done.  

Ski Jiminy Peak

Jiminy Peak is one of the best places to ski or snowboard in the northeast, but this ski resort is also much more. They maintain numerous ski trails for both beginners to black diamond skiers.  They even make their own snow to extend the season as long as possible and offer night skiing.

Outside of winter, hiking trails, an aerial adventure course, and mountain biking await. The lodge is open year-round and is always a bright yet cozy place to hang out.

Learn about local ecology at the Berkshire Botanical Garden

The Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge is old and enormous. Started in 1934, it covers 15 acres. You can visit year-round, where they grow plants in greenhouses, indoor gardens, and outdoor fields.

There’s a special children’s discovery garden that welcomes little hands, an herb garden, and more. In the summer, tours depart daily at 11 a.m. 

Stroll the Housatonic River Walk

Located in Great Barrington, the Housatonic River Walk is more than a gorgeous trail with stunning views. There are other things to see along the route, historic places included. 

In addition, the city intends the park to be part of a native plant and tree restoration. Experts monitor growth in the park and help remediate the land. Check their website for periodic public events, including opportunities to help with ecological efforts.

Get your thrills at Catamount Aerial Adventure Park

If you have kids with a lot of energy to burn, take them to Catamount Aerial Adventure Park. This impressive climbing complex has multiple outdoor courses built into the trees. They have a zipline on several courses, and they’re graded according to the difficulty level.

Grab your skis or snowboards in the winter because Catamount is another fantastic Massachusetts ski resort. 

See Bash Bish Falls

It might have a silly name, but Bash Bish Falls is quite breathtaking. The Bash Bish Falls State Park is located very close to the New York border in Mt. Washington.

Once inside the park, follow one of several trails to its centerpiece: the dual waterfall. You’ll find it has a calming yet inspiring energy as it flows into the emerald-blue pool. If you’re hoping to spend more time, Taconic Park on the New York side has camping and other amenities. 

Enjoy Onata Lake (or one of many others)

Run by the city of Pittsfield, Onata Lake has a long shoreline packed with things to do. Try kayaking, canoeing, or other watersports at one of the rental shacks along the shores.

You can also relax at one of the many waterfronts; the lake is excellent for fishing.

Hike up Monument Mountain for stunning views

Mount Greylock might be the highest point in the state, but the summit of Monument Mountain is no less breathtaking. Known as Squaw Point, gaze out upon the Housatonic River Valley and southern Berkshires from this spot in Great Barrington.

Several hiking trails will take you to the summit, with varying degrees of difficulty. It’s a rather steep 720-foot ascent so make sure your body can handle it.

Explore Pittsfield State Forest

Pittsfield State Forest is another protected outdoor area that you can take the family to or head out solo for peace and quiet. There are several walking trails, and you can also hike, bike, or even ride your horse. There are even campsites if you’re looking for somewhere to stay.

In the winter, rent snowshoes to explore many of the trails, which remain clear and well-marked. It’s a terrific opportunity to see wildlife and enjoy views of the snow-capped mountains.

Learn about animals of the Berkshires at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary

The Massachusetts Audubon Society runs the Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Lenox. They have more than 1,000 acres of protected wetlands, marches, and forests where you’ll see unique Massachusetts wildlife. 

There are seven miles of hiking trails with views of Pike’s Pond and the Housatonic River. Enjoy breathtaking vistas of the surrounding area once you reach the summit of Lenox Mountain. 

Don’t forget about the animals! Your family can see tons of wildlife on your own or on a guided tour. They also rent canoes and have programs for kids and adults.

Sample local beers

The brewery game is strong in western Massachusetts! There are several small, independently-owned craft breweries in the Berkshires where you can quench your thirst. Many breweries also double as restaurants and have play areas for kids.

These are some of the region’s most popular breweries:

Sip local cider and wine

In addition to breweries, the Berkshires are also home to some incredible wineries and cideries. Hilltop Orchards, discussed above, makes delicious hard cider from the apples they grow on-site. It’s also home to the Furnace Brook Winery.

Check out these other destinations:

While we’re on the subject of local libations, recreational cannabis is legal in Massachusetts. For those who partake in the high life, the Berkshires is home to several dispensaries where visitors 21 and over can enjoy cannabis. 

Experience history at the Red Lion Inn

Located in the heart of downtown Stockbridge, the Red Lion Inn is one of the Berkshires’ most historic places to stay. It has operated since before the 1800s. 

Presidents and other historical figures have graced its halls and stayed in its rooms. It was a crucial Revolutionary War meeting place and has seen debates about virtually every major event in American history. Some people even believe it to be haunted! 

Not to mention, you don’t have to be a guest to check it out. Enjoy access to a lounge, bars, and a restaurant on site. Staff is usually enthusiastic about bringing visitors up to speed on its history.

Renew your body and mind at the Kripalu Center

If you enjoy yoga classes or meditation for the relaxing, calming effect it has on your body and mind, spend some time at the Kripalu Center. They hold day or weekend-long retreats, as well as frequent workshops on topics related to wellness and holistic healing.

View modern art at Mass MoCA

The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, also known as  Mass MoCA, is one of many places to view fine art in the Berkshires. It has masterful works of art, including large-scale installations like EJ Hill’s Brake Run Helix or Amy Hauft’s exploration of our relationship to the landscape in 700,000:1 Terra + Luna + Sol.

The entire family will enjoy a visit to Mass MoCA. For adults, there’s a brewery on site and many public presentations and educational seminars. Kids can visit Kidspace and the Artbar for hands-on creative time. Docents give guided tours throughout the day.

Visit the Norman Rockwell Museum

You’ve likely seen his art even if you haven’t heard of Normal Rockwell. The Normal Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge is exceedingly well-done. There are over 900 original paintings created by the artist at this museum alone!

Learn about his work at the Saturday Evening Post and tour his studio at his last home, converted to this museum after his death. 

See the Clark Art Institute

The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown is undoubtedly one of the hidden gems of the Berkshires. Its curators work diligently to represent significant art movements in Europe and the US so local residents can experience them close to home.

See masterpieces from the Renaissance, French impressionism, and the 20th century. The Clark also puts together clever, creative, and unique exhibits that rotate throughout the year. 

The grounds are almost as beautiful as the art. The marble museum looks stunning against its natural backdrop, whether cloaked in snow, bursting with greenery, or painted in autumn colors.

Learn about Shakers at the Hancock Shaker Village

The Shakers were an important religious sect and community in the northeast United States during the 18th and 19th centuries. Learn more about them at the Hancock Shaver Village in Pittsfield.

This particular Shaker community dates to 1783. Many of their original structures remain, while others have been meticulously recreated so that you’re able to understand  how this unique group lived and how their religious and social values played out in their day-to-day lives. 

Schedule a guided tour or explore on your own.

Discover the Berkshires in-depth at the Berkshire Museum

Learn about the Berkshires and its people at this Pittsfield History Museum. It aims to do more than just display history. Instead, its many rotating and permanent exhibits show how art, history, science, nature, and other forces that intricately connect and impact our lives.

This mission lends itself to hands-on activities and exhibits. There’s plenty for kids (and adults) to touch, experiment with, and learn from. Be sure to check out special events before you go.

Get some art, history, and outdoors at the Chesterwood Museum

The Chesterwood Museum in Stockbridge (open May-October) is the former home of sculptor David Chester French, whose most famous work is undoubtedly the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. 

At this artist’s retreat, he designed and worked on many of his pieces. There are dozens of bronze and marble sculptures on display at Chesterwood. You can tour the home and learn about French’s work and the world in which he created it. The grounds are also open to visitors.

Visit Edith Wharton’s home, The Mount

Although her most famous book is The Age of Innocence (1921), Edith Wharton was a prolific author. She was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in literature and is representative of the art movements and culture of the Gilded Age.

The Mount wasn’t just Wharton’s home; she also considered it one of her most significant accomplishments. She designed the entire home and lovingly selected the furnishings. Today, take a tour and learn about Wharton’s life, work, and world.

See where Melville wrote Moby Dick

You might imagine Herman Melville writing his most famous novel in a cold, coastal New England town, but he was actually at Arrowhead in Pittsfield, where he decided to gaze at mountains rather than waves.

Members of the Berkshire Historical Society have restored the home to what it would have looked like when Melville worked on his magnum opus. Take a guided tour of the house or explore the grounds on the nature trail.

Experience luxury at Ventfort Hall, the Museum of the Gilded Age

Several homes and historic sites in the Berkshires connect to the Gilded Age, but this historic landmark is wholly dedicated to it. Ventfort Hall is an awe-inspiring mansion built in 1893. It has 15 bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, and several opulent spaces for entertaining visitors.

Museum officials have restored many of the rooms to their original glory with period-appropriate decor. Schedule a tour year-round.

Get more Gilded Age at Naumkeag

Even if you have no interest in the Gilded Age, Naumkeag is worth a visit. This home is remarkably well-preserved and looks nearly as it did when workers and designers completed it in the 1880s. 

Back then, the Choate family used it as a summer “cottage” even though it has more than 40 rooms. You can only see the home by guided tour from April to October, so be sure to schedule ahead.

Equally as impressive are the grounds. Luckily, you’re able to explore these on your own during the warmer months of the year.

See a Shakespeare play at Shakespeare and Company

See a show at Shakespeare and Company in Lenox if you love classical theater. They have a full range of performances in their season, including Shakespeare (obvs) and other types of plays like stand up comedy shows and holiday musicals. 

If you’re local, check out their educational programs. They have classes for actors of all ages. 

Catch the Williamstown Theater Festival

If you love the performing arts, there’s a great deal to love about the Berkshires. The Williamstown Theater Festival lasts all summer long at Williams College in Williamstown. 

This spectacular residency program features classes and performances by top names in the industry. It also has some major donors and sponsors. Best of all, you’re supporting young artists by seeing a show.

See a dance performance at Jacob’s Pillow

Jacob’s Pillow is one of the most unique dance centers in the world. In addition to being a National Historic Landmark, Jacob’s Pillow offers sign-up and drop-in classes. They teach all skill levels in many types of dance.

Check out their annual dance festival that brings thousands of people to the Berkshires every year, including some of the most innovative dancers, choreographers, and other artists, or attend a lecture or public event (most of which happen year round!). 

Browse books at The Bookloft

Book lovers rejoice! The Bookloft in Great Barrington is one of the coolest independent bookstores in the northeast United States. 

Designed to be a comfortable, welcoming place for visitors, even non-readers will enjoy this shop where you can browse everything from the classics to local authors. The Bookloft also does a lot to support local authors and artisans in the community. 

Check out other great shops

The Berkshire region is a mecca for anyone who loves to check out small, independent shops. Several towns have vibrant downtown areas, including Stockbridge and Great Barrington. Once there, spend hours browsing everything from blown glass to pet accessories to clothing.

Satisfy your appetite

With so many wonderful things to do in the Berkshires, you’re sure to work up an appetite. Luckily, the region offers many delicious options. 

Berkshire Mountain Bakery, Housatonic or Pittsfield

One of our favorite places in the Berkshires is this old-fashioned bakery in Housatonic. Everything is lovingly handmade using old recipes. The Pittsfield Berkshire Mountain Bakery also does pizza.

John Andrews Farmhouse Restaurant, South Egremont

Enjoy a meal in the picturesque gardens of this 18th-century farmhouse. John Andrews Farmhouse Restaurant truly brings the farm to the table with al fresco dining on the beautiful, pastoral grounds. 

If you love the farm-to-table experience, consider staying in an old farmhouse.

Six Depot Roastery and Cafe, West Stockbridge

If you love coffee—really love coffee—then this West Stockbridge coffee shop is the place for you. Six Depot Roastery and Cafe takes their coffee very seriously. From the ground size to how you prepare it, coffee snobs will love this spot.

Moreover, all of their beans are sourced ethically and sustainably. Grab a bite to eat and one of the best cups of coffee you’ll ever taste. 

The Prairie Whale, Great Barrington

At The Prairie Whale, enjoy delicious, locally-sourced meals that  always showcase what’s fresh and seasonal in the region. It’s a fun place to hang out with ample outdoor space and patio games. 

Enjoy your time in the Berkshires

Clearly, there are so many things to do in the Berkshires. Whether you and your travel companions like history, consider yourselves foodies, or want to experience the outdoor beauty of the Berkshires, there are tons to do for all ages.

Browse the listings and activities above, and start planning your getaway to the Berkshires now. Remember, it all starts with the perfect accommodations.

The Best Things to Do in Sonoma County

If you’re planning a trip to Sonoma County, California, explore this guide for inspiration as you build your list of things not to miss for your next vacation.

Sonoma is a historic city located in Northern California about 45 minutes from San Francisco and known for amazing vineyards, wineries, and sustainable farming. Whether you’re planning a quick day trip or staying for a week, there’s plenty to explore along the Sonoma Coast and historic Sonoma with shopping, wine tasting, bike tours, and other outdoor activities. 

Check out our list of the best things to do in Sonoma for your next vacation.

1. Relax & Refresh

Somehow time slows down in Sonoma. The down-to-earth nature and rustic vibes fill the area, creating the perfect setting to unwind and relax. Settle into your Sonoma vacation rental, pour a glass of pinot noir or chardonnay to enjoy a delicious farm-to-table lunch, and admire the beauty of the redwood trees.

Gable by AvantStay

2. Explore Sonoma Valley Wine Country

Sonoma Valley wine country offers world-class wine, making it one of the most popular attractions in northern California. This destination is home to 60,000 acres of vineyards in over 18 wine regions, offering different flavors that will appeal to everyone. 

The Sonoma County Terroir includes eighteen American Viticultural Areas which represent the diversity of this famous region and offer a larger variety of grapes than other notable wine destinations.

Traveling with a group? Booking a wine-tasting tour is one of the most fun things to do for a group of friends, family, or even a couple. Buena Vista Winery is one of the best in Sonoma. Be sure to book in advance for your group to secure a spot. 

Enjoy discussing your favorites in the tasting rooms post-wine tour to decide on which wines you’ll choose to bring home to your cellar.

It is easy to create your entire getaway around the theme of wine, if that’s your passion. There are plenty of guided tours and walking tours, and with Napa Valley nearby it is easy to explore both wine making regions over the same weekend.

Explore Group Vacation Rentals Near Sonoma Wine Country

Chardonnay in Sonoma, CA 

Belleza in Glen Ellen, CA

Cabernet in Sonoma, CA

Source: Sonoma Magazine

3. Visit Bodega Bay for the Day

Bodega Bay is famously known as the location for Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds,” and this Sonoma County destination also offers a perfect day trip for whale or bird watching. 

Start your day with a beautiful hike at Kortum Trail. This trail is easy for beginners who want to take in a gorgeous view of the Pacific Ocean. From March to April, you may even see a whale! For a delicious bite to eat, check out Fishetarian Market for fresh raw oysters or fish and chips.  Enjoy an afternoon treat with a stop by Patrick’s Salt Water Taffy to satisfy your sweet tooth. Before heading back to your Sonoma vacation home, boost your energy with a coffee or chai latte from Captain Davey’s Ice Cream and Espresso.

Source: Sonoma County

4. Kayak The Russian River in Guerneville

Not only is the Russian River great for swimming, paddling, and kayaking, it is the perfect spot to simply relax and enjoy the natural beauty of the waterway. There’s plenty to explore after a day on the water. Whether you stroll through charming Guerneville for local boutiques, cafes, galleries, and farm-to-table bites to eat, or you head out to explore Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve—you can’t go wrong. 

Source: Smarter Travel

5. Visit Sonoma Breweries & Distilleries

Sonoma County is known for wineries, but did you know there are also plenty of excellent breweries and distilleries to enjoy? Explore the Sonoma beer trail to experience the best beverages in Sonoma County from Petaluma to Healdsburg. You’re sure to find some of the best craft beers on tap in Northern California.

Source: Sonoma County

6. Wildflowers in Sonoma Valley Regional Park

If you’re a fan of wildflowers, February through May is the perfect time to explore spring blooms in Sonoma County. You’ll find hiking trails named after flowers at Sonoma Valley Regional Park. Take an early hike through these stunning trails and prepare a picnic lunch from the local farmers market with local pinot noir or chardonnay from a Sonoma winery. You’ll be sure to find a variety of beautiful flowers to gaze at while you relax in nature. 

Source: Press Democrat

Experience the Best of Sonoma Valley  

Ready to experience all of the beauty, fun, and charm of Sonoma Valley has to offer? Sonoma is an excellent destination to visit with something fun to experience in every season. Use this guide to plan your next getaway and book your Sonoma vacation rental to enjoy all this lovely area has to offer.

If you’re looking for other recommendations in the area, be sure to check out our other resources:

Sonoma Country Wineries

Sonoma Vacation Rentals

Belleza by AvantStay

How To Start an Airbnb: The Ultimate Guide [How To Maximize Your Revenue in 2023]

Starting an Airbnb business can be a lucrative venture. According to Airbnb, the average income for US hosts recently rose to $13,800, an 85% increase from 2019. Not a bad chunk of change for an additional income stream. However, the money won’t be flooding in the moment you begin your new hosting gig; there are a lot of moving parts when managing a vacation rental, and the hosts that go above and beyond are the ones that outperform the rest. If you’re ready to take on the role of a vacation rental host, this guide will teach you how to start an Airbnb business and maximize your revenue. 

Getting started — Airbnb business basics

Before starting your Airbnb business, there are a few crucial boxes to check, from complying with local short-term rental laws to budgeting for taxes and Airbnb fees. 

Short-term rental permits 

Before you attempt to start an Airbnb business, make sure your local government allows short-term rentals. Every state, county, and city has its own short-term rental laws. These often change, so make sure you’re fully up-to-date and understand the current rules and regulations in place for your market. 

You’ll likely need a general business license or short-term rental permit. These ensure your vacation rental is compliant with zoning restrictions and meet the local health and safety requirements. You’ll also need to get permission from your landlord or homeowners association to rent your home on a short-term basis. 

Short-term rental taxes

The IRS will recognize your Airbnb venture as a legitimate business, so you’ll need to keep track of your income and expenses for your federal tax return. You’ll likely be able to deduct expenses from running your Airbnb business, including utilities, property repairs, cleaning services, and more. 

In most locations, Airbnb automatically collects and pays occupancy taxes on behalf of hosts. This isn’t the case in all jurisdictions, so check to see if your listing is eligible

Also, consider working with a tax professional to make sure you’re always in good standing with the IRS. 

Airbnb fees

While it’s free to list vacation rentals on Airbnb, most hosts pay a fee of 14-16% for each booking’s subtotal. This percentage can be higher depending on location, your cancellation policy, and if you’re an Airbnb Plus host. Keep the hosting fee in mind when setting your price. 

How to start an Airbnb — next steps 

Assuming you already have a home to rent on Airbnb, whether it’s your primary residence or an investment property, the following steps will help you kickstart your Airbnb business. 

Prepare and furnish your space

A well-stocked thoughtfully designed and furnished Airbnb not only creates a positive guest experience but leads to better reviews and increased bookings. Make sure you tackle the following before welcoming your first guests: 

Assemble a network of local support teams

From housekeeping to landscaping and maintenance, create a solid team of local contractors that you can trust to keep your Airbnb property in pristine condition. Build a strong relationship with these folks as they’ll be your right hand running a successful Airbnb business. Some team members to consider: 

  • Housekeepers
  • Repairman
  • Plumber
  • Electrician 
  • Landscapers
  • Accountant 
  • Property Manager

Strategically price your Airbnb 

Pricing your Airbnb property for market and seasonal trends is one of the trickiest parts of running a vacation rental. If traveler demand is high in your market, you could lose money by pricing your home too low. On the other hand, if your home is priced too high, you could lose potential bookings. Research your local market so you can accurately and competitively charge for bedroom count, amenities, views, proximity to local attractions, and other key features. 

Create and optimize your listing 

Your Airbnb listing is your first touchpoint with potential guests. Start with your title, description, and keywords. Your title should describe your vacation rental and leave potential guests compelled to click your listing. Then you can use your description to paint a picture of the guest experience at your home, including all the details that make your property unique.

When writing your headline and description, incorporate search engine optimization (SEO) strategies to further boost your reach. Research search terms (“keywords”) that are popular in your market and add those to your listing. Some examples include, “private beachfront home in Destin” or “dog-friendly Scottsdale vacation rental.” 

Don’t just list amenities—describe how guests can make their own memories at your home! Do you have a private hot tub perfect for relaxing after a long day of exploring? Or a patio with an ocean view paired well with morning coffee or evening cocktails? Use these in your Airbnb listing to encourage travelers to hit “Reserve.” 

In addition, splurge on a professional photographer to take high-resolution photos of your vacation rental that accurately reflect the space, amenities, views, and what guests can expect when they walk into your Airbnb. Photos help guests imagine themselves in your space and create their own stories. 

How to become a Superhost on Airbnb 

Airbnb hosts that go above and beyond to create an exceptional guest experience are given a Superhost badge and additional promotions to reach more guests. 

Every three months, Airbnb checks if you’ve met their requirements for the past year so you can earn or keep your Superhost status (no application needed!). To qualify for an Airbnb Superhost badge, you must:

  • Host at least 10 trips, or have 3 reservations that total at least 100 nights
  • Maintain a 90% response rate or higher
  • Maintain a 1% cancellation rate (1 cancellation per 100 reservations) or lower
  • Maintain a 4.8 overall rating

Partner with an expert vacation rental manager 

Running a successful Airbnb business can be expensive, tedious, and time-consuming. So, why not partner with an expert who can do all the work for you? 

AvantStay has been a top-rated Superhost for 22 consecutive quarters, so we know what it takes to take your home to the next level and maximize your revenue. We offer the first hands-off approach for vacation rental owners, using our proprietary tech suite to power bookings, operationalize in-field management, and activate an elevated guest experience. 

In addition, guests can use our concierge services to request mid-stay cleans, fridge stocking, arrange private chef-catered dinners, wine tastings, in-home spa treatments, transportation, and more. A pristine home paired with our personalized guest services drives higher satisfaction, more five-star reviews, and repeat visitors. 

If you’re interested in learning more about AvantStay’s best-in-class care and how we can maximize your revenue, our team is ready to help. Get started with our vacation rental management experts today!

How To Set Vacation Rental House Rules

Regular maintenance and upkeep are essential to vacation rental home care, but making sure that guests respect your home is an important part of running a successful vacation rental. Limit any chances for confusion or misunderstanding by providing straightforward, concise vacation rental house rules. This will influence how guests treat and leave your property so you’ll never have to worry about its condition. A cared-for home will generate positive reviews, increase bookings, and make you more revenue. Keep reading to find out what you should include in your house rules. 

Why it’s important to set vacation rental house rules

Vacation rental house rules are essential to protecting your home—and your guests! Set clear expectations before guest arrival so you’ll never have to worry about crazy parties disturbing your neighbors, pet accidents, or any damage to your property. Include these rules on your listing page so potential guests can decide if your home is a good fit for their vacation, while also limiting the time you’ll spend answering questions. Setting vacation rental house rules puts you in charge and holds everyone accountable. 

Things to consider

Even with house rules in place, there’s still a chance that guests may break them. Make sure you define the consequences of breaking any rules, whether it’s a fine, eviction, or both. Include a note with your rules and in the rental agreement. Here are some other things to consider when establishing your vacation rental house rules: 

  • Be straight to the point. “Please refrain from bringing your pets,” is more likely to be broken than “no pets allowed.” 
  • Make your house rules easily accessible. Include them on your listing page, in your welcome book, and any pre-check-in communications.
  • Remember that this is your guests’ vacation. It may be tempting to write rules for every little detail in your home, but don’t overwhelm or limit your guests. Set boundaries that still allow your guests to enjoy themselves and your home. 

Examples of vacation rental house rules

Every vacation rental property is unique, so create rules that are specific to your home’s location, layout, and amenities. From pets and parties to smoking and quiet hours, be sure to clearly lay out what guests can and can’t do. Here are some examples of common vacation rental house rules. 

Typical AvantStay house rules

Club 25

In order to book this property you must be over 25 years old.

Humans Only

Sadly pets are not permitted at this property. Unauthorized pets may be subject to a fine.

Thank You For Not Smoking

This is a smoke-free home. Violation of the no-smoking policy will result in forfeiture of the full security deposit and damages liability up to $2,500.

Respect Community Rules

Please be considerate of your neighbors and mindful of noise levels. Noise violations may result in fines. Please also note we do not provide speakers or sound systems.

Other common rules 

There are several areas of concern that apply to most vacation rental homes, so be sure to include rules for the following: 

  • Check-out time
  • Maximum occupancy
  • Parties and events
  • Off-limit rooms or areas
  • Electronics and appliances
  • Pools and hot tubs
  • Decks and balconies 
  • Parking/garage use 
  • Trash and recycling

Superior home protection with AvantStay 

If you’d rather ditch the stress of keeping your home secure, partner with an experienced vacation rental manager who can keep your home in pristine condition via best-in-class technology and a local team on the ground 24/7. 

Every AvantStay home is equipped with cutting-edge smart (IoT) technology that remotely monitors everything from entry surveillance to noise to occupancy, all to ensure your home stays safe and protected. 

In addition to our smart home technology, we have procedures in place during all stages of the guest journey to prevent issues. This includes:

  • Tech-enabled identity verification in the booking flow
  • Fraud detection and prevention technology through our credit card processor
  • An in-house Trust & Safety team that monitors reservations for suspicious activity
  • Dynamic entry codes via smart locks
  • Noise detection technology with operational processes triggered upon alerts
  • Entryway monitoring through Ring cameras
  • Our local team is available for dispatch to your home 24/7

Interested in learning more about AvantStay’s management services? Our team is ready to help. Get started with our vacation rental management experts today!

18 Best Restaurants in Coachella Valley

Located in California’s northern Riverside county, Coachella Valley has some of the best eating establishments in California. With growing popularity due to music festivals, film festivals, and sporting events, resort cities like Rancho Mirage, La Quinta, and Palm Springs are home to some of the best food California has to offer.  

Our list of the best restaurants in Coachella Valley will help you find dishes certain to please any palate. From sleepy patio breakfasts to happy hour appetizers and elegant entrees prepared by executive chefs, read on to see what culinary delights await.

Sloan’s 

Located in Indio, California, this popular American-style eatery serves comfort food in hearty portions. Their specialties include traditional french toast, honey-dipped fried chicken, and the popular ribeye dinner with made-to-order onion rings. Breakfast is served at 7 a.m., with an early dinner finishing the day by 8 p.m.; takeout is available for those who want to dine on the go.

Sloan’s in Coachella Valley

The Vintage Coffee House 

This quaint, locally owned coffee shop can be found on Jefferson Street in Indio, not far from the golf courses and polo club. Delicious handcrafted coffee and tea drinks decorate the menu with an enticing array of pastries, snacks, and sandwiches. Consistently high ratings and reviews give this spot a definite thumbs up. Open 6 a.m.- 4 p.m. daily. 

Taco Shop 760 

No list of the best restaurants in Coachella Valley would be complete without this locally owned and operated gem that uses fresh ingredients from the surrounding area. Open from 8 a.m.- 9 p.m., you’re able to enjoy authentic Mexican food and drinks from sunup to sundown. Can you say, “tacos for breakfast?!”. The original location is off of Highway 111 in Indio, however, due to its popularity, two more locations are available to enjoy –  46490 Calhoun St in Indio (yes, this one is inside a convenience store/butcher shop) and 48975 Grapefruit Blvd in Coachella. 

The Cantina 

Located at the stunning El Dorado Polo Club in Indio, this restaurant offers American and Mexican dishes enjoyed on an outdoor patio that delivers one of the most exquisite and unique dining experiences in the Coachella Valley. 

Whether watching the polo action or enjoying the breathtaking mountain view from the field-side outdoor seating and bar, the menu offers a variety of drool-worthy, sharable small plates, salads, sandwiches, and specialty cocktails. Make sure to check when it’s open as operating hours depend on the season. 

Food Dept 

While not technically a restaurant, we had to include this idea. The Food Dept is the place to go for a customized, one-of-a-kind dining experience while staying in the Coachella Valley. Chef Stephen Lee, known for his appearance on FOX’s MasterChef, Season 6, crafts a menu to suit any occasion, from a simple picnic, a weekend brunch, or an evening of formality. 

Based in Palm Springs, Food Dept will travel to your residence or location for an incredible, curated experience that will leave you wanting more. 

Chez Pierre Bistro 

Located in Palm Desert, Chez Pierre Bistro offers authentic French fine dining in the desert. With an eclectic menu and extensive wine list, the reviews and ratings all point towards a 5-star memory.  

We recommend reservations, as the wait time can be lengthy due to the popularity of this restaurant by locals and travelers alike. Open from 5- 9:30 p.m. daily.

Il Giardino 

The greater Palm Springs area, home to Leonardo DiCaprio, offers exhilarating vibes and an enticingly beautiful landscape that provides an unforgettable backdrop to some of the best restaurants in Coachella Valley. 

Il Giardino’s authentic, homemade offerings are prepared by Italian chefs who pay extra attention to taste and presentation. From an afternoon snack to a full dinner complete with wine and dessert, Il Giardino’s dining room is open from 5-9:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and closed on Sundays. 

Eddie V’s 

Touted as an excellent seafood restaurant in Palm Desert, Eddie V’s also has the reputation of being a delectable steakhouse, serving some of the most highly rated steaks in the area. Fresh seafood and hand-cut steaks are only some of the menu’s highlights. 

Mini filet mignon sandwiches are available daily during Happy Hour, and gluten-free options are listed from appetizers through full meals. Open daily at 4:00 p.m., dinner ends at 10:00 p.m., except Fridays when hours extend until 11:00 p.m. 

Farm 

Don’t let the name or the rooster fool you. This lovely Palm Springs eatery brings the flavor of Southern France right to your table. Locally sourced and made fresh daily, the menu changes frequently and has offerings such as crepes, french press coffee, and Croque Madame for early-hour diners. 

Dinner is prix fixe with selections such as seared crab cakes, duck cassoulet, and a vast array of signature cocktails. Open from 8:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m. for the best breakfast and lunch, the restaurant reopens from 5:30- 9:30 p.m. for dinner.

Le Vallauris 

Housed in a downtown Palm Springs historical building, this classic French restaurant offers dining alfresco for a romantic setting both indoors and out. Chef Jean-Paul Lair prepares dishes around a whiteboard á la carte menu, a three-course prix fixe dinner, or a Gourmet prix fixe option. The menus change every Thursday. 

The wine selection is excellent, and selections will pair perfectly with any meal. Open daily from 5- 9:00 p.m., with special Sunday brunch hours from 11:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m. 

Le Vallauris in Coachella Valley

IW Coffee 

This Indian Wells spot serves coffee made from small batches of locally roasted beans from Joshua Tree Coffee Company. Specialty coffee drinks, teas, pastries, bagels, and their ever-popular avocado toast highlight the menu with friendly service that will leave you smiling. 

Gluten-free options and sugar-free options are available, as well as cozy indoor and outdoor seating. Open daily from 6:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.

IW Coffee in Coachella Valley

Workshop Kitchen & Bar 

The Palm Springs location mirrors its sister location in Los Angeles. Owned by Chef Michael Beckman, Chef de Cuisine Beren Ekine-Huett, and Sous Chef Matt Berman, they specialize in an exotic mix of dishes from small plate appetizers to a dry-aged 18 oz ribeye dinner for two. 

The bar is a true adventure in creativity, and foodies will rave about this James Beard awarding winning restaurant. Workshop Kitchen and Bar is open from 5- 10:00 p.m. daily. 

Wilma & Frieda 

Voted the best breakfast, brunch, and farm-to-table menu over multiple years is this delightful restaurant named after two grandmothers. 

The menu explores comfort food with a twist, and features items like a short rib scramble and  blackberry custard french toast. With locations in Palm Springs and Desert Springs on the Gardens on El Paseo, Wilma & Frieda is open daily from 8:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m., while its Palm Springs location has dinner hours Thursday through Saturday from 5- 9:00 p.m.  

Soul of Mexico 

Ready for the best margaritas in the Coachella Valley? Then you’ve come to the right place. Located off of Jefferson Ave in Indio, this locally owned and operated spot adds taste and authentic flair to their menu items with selections such as a trash burrito (a little bit of everything!), enchiladas, a kid’s menu for the smaller guests, and fried ice cream to finish the night.   

Locally owned and operated, the staff Remember to try their Tamarindo Margarita or a Soul-Strong Margarita. Open daily from 11:00 a.m.- 9:00 p.m. 

Soul of Mexico in Coachella Valley

Pho Vu Restaurant 

If pho is what you’re craving, then look no further. Located in La Quinta, this casual dining atmosphere offers dine-in or takeout options, including pho (noodle soup), bun (vermicelli bowls), bahn mi (sandwiches), com dia (rice plates), and other Vietnamese specialties. Known for its friendly service, this gem always hits the spot. Open daily from 11:00 a.m.- 9:00 p.m. 

Kennedy’s Store & Deli 

Follow the locals! This La Quinta spot is easy to miss in a location with bountiful places for Mexican food. However, don’t ignore this taco stand. 

There is no seating, but don’t let that deter you from grabbing an order for an impromptu picnic in the beautiful area surrounding La Quinta. Where else can you find a shrimp and octopus cocktail, a cold beer, tamales, burritos, and freshly made-to-order tacos ready in a snap?! Answer: Nowhere! 

Open from 6:00 a.m.- 7:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. on Sunday. 

Copley’s on Palm Canyon 

Featured on OpenTable’s top 100 list for outdoor dining restaurants, Chef Copley defines their menu flavors as upscale American cuisine with nuances borrowed from Europe and the Tropics. 

Situated in a lovely cottage formerly owned by Cary Grant, this stellar restaurant offers unrivaled outdoor seating perfect for any size dinner party. Because it’s only open for three hours a day (5:30- 8:30 p.m.), reservations are highly recommended. 

Copley’s on Palm Canyon 

Raspados Esmereldas 

Every list needs a dessert shop, and this one is no different. This sweet treat restaurant is located in Indio and operated by a husband and wife team. It has an incredible flavor selection of raspados made with fresh fruits and local ingredients, perfect for cooling off during those hot weather days. 

You can swing by after dining at one of the other restaurants on this list, or you can make a whole meal out of dessert! 

With a reputation for welcoming service, scrupulously clean conditions, and raspados that cannot be beaten, they are open daily from 11:00 a.m.- 9:00 p.m.

Final Thoughts

With endless culinary possibilities, the Coachella Valley clearly offers some of the best in California cuisine. From freshly brewed coffee companies to comfort food cafes and James Beard award winning eateries to innovative Mexican fare, we’re certain you’ll find your next favorite on our list. Your palate will thank you. 

America’s Finest City: 32 Best Things To Do In San Diego

Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Laguna Mountains on the southern California coast, San Diego is the Golden State’s second-largest city and home to postcard-perfect beaches, rich Spanish colonial history, chic eateries and breweries, and vibrant, locally inspired arts and culture scene.

It’s also frequently overshadowed by nearby Los Angeles and San Francisco, which makes it one of California’s best-kept secrets and the perfect place to visit year-round. It’s never too crowded, the weather is idyllic, the locals are welcoming, and you’ll never run out of fun things to do.

If you love fun in the sun, San Diego is an outdoor paradise with over 70 miles of palm-lined beaches like Mission and Pacific Beach, dozens of mountain parks and protected areas, desert hikes, oceanfront boardwalks, biking trails, and endless opportunities for watersports like surfing, kayaking, kiteboarding, boating, and sailing.

For culture aficionados, San Diego is California’s creative hub. Balboa Park is the city’s cultural epicenter featuring 17 museums and performing arts venues. It’s also home to two Tony Award-winning theaters as well as countless historic sites, art galleries, and gardens while also hosting dance performances, film festivals, and other cultural events year-round.

For families, San Diego is California’s Orlando, including the world-famous San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, SeaWorld San Diego, Sesame Place San Diego, LEGOLAND California, and the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. There are also dozens of museums for all ages, including the Maritime Museum of San Diego, the San Diego Air and Space Museum, and the USS Midway Museum.

So, whatever brings you to “SoCal”, piques your interests, satisfies your cravings, or gets your heart racing, here are 33 top fun things for locals and visitors to do in the San Diego area to savor everything this picture-perfect city has to offer.

1. Balboa Park

Balboa Park in San Diego

No destination is more iconically San Diego than Balboa Park. Established in 1884 and sprawling across 1,200 acres of impeccably manicured grounds, gardens, and trails just northeast of downtown, this National Historic Landmark fuses nature, culture, sports, history, and the arts into something for everyone. It’s home to 17 museums, an aerial tram, sports complexes, concert stages, dog parks, playgrounds, a puppet theater, Japanese gardens, several award-winning restaurants, and of course, the world-famous San Diego Zoo. Balboa Park should be your first San Diego stop if you are looking for stunning scenery, rich history, and an endless array of things to do.

2. San Diego Zoo

Set in the middle of Balboa Park on 100 acres, the San Diego Zoo is one of the largest, most visited, and most famous zoos in the world. Featuring more than 3,500 animals, 700,000 plants, 650 rare and endangered species, and dozens of “bioclimatic” exhibits like the Gorilla Tropics, Lost Forest, and Sun Bear Forest, it’s also one of the most diverse. Visitors (and locals) can explore the zoo on a three-mile guided bus tour, the aerial tramway, or stroll through the zoo’s endless maze of interconnected paths and trails. Families also shouldn’t miss the Wildlife Explorers Basecamp, where kids can interact with hundreds of live animals.

3. San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Spread across 1,800 acres thirty miles northeast of San Diego, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park offers visitors the rare opportunity to experience wild nature face to face and witness some of the rarest African and Asian “mega” animals roam free as if they were living in their natural habitats—all without needing a passport. Perfect for families, kids can watch a cheetah run at full speed, see endangered birds like the Andean condor, take the African Tram Safari, come face to face with lions, tigers, gorillas, giraffes, and elephants, and learn about rare wildlife and habitat conservation efforts. 

4. SeaWorld San Diego

SeaWorld San Diego

If you want to create the memories of a lifetime, SeaWorld San Diego is a can’t-miss destination for adults and kids alike. Located in the middle of shimmering Mission Bay on over 2,000 acres north of downtown, SeaWorld is one of the largest marine parks in the world, offering jaw-dropping live animal shows with dolphins and whales along with dozens of massive aquariums and habitat exhibits that feature some of the rarest marine mammals in the world—including Emperor penguins, sea turtles, beluga whales, and walruses. SeaWorld also offers several rides and rollercoasters on the water to double up the fun.

5. LEGOLAND California

A short drive north up Interstate 5 (or a little longer up scenic coastal Route 1) from San Diego past the beach towns of Encinitas and Del Mar is LEGOLAND California. This 128-acre theme park can literally keep your kids entertained for an entire weekend, which is why in addition to sixty different attractions, rides, and shows, it also includes its own LEGO-themed, 250-room hotel—the first in the country. The SEA LIFE Aquarium and LEGOLAND Water Park next door, featuring seven slides, also ensure that when you’ve had enough LEGOS, you’ll still never run out of things to do.

6. La Jolla Cove

La Jolla Cove and its adjacent offshore Marine Reserve and underwater park is without exaggeration one of the most scenic spots in America for watersports and beach lovers to put their toes in the sand for a day. Not far from tony La Jolla Shores, which is a local Mecca of fine dining, boutiques, and surf shops, visitors can enjoy a kayak or paddleboard rentals, charter a boat, scuba dive in the kelp forests, pack a picnic, listen to sea lions bark, or photograph the sun dropping into the Pacific Ocean. Just remember to pack your sneakers in addition to your flip-flops—parking, especially on the weekends, is a challenge. 

7. Sunny Jim’s Sea Cave

Sunny Jim's Sea Cave in San Diego

Sunny Jim’s Sea Cave is one of La Jolla Cove’s top things to do and one of the coolest places to visit in the San Diego area. Dating back to 1902 when a local German settler first dug out the cave from the underlying rock from the surface—and named by Frank Baun who wrote The Wizard of Oz—the cave offers one of the most unique and beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean and the sunset through a wide rock window at sea level. To get there visitors need to navigate down (and back up) 145 stairs through the eerily lit cave itself which is half of the fun. 

8. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve just north of La Jolla Cove (and adjacent to the famed Torrey Pines Golf Course) is 2,000 acres of coastal state park and one of the most stunning, protected stretches of the Pacific Ocean front wilderness remaining along the Southern California coast. If you love hiking, wildlife, quiet, and feeling the sunshine on your face, the 2.3 Torrey Pines Beach Trail Loop traverses across a high plateau above a saw tooth landscape between rugged cliffs, canyons, and tide pools and is one of the best places to see the sunset over the Pacific in the San Diego area.

9. Point Loma

One of the West Coast’s first lighthouses built in 1855 and demarcating the western entrance to San Diego Bay, the Old Point Loma Lighthouse is one of the most iconic symbols of San Diego’s seafaring and maritime history. When it was built on top of a cliff at what is now Cabrillo National Monument it was the tallest lighthouse in the U.S. Today, the lighthouse offers multiple oceanfront hiking trails and one of the most stunning 360-degree views of downtown San Diego and on a clear day, visitors can see all the way to Mexico. 

10. Cabrillo National Monument

San Diego’s rich place in Spanish Colonial history and the settlement of North America is one of its most underrated attractions, especially for those with a penchant for understanding how we all got where we are today. Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo led the first European expedition that explored what is now the West Coast of the U.S., and in September 1592, he landed at what is now San Diego Bay. Cabrillo National Monument was built in 1949 in his honor and today it’s one of the most Instagram-worthy spots in San Diego with views both east overlooking the city and west over the Pacific Ocean. 

11. Embarcadero

Embarcadero in San Diego

The Embarcadero (a.k.a. the “landing place”) is the beating heart of downtown San Diego’s bustling waterfront, home to some of the city’s most famous maritime visitor attractions and museums including the USS Midway Museum, the Maritime Museum of San Diego, and the Museum of Contemporary Art. It’s also home to over 50 chic eateries and boutiques, playgrounds, splash fountains, and waterfront parks and piers making it the ideal place to spend an afternoon or evening on the water or watch the sunset over Coronado Island.

12. USS Midway Museum

Docked on Navy Pier along the Embarcadero, the USS Midway Museum is one of San Diego’s most jaw-dropping attractions and the most visible symbol of the city’s rich naval heritage. The now-retired U.S. Navy aircraft carrier was part of America’s active fleet from the end of WWII all the way until 1992, making it the longest-serving aircraft carrier of the 20th century. Visitors to the museum can explore deep into the bowels of the ship including the engine room, officers’ sleeping quarters, the galley, and the brig while reliving six decades of naval and world history through a guided audio tour. The 4-acre flight deck also houses more than 20 historic aircraft.

13. Seaport Village

After an afternoon exploring the USS Midway, Seaport Village just south along San Diego’s Embarcadero is the perfect next stop if you’ve built up an appetite or just want to spend a few more hours discovering the city’s world-famous downtown waterfront. This quaint village modeled after a traditional West Coast seaport features over 70 shops and chic boutiques as well as dozens of restaurants ranging from fine dining to American fare to Mexican food. If you’re looking for a waterfront stroll at any time of day or one of the city’s best views of San Diego Bay, Seaport Village is a must-visit. 

14. Maritime Museum of San Diego

Maritime Museum of San Diego

In the other direction north of the USS Midway Museum is the Embarcadero’s next best place to visit—the Maritime Museum of San Diego. Showcasing one of the world’s finest collections of historic sea vessels, this floating museum pays homage to the history of nautical architecture and maritime exploration through many of the actual ships that plied the world’s oceans over the past 300 years. The museum’s Holy Grail and not to be missed is the Star of India built in 1863 and the world’s oldest active sailing ship. If you’re a maritime or seafaring buff this is definitely bucket list stuff. 

15. Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach is San Diego’s longest and most famous city beach, stretching for over a mile on Point Loma just minutes from downtown. It’s also one of the city’s most vibrant, bohemian beach towns where surfers, sunbathers, volleyball players, and weightlifters gather year-round on the boardwalk, and fishermen while away the hours on Ocean Beach Pier—the longest concrete pier on the West Coast at almost half a mile. A few blocks inland Newport Ave, Bacon St, and Abbott St bustle with local taco shops, surf boutiques, farmer’s markets, and craft beer pubs. If you want a true taste of the “SoCal” lifestyle Ocean Beach is it.

16. Waterhorse Charters

San Diego is surrounded by and historically rooted in the ocean, and there’s no better way to see and experience the city than from the water. So, if you’re looking to get out on San Diego Bay, cruise around Coronado Island, deep sea fish offshore, go snorkeling through kelp forests, scuba diving into sunken wrecks, whale watching, or simply enjoy the sunset over the Pacific Ocean on a slow, champagne cruise, Waterhorse Charters can make that happen. 

17. Compass Balloons

It’s impossible to go to San Diego without wanting to see America’s Finest City from the water. But what about getting a sweeping bird’s eye view of the San Diego skyline, its picture-perfect beaches, Balboa Park, the desert mountains, and the California coast from a few thousand feet in the air? Compass Balloons, an award-winning hot air balloon company with decades of experience can make that unforgettable trip possible. Compass offers group tours as well as private rides for anniversaries, weddings, and birthdays. All you need to do is pop the champagne and let the hot air do the rest.

18. iFly San Diego

If you’ve always wanted to skydive or feel what it’s like to defy gravity, but aren’t so keen on jumping out of a real plane from 15,000 or landing in a parachute, iFLY San Diego in Mission Valley is the perfect way to get the whole family’s adrenaline pulsing—especially on the rare day that it rains in San Diego and you need to find family-friendly activities indoors. This heart-racing virtual skydiving experience lasts for an hour in an enclosed wind tunnel and offers training programs if you’re eventually interested in doing the real thing. No prior experience is necessary.  

19. San Diego Air and Space Museum

The San Diego Air and Space Museum located in Balboa Park celebrates the evolution of aviation, space flight, and aerospace technology while paying homage to the place San Diego has played in that history including the Coronado Naval Air Station where scenes from the original “Top Gun” movie as well as the recent sequel were shot. The museum’s exhibits feature models, pictures, and video galleries of astronauts and pilots who pioneered air and space exploration and also include actual historic aircraft including a Spitfire Mk. XVI, and an A-4 Skyhawk jet. If your kids want to grow up to be “Maverick” (a.k.a. Tom Cruise) this is the place to start.

20. Fleet Science Center

Located along the famed El Prado in the center of Balboa Park and named for aviation pioneer Reuben H. Fleet who founded the U.S. Air Mail service, the Fleet Science Center is one of the crown jewels of San Diego’s museums. It pioneered the first IMAX dome theater in the world and set new standards for planetarium projection technology (and still does). Today, the Fleet remains one of the top places in San Diego for families and kids to spend a day with more than 100 interactive and hands-on exhibits ranging from outer to inside the human body. 

21. San Diego Museum Of Art

San Diego Museum of Art

Just down Balboa Park’s El Prado from the Fleet Science Museum and housed in a jaw-dropping Spanish Colonial building is the San Diego Museum of Art, one of the largest and oldest art museums in the western U.S. founded in 1926. For art aficionados visiting the San Diego area, there is no better place to immerse yourself in the works of Italian, German, and other European artists—and specifically Spanish art. The museum includes dozens of permanent collections featuring rare, one-of-a-kind pieces as well as historical memorabilia, documents, artifacts, sculptures, and paintings dating back to 5000 B.C.  

22. California Tower

The California Building and adjoining California Tower are among the most recognizable and architecturally significant landmarks in San Diego, built as the grand entrance to the 1915–16 Panama-California Exposition. Today, the California Building houses the Museum of Us and the eight-story, 198’ California Tower offers some of the most stunning 360-degree views of San Diego, the Pacific Ocean coastline, and the surrounding mountain landscapes from the top. Combining elements of Baroque and Gothic architecture in its ornate façade, blue-and-gold dome, and multi-colored tiles and carvings the California Building and Tower are also breathtaking in themselves to behold. This is definitely one of the most Instagram-worthy spots in San Diego, especially in the morning and late afternoon light.  

23. Coronado Island

Built in 1969, the bridge from downtown San Diego to Coronado Island curves and arcs more than two miles over 180’ in the air, and is one of the city’s most visible architectural landmarks with views from the top stretching all the way to Tijuana. On the other side, Coronado Island itself is one of the city’s toniest spots to eat, shop, people watch, and dig your toes in the sand whether it’s for a day or a weekend. There are five postcard-perfect beaches on the island’s Pacific Coast side (one is dog friendly). Just make sure you bring your earplugs if you’re going to Coronado Beach proper. The “Top Gun” pilots taking off from the North Island Naval Air Station might blow your ear drums out.

24. Hotel Del Coronado

Hotel Del Colorado in San Diego

The Hotel del Coronado on Coronado Island is a San Diego icon and living architectural legend. Built in 1888 and infused with the memories of guests across two centuries, the now 4-star Hilton hotel is a Victorian gem and one of the last surviving grandiose hotels on the West Coast from that era (most of the others burned down). Over its more than 140 years in operation, “The Del” as it’s otherwise known has hosted Marilyn Monroe, Madonna, Brad Pitt, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Oprah Winfrey among dozens of other celebrities so don’t be surprised if you rub some A-list elbows when you stay or dine here.  

25. Mission Basilica San Diego

Founded in 1769 and known as the “Mother of the Missions”, Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá was the first Roman Catholic mission built in California by Spanish friar Junípero Serra, marking the beginning of Christianity in the American West. Today, it’s one of the most historic and picturesque must-see landmarks in San Diego if you want to get an understanding of Spanish Colonial influence on the settlement of Southern California and the arc of San Diego’s history. The Mission is open to the public daily from 9:00 am to 4:45 pm for self-guided tours.

26. Old Town San Diego

No trip to “America’s Finest City” would be complete without visiting Old Town San Diego, the earliest European settlement in California and San Diego’s oldest neighborhood. Sprawling across 230 acres roughly halfway between Mission and San Diego Bays, Old Town features over 32 interpretive historic sites, 75 boutiques, 30 different restaurants ranging from fish tacos and brunch to Italian and sushi, gift shops, as well as ten hotels all within walking distance of one another. There is no better place in San Diego to get a feel for the city’s rich Spanish and Mexican history while enjoying an endless array of fun things to do.  

27. Little Italy

San Diego is a city of neighborhoods and one of its most historic and famous is Little Italy which got its name from the Italian tuna fishermen who settled here back in the 1920s. Today San Diego’s Little Italy is the largest in the U.S. at more than 48 square blocks and for visitors a veritable feast of patio cafés, restaurants, brew pubs, boutique art galleries, chic shops, upscale hotels, urban wineries, and beautiful Amici Park. The Little Italy Mercato is also the largest farmer’s market in the San Diego area with over 200 vendors open Saturday and Wednesday. 

28. Gaslamp Quarter

Gaslam Quarter in San Diego

The 16-square block Gaslamp Quarter is the heart and soul of downtown San Diego and the city’s most famous neighborhood for nightlife, live music, and entertainment. Originally called “New Town” (as contrast to Old Town), the streets were the first in the city to be lit with gas lamps—hence the neighborhood’s name. Today, the Gaslamp Quarter bustles with nightclubs, cocktail lounges, bars, and restaurants drawing locals and visitors alike. The Spreckels and Balboa theaters host music, comedy, and drama shows, while high-end nightclubs like the Oxford Social Club are famous for A-list sightings—like Snoop Dogg.

29. Catch A Padres Game at Petco Park

Most major league baseball stadiums, especially the newer, more modern ones, tend to be located outside of downtown in more industrial or fringe areas where there’s still space to build. Not so with San Diego’s Petco Park. Built in 2004 and located just a few blocks east of the Gaslamp Quarter, it’s one of the best places to visit if you love sports and live events. Home to the San Diego Padres, Petco Park also hosts concerts, rugby, soccer games, and other special events. If you’re spending a few hours in the Gaslamp Quarter you can also get into the park just to explore when no other events are scheduled.

30. Mission Trails Regional Park

Along with Balboa and Mission Bay parks, Mission Trails Regional Park is often called the “third jewel” of the city of San Diego’s park system. Started in 1974 and located eight miles from downtown, the park encompasses more than 8,000 acres of natural and developed recreational areas, rugged hills, valleys, and open areas as well as over 60 miles of hiking trails, offering visitors and locals a quick way to escape San Diego’s hustle and bustle. Visitors can also enjoy boating, kayaking, and paddleboarding on Lake Murray, camping in Kumeyaay Lake, and learning about San Diego’s history at the state-of-the-art Visitor and Interpretive Center.

31. Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

There’s no better place in San Diego to watch the sunset after a day of sightseeing than the eponymously named Sunset Cliffs Natural Park. Just south of Ocean Beach on Point Loma, it features one of the most beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean on the West Coast along with 68 acres of protected land, bluffs, canyons, and trails to walk, hike, meditate, or do yoga. If you’re lucky you also might just catch a glimpse of the cliff divers who frequently congregate here at sunset. 

32. Belmont Park

Bekmont Park in San Diego

Belmont Park on Mission Bay is one of the oldest amusement parks on the West Coast built in 1925 and a must-visit if you are coming to San Diego with kids. Located right on the water, Belmont Park’s slides, carousels, zipline courses, plunge, and other rides attract millions of visitors every year. The centerpiece of the park is the Giant Dipper roller coaster—one of only two wooden roller coasters remaining on the West Coast featuring views of the San Diego skyline and mountains in the background that might just take your breath away faster than the roller coaster itself.

8 Sunny Vacation Spots to Beat the Winter Blues

Seasonal depression back and worse than ever? We feel that. But this winter doesn’t have to be all bad. We’ve compiled our favorite destinations for you to escape the cold and spend your days soaking up the sun – because you deserve it!

1. Coachella Valley, CA

Come to Casa Palmera in Coachella Valley for an escape from your average winter. Spend days in bikinis sipping margaritas by the pool and hot tub, or chef it up in the outdoor kitchen. Get the group chat ready – this stay can fit up to 14 guests and it’s here to provide you all you need for the perfect winter getaway.

2. Destin, FL

Beach day anyone? It’s always sunny and 75 here at Seas To Tango in Destin. This Tuscan style home is a 2 minute walk to Destin’s Miramar Beach and comes with a lovely landscaped backyard with a pool, gas grill, and BBQ grill. If you’re craving a shopping spree, head to Silver Sands Premium Outlets where you can shop til you drop. 

3. Joshua Tree, CA

Winter doesn’t exist here at Desert Bloom. Located in the desertscape that is Joshua Tree, this vacation home is all you need for a mid-February escape. Enjoy al fresco dining, days spent grilling, ping pong, a charming brick fireplace, and plenty of lounge areas. 

Looking for more to do on your trip? Check out our Top 32 Things to Do in Joshua Tree.

4. Maui, HI

A winter wonderland, minus all that pesky snow and ice. Hono Hideaway is a 3 bedroom condo in the Ka’anapali Shores Resort in Maui. With gorgeous views of the beach from your bedroom, fully remodeled spaces and a spiral staircase, this Hawaii stay is straight out of your dreams.

5. Palm Springs, CA

Warmest of welcomes to Palm Springs! The Llama House is aptly named as it is filled with colorful llama-themed decor. This vacation home was featured on HGTV and has two cabanas, a pool, sun loungers, and a fire pit for maximum sun-soaking.

6. Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Entering your snowbird era? Try a trip to Sea Breeze in Fort Lauderdale. Enjoy yard games like cornhole and bocce ball. Decompress with sounds of the ocean mixed with sounds of the pool’s waterfall. Spend sunsets by the fire pit and cheers to a winter done right

If private pools are your forte, check out our top 5 Fort Lauderdale Airbnbs with Private Pools.

7. Scottsdale, AZ

Spoil your group with a trip to Sol House in Scottsdale. This lovely vacation home is one of our favorites for escaping the cold days. With its backyard pool, cornhole, fire pit, and modern interior design, it’s sure to be a winner to you, too.

8. Austin, TX

Looking to cross Austin off your bucket list? The winter months are ideal for a trip to ATX. If you’re one of those who wants to move to a city as soon as you visit, proceed cautiously to Dawson. With its lagoon-style pool, views of Lake Travis, and expansive decks, you might be convinced to migrate down south after a stay here, too. 

For more gems of Austin, check out these 6 Unique Austin Airbnb Alternatives.

An Itinerary of the Best Things To Do in Isle of Palms

Is there an Isle of Palms getaway in your future? We have your guide to the top things to do for your Isle of Palms itinerary! From enjoying time on the beach, kayaking, and other outdoor activities to sightseeing and exploring the history of the area, there are plenty of fun things to keep your group entertained. Check out our list of the best Isle of Palms attractions and things to do during your next beach vacation.

Spend the Day at Isle of Palms Beach 

The beach is a must during any Isle of Palms vacation. The Isle of Palms County Park features a public beach park with all of the amenities needed for relaxation and family fun. Head to this centrally located beach park on the island to stroll the boardwalks, take a swim in the warm Atlantic Ocean, and even join a game of sand volleyball! For those looking to sit back and relax with their beach read, umbrella and chair rentals are available to ensure a perfect setup for you and your family. You can even stay beachfront at an AvantStay vacation home like High Tide or Derby.

Source: Conde Naste Traveler

Whether you are an expert on the greens or a novice looking to practice your swing, you’ll enjoy a round of golf on the Wild Dunes Links Golf Course. The oceanfront, 18-hole golf course is one of the best in all of South Carolina and was designed by renowned architect, Tom Fazio. Book a tee time or lesson at this oceanfront golf course for a morning of outdoor fun during your Isle of Palms vacation!  

Source: Charleston & Resort Islands Golf

Reel in a Catch on a Fishing Charter 

Get out on the water with an Isle of Palms fishing charter. Trust a local captain to be your guide to navigate either inshore waterways or offshore waters and assist you in casting fishing lines to reel in prized catches of redfish, tarpon, spotter trout, flounder, and even the occasional shark! Experienced anglers or first-time fishermen will enjoy an expedition led by a knowledgeable local angler.

Source: Charleston Charter Fishing

See the Island by Kayak, Paddleboard, or Boat

And if you want to get out on the water without casting a fishing line, jump in a kayak or on a paddleboard. Watersports enthusiasts can find plenty of ways to explore Isle of Palms whether they are out on a kayaking expedition, paddleboarding, or experiencing a wildlife tour with Barrier Island Eco-Tours.

Source: Coastal Expeditions

Admire the Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse 

Known locally as the “Charleston Light,” Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse has been a staple of the South Carolina shoreline since 1962. Today, the lighthouse continues to shine nightly to guide passing ships while during the day the lighthouse is a popular sightseeing destination. The lighthouse is not open to the public, but the nearby beach access is a popular spot to pose for photos and to view the iconic structure. The nearby Sullivan’s Island Life Saving Station is a historic site that provides further architectural interest and charming grounds to explore.  

Source: Visit Historic Charleston

Explore Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park 

Experience the history of Charleston Harbor at Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historic Park. The park consists of a series of fortifications along Charleston Harbor and Sullivan’s Island. Fort Moultrie has a history stretching back to before the Revolutionary War when the forts were utilized as a quarantine station checking every passenger coming into the harbor including Africans who were enslaved. In 1776 the fort was attacked by the Royal Navy. Fort Sumter marks the location of the first shots of the Civil War on April 12th, 1861 and became a significant factor in the Siege of Charleston. Today, guests are able to visit these historical sites and learn the history from rangers of the park. 

Source: Fort Sumter Tours

Enjoy Oceanfront Cuisine 

IOP is a hub for delicious coastal and low country cuisine. Enjoy an ocean breeze and delicious seafood dishes at a local beachfront eatery. Coconut Joe’s Beach Grill which offers ocean views, casual beachside eats, and a rooftop bar. During peak season, live music can often be enjoyed at this popular beach grill. For a romantic setting with a menu filled with southern specialties, head to The Boathouse! Sit down to enjoy dishes such as raw oysters, surf & turf, and pan roasted scallops that can be paired with a seasonal cocktail or a glass of wine. Delight your taste buds during a stay in an Island of Palms vacation home like Crawdad or Orchard.  

Source: Coconut Joe’s Beach Grill

Stroll Through Charleston 

Known for its cuisine, history, nightlife, shopping, and more, Charleston sits a ~40-minute drive away from IOP, making it an ideal day trip during your vacation. Plan a day to head inland to explore Charleston’s landmarks like Rainbow Row, The Battery, Charleston City Market, King Street and so much more. Downtown Charleston is a hub for foodies, shopping, and stunning parks filled with oak trees. Take a walking tour to get the most out of your day in Charleston and really learn the history of this unique coastal city! 

Source: Our Escape Clause

Dance the Night Away at The Windjammer 

After the sun goes down, dance the night away at The Windjammer. A live music venue located on IOP’s Front Beach, The Windjammer invites visitors to enjoy performances from local bands, tribute bands, and more. The Windjammer also offers a menu of casual beach cuisine, so you can combine dancing with snacking on shrimp baskets. Check the event schedule to see what live performance you want to jam along with during your next beach vacation.

Source: Post and Courier

Experience the Best of Isle of Palms  

Ready to experience the beauty, history, and fun that awaits on Isle of Palms? Make your own itinerary of Isle of Palms must-dos to prepare for your beach vacation.  

High Tide by AvantStay

7 Gorgeous Hilton Head VRBO Alternatives

Looking for a top-tier Hilton Head retreat but you’re overwhelmed by the options on Airbnb or Vrbo? We’ve got you covered! 

AvantStay offers a large selection of upscale escapes, complete with concierge services and inspiring design. With consistent experiences, group-friendly amenities, and incredible interiors, there’s no guesswork needed here.

Hilton Head offers 12 miles of gorgeous shoreline, tons of outdoor areas and preserves, and a luxe culinary and golf scene. There are plenty of beaches, nature, entertainment, and shopping to explore on the island, while the mainland remains easily accessible just over the bridge. Something as simple as a scenic drive is enough to take your breath away as you pass East-coast woods and babbling rivers. If you’re looking for something more exciting, there’s plenty of fresh seafood, live music, and rich history to explore.

With homes near the beach, surrounded by golf courses, and with incredible ocean views, AvantStay’s options are endless. No matter what’s on your “must-haves” wishlist, these seven vacation rentals have you covered.

1. Lido – I want the beach in my backyard.

A quick stroll down your private boardwalk puts you on the shores of Singleton Beach. At Lido, sandy shores are literally in your backyard. When you’re done lounging near the waves, a beach-facing pool and hot tub, unique indoor putting green, and a game room with billiards and shuffleboard are all waiting back at home.

vacation home in hilton near beach

2. Beachwalk – I need lots of space.

With three stories and seven bedrooms, Beachwalk has enough style and space for your entire group. The beach is minutes away, and you’ll even have a private pool and pier overlooking open space right outside. Bonus! This stunning home has a deck and/or balcony on each level, so everyone has room to take in the fresh air and Hilton Head sunsets.

vacation home in hilton head with outdoor pool

3. Dory – Put me near the eats!

If you’re looking to experience the best of Hilton Head’s food scene, Dory lands you near some of our favorites. From fine seafood to casual bites, there’s something here for any palate. At home, you’ll find a private pool and hot tub, game room and yoga studio, and rustic yet contemporary beachy decor.

modern vacation home in hilton head with outdoor pool

4. Hilton Lagoon – I’m ready to hit the green.

Surrounded by lush courses, Hilton Lagoon puts the best of the area’s golfing at your fingertips. Choose from multiple championship and luxury golf courses, all nearby. Back at home, your backyard features a private pool surrounded by greenery, giving you a luxe sense of privacy after a day of perfecting your swing.

hilton head vacation home backyard with pool

5. Sandpiper – I want to fall asleep to the sound of waves.

Modern design with crashing waves right outside. At Sandpiper, chic details like a spiral staircase, wide hammock, and interior fireplace combine with unbeatable backyard beach access to give you a Hilton Head experience like never before. Throw open the windows. There’s no shortage of fresh, salty air here.

bedroom of hilton head vacation home

6. Osprey – Give me chic neutrals and coastal-inspired design.

Osprey boasts a contemporary aesthetic like no other. From al fresco meals at the gorgeous outdoor dining table to music sessions near the guitar and record player, every corner of this home feels like a photo op. Chill out among the bright neutrals in the front living room and sunny dining area, or get moody with the darker decor in the second family area. 

After lounging by your private pool, head out to explore Harbour Town, where you can enjoy restaurants, shopping, watersports, live music, and the famed cane-striped lighthouse.

dining room of hilton head vacation home

7. Sea Pine – I love tons of outdoor space.

With three massive deck areas, Sea Pine gives you space to spread out. Gather around the fire pit, dine under open skies at the outdoor table, or grab a lounger under an umbrella. Huge sliding glass doors and floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room bring the outside in, where you’ll find stone finishes, modern decor, and four bright bedrooms. Late-night hangouts are a breeze in the airy game room featuring billiards, a wet bar, and a double-sided fireplace. 

aerial photo of hilton head vacation home

10 Vacation Homes with Stunning Mountain Views

Here at AvantStay, we don’t think the good views should stop after your hike. We’re firm believers in staying at a vacation home that makes you feel on top of the world, day and night. In this roundup, you’ll get to see 10 of our favorite vacation homes with mountain views. Whether you’re looking for a getaway in wine country, Tahoe, or the Smokies, we’ve got you covered.

1. Sugarland – Smoky Mountains, TN

A stay in The Smokies is always a good idea. Bring the whole crew to Sugarland where the views are plentiful and the activities are too. Enjoy swims in the indoor pool and movie nights in the home theater. With room for up to 28 guests, there’s room for everyone (even your in-laws).

2. Camila – Temecula, CA

It’s wine country wonderful here at Camila. This Temecula oasis has plenty of outdoor seating so you and your group get max mountain views while you enjoy your new fav local wine. Inside, you’ll enjoy a koi pond, foosball, billiards, and lovely architecture. Cheers with a hot tub sesh as the sun sets and you’re reminded you just booked your best vacation rental yet.

3. The Purcell House – Oregon Coast 

Welcome to your dream Oregon Coast escape. Soak in the panoramic views on this home’s wraparound deck. Cozy up with your book of the moment in the yard. Take a turn on the tire swing. Walk five minutes down to Manzanita Beach. Where the mountains meet the ocean is where you, too, will experience the perfect harmony that is The Purcell House.

4. Belleza – Sonoma, CA

ISO your next WFH destination? Meet Belleza –  a Sonoma stay with gorgeous architecture, design, and even better balcony views (ideal for making coworkers jealous of your Zoom background). Spend days lounging by the infinity pool or prove who’s grill master under the shaded grill and chill area. In the spirit of showing off, take your shot at pouring shots and making delicious cocktails at the chic wet bar. 

5. Juniper – Lake Tahoe, CA

Not to be dramatic, but picking a favorite mountain view from our homes in Lake Tahoe was probably the hardest thing we did today. After some intense meetings, we agreed on Juniper. This stay comes with a wonderful swing, hot tub, al fresco dining, and the type of view you wish you could bottle up and save forever. Inside, you’ll enjoy warm cabin vibes and space for you and up to 9 guests. 

If you feel like leaving the views and exploring Tahoe, check out our top things to do on your trip.

6. Cherry Ridge – Breckenridge, CO

Can you believe we made it this far into the list without mentioning our Colorado stays? Neither can we. While we have many gems in the Rockies, Cherry Ridge has to be our dream stay in Breckenridge. This vacation home has massive windows and a spacious deck – ideal for taking in the views around. Enjoy a hot tub soak after a day of skiing or head inside to cozy up by the fireplace for some après-ski drinks. 

7. Canopy – Park City, UT 

Looking to cross Park City off your bucket list? Make your way to Canopy, a luxurious cabin in The Unitas. Spend days on the slopes and evenings posted up in the spa and sauna. When you’re craving a chill night, play a game of pool or watch movies in the home theater.

8. Snowdrift Cabin – Telluride, CO

First, we want to thank the photographer that ventured out in what appears to be a snowstorm to get these pics. If you had any doubt in your mind, this should confirm that it does in fact snow here. Aptly named, Snowdrift Cabin is a Telluride vacation home with grade A prime ski access on Lift 10’s Galloping Goose trail, an extra large deck, hot tub with views and a toasty fireplace inside – basically, this house is all you need when you’re looking to have a ski trip. 

9. Views at Wolf Lodge – Big Bear, CA

The most properly named stay? Right here. Views at Wolf Lodge is a Big Bear vacation rental featuring a hot tub and fire pit on the deck, a sauna, and a ping pong table for those who enjoy a little friendly competition. While there is plenty to do on your trip to Big Bear, we don’t blame you if you stick around at home all day to really take in the views around you.

10. Juliet – Asheville, NC

Real mountain lovers know all about Asheville and its wonders. Tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains, you’ll find the cozy cabin we call Juliet. This stay comes with two decks (so double the views), large windows, a movie room, and a covered hot tub. Vacation like a true Southerner with happy hours spent on the porch sittin’ on your rocking chair, deciding which trail of the mountains you’ll conquer tomorrow.

10 Black Friday Deals for Travelers: Tech, Gear, and More!

We’ve made our list—and checked it twice—of the best 2022 Black Friday / Cyber Monday deals for the traveler in your life. Whether you’re searching for the perfect gift or looking to score an awesome deal for yourself (no judgment), we’ve compiled the top deals out there for any type of traveler.

1. Apple Airtags

You’ve made it to your destination.. but did your luggage make it too? There’s nothing like that sinking feeling of finding out your suitcase was left behind, or even worse, lost by your airline. Pop an Apple Airtag in your luggage on your next trip and have the peace of mind of tracking your bag every step of the way.

Purchase a 4-pack of Apple Airtags on Amazon for $79.99, regularly $99.99.

photo of an AirTag
Source: Apple

2. Kindle Oasis

Stop scrolling your social media and pick up a book—or an eReader if that’s more your style. The 7” Kindle Oasis is on sale this Black Friday and comes with a massive price cut. Read your favorite book while 40,000 feet in the air or beachside with a margarita in hand. Either way, you’ll feel great knowing you saved nearly $95 during the Black Friday sale.

Snag a Kindle Oasis on Amazon for $184.00, regularly 279.99.

photo of someone holding a kindle
Source: CNET

3. Apple Airpods Pro (2nd Generation)

What will be the soundtrack of your next getaway? If it’s absolute silence, we don’t blame you. The perfect item to drown out the crying babies and snoring seatmates on a long flight, the Apple Airpod Pro earbuds offer active noise cancellation to ensure the smoothest of flights.

Get the Apple Airpod Pro (2nd Generation) on Amazon for $199.99, regularly $249.00.

photo of airpods
Source: IGN

4.  S-Zone Antitheft Bag

You don’t need to compromise style for safety. With the S-Zone Antitheft Bag, you can have both. This leather backpack comes in a variety of colors and features a zipper compartment that lays flat against your back—ruining any pickpocketer’s day. This bag is perfect for the traveler who often finds themselves in large crowds or in busy cities while on their adventures.

The S-Zone Antitheft Bag is marked down from $85.99 to $79.99 on Amazon. Plus, you can check off the 15% coupon for an additional $12 in savings.

photo of antitheft backpack in black leather
Source: S-Zone

5. Away Luggage

If you’ve been eyeing a new piece of luggage, now’s your chance to save big. Away Luggage is offering $50 off when you purchase two suitcases, and $100 off when you purchase three. It’s the perfect excuse to buy one as a gift and to treat yourself, too. All colors, styles, and sizes are included in the offer, available now through November 28th.

photo of Away suitcase set
Source: Conde Nast Traveler

6. Trtl Travel Pillow

Forget what you know about travel pillows. The Trtl Travel Pillow is made to completely support your head for maximum comfort. The pillow is designed to prevent neck pain, strains, or aches so you can feel refreshed after a long flight.

Get the Trtl Travel Pillow 15% off this Black Friday or check out one of Trtl’s VIP bundles where you can earn up to 40% in savings.

photo of girl wearing neck pillow
Source:TrtlUS

7. Ankur USB Charger

If you planned on taking advantage of some tech deals this Back Friday, you may want to invest in a portable charger. This Ankur charger allows you to charge up to 3 devices at once, with either a USB A or USB C output.

Purchase this Ankur USB charger for $44, down from $59.99—plus apply a $3 coupon for additional savings.

photo of portable charger
Source: Amazon

8. Sand Cloud Towels

Save your sanity while also saving marine life. There’s nothing worse than laying on the beach with a towel covered in sand. These stylish Sand Cloud Towels are sand-resistant and ultra-absorbent to keep you comfortable while sunbathing at the beach. Not only that, the company donates 10% of all profits toward marine conservation so you’re bound to feel good inside and out.

Get 30% off sitewide during this year’s deal at Sand Cloud!

girl sitting on Sand Cloud Towel looking at beach
Source: The Surfrider Foundation

9. AvantStay Vacation Rentals

We may be biased, but this is our favorite travel deal of all. Now through Cyber Monday, you can save between $250-$1,500 on AvantStay vacation rentals. The more you spend, the more you save—so it’s the perfect excuse to extend that vacation you’ve been planning to take.

With over 1,500 homes in 100+ destinations, AvantStay vacation rentals offer group-friendly spaces that could fit the whole family. When you stay at an AvantStay, you can expect an elevated vacation rental experience, with homes packed with fun amenities, 24/7 guest support, concierge services, and beautiful design to create the perfect backdrop for your Instagram selfies.

Sonoma, CA vacation rental by AvantStay
Blue Steel by AvantStay

10. AvantStay Swag

Hats, T-Shirts, and more! So you took advantage of AvantStay’s Black Friday Deal and booked yourself a vacation. Now, you may want some new swag to pack along in your suitcase. Take advantage of 15% off in the AvantStay swag store where you can find some of our most favorited items, like our “Out of Office” hat.. or even travel gear for your jetsetting pup!

Use code “BFCM15.” Offer valid on any order $25 or more, limit one per customer, expires 11/28/22 at midnight.

dog with scarf and AvantStay dog toy
The AvantStay swag store has plenty for you and your pup!

AvantStay Unlocked: Powerful Vacation Rental Marketing and Distribution

AvantStay Unlocked: Powerful Vacation Rental Marketing and Distribution 

Promoting your vacation rental home on online travel agencies (OTAs) like Airbnb or Vrbo is one of the easiest ways to reach more travelers and drive more bookings. However, many short-term rental owners don’t realize that these platforms, along with Booking.com and Tripadvisor, are just the tip of the distribution iceberg (there are over 400 OTAs!).  

AvantStay’s marketing and distribution capabilities go far beyond OTA promotion—we also leverage the power of social media and top influencers, leading brand and corporate partnerships, and a guest network that we’ve built over time. With our industry-leading reach, powerful social presence, and renowned partnerships you’ll connect with more guests, land more bookings, receive higher ratings, and increase your revenue.

Professional listings and distribution

When you partner with AvantStay for vacation rental management, we handle every step of your listing creation and promotion to get your home maximum exposure. Our in-house photographers and stylists collaborate to capture every aspect of your home, amenities, and key revenue drivers during a complimentary professional photo shoot.

Next, we create an aspirational, bespoke listing built to show off your home to the world. Our Listings & Distribution team has cultivated strong relationships with leading online travel agencies, which allows us to enhance your property’s listing performance against market competitors. Your listing is optimized for visibility and conversion across more than 65 distribution channels, including:

Top-performing OTAs

  • Airbnb
  • Vrbo
  • Booking.com
  • Expedia
  • TripAdvisor

Exclusive access to premium OTAs

  • Homes & Villas by Marriott International
  • Luxury Villas & Homes
  • LaCure
  • Luxury Retreats
  • Plum Guide

Besides these top-performing distribution channels, over 40% of AvantStay guest bookings come through our website, which has seen a 172% increase in booking volume year over year. Our strong brand equity, creative marketing strategies, and high repeat-guest rates are key drivers of our direct bookings.

National hospitality brand

Our elevated brand with a focus on experiential group stays resonates with travelers everywhere. Further, our responsive and guest-centric customer service delivers a consistent, premium experience that makes guests want to book again and again.

Elevated brand standards

Delivering a consistent, first-class vacation experience for every guest is the standard at which we operate every day. We ensure that each home is stocked with anything guests might need during their stay, including an array of high-quality consumables and thoughtful localized welcome packages. 

In addition, guests can take advantage of our exclusive concierge services to request fridge stocking, schedule mid-stay cleans, book a private chef or in-home massage, and more. This level of service leads to more five-star reviews, repeat guests, and ultimately more bookings. 

Powerful social presence 

Besides distribution across popular booking sites, we tap into the power of social media to promote our homes to travelers who are eager to plan their next vacation. With over 300,000 combined followers, your home will be featured across popular social platforms (Instagram, TikTok, etc.) to our highly engaged audiences. We also work with leading influencers to further extend this reach and drive more bookings. 

Partnered with the best

Our in-house Partnerships team unlocks new opportunities that help source group bookings year-round. Partnerships drive brand engagement, increase the number of value-added services we provide to guests, and improve distribution and reach.

Value-added services & in-home brand partnerships

We enhance the guest experience by offering exclusive in-home products and experiences that allow us to charge higher ADRs and earn higher ratings. Some of the top brands we work with include Gopuff, Jacuzzi, Daily Harvest, Allianz, and more. 

Corporate partnerships, events, and retreats

We partner with national and local brands to drive guest demand as one of their preferred accommodation brands. We plan and execute corporate retreats and exclusive events (like Coachella brand parties) for companies big and small across the nation. Our corporate offsite and event offerings are a unique service that allows us to expand your home’s distribution to more guests beyond leisurely travelers. 

Amplify your reach with AvantStay 

There’s a lot that goes into managing a successful vacation rental. Running your listings across multiple OTAs and activating a vacation rental marketing strategy is the best way to be sure you maximize earnings, but it can be tedious and complicated. Why not work with an expert who will take charge and give you instant access to all of the top OTAs, national partnerships, and over 300,000 social media users? 

When you partner with AvantStay and leverage our industry-leading reach, you’ll connect with more guests, land more bookings, receive better reviews, and earn more revenue. It also extends beyond the listing and marketing—we pair that with our proprietary dynamic pricing models and in-house Revenue Management team, full-service permitting and compliance support, a software suite that gives you full visibility into your home, and so much more.

Interested in learning more about AvantStay’s vacation rental management services? Our team is ready to help. Get started with our vacation rental management experts today!

The Best Vacation Rentals on Golf Courses – Luxury Rentals for Your Next Getaway

Why did the golfer wear two pairs of pants? In case he got a hole in one!

Okay, we promise to not be that cheesy, but with a topic like golf, it’s kind of hard to steer clear of the dad jokes. Whether you’re living your cart girl fantasy (no judgment), or genuinely like to play golf, these vacation rentals on golf courses are here to set the par for your next getaway. 

1. Greg Norman Estate – La Quinta, CA

Night swims are a must at this Coachella Valley home. Hop into the hot tub and cheers to views, brews, and a good day on the course. Located on the 2nd fairway of the prestigious Greg Norman Course in PGA West, this vacation home is the perfect retreat for the golfer in your life (and if you’re in this article, it’s safe to say you have one). Enjoy poolside days with a nice breeze provided by the misters and a huge built-in bar for your crew’s wannabe bartender. With views of the mountains, desert, and course, the Greg Norman Estate is a sight for sore eyes.

2. Fairway Ski and Golf Retreat – Park City, UT

Fairway Ski and Golf Retreat is a 4-bed stay with room for up to 10 guests. Conveniently positioned in between the golf course and ski lift, this retreat brings all you need for an active getaway. After a day filled with all Park City has to offer, enjoy a nice soak in the hot tub. Retreat indoors for a fireside sesh where you and the crew can get the game plan for whatever tomorrow brings – and if you check out our Park City guide, there’s a lot on that list.

3. Quinta Green – La Quinta, CA

This one’s a true winner. From its sleek interiors, to its hot tub and hammock, to an oh-so inviting pool, Quinta Green in Coachella Valley is looking a lot like your next vacation home. This stay is stacked with 7 rooms, 11 beds, and room for up to 16 guests! Here you’ll be surrounded by golf courses, day spas, and dreamy mountain ranges. Looking for more to do during your stay? Check out our 25 Best Things to Do in Coachella Valley for an itinerary-style guide. 

4. Clint at Brasada Ranch – Powell Butte, OR

Clint is located within the Brasada Ranch community in Central Oregon. Enjoy the community’s elevated golf range, indoor gym, day spa, basketball court, indoor pool, beach volleyball court, putting green, and TBH so much more but we really need to tell you about this house! This stay has a beautiful deck with a BBQ and fire pit overlooking the mountains. The interiors are warm, welcoming, and you’ve got room for you and up to 12 guests. When you’re done re-reading the list of amenities, maybe you’ll even have time to check out Mt. Bachelor for some skiing. 

5. Moonshine – La Quinta, CA

Come to Moonshine for an unforgettable Coachella Valley vacation, with a pool that flows seamlessly into the PGA Golf Course so you can either watch the birds above or aim for birdies on the course. Filled with modern interiors, a cozy fireplace, and an outdoor kitchen, it’s no wonder Tyra Banks used to live in this decadent home. We’re assuming she was an entertainer, too, because this stay comes with all you need to host the gathering of your dreams with tons of indoor seating, a wet bar, foosball, and a lavish outdoor seating area.


About AvantStay: If you find yourself looking for a travel experience that values your privacy, safety, and cleanliness, AvantStay is the perfect fit. Apart from their top-of-the-line technology and innovation, AvantStay homes are in primo locations—places you’ve been dying to check out, with experiences you’re ready to check off your bucket list—like staying on a golf course.

Top 12 Gifts for Vacation Rental Homeowners

Vacation rental amenities can turn a great guest experience into an unforgettable one. Happy guests leave positive reviews which drive more bookings, repeat guests, and ultimately more revenue.

If you know someone with a short-term vacation rental, or maybe you want to treat yourself, consider gifting them one of these vacation rental amenities to elevate the guest experience and maximize their home’s value. From birthdays to Mother’s or Father’s Day, check out our top 12 gift ideas for vacation rental homeowners.

Mega Four in a Row

vacation rental amenities like connect four and cornhole

$100 at Saks Fifth Avenue

The Mega Four in a Row set is perfect for poolside lounging or cozy family game nights by the fire. This stylish take on a popular classic comes with a hand-painted pine playing board and 42 wooden chips. Standing at 18.75 inches tall and 23.5 inches wide, the Mega Four in a Row set is larger than the original but can easily be moved around your short-term vacation rental for impromptu game sessions.

Mega Jumbling Tower

giant jenga game at a vacation rental

$120 at Saks Fifth Avenue

The Mega Jumbling Tower is another great addition for vacation rental backyard hangs. Fun for all ages, this natural timber stacker includes 45 gold and white hand-painted blocks. At the start of gameplay, the tower stands at two feet tall, so be sure to give your guests plenty of space for stacking and the inevitable tumbling.

Cornhole boards

AvantStay home backyard with vacation rental amenitites

$315 at Elakai

Add some friendly competition to any backyard barbecue with these mahogany cornhole boards. This two-by-four-foot regulation cornhole board set features a premium-grade plywood deck with a solid mahogany frame. These boards are lightweight and portable with built-in carrying handles, so guests can easily set up or move the game throughout the space.

Poker table

poker table with card game at a vacation rental

$1,800 at Pottery Barn

Raise the stakes of game nights at your short-term rental with a poker table. Guests will appreciate the rustic yet modern design of this mahogany table, doubling as a statement piece post-game. With built-in beverage holders and the option to complete the set with matching chairs, the only things missing are your deck of cards and poker chips.

Foosball table

AvantStay guests enjoying a game of foosball

$3,000 at CB2

Bring the arcade to your short-term vacation rental with a sleek, modern foosball table. At nearly five feet in length, this fast-paced game can easily fit in a dedicated game room, covered patio, or main living space. The table is made from burl wood and stainless steel and can accommodate two to four players at one time.

Shuffleboard table

AvantStay home living room with shuffle board table

$2,650 at Fairview Game Rooms

Shuffleboard is an old-time favorite and a great addition to your vacation rental amenities. At nine feet in length, this table is on the smaller end of shuffleboard tables so you don’t have to worry about it taking up too much space. There’s also a handy storage cabinet built into one of the pedestal legs to keep extra pucks and sand out of sight.

Multi-use ping pong table

ping pong table in AvantStay rental backyard

$2,000 at Wayfair

Maximize your short-term rental living space with a multi-use ping pong table. Guests can go from ping pong tournaments to dining al fresco in seconds with this convertible indoor/outdoor table by simply removing the steel net. When ping pong isn’t in play, this table can be used as a dining or conference table, comfortably seating 10 to 12 people.

Pool table

pool table in AvantStay home

$6,500 at West Elm

A pool table is an essential piece for any short-term rental game room. This pool table from West Elm is built-to-last and withstand guest use, crafted from solid wood, leather drop pockets, and spill-resistant felt. Complete with a rack and accessories kit, this table comes ready for pool sharks and rookie players alike.

Rolling patio cooler

AvantStay home patio with cooler and drinks

$250 at Permasteel

Give guests the option to move the fun from the pool to the ping pong table (and everywhere in between) with a rolling patio cooler. This stylish, steel cooler can hold 80 quarts, equivalent to 100 12-ounce cans plus ice. Your vacation rental guests won’t have to pause the party with this convenient cart, equipped with a bottle opener, cap catcher, and insulated basin that keeps drinks cold for up to 36 hours.

Around the Block bikes

bikes at AvantStay home backyard

$350 at Sixthreezero

Bikes are a great vacation rental amenity that gives guests the freedom to explore nearby attractions. The Around the Block bike by Sixthreezero is a low-maintenance bike built for comfort—perfect to have ready for guests who want to cruise to the beach, check out the local farmers’ market, and more. These bikes are available in multiple speeds and are ideal for casual to up-tempo rides.

Pedestal fire pit table

AvantStay home with fire pit

$1,800 at West Elm

From deserts to mountains to beaches, a fire pit is a must-have for any short-term vacation rental outdoor space. This luxurious centerpiece is perfect for outdoor lounging, wine nights by the fire, and family s’more sessions. The fiber-reinforced concrete frame is covered in a weather-resistant sealant to withstand all elements. Powered by propane, the fire pit will instantly warm up your space with a simple push-button spark ignition.

Pop-A-Shot

pop-a-shot basketball game vacation rental amenity
Source: CB2

$2,500 at CB2

If you’re looking for that wow factor for your short-term rental, look no further than this revamped arcade-classic basketball game. Featuring black genuine leather, brass backboard, and black nylon chording, this deluxe basketball game is so luxurious you won’t want to miss a shot—baskets or photo ops.

Unwrap a first-class guest experience

Furnishing a short-term rental and selecting the best vacation rental amenities for your guests can be hard work. Luckily, when you partner with AvantStay, you get access to our award-winning interior design and procurement services. Our designers review every home added to the portfolio and create memorable and inspiring designs that transform spaces and maximize value.

We help procure and install furniture and arrange bedrooms and common spaces to maximize occupancy. Our designers also curate experiential elements like those listed above so guests get the most out of their stay, driving positive reviews, more bookings, and increased revenue.

If you’re interested in learning more about our vacation rental management and design services, our team is ready to help. Get started today!

Ski-in/Ski-out Vacation Homes: Luxury Rentals for Your Ski-Town Stay

Breathe in, breathe out… Ski-in, ski-out! Nothing’s better than waking up, putting your gear on and heading directly outside to hit the slopes. After you spend the day getting your (ski) on,  kick back at a vacation home where you can have apres ski moments you’ll never forget.

All vacation homes included here are within walking distance to the slopes of their respective towns. Other than being in the perfect location for powder days, these group friendly ski-town stays come with modern interior design, guest support at your fingertips (via our app), and add-on services like fridge stocking, private chefs, and at-home massages—all perfect for full relaxation after the slopes. 

Bronson – Lake Tahoe, CA

Starting this round-up strong with one of our personal faves. Meet Bronson, a Lake Tahoe, CA stay located right on Olympic Valley. Less worrying, more skiing—this home comes with snowshoeing equipment for your stay. We provide two sets of snowshoes with two adult poles and one set of child poles. With room for up to 12 guests, everyone can come and enjoy this vacation home’s expansive deck with a fire pit, hot tub, and views of the ski lift above!

Snowdrift Cabin – Telluride, CO

Snowdrift Cabin is a secluded Telluride, CO vacation spot. Filled with traditional wood beams, this cabin vacation rental has prime ski access on Lift 10’s Galloping Goose trail, gorgeous sunset views of the San Sophia ridgeline, multiple expansive decks, a hot tub, and loft area. Downstairs, you’ll find a dedicated rec room with a gas fireplace and games for the whole crew. Be sure to take advantage of Mountain Village’s Dial-a-Ride service where you can enjoy a free ride to the Village Core and the Gondola connecting to the Town of Telluride.

Slopeside – Park City, UT

Come to Slopeside for a perfect Park City, UT getaway. This vacation home comes with a lovely hot tub, fireplace and oversized windows in the living room for maximum coziness. Better yet, this stay is only a stone’s throw away from the Silver Star ski lift. For more to do in Park City, check out our guide of Top 35 Things to Do in Park City!

Cimarron Lodge – Telluride, CO 

Tell the crew you’re ready for a trip to Telluride, CO. This Cimarron Lodge unit is located right on the slopes. Enjoy days not spent waiting in line to ski with this ski-in/ski-out condo situated along the San Miguel River. Bring up to 8 guests and enjoy your apres ski with a hot tub happy hour. Looking for more to do on your trip? Check out our Top Things to Do in Telluride.

Twin Chutes – Breckenridge, CO

Breckenridge, CO is calling! Twin Chutes is a 4 bed stay with room for up to 12 guests. Conveniently located next to the ski lifts, this stay provides great ski access and even better Colorado mountain views. This condo comes with great amenities like a hot tub, billiards table, gym, and fireplace! We even give you a guitar—so for those who like songs around the campfire, you’re in luck.

Slopeside at Sundance – Telluride, CO

Looking for a traditional woodsy cabin? Slopeside at Sundance (not to be confused with Slopeside in Park City mentioned above) is a Telluride, CO vacation home located adjacent to the slopes and true ski access directly onto the popular Sundance ski run. Wake up to window views of the pine trees, and sip your morning coffee on the picturesque patio. After a long day of skiing, decompress in the sauna to let the heat melt away any and all soreness.

Feeling motivated to get your ski on? We don’t blame you! If you’re looking for even more places to ski-in/ski-out, check out our collection of Ski-in/Ski-out Vacation Homes. Plus, if you also need gear to use while on the slopes, our expert concierge team can also help with that!

About AvantStay: If you find yourself looking for a travel experience that values your privacy, safety, and cleanliness, AvantStay is the perfect fit. Apart from their top-of-the-line technology and innovation, AvantStay homes are in primo locations—places you’ve been dying to check out, with experiences you’re ready to check off your bucket list—like staying at a ski-in/ski-out home!

Vacation Homes Decorated for the Holidays with Our Concierge Team

Holiday season is coming in hot! You’ve got a lot of planning ahead – from successfully getting your whole family in one location, to picking out meaningful gifts, mentally preparing to cook a banquet of food, and worst of all, decorating. Wouldn’t it be nice to have one less thing to worry about?

At AvantStay, our concierge team is proud to offer holiday decor packages in select locations, so that as soon as you arrive at your vacation home, it really feels like a home. No need to BYO tinsel or wreaths, we cover everything from that to Christmas trees. Best of all, we set everything up before you arrive and handle disposal once you’ve gone. We’re truly taking the stress out of the holidays.

Like every good holiday host, we understand that design styles vary. Below, we’ve included a few of our favorite styles that we just know will get you in the holiday spirit.

Dreaming of a white Christmas? 

Dreams do come true. Gather round and unwrap gifts in this beauty of a living room at High Meadow. Located in Park City, UT, a trip here guarantees fun both in and out of the house. Once all gifts are opened, thanks are given, and hot toddies are sipped, head out to bobsled at Utah Olympic Park – the official Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games Sliding Track. Our concierge can set up snowmobile tours and help with ski rentals for a day on the slopes – so make sure to reach out to the concierge team for a helping hand.


Looking for more to do on your trip to Utah? Check out our 35 Best Things to Do in Park City.

Here for the fireplace.

Elegance meets sultry with this simple yet modern design. Add on fridge stocking so groceries are one less thing to think about. Toast to a holiday with loved ones, and a vacation home you love (just a little bit) more.

For the traditional holiday enthusiast. 

Ask for a holiday design theme that feels very classic. Celebrate like Jolly Old Saint Nick with stockings hung, cranberry wreaths, winter-scented candles, and colorful figurines. Bring your favorite childhood story books for storytime by the fireplace. 

Note: be sure to email our concierge team if you’re curious if decoration services like these are offered in the city you’re staying in!

Complete the feeling with a decorative table setting (in select markets)Sometimes it’s best to stick with what you know. Offering extra warmth on a chilly day, this black and red plaid theme will bring you back to the good old days of flannels and Carhartt beanies. This design theme brings comfort to warmer holiday destinations like San Diego or Temecula.

Whether you’re celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years’, Kwanzaa, or any other holiday, we’re here to ensure it’s free of stress so you can vacation in peace. Find your dream holiday vacation destination, and let the crew know it’s booked.

By the way, did we mention we cook? On top of having your home fully decorated, try adding on fridge stocking or a private chef through our app once you’ve booked. 

Cheers to a healthy and happy holiday season! We’ll see you soon.

Please note: all holiday decor must be requested 3-4 weeks prior to check-in! 

Smoky Mountain Vacation Rental Outperforms Market Competition

Challenge: Help short-term rental stand out in a saturated market to drive more bookings and maximize owner revenue 

Living room in AvantStay vacation rental hom

Background

Dave is a short-term rental investor with several homes in the Pigeon Forge area. He reached out to AvantStay in 2021 for our vacation rental management services when he learned about our dedicated local support teams and elevated guest offerings. 

Performance

Chart of AvantStay performance vs. Smoky Mountain market performance

Solution & Results

Game room in AvanStay Smoky Mountain vacation rental

Vacation rentals in the Smoky Mountains tend to be similar, so Dave wanted to work with a company whose offerings would set his home apart from the competition. Leveraging our award-winning design and procurement teams, industry-leading distribution, and exclusive guest services like our dedicated concierge team, Dave’s home consistently outperforms his market cohorts.

After 15 months with AvantStay, Dave’s home has generated over $390,000 in gross revenue, drives steady bookings at high ADRs, and receives praise from guests on cleanliness, communication, and value. 

“Josh, the area manager, went above and beyond to make sure every detail was perfect,” said AvantStay guest Theresa C. “We were welcomed with beautiful flowers in every room, new family board games, a s’mores kit, and wine. We requested to have a cooler brought over and one was delivered within hours, including ice! The level of service AvantStay provides is amazing!”

Interested in learning more about vacation rental management with AvantStay? Our experts are ready to help! Unlock your vacation rental’s full value and get started with our team today.

6 Unique Austin Airbnb Alternatives

Austin, Texas is known for its bustling nightlife, tasty tacos, and plenty to do outside. Whether you’re ISO a trip here for warmer days, a girls’ getaway, or simply to see what all the fuss is about, we’ve come up with the best AvantStay Airbnbs in Austin – all with unique vacation rental experiences you can’t get anywhere else, guaranteeing a top-of-the-line vacay.

AvantStay is a gem in the short-term vacation rental world. We display our signature style via hundreds of homes with award-winning interior design, seamless group travel experiences, concierge services at the touch of a button, and a unique pay-per-person feature on the app. While all AvantStay properties can be booked through Airbnb, they can also be booked directly through our website. 

Apart from its top-of-the-line technology and innovation, AvantStay homes are in primo locations – places you’ve been dying to check out, and places you’re ready to check off your bucket list – like ATX! Let’s dive in.

1. Barton – For the Outdoorsy Type

Trust us when we say pics don’t do Barton justice. This Lake Travis stay is located just a short drive from Austin proper. With an infinity pool overlooking the water, a living room patio with views for days, and a hot tub ready for happy hour, this 8-guest home is here to impress. Spend mornings soaking in the lounge chairs and evenings roasting s’mores over the firepit. Take a deep breath in, and enjoy Austin without all the hustle and bustle.

Looking for more fun things to do outside? Check out our Guide to Austin Hiking for nearby hikes and views.

austin vacation home on lake travis

2. Ramsey – For the City Slicker

Ramsey is an East Austin vacation rental located in the sweet spot of everything you need to experience in ATX. Take a short ride to the lovely Lady Bird Lake or bring a picnic basket to chill out at Zilker Park where they host the annual SXSW Conference and Festival. Other than being near all things Austin, this home also comes with the cutest casita poolhouse in the back, and TBH we can’t stop thinking about it.

austin vacation rental with a pool and hot tub

3. Hudson – For the Explorer

Hello, Hill Country! Come to Hudson for a slice of Texas paradise. Located just a 20-minute drive from downtown Austin, this vacation rental comes bearing gifts of lake views, a private pool, and gorgeous interiors. With inspo from European design, you’ll find yourself perfectly blissed out within the home’s three levels featuring a pool table, clawfoot tub, and wet bar. Invite the whole crew, Hudson’s got room for up to 12 guests!

austin vacation rental with views of lake travis and a pool

4. Melody – For the Architect

Make your way to Melody. You’re only a short drive from East Austin, and therefore close to the water wonderland that is Barton Springs, when you stay at this Austin Airbnb alternative. This home shows its personality via unique architecture, brand new outdoor deck and sparkling drum set. Enjoy cozy sunsets on the private balcony with a fire pit, drinks in the spacious kitchen, and maybe even a sesh on the Peloton bike in the living room.

vacation rental in austin with interesting architecture

5. Dawson – For the Water Bug

Down for a trip to Dawson? We thought so. Take a trip here for pool and hot tub hangs, a dreamy view of Lake Travis, and plenty of space for up to 10 guests. Unlike most vacation rentals, you don’t have to race to get to the primary bedroom first. With the AvantStay app, you and your friends can reserve bedrooms before you arrive! This is something we highly recommend while staying here, because the views from this clawfoot tub in the primary are one in a million.

vacation rental in austin with a pool and lake travis views

6. Paramount Place – For the Movie Star

Saving the best for last? Guilty as charged. Text the group chat and let them know you’re ready to make your Austin debut at Paramount Place. Conveniently located next to the Paramount Theatre on South Congress, this downtown ATX home comes with five floors, room for 10 guests, a movie theater, dedicated game room, a gourmet kitchen, and best of all: a rooftop hot tub. Once you stay at Paramount Place, your vacation standards will never be the same. 

rooftop austin vacation rental with a hot tub

The party doesn’t stop here. While these Airbnbs in Austin are here to impress, we understand that your travel itinerary is, too. If you’re looking for more activities for the whole crew, check out our perfectly curated list of 31 Best Things to Do in Austin!

10 Best Isle of Palms Restaurants

Vacationers to Isle of Palms (IOP) are sure to work up quite an appetite after a day of sun and sand at the beach. The area has plenty of delightful bistros, cafes, and restaurants specializing in sustainable seafood and fresh fare guaranteed to satisfy the cravings of your entire party. Even your foodie friend is sure to find local cuisine to indulge in on a trip to Isle of Palms.

A short 40-minutes away from Isle of Palms is Charleston, which happens to be one of the top 20 best foodie cities in America, so it’s no surprise that Isle of Palms also has some exceptional food options. To help you make the most of your time in the area, we’ve taken the guesswork out of deciding where to relax and enjoy a fresh, local meal in Isle of Palms. 

Acme Lowcountry Kitchen 

acme lowcountry kitchen is a popular isle of palms restaurant
Source: Thrillist

For sustainable seafood and fresh, coastal cuisine visit Acme Lowcountry Kitchen. They specialize in one of the most iconic dishes in Isle of Palms—Shrimp & Grits. They offer this classic in a few different homemade variations, and with the laid-back, beachy atmosphere, this restaurant is hard to top.

Coastal Provisions

coastal provisions is a popular isle of palms restaurant
Source: Coastal Provisions

For al fresco dining with a seasonal menu visit Wild Dunes Resort’s Coastal Provisions. Their seafood dishes are driven by local, sustainable offerings, while the ingredients for meat and veggie-forward dishes are sourced from vendors around IOP and Charleston, SC. 

Coconut Joe’s Beach Grill

coconut joe's beach grill is one of many esteemed isle of palms restaurants
Source: Charleston Guru

For great food, appetizers, and a happy hour with live music visit Coconut Joe’s Beach Grill. The outdoor seating space boasts excellent ocean views from the rooftop bar and deck, as well as live entertainment for you to enjoy while you dine on delicious island eats.

Coda Del Pesce

coda del pesce is one of the numerous popular isle of palms restaurants
Source: Coda Del Pesce

For a romantic atmosphere with oceanfront dining, head to Coda Del Pesce. They serve sustainably caught seafood prepared with fresh, local ingredients. Here you can enjoy some of the most delicious homemade pasta and specials Isle of Palms has to offer!

Long Island Cafe 

long island cafe is a popular isle of palms restaurant
Source: Long Island Cafe

If you enjoy classic seafood dishes in an elegant, coastal atmosphere you need to reserve a table at Long Island Cafe. There’s a reason why Long Island Cafe is one of the best Isle of Palms restaurants. They’ve been cooking up delicious seafood, chicken, and handmade pasta dishes for more than 30 years.

Papi’s Taqueria

papi's taqueria is a delicious isle of palms restaurant
Source: Papi’s Taqueria

For the perfect after-beach taco visit Papi’s Taqueria. This small, laidback beachfront taqueria offers a creative selection of shrimp, meat, and veggie tacos made with locally sourced ingredients that are sure to satisfy your group’s taco craving. They even have a spectacular view from their rooftop bar, which is a great place to sip a refreshing margarita!

Sea Biscuit Cafe

sea biscuit cafe is a must-stop for isle of palms restaurants
Source: Trip Advisor

For one of the best breakfast restaurants in Isle of Palms, head to Sea Biscuit Cafe. This cafe is cute and cozy with quaint nautical decor. They offer a simple menu of delicious homestyle options such as french toast, grits, omelets, biscuits, and pancakes. 

The Boathouse at breach inlet

the boathouse at breach inlet is a delicious isle of palms restaurant
Source: The Boathouse

For true Southern cooking—from family recipes to modernized dishes—visit The Boathouse at 101 Palm Blvd. This Southern eatery is a classic foodie destination serving plates with fresh seafood from local fishermen and produce from local farms. The Boathouse is decorated with boats and its ceilings are adorned with 100-year-old vintage rowboats collected by the restaurant’s owner. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a Southern meal. 

The Obstinate Daughter

the obstinate daughter is a popular isle of palms restaurant
Source: The Local Palate

The Windjammer

the windjammer is a very fun isle of palms restaurant
Source: The Windjammer

For live music on the beach, a bar menu with South Carolina favorites, and an overall good time, visit The Windjammer. This fun music venue, located at Front Beach on the Isle of Palms, is a great place to enjoy good food and live entertainment with friends or family.

Plan the perfect foodie vacation to Charleston & Isle of Palms

IOP and Charleston are known for having some of the best restaurants in the South. So if you’re looking for a memorable, foodie-worthy experience, save this list for your next vacation to the area. 

If you’re looking for other recommendations in the area, be sure to check out our other resources for the area:

7 Best Corporate Retreat Venues in The United States

It’s time for your company’s annual retreat, which means it’s time to maximize your teams’ in-person conversations and connections. But what’s work with no play? Re-energize your team with memorable experiences at our full-service vacation homes in the most sought-after destinations. From our selection of private communities, hotel takeovers, and multi-acre estates, our offsites team provides work-optimized spaces and manages the entire experience so your team can focus on productivity. 

As more and more teams have gone remote, where you decide to recharge has become even more important. Here are 7 corporate retreat venues curated specifically for large groups eager to collaborate. 

1. The Polo Villas by AvantStay – Coachella Valley, California

The Polo Villas by AvantStay. The exteriors of 11 separate villas all with their own private pools.

The ultimate desert oasis awaits at The Polo Villas. This gated community features 11 villas with five-and six-bedrooms each, all equipped with expansive pools, spa areas, and outdoor firepits. With plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, your team will have ample room to spread out and come together, respectively. Each villa’s open concept and fully-equipped living space makes it the perfect setting for constructive gatherings. With expansive and inviting yard spaces paired with La Quinta’s temperate weather, The Polo Villas are the perfect venue for your out-of-office vacation. 

Get in touch with our Corporate Experience team & book this home today!

2. Shakespeare on the Hudson – Hudson Valley, New York

Shakespeare on the Hudson by AvantStay. The large home exterior rear showcasing a gated pool, balcony, patio, and spacious yard.

*Note this is a buyout consisting of two homes located 1 mile apart. Each home has 11 bedrooms.

The historic Shakespeare on the Hudson, made up of River House and River Lodge homes, are architectural wonders of the 19th century. In one home, enjoy a game room and river-side pool. Plus, a great lawn and separated deck give you and your team plenty of opportunities to spend your days inside or outside. The other invites you to river views from every room, a two-story rustic library, and an additional pool and hot tub. 

These homes allow your team to spread out amongst two corporate retreat venues with plenty of space to convene in the common areas and yard spaces. Approximately a two-hour drive from New York City, this northeastern space is the perfect getaway for teams looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for some R&R time.

Get in touch with our Corporate Experience team & book this home today!

3. The Chapel Compound – Charleston, South Carolina

The Chapel Compound by AvantStay. An old renovated church turned corporate retreat venue.

If you’re looking for an east coast escape that still has the charm of a southern city, look no further than The Chapel Compound. This is a three-home property with 13 bedrooms  in the heart of downtown Charleston that’s also  a renovated  wedding chapel. With the additional two carriage house suites, The Chapel Compound boasts a total of 3 kitchens, 13 beds, and 12.5 bathrooms, making the conversion of these historic buildings the perfect corporate retreat venue.

The Chapel Compound by AvantStay. One of the two additional carriage house suites.

Make yourself at home with the beautiful indoor-outdoor living spaces including an enclosed patio, hot tub, upstairs balconies, firepits, and more. With just a few short blocks from the lively King Street, your team night out is just a walk away. 

Get in touch with our Corporate Experience team & book this home today!

4. Marlin – Emerald Coast 30A, Florida

Marlin by AvantStay. An extended set dining table that opens up into a modernly designed living room.

Within the 20-mile stretch of beaches along Florida’s famous Emerald Coast, lies AvantStay’s Marlin. This coastal home features 10 comfortable bedrooms and 11 bathrooms, allowing for the perfect ambiance for your team to hop between the beach and the home amenities. Enjoy the entertainment room equipped with a bar, shuffleboard, and ping pong table, as well as having a billiards table, pool, and open-air dining room at your disposal. 

Not enough room for your team? Spread out amongst our many homes in the Emerald Coast, many of which are walking distance from each other and the beach.    

Get in touch with our Corporate Experience team & book this home today!

5. Wanderer – Smoky Mountains, Sevierville, Tennessee

Wanderer by AvantStay. Two dining tables that open into a dual appliance kitchen with stainless steel refrigerators.

If your company is looking for a custom Appalachian retreat, look no further than Wanderer, a massive, custom cabin located in Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains. This home is designed with your team in mind, with an ensuite bathroom for every bedroom, dual dining tables to ensure plenty of seating for everyone, and entertainment at every turn. Wanderer features a unique indoor pool, spacious decks, a luxurious hot tub, multiple grills, and even a home theater. If you’re looking to experience your corporate retreat in the Smoky Mountains in comfort and style, there’s nowhere that offers more space, amenities, and entertainment than Wanderer.

Get in touch with our Corporate Experience team & book this home today!

6. 121 Hotel Buyout – Nashville, Tennessee

The 121 Hotel by AvantStay. A black leather sectional couch with an open floor plan linking to a large dining table.

For those who prefer a more classic hotel experience for your corporate retreat, checkout The 121 Hotel by AvantStay in Nashville, Tennessee. With the residential-style design, each room’s contemporary look makes you feel like your own Nashville luxury pied-á-terre. Offering the ultimate flexibility, the 121 Hotel allows your team to reserve individual rooms, suites, floors, or the entire building for an extraordinary experience.  

A total of 16 bedrooms, including the Penthouse Suites, presidential-style rooms, and bunk rooms where each floor contains a living area and a full kitchen. Additionally, with several breakout spaces, lounges, a banquet/ meeting room, and a dedicated catering kitchen, this corporate retreat venue has endless possibilities for you and your team.

Get in touch with our Corporate Experience team & book this home today!

7. Starlight Estate – Coachella Valley, California

Starlight Estate by AvantStay. A swimming pool surrounded by lounge chairs opens up to the exterior of the luxury corporate retreat venue.

If you’re looking for a way to accommodate and impress your company in Coachella Valley, California, Starlight Estate is calling your name. This sprawling ranch-style mansion with an unbeatable array of amenities is ready to host your team of up to 26. This exclusive home is one of the few unique venues that feature a private, indoor tennis court with air conditioning, so your team can get their game on no matter the weather. 

Spread out on the loungers across the luxurious pool with waterfalls or whip up a beverage at the outdoor bar and grilling area. The superior design details include warm tiled flooring, a large dining table, and marble island  for plenty of space that allows everyone to enjoy each other’s company. Between the open common spaces, entertainment-ready outdoor area, and game room, there are endless ways for your team to relax and reconnect at Starlight Estate.

Get in touch with our Corporate Experience team & book this home today!

7 Beautiful AirBnB Alternatives in Big Bear

If you’re looking for a healthy dose of fresh air, exercise, and rejuvenation, look no further than AvantStay Airbnbs in Big Bear, California. While Airbnb has long been the standard for booking vacation homes online, as alternative vacation rental options grow, comparison shopping has become more of the norm for travelers. 

Enter AvantStay: where guests can enjoy all the advantages of Airbnb and combine them with the elevated experience of staying in a luxury hotel. From award-winning interior designs and a 24/7 dedicated concierge team to sprawling estates stocked with all the amenities and in-home entertainment you could ever dream of, our professionally managed properties are one-of-a-kind.

To further curate our collection of upscale vacation rentals, we’ve compiled a list of 7 beautiful homes in Big Bear to inspire your next Southern California getaway in the jewel of San Bernardino County. But why take our word for it? We’ll let our properties speak for themselves. 

1. Direct Lakefront Access

Shoreline Lakehouse by AvantStay. A large open deck with outdoor couches and furniture sits with a private dock on Big Bear Lake.

Wake up to a placid, reflective lake, the sounds of nature, and enjoy a cup of coffee on the private decks or curled up next to the fireplace at Shoreline Lakehouse. This five-bedroom cabin is the perfect getaway for your friends or family. 

2. Custom Docks

Water's Edge Estate by AvantStay. A deck with two chairs open up to Big Bear Lake.

Water’s Edge Estate is a luxury 6-bedroom, pet-friendly cabin that sits directly on Big Bear Lake with a large, custom dock for two boats and three jet skis. Its inviting floor plan and ideal location make this home a nature lover’s paradise for endless year-round activities. 

3. Modern Designs

Wolf's Den by AvantStay. A modernly designed large primary bedroom with a fluffy rug and a painting of a horse over the bed.

“Wow” is the only word that can describe not only the updated interior design of Wolf’s Den, but also the breathtaking views from this 3,000 square foot cabin. Sweeping windows, a large private deck, and just two minutes from Bear Mountain Ski Resort, this 14-person home is waiting for you.

4. Natural Beauty

Bernard by AvantStay. Home exterior with an outdoor hot tub, surrounded by pine trees.

Nestled among fragrant pine trees and oozing with charm and character, lies Bernard. Paired with cozy furnishings, a hot tub, and an outdoor grill, this cabin’s allure is matched only by its scenic surroundings.

5. Comfortable and Chic

Koda by AvantStay. A modernly designed cabin living room.

This isn’t your ordinary cabin in the woods. Koda’s touches of light wood, contemporary decor, and the inviting appeal of a stone fireplace give you the glamping feel with even better views.

6. Luxury Amenities

Heavenly Valley by AvantStay. A luxurious foyer with a winding staircase.

The summer retreat of Heavenly Valley is the perfect spot for a private AvantStay getaway. Located only two miles from the lake, just over half a mile from Snow Summit Ski Resort, and stocked with a game room, wet bar, and heated swimming pool, this home offers the perfect space for indoor and outdoor living with your friends and family.

7. Unobstructed Views

Lagunita Shores by AvantStay. A living room with window views open to Big Bear Lake.

One of the many reasons guests come to us when shopping around for the best vacation rental options includes our selection of unparalleled homes and chalets like Lagunita Shores. Enjoy over 100 feet of prime shoreline in this custom cabin with boundless views of Big Bear Lake. Your mountain dream home is only a reservation away.

AvantStay Spotlight: Adriann Hobbs, Task Force Manager

Name:
Adriann Hobbs


Where are you based?

Austin, TX


Job Title:

Task Force Manager


How long have you worked at AvantStay?

Just hit 1 year in September!


How would you describe your job & responsibilities to someone who doesn’t work in your field?

As a Task Force Manager, I travel to different AvantStay destinations and support our teams in the field. This support spreads over a range of things including training new employees, completing any ongoing product management projects in the markets, onboarding installations, disaster relief—the list goes on. Basically, if there’s a major need in any of our markets, the Task Force team is here to help!

How do you like to start your work day?

I wake up around 5:30 a.m., listen to the Breakfast Club (or something on YouTube), then go to the gym or run. From there I grab some coffee, check Slack and my emails, and have a stand-up with the team to go over our plan of action for the day. Outside of that, my days are varied and range from visiting current or onboarding properties in the market to assess their conditions or completing ongoing PM projects in our markets.

What teams do you collaborate the most with at work?

It would have to be field operations, onboarding, and owner experience.

What is your favorite thing about working at AvantStay?

My favorite thing about working at AvantStay is having the opportunity to collaborate with a variety of amazing teams across the nation! I get to meet a lot of great people who truly care about the success of AvantStay. 

What advice would you give to someone looking to join your team?

Have a service-minded approach on what both a guest and owner would expect in our homes while on vacation, and be open to travel across the nation at any time of the year!

What is something that you’re proud of that you’ve accomplished in your role?

First, it would have to be successfully getting Austin started. Right before this role, I was the Area Manager for Austin, and the market at the time had 0 (count ’em ZERO) homes when I started. Starting with the first property in the market, Dawson, it took the collaboration of both Jackson (Austin, Assistant Area Manager) and me to locally onboard each home, get them stocked and up to our brand standards, and ensure that they were fully guest ready!

AvantStay Spotlight - Adriann Hobbs

Another thing is training the team in Key West. Key West is one of our new markets, and it is also unique in that we acquired the homes from another vacation rental company. It was great to work directly with the team to get them ‘up to speed’ on our systems, processes, and the AvantStay’s overall mission. 

What is something that most people don’t know about you?

I studied abroad in Mexico for two months in college!

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Cooking! I can stay in a zen state of mind while cooking. There is something about having the opportunity to create something beautiful with only a few (or a multitude) of ingredients at your disposal.

Which AvantStay home is your favorite?

It would have to be Black Rock in Scottsdale. Lowkey, it has some of the best views of the city amongst our inventory in that market! Add on the size of the home and amenities, and you’ll have the perfect spot for any group or family vacation! Plus, it’s always good getting the chance to hang with the amazing in-market team there!

Vacation Rental in Scottsdale Arizona with a pool

Before working at AvantStay, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?

It’s not really unusual, but I used to work at the Hobby Center in Houston. A lot of people don’t know this, but I’m a huge musical fan, so that was a convenient way to work and watch ‘free’ Broadway musicals!

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

“Just take a deep breath!” It’s simple but has a major effect. We’re in a field that can be extremely stressful at times, and you never know what challenge you’ll face each day. Regardless of the situation, relax, take a deep breath, and try to recenter yourself to take on the issue. You may not be able to control the issue, but you can always control your actions.

What’s your favorite AvantStay employee perk?

Did someone say Unlimited PTO, Perks at Work, and Gym reimbursements? Sign Me Up!

Where is your favorite vacation spot and why?

Anywhere in the Caribbean! The views, food, and relaxing ambiance is amazing—plus you can’t beat the activities. Zipline anyone?

Zip-lining in the Caribbean

The 12 Best Corporate Retreat Ideas

Corporate retreats and company “offsites” have never been as important as they are today in the post-COVID era of remote teams who frequently work from home. In-person corporate retreats promote better collaboration among team members, clearer communication, sharper brainstorming, and faster problem-solving, while also reinforcing company culture and positive morale. They also allow co-workers and executives to create personal connections, which is ultimately better for your business. 

But company offsites and retreat activities these days don’t have to be—nor should they be—the awkward, overly programmed, Vegas hotel conference room style events that many people envision when they think about traditional corporate events.

Today’s offsites and retreats—especially for start-ups and companies with Millennial, Gen Y, and Z employees—need to combine creative brainstorming and focused goals along with meaningful leisure and shared experiences in unique locations in order to make them worth the time and expense. Plus, all of these elements help team members to return to work reinvigorated.

For corporate executives and HR professionals doing the retreat planning, this means defining your objectives upfront, blending free-flowing games and activities with purposeful meetings and strategy sessions, and most importantly ensuring adequate free time for team bonding and relationship building.

It also means that in addition to where you’re going, it’s essential to think about how you’re staying. While mega hotels with sprawling meeting rooms can still be efficient and economical, private vacation rentals that offer more personalized accommodations, like open living and gathering spaces, full kitchens and bathrooms, and interconnected outdoor areas, can create a much more conducive retreat environment for a creative mix of corporate work and experiential play.

So, if you’re responsible for the planning process and looking for creative corporate retreat ideas for your next company getaway, here are 12 that will be sure to create a one-of-a-kind experience at any time of year that your employees will never forget—and will improve the performance of your entire team in the long term.

employees enjoying water sports on a company retreat

1.  Take to the Water

Getting out on the water is soulfully exhilarating, mentally challenging, and physically stimulating. And doing certain activities on the water requires teams to work and perform tasks together, so it’s an ideal way to reinforce the relationships and responsibilities that team members need to be comfortable with in their everyday work.

Guided aquatic activities like a sailing charter,  canoeing, kayaking, or standup paddle boarding with a professional tour company will also give you and your co-workers the opportunity to get out on the water and work together. That means great views, the wind freely blowing through your hair, experiencing unique ecosystems and wildlife, and unobstructed sunsets which will put your teams at ease and in a relaxed state of mind in addition to promoting camaraderie and a healthy company culture.

playing a team sport on a corporate offsite is a recommended activity

2.     Play An Easy Team Sport

Team sports that are fun and easy to play, but also focus everyone on a shared goal—literally and metaphorically—are ideal to incorporate into your next company retreat or offsite. 

Team sports encourage in-person physical activity, form stronger interpersonal relationships, and are also a great icebreaker for new employees or executives to get to know one another.

Pickleball, volleyball, kickball, capture the flag, scavenger hunts, and ultimate frisbee are all great corporate retreat team sports, particularly for large groups, since they’re low impact, don’t require a lot of expensive equipment or complicated facilities, and simple to pick up if someone hasn’t played them before. Plus, they’re fun—especially when you win!

riding bikes on a company offsite is a great way to get fresh air

3.     Get Some Fresh Air

No matter where or when you’re planning your next retreat, sometimes nothing is easier or more rewarding for employees than the simple act of getting outside. Hiking, biking, spending time by the pool, relaxing by a fire pit, or having an al fresco dinner around an outdoor dining table can do miracles for team morale and emotional health. It can also promote better, more free-flowing communication between team members. 

If your team is on the more adventurous side, activities like zip lining, rock climbing, or the challenge of a ropes course can also be great to add to your itinerary. 

have a game night with the team on your corporate offsite

4.     Plan a Late-Night Game Night

On the back of a long day of brainstorming about company strategy and participating in organized team-building activities, game night can be an amazing way to end the night. After a happy hour or dinner, gather around a large table for a little late-night competition and laughs. Some classic favorites include casino night, trivia, charades, and bingo. 

If you have a larger group of people, breaking up into smaller teams for board games like Pictionary or Monopoly is also a great way to combine a little brain-stimulating fun and healthy competition with team building and creative collaboration.  

karaoke with your teammates is a popular activity on a company offsite

5.     Sing Together

Few things are able to unite an entire team better and faster than being in a situation that makes people feel vulnerable. So, unless co-workers have the voice of Mick Jagger or Taylor Swift nothing is more certain to produce heartier laughs and fun memories at a company retreat than an evening of open mic karaoke.

If you’re hosting your offsite at a vacation rental, karaoke is also an ideal activity to get everyone together in a private, central location without needing to rent separate meeting rooms or another venue altogether.

team unloading for corporate retreat

6.     Explore a New Place

Discovering a new place or learning something new together stimulates curiosity and communication in addition to promoting interpersonal bonding and creativity. It’s also a simple and inexpensive way for co-workers and team members to discover their own common interests, especially if your company retreat is hosted in a town or new city that’s not where your business is based.

The act of “going local” together can be free-form and spontaneous, like taking a neighborhood tour of local artists’ murals and installation art. Or it can be more planned and structured, like doing a farm-to-table restaurant crawl.

Either way, getting familiar with a new town is one of the best—and simplest—in-person team bonding activities to schedule for your next retreat. Some companies even offer dedicated on-the-ground concierge services and specialize in booking local outings, which can help from the planning point of view. 

team enjoying snacks at corporate retreat

7.     Allow For Zen Moments

Work can be stressful—no matter how well your team problem-solves together. Add in the realities of raising a family and commuting to and from work (for those who still don’t work remotely), and it’s likely your employees haven’t had a minute to really “have a moment of zen” for months.

So, if you’re responsible for retreat planning, schedule time for wellness on your next offsite to allow team members to slow down and decompress with one another. Morning yoga, an afternoon meditation, or a bonfire and stargazing night are all great options that are sure to get everyone in a better zen-like frame of mind to be their best back at work.

team cooking during offsite

8.     Turn Up The Heat

In a cooking class, that is. Countless Hollywood romance movies have inspired and reminded us about the power of food and how it can bring people together. In this case what applies to love also works in business.

Breaking bread (and making it) with co-workers in a test kitchen or taking a cooking class with a professional chef is a great way to break down boundaries, learn to work better as a team, promote unexpected creativity, and most importantly, make sure everyone is well fed.

An all-hands-on-deck potluck or dinner party for your team at a vacation rental in a culinary destination like Napa Valley with a chef’s kitchen can also accomplish the same objectives without the formality and expense of a professional cooking class.

volunteering during corporate offsite

9.     Give Back

Being able to help your co-workers or staff when they need it—whether that’s in the pursuit of a company objective, closing a sale, or solving a problem—is one of the most important parts of being a successful team member.

So, as part of your next company retreat or offsite, set aside some time for team members to volunteer together. If your company is in the real estate business, volunteer for Habitat for Humanity for a day. If you own a restaurant, have your team help plant vegetables at a local farmer’s market for underserved communities. 

Few things strengthen the bonds between people faster and will make your corporate retreat experience more meaningful than sharing the pride that comes with helping out and supporting a worthy cause.

team exercising on corporate offsite

10.  Get The Adrenaline Up

Of all the fun activities that you’re planning as part of your next company offsite, don’t forget to give your teams and co-workers the opportunity to get their adrenaline up before or after a day of meetings and brainstorming sessions.

Hitting the dopamine button with activities like go-cart racing, going to an amusement park, trying trapeze, flying high in a waterfront ferris wheel, or watching an experiential IMAX theater movie are proven to create better team building energy, develop deeper trust, and promote longer-term loyalty.

So, whether you host your next company offsite in a buzzing downtown business district or in a remote resort town in the middle of the mountains, make sure to plan team-building activities that will also stimulate your employees’ adrenal glands and funny bones as well as their problem solving and creative abilities.

company retreat doing an escape

11.  Plan An Escape

No, unfortunately, we’re not talking about a spontaneous vacation to a private Caribbean island here (though that would probably be high on most people’s company retreat wish lists).

We’re talking escape rooms a.k.a. “exit games” where teams are challenged to work together to get themselves out of a theme-based room in an immersive adventure game using clues to accomplish incrementally harder tasks and tests while the clock is ticking.

Escape room themes run the gamut: nuclear reactor meltdowns, zombie apocalypses, prison breaks, and murder mysteries. Whichever you choose for your team, escape rooms literally and figuratively will have them problem-solving, communicating under pressure, and most of all, laughing all the way to safety.  

employees relaxing during company offsite

12.  Do Absolutely Nothing

While planned activities are great to keep everyone entertained, giving your team free time—and space—to do their own thing on a retreat is just as important. Whether that’s running, reading, napping, or a quick Netflix binge, downtime will help them feel “off the clock”  even while onsite at a retreat. 

All-in-all, small moments like a fire pit at sunset, a cold beer by the pool, and some good music can frequently do far more to help your team open clearer lines of communication, find common ground, and elevate corporate culture than a hundred overpriced corporate consultants.

5 Fort Lauderdale Airbnbs with Private Pools

Fort Lauderdale, Florida is known for its beaches, culture, and events. Whether you’re ISO a trip here for sunny days, a girls’ getaway, or simply to be in close proximity to Miami, we’ve come up with the best AvantStay Airbnbs in Fort Lauderdale – all complete with private pools so you get a top-of-the-line vacay.

If you find yourself looking for a travel experience that values your privacy, safety, and cleanliness, maybe it’s time to try that site everyone’s been talking about. Maybe it’s time to try AvantStay.

AvantStay is a gem in the short-term vacation rental world. We display our signature style via hundreds of homes with award-winning interior design, seamless group travel experiences, concierge services at the touch of a button, and a unique pay-per-person feature on the app. While all AvantStay properties can be booked through Airbnb, they can also be booked directly through our website. 

Apart from its top-of-the-line technology and innovation, AvantStay homes are in primo locations – places you’ve been dying to check out, and places you’re ready to check off your bucket list – like Fort Lauderdale! Let’s dive in.

1. Tidal – For the Outdoorsy Type

We’re starting this roundup strong. Tidal is a Ft. Lauderdale vacation home with an oasis of a backyard. Walk out back to find yourself immersed in a tropical jungle, complete with a private pool with a volleyball net, cozy seating and plenty of opportunities for that al fresco dining moment you’ve been yearning for. Enjoy short drives to the sand –  this stay is only a 10-minute drive to Las Olas Beach!

2. Capri – For the Water Sign

No, it’s not Italy, but it’s pretty close. Capri is a lovely vacation home located right on the canal in Pompano Beach. While it doesn’t come with a fresh Italian wood-fired pizza, it does have a pool, hot tub, and a private dock on the water – and honestly, that’s just as good in our book. 

If you find yourself still wanting that pizza, try adding on a private chef in our app when you book. They’ll make you (almost) whatever you want… 

3. Sea Breeze – For the Salty One

If you want the best of both worlds, stay at Sea Breeze. This stay is located just steps away from the Fort Lauderdale Beach and comes with a private pool with a waterfall. Enjoy long morning walks on the beach then come back to this spacious pad for lunch around the large dining table. At night when the temps drop, cozy up around the electric firepit and cheers to finding the perfect vacation spot. If you’re the type to get chilly, request a heated pool for your stay. You’ll thank us later.

4. Summerfin – For the Photographer 

Looking to spruce up your IG feed or TikTok? Head to this Pompano Beach stay. Summerfin is one for those who enjoy the colorful things in life. With a palm tree printed wallpaper seating area, sunny al fresco dining, teal colored pool table, and bright art throughout, this Ft. Lauderdale Airbnb shines bright on our list.

5. Turtle Nest – For the Socialite

Came for the prime location, stayed for the hot tub. Meet Turtle Nest, a vacation home conveniently located near both the beach and downtown. We love this Florida stay for its chic interiors and gorgeous pool/hot tub combo. Add on the fact that there’s room for up to 10 guests, and you just found the ideal place for detoxing before you retox in Fort Lauderdale’s nightlife.

The party doesn’t stop here. While these Airbnbs in Fort Lauderdale are here to impress, we understand that your travel itinerary is too. If you’re looking for more activities for the whole crew, check out our perfectly curated list of 30 Best Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale!

Top 11 Things To Do in Telluride Year-Round

The town of Telluride is a scenic historic landmark, and it has come a long way since being founded in 1878. Once a Victorian mining town, modern Telluride is more than 8,000 feet above sea level, set in a box canyon amidst the world-famous Rocky Mountains. Its historic architecture and wonderful landscapes make it a top destination in Colorado. During the winter, it’s also one of the go-to spots to practice skiing.

Telluride neighbors the town of Mountain Village to the west. This world-class getaway is a little over an hour from the mountainside towns of Ouray and Silverton, and about four hours away from iconic Aspen and the state capital of Denver.

You can rent a cozy place right next to the river like the Riverside Condos, or a luxury cabin right near a ski center like Slopeside at Sundance. You can also go for something close to the town center but equally beautiful, such as Mountain House East.

From spectacular views to outdoor activities that adventure enthusiasts will never forget, there is no shortage of fun things to do in Telluride year-round. Read on to discover the top things to do in Telluride so you can start planning your dream vacation with unmatched confidence.

explore downtown telluride for a popular thing to do

Experience picturesque downtown Telluride

Telluride may have started as an old mining camp, but today it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the USA. 

The beating heart of Telluride runs through the town east to west: Main Street or Colorado Avenue. 

Mainstreet represents the epicenter of downtown Telluride. Here, you can find a variety of shops, bars, cafes, boutiques, bakeries, and more. There are dozens of dining options available to visitors, like the fabulous Cosmopolitan Telluride or the cozy Baked in Telluride bakery. 

You can enjoy all sorts of mouth-watering cuisine downtown, like French pastries, Italian food, bison, African fusion, and even some unusual delicacies like rattlesnakes. 
After you eat, pay a visit to the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art to take in the paintings, sculptures, photography, and local artwork. Then, relax in a comfy stay like AvantStay’s Spruce and recharge your batteries for your next adventure.

hiking the San Juan mountains is a popular thing to do in Telluride

Conquer the San Juan Mountains

Millions of years ago, two massive continental tectonic plates crashed into each other to create a fault – a rupture between rock blocks. That fateful crash is how the San Juan Mountains were born.

Ancient glaciers carved steep mountainsides into the rock and created distinct U-shaped canyons like the box canyon surrounding Telluride.Here you can explore the tallest, most spectacular peaks in North America. There are more than 20 peaks that soar above 9,000 feet in the San Juan mountains. 

The San Juan mountains were home to native Ute tribes for centuries before the arrival of European settlers in search of a fortune during the Goldrush. In recent years the mountain range has become a go-to destination for millions of tourists and outdoor adventure enthusiasts. 
With so many beautiful mountains and slopes available to enjoy, it is no wonder that Telluride is considered a paradise for skiers from near and far.The Telluride Ski Resort is home to some of the steepest, most challenging mountainous terrain. You could also try snowboarding or snow skiing down the scenic mountain slopes instead.

the san juan mountains offer breathtaking hiking trails

Traverse breathtaking hiking trails

There is much more to the San Juan mountains than just winter activities. 

You will find some of the most legendary Colorado hiking trails in the mountains surrounding Telluride, ranging from single-day hikes to epic adventures spent scaling 14,000-foot summits. 
Hikers from everywhere come to experience the tranquil mountain views of the beautiful Telluride mountains. In the fall, the trails burst into bright explosions of yellow and gold that brighten up the mid to late-October landscape.

Bridal Veil Falls

The San Juan mountains are home to the tallest free-falling waterfall in Colorado, Bridal Veil Falls. The falls are 365 feet high, and every year millions of visitors flock to Telluride to explore the beautiful wilderness surrounding them. 

Whether you bike, hike, swim, or ice climb, you will never be bored at Bridal Veil Falls. The trailhead also leads to Lewis Lake, Blue Lake, and other points of interest in the gorgeous Bridal Veil basin. 

This hike follows a jeep road that grants gorgeous views of Bridal Veil Falls, as well as the historic power plant at the top of the falls and the entire Telluride valley. The road will also take you to Lewis Lake, Blue Lake, and other locations in the Bridal Veil basin. 

If you want a good view of the falls from further away, you can try your hand at the Telluride Via Ferrata. This hybrid hiking and climbing experience is not for the faint of heart. At some points, the trail gives way to sheer cliffs, where you climb across steel rungs anchored into the rock. To take on the Via Ferrata, you will need the services of a trained guide.

Bear Creek Falls

About 6 hours up Bear Creek Canyon, you will find Bear Creek Falls. Bear Creek Trail leads you through a lovely route full of rugged cliffs that end with a stunning waterfall view.  

The San Miguel Conservation Foundation works with Telluride to preserve more than 320 acres of land in Bear Creek Canyon as public open space. Here you will find an easy hike that the whole family will love.

Jud Wiebe Trail

When springtime comes to Telluride, the Jud Wiebe Trail is one of the first hiking trails to thaw out, though some avid hikers still traverse Jud Wiebe in the wintertime. The popular trail stretches for more than 3 miles and can take about 2 hours to complete. Dogs are welcome to join you on this trail as long as they have leashes on. 

From May to October, this trail is also great for mountain biking and horseback riding.

Sneffels Highline Trail

If you want a more challenging hiking route, then give the Sneffels Highline Trail a shot. Explore every inch of this 13-mile loop named after the massive Mount Sneffels to the north. 

The trail doesn’t take you up the mountain, but you can experience the dramatic cliffs between Mount Dallas and Mount Gilpin. On average, this trail takes just over 9 hours to complete. 

Don’t be surprised if you run into fellow hikers, campers, and backpackers up there, but this is certainly an experience where you can find some peace on the trail.

Imogene Pass

The San Juan Mountains aren’t just for hiking. You can also enjoy plenty of off-road adventures and scenic driving routes along the way. 

The Imogene pass is a very popular spot for high-adrenaline driving thrills, and it’s no surprise. The high mountain pass is more than 13 thousand feet tall and crosses a ridge that connects Telluride with Ouray. It is the highest pass in the San Juan Mountains and the second-tallest drivable mountain crossing in the state. 

Explore the Imogen pass at your own risk, as there are lots of extremely steep areas that can be very dangerous. The risk is well worth the reward for experienced drivers who are rewarded with magnificent, panoramic views of San Miguel county. 

Another famous drivable mountain pass is Black Bear Pass. Found on Black Bear Road, the pass extends more than 12 thousand feet upwards to provide an epic view of Telluride below.

visiting the San Miguel River is a popular thing to do in Telluride

Explore the San Miguel River

Located in the pastoral sprawl of the famous Telluride valley floor, the San Miguel River is just east of the Telluride canyon. 

The river runs through acres of wildflowers and noble evergreens in the winter. Wildlife is abundant here, and you will often see coyotes, elk, birds, rabbits, and even prairie dogs. 

You can find some of the best cold-water trout fly fishing on the San Miguel River just about 45 miles northwest of Telluride. You can also cut through twisting canyons and churning rapids if you enjoy whitewater rafting. The rafting season is rather short, mostly spanning the summer months. The San Miguel rapids are not an overly technical course. They are mostly Class II, with a few Class III along the way.

visiting Alta Lakes is a popular thing to do in Telluride

Feel awestruck at Alta Lakes

Just south of Telluride you’ll find a series of enchanting alpine lakes. 

The Alta Lakes are over 11 thousand feet up, and they are named after the nearby ghost town of Alta. Alta was once a tiny, prosperous mining town, but it has been abandoned since the 1940s. 

When you visit Alta Lakes, you’ll find priceless views of the Telluride Ski Resort, Silver Mountain, and Bald Mountain.

Telluride Historical Museum is a popular thing to do in Telluride

Go back in time at the Telluride Historical Museum

The Telluride Historical Museum has an impressive permanent collection of artifacts to peruse, as well as annual historical exhibitions that provide a glimpse back in time to old Telluride. 

You can dive right into the region’s Ute Native heritage or brush up on its legendary mining history. Walk through ten themed rooms, each showcasing a different aspect of the town’s dramatic history. 

There are a lot of interactive displays to engage with, and visitors of all ages can find something to fascinate them or tickle their fancy. 

No matter how much Telluride grows and changes, this museum ensures no one will forget the legacy that created the town and shaped its present iteration.

take a hot air balloon ride over Telluride Town Park

Fall in love with Telluride Town Park

If Telluride had a beating heart, chances are you would find it at Telluride Town Park.

No matter the season, you can find locals and tourists enjoying the lovely scenery of the town park. 

During the summer the park hosts music festivals, camping trips, softball games, swimming lessons, tennis matches, kid’s fishing, and so much more. In the winter, you must visit Hanley Ice Rink, Telluride’s winter ice skating pavilion.

There is also a natural outdoor rink that is open from the middle of December until the middle of February. There are also outdoor warming huts for when you come off the ice.

Uncompahgre National Forest is a popular thing to do in Telluride

Take a dip at Uncompahgre National Park

There are more than 1 million acres of Colorado land inside the Uncompahgre National Forest, including parts of the San Juan Mountains around Telluride. This remote national park is home to some of the most beautiful scenery in all of Colorado, and the land is protected by the United State National Forest Service. 

Unlike some of the trails and vistas in the San Juan range, Uncompahgre National Forest is usually much less crowded and has plenty of campgrounds, hiking trails, and backcountry terrain. 

There are popular fishing spots here, notably Priest Lake and Trout Lake that you can enjoy for free. Both lakes offer lots of birdwatching and plenty of wildlife activity. You can also find them surrounded by colorful wildflowers in warmer months, a view that will surely bring a smile to your face.

off-road biking is a popular Telluride thing to do

Brace yourself for off-road mountain biking

You can travel between Telluride and nearby Mountain Village on a 13-minute free gondola ride. 

This biking gondola is the first and only public transport system of its kind in the continental US and allows bikers to access some of Colorado’s best biking trails. 

You can access the gondola from either town, and there is a midway point between them located at San Sophia Overlook. The ride takes you more than 10 thousand feet in the air. 

The gondola runs every day from 6:30 am to midnight, and during certain events and holidays, you may find the gondola offers extended hours. Please note that every spring and fall the gondolas are closed down for regular maintenance.

Telluride Film Festival is a popular thing to do in Telluride

Find all the best festivals

When you think of Telluride you might think of snow and winter sports, but it’s a great summer vacation destination as well. During the warmer months, the town is host to some of the best entertainment festivals in the world. 

There’s the famous Telluride Film Festival, which is one of the most celebrated film festivals in the world. Every Labor Day weekend, Telluride is full to the brim with film buffs, superstars, and everyone in between. 

You can also experience the legendary Blues & Brews music festival. Every fall Telluride enjoys this multi-stage festival celebrating blues, indie, funk, gospel, and soul music. Then they wash all that good music down with some of the best craft beer in the western hemisphere.

unwinding in a hot spring is a relaxing thing to do in Telluride

Relax and unwind in luxurious hot springs

You can find a lot of adrenaline-fueled thrills in Telluride, but sometimes you just want a tranquil place to relax and let go of all your worries. If you need a luxurious rest day, where better to find it than one of the region’s many hot springs? 

These natural mineral hot springs provide relaxation and relief all year long, and many are equipped with spa services like facials, body scrubs, and massages. 
You’ll find Orvis Hot springs about 45 minutes away from Telluride. Locals love to frequent this hot spring. Or you could try Ouray Hot Springs, which is just over an hour’s drive away.

Final thoughts

Telluride looks like a magical land from a childhood fairytale. Surrounded by tall mountains and bursting with wildlife and natural beauty, it’s no wonder the town has become one of the country’s most legendary vacation destinations. 

Founded during America’s rugged wild west era, Telluride has never lost its unpretentious charm and never adopted the ritzier reputation of neighboring ski resort towns in the Rockies. 

The town has something for everyone to enjoy – no matter your age or what you want out of your trip. Though it is only eight blocks wide and 12 blocks long, Telluride is far from being a mundane mountain town. 

You can ease into the small-town mountain lifestyle for sure, but you can also experience larger-than-life thrills on the slopes or trails. It’s all up to you. 
There’s no shortage of amazing things to do in Telluride. Whatever you decide, you’ll never forget the time spent here, and you’ll want to start planning your return to a Telluride cabin as soon as possible.

6 Vacation Rental Cabin Interior Design Tips That Will Land You 5-Star Ratings

One of the simplest ways to optimize your vacation rental for more bookings and positive reviews is through interior design. Entice potential guests to click that “book now” button with a beautifully designed space that’s captured in stunning professional photos. Your vacation rental aesthetic should also be inspired by your surroundings. We put together these six tips to help you curate a rustic yet modern, cozy cabin interior design plan for more five-star ratings. 

1. Use modern furnishings

Kitchen in AvantStay rental cabin

Cabins are known for their rustic charm, but that doesn’t mean they have to be old and outdated. Give your cabin a modern edge by purchasing new furnishings and appliances. Choose furniture with clean lines and organic shapes and fabric; rely on accent pieces to sprinkle in some rustic flare (more on that next). To further elevate your cabin, install new appliances so your space is functional and comfortable for guests. 

2. Keep it cozy 

Give guests a cozy retreat to relax and unwind after a day of outdoor adventures. Layer on the textures to make your log cabin more inviting—think faux hide rugs, plush pillows, chunky knit blankets, and plaid or buffalo check prints. For a moodier feel, incorporate leather, dark woods, and rod iron elements in your cabin interior design plan. 

3. Embrace your surroundings 

Big Bear vacation rental home by AvantStay

Use natural elements and local flare in your cabin interior design to give your guests a taste of the great outdoors. Incorporate modern wood furniture, stone floors or walls, and rich greens and browns to mimic your surroundings tastefully. Or, create a statement with a fun wallpaper or gallery wall inspired by nature. 

4. Let the view shine

Embrace the natural landscapes surrounding your cabin for the ultimate complement to your vacation rental’s interior design. Make the view the star of the show by decluttering your space, using neutral tones, and avoiding heavy window treatments. Also, create seating areas by windows or on the balcony or patio—the perfect backdrop for enjoying a warm beverage. 

5. Add experiential elements 

hot tub at AvantStay vacation rental home

Create an inviting space for guests to make their own memories by adding experiential elements and areas to gather. Who wouldn’t want to play board games by the fireplace after a long day outdoors? Large kitchen tables and living rooms with plenty of seating encourage guests to spend time together. Also, provide popular amenities like a foosball or pool table, outdoor fire pit, and hot tub for guests to enjoy.

6. Provide storage for outdoor gear

Bring the outdoors inside through your interior design, not muddy boots. Designate a mudroom space in your vacation rental where guests can keep their outdoor gear and wash up. Provide plenty of hooks, a shoe rack, and baskets for miscellaneous items. Also, be sure to have a runner by the door to limit dirt getting tracked in. Is your cabin in a ski market? Consider adding ski/snowboard racks or lockers so guests can store their bulky gear and equipment. 

Elevate your cabin interior design with AvantStay

Investing in your vacation rental’s interior design can help you attract more guests, earn higher ratings, and increase your revenue. Why not partner with a design expert who can elevate your vacation rental and save you time and money?

When you partner with AvantStay, you get full access to our award-winning vacation rental interior design and procurement services that instantly add value to your home. Our talented interior designers build a free, custom design strategy for your home that inspires both you and your guests to feel their most comfortable—creating lasting memories while saving you thousands. We help you procure high-quality, durable furniture and upscale amenities. We also take care of the professional photoshoot—for free! 

Design and capital improvements increase your home’s equity, maximizing your ROI. Let us do the heavy lifting and work with you to create the perfect cabin interior design plan. Get started with our vacation rental management experts today

The 51 Best Things To Do in Oahu

Oahu is one of eight islands in the Hawaiian archipelago. It is home to some of the world’s finest beaches, Hawaii’s largest city Honolulu, and the majority of Hawaiian residents.

Oahu translates to “the gathering place,” and the number of people on the island, combined with its breathtaking natural beauty, means there are near limitless activities for people of any age.

Before you head to Oahu, be sure to brush up on the local rules and regulations regarding tourists. Hawaii embraces sustainable tourism to maintain and protect the natural beauty, so they ask guests to leave no trace and support local nonprofit organizations that promote these initiatives.

Whether you’re traveling with your family, partner, or a group of friends, we’ve put together a list of the 51 best things to do in Oahu to make your vacation planning as easy as possible.

visiting Diamond Head State Monument is a crucial thing to do in Oahu

1. Diamond Head State Monument

If you want the perfect Instagram photo from Oahu, Diamond Head State Monument is your best bet. It has some of the most scenic hiking and stunning overlooks on the island. When you get to the top of your hike, you’ll have panoramic views of the lush green on Oahu, the Honolulu skyline, and the Pacific Ocean. 

If you aren’t a Hawaii resident, you will need to make a reservation and pay a $10 vehicle entry fee, along with a $5 fee per visitor over three years old.

2. Pearl Harbor National Memorial

No matter whom you’re traveling with, Pearl Harbor is worth a stop if you stay in Oahu. The memorial is steeped in devastating but powerful history, and includes the USS Arizona Memorial, The USS Utah Memorial, and the USS Oklahoma Memorial.

The best way to make the most of Pearl Harbor is to book a Ford Island Bus Tour, where you can see the Oklahoma and Utah memorials. The memorial for the USS Arizona is separate from this tour. 

3. Kualoa Ranch

Kualoa Ranch is located on the North Shore of Oahu Island. Kualoa Ranch has hosted many incredible TV shows and movies, including Lost and Hawaii Five-0. It is also called the Jurassic Valley because part of the Jurassic Park movie franchise was filmed there. 

You can book horseback riding, e-bike tours, Jurassic ATV tours, Hollywood Tours, visits to secluded beaches, and an incredible zipline experience. 

4. Polynesian Cultural Center

The Polynesian Cultural Center is the best way to experience the rich heritage of Hawaiian culture on any of the Hawaiian Islands. At the evening shows, you will be able to experience a traditional luau that includes hula dancing and incredible fire displays.

The Polynesia Cultural Center also offers an authentic Hawaiian dining experience and gorgeous handmade souvenirs.

Stay at a vacation rental close to Lanikai Beach

5. Lanikai Beach

Lanikai Beach is one of the best beaches in Oahu. Located in the town of Kailua, Lanikai is on the island’s windward side and offers stunning views of the bluest ocean you’ll ever see.

Getting to Lanikai can be difficult as there is no public access except for boardwalks between people’s homes. Parking can be difficult, especially on the weekend, so it’s best to visit during the week if you can. There are also no lifeguards on duty for this beach.

While Lanikai may be difficult to reach, it makes this beach one of a few hidden gems less crowded than other parts of the island. Our home Hale Oahu Cottage is only a couple of miles away from this beach.

6. Sunset Beach Park

Sunset Beach along Oahu’s north shore is one of the most incredible beaches in the world. In the winter, the giant waves make it a famous beach for surfers. If you’re unfamiliar with beaches and surfing, staying out of the water on good surfing days is a good idea. 

Sunset Beach is the perfect place to go snorkeling during the summer when the winds and surfing waves have calmed. Of course, the beach also lives up to its reputation—it’s the perfect place to catch a sunset no matter the time of year.

7. Dole Plantation

Visiting the Dole Plantation isn’t like seeing any other farm. It has many unique experiences that are perfect for the whole family. Since 1898, the Dole Plantation has been the place for tourists to explore a Pineapple Express Train Tour, a pineapple garden maze, and an incredible guided tour of the gardens. 

While the plantation can be a fun place to visit with your family, it is also rich in history. The plantation has been used for centuries, and the foods grown there are a mainstay of Hawaiian culture. 

The Dole Plantation is also known for its incredible treats, such as Dole Soft Serve, freshly picked pineapples, and estate-grown Waialua chocolate. 

8. Byodo-In Temple

Nestled in the foothills of the Ko-olau Mountains, the Byodo-In Temple is a temple built to honor Japanese immigrants in Hawaii. Dappled with luscious flora, quiet waterfalls, and iconic Japanese Koi, it’s no wonder that the temple is a popular wedding destination for couples from Japan and the US alike. 

9. Iolani Palace

The Iolani Palace is one of Hawaii’s finest historic sites. For years it was home to Hawaii’s King Kalakaua and then his successor and sister, Queen Liliuokalani. When the monarchy was overthrown, the palace served as the capital for more than 70 years. 

In the 70s, the palace was restored to look like its original royal home. They offer tours where you can learn about Hawaii’s connections with Japan, the traditional attire of Hawaiian royalty, and more. 

shopping at Ala Moana is a popular thing to do in Oahu

10. Ala Moana

Ala Moana is a shopping district in Honolulu jam-packed with local cuisine, incredible stores, hula dancers, ukulele players, and activities for children. With hundreds of stores, Ala Moana is easily a full-day activity all on its own.

11. Kailua Beach Park

Kailua Beach is the best beach for active travelers. Located on the windward half of Oahu, you can canoe, kayak, snorkel, or try your hand on a stand-up paddleboard.

There are plenty of amenities available as well, including BBQ pits, picnic shelters, bathrooms with showers, and lifeguards. If you’re staying in a vacation rental on Lanikai or Kailua Beach, you can even get free gear delivered to this picturesque beach. 

12. Hanauma Bay Tours

Hanauma Bay Tours offers an incredible experience for the whole family with their Turtle Canyon tours. You and your family will be able to see wonderful marine life up close and its native habitat, including green sea turtles and Hawaii’s state fish, the humuhumunukunukuapua’a.

If you’re visiting from December to April, you may even get lucky and see a humpback whale.

13. Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens

This iconic garden includes 400 acres of peaceful land for you to explore. You will be able to see native Hawaiian plant life, of course, but you will also be able to explore botanical collections from the Philippines, Malaysia, Africa, and more. 

The Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens are a great place to learn about nature, wildlife, and the fragile ecosystems of the Hawaiian islands while enjoying gorgeous scenery unlike anywhere else. 

14. Ko Olina lagoons

Ko Olina includes four lagoons that spread across 642 acres of land. This beach is one of the more accessible beaches in Oahu, as daily public parking is available. 

Ko Olina beaches are best for those that want a quiet beach where they can sit in the sun. Because it is privately owned, Ko Olina has banned alcohol, cigarettes, pets, loud music, and most active beach activities.

If you’re an adult looking for the best place to sunbathe in peace and enjoy the sounds of the waves off of one of Oahu’s finest beaches—Ko Olina is your best bet.

embark on an Oahu shark diving tour for a popular thing to do

15. Oahu shark diving tour

If you want to ditch the relaxing beaches for a day and have a thrill instead, you can go diving with sharks with North Shore Shark Adventures. They guarantee you will see sharks on their tour, so your time and money are insured with this adventure. 


You and your family will be able to observe the true majesty of sharks up close and personal in a cage dive. If you’re planning on visiting Oahu and you can find the time, a shark diving tour is not something you want to miss. 

16. Pillboxes

The United States military had to endure intense onslaughts during WWII in Oahu. They built concrete structures called pillboxes around the island to serve as lookouts for the enemy.

Because they were important lookouts, these pillboxes often come with astonishingly beautiful views. Though soldiers built many around Oahu, two of the most popular pillboxes are in Diamond Head Lookout and along the Lanikai Pillbox Trial. 

17. Matsumoto Shave Ice

Shave ice is one of Oahu’s most iconic treats, and Matsumoto Shave Ice is one of the most iconic places to get it. Located in Waialua on the island’s north side, Matsumoto has been open since 1951. 

This little shop has regular flavors like watermelon, strawberry, and lemon, as well as unique flavors like guava, lychee, and ume. If you want to try something really different, you can even add adzuki beans for a little extra protein.

18. Makapu’u Lighthouse

As a chain of islands, it’s no surprise that Hawaii is home to many different lighthouses. No lighthouse in Hawaii is more iconic than Makapu’u Lighthouse


To see this lighthouse on the eastern point of Oahu Island, you’ll have to hike 2 miles round trip on Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline. The trail difficulty is moderate, so it’s suitable for most families.

If you decide to make the trek out, bring binoculars to see as much wildlife as possible- whales, seabirds, dolphins, and much more are all often visible from the lighthouse. 

19. Halona Blowhole Lookout

The Halona Blowhole Lookout is located near Hanauma Bay off Kalanianaole Highway and is worth a stop. Waters from the Pacific Ocean violently crash against the shore, and an old volcanic tube throws the sea waves high into the air. 

Aside from the blowhole itself, the lookout offers spectacular views of the water and a great place to pull over and stretch your legs. 

sitting down to take in the views is a popular thing to do in oahu

20. Tantalus Lookout

There is perhaps no better way to see the skyline of Honolulu than from Tantalus Lookout. Originally named Pu’u Ualaka’a, Tantalus Lookout is perched atop an extinct cinder cone volcano. 

The lookout also offers a fantastic view of the island’s craters—- including Diamond Head Crater—- which formed after large volcanic explosions thousands of years ago. While on the lookout, be sure to explore the Ualaka’a Trail, a short 1-mile loop that offers a unique view of the Hawaiian jungle. 

21. Nu’uanu Pali Lookout

The Nu’uanu Pali Lookout is a beautiful and historically significant site in Oahu. This lookout is a must-see just five miles from Honolulu if you’re staying in or near the city. 

This lookout is the location where the battle of Nu’uanu took place in 1795. During the fighting, hundreds of soldiers died, many by being pushed off the rocky cliff. It was during this battle that King Kamehameha I united Oahu for the first time.

22. Oahu helicopter tours

There are a few different helicopter tours in Oahu that launch from different locations. Wherever you’re staying, planning to experience Oahu via a helicopter tour couldn’t be more worth it. From the sky, you’ll be able to see Hawaii as the birds do.

From incredible waterfalls and lush green forests to the Honolulu skyline and the cerulean ocean, there is no better way of experiencing the breathtaking beauty of Oahu than from the sky.

23. Waikiki Beach

Located near Honolulu, Waikiki Beach is one of the most iconic beaches that Hawaii has to offer. This world-renowned beach is lined with a half-dozen surfing schools for those looking to learn. The smaller waves on this side of the island are perfect for those getting onto a surfboard for the first time. 

If only part of your group is interested in getting on a board, the rest can spend their day shopping or enjoying entertainment just steps away from the beach.

24. Skydiving

Skydiving isn’t for everyone, but if you’re ready for the freefall, this activity is one of the best things to do in Oahu. A few different businesses offer skydiving along the island’s North Shore. 

Starting from as high as 14,000 feet, most tours offer freefalls that last as long as 20 seconds. If you’re ready for the thrill of a lifetime, you can check out Pacific Skydiving or Skydive Hawaii to make a reservation. 

enjoy snorkeling at waimea bay as a popular thing to do in oahu

25. Waimea Bay

The waves at Waimea Bay are not for the faint of heart. This bay is on the windward side of Oahu, and it shows. In winter (roughly November to April), the waves on this beach can be more than 20 feet tall. 

The water at this beach is best traversed only by expert surfers and lifeguards. Waimea Bay is the place to be if you want to see expert surfers in action, not if you’re looking to ride your first wave. 

In the summer, the waters of the bay calm, and this area becomes a popular spot to relax, snorkel, and dive. 

26. Ka’ena Point Trail

The Ka’ena Point Trail is located in Ka’ena Point State Park on the northwestern point of Oahu Island.

On hotter days, hikers should keep in mind that Ka’ena Point Trail is a longer hike that doesn’t offer much shade and has no drinking water available along the trail. Still, if you’re willing to make the 2.7-mile one-way trek, it’s worth it for what you will see along the way.

This trail offers views of the Kaneana, a sea cave that is said to be the home of the Nanaue Shark Man of ancient Hawaiian mythology. If you hit this trail early, you might also be lucky enough to see dolphins swimming in the nearby waters.

27. The ‘Aiea Loop Trail

Located in Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area, the ‘Aiea Loop Trail stretches 4.8 miles of easy and moderate terrain. On average, this trail takes 2 to 3 hours to complete. 

The ‘Aiea Loop Trail offers some of the most memorable beauty in Oahu. Lined with lemon eucalyptus trees that leave a lingering citrus smell in the air, this trail offers spectacular views of the southern Oahu coast. You will likely see incredible wildlife along with your views, making this trail a must-see for anyone in the area.

28. Camping in Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area

Campsites in Oahu aren’t easy to come by, but if you get a chance to camp in Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area, take it. With just ten campsites open only from Friday through Wednesday, the State Recreation Area offers the finest way to spend a night outdoors.


The campsites in the recreation area have showers, water fountains, and bathrooms available, though alcohol is not permitted anywhere in the park. You should come prepared for bugs—especially mosquitos. However, it’s well worth it as camping in Hawaii is a truly memorable experience.

29. Wahiawa Freshwater State Recreation Area

Freshwater fishing may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Hawaii, but Wahiawa Freshwater State Recreation Area offers an area to do that. You can fish right off the shore of the Wahiawa Reservoir, or you can fish off a boat. 

This recreation area has water fountains, bathrooms, picnic tables, and a boat ramp for your convenience. 

kayaking to the mokes is a beautiful thing to do in oahu

30. Kayak to the Mokes

Looking out from Lanikai Beach, you can see two small islands in the distance—the Mokes. Kailua Beach Adventures offers kayaking tours to these secluded islands, from the beach to these islands, where you’ll experience some of the best beaches in Hawaii and spectacular views from the water.

Once you kayak the 30 minutes to the islands, you can hop out of your kayak, swim in the shallow waters, and explore the land. Whether renting a kayak and visiting the islands alone or following a guided tour, The Mokes are a must for anyone visiting Oahu. 

31. Koko Crater Trail

The Koko Crater Trail—more commonly called the Koko Head Stairs–is one of the most iconic hikes in Oahu. As Oahu’s most difficult hike with more than 1,000 stairs, this trail is best left to more experienced hikers and groups without small children.

Remember that you will have to descend any stairs you climb up on your way back down. As with all hikes, it’s best to turn around if you feel you’re becoming depleted of your energy or have used half of your water supply. 

To do this hike, you can park in the Koko Head District Park parking lot and follow trail signs. The higher you go, the better the views get until you reach the top. There may be no better view of Oahu than from the top of the Koko Crater Trail. 

32. Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum

The Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum is home to many legendary Pearl Harbor and WWII planes. Located on Ford Island in the middle of Pearl Harbor, this museum is the perfect stop for any group with a history buff.

In this museum, you can walk around an old plane hangar packed with dive bombers, flight simulators, and tons of history. 

33. The Manoa Falls Trail

The Manoa Falls Trail is a good choice for those with less experience to get some hiking in on Oahu. The trail has only a gentle slope and is a short 1.6 miles long. It’s also just a 15-minute drive from Honolulu—perfect for families with restless children. 

The size of the waterfall at the end of this trail may vary depending on the season and weather. Water from this waterfall depends on rainwater, so if you visit in the dry season, don’t be surprised when the water is a smaller trickle. 

Regardless of Manoa Falls waterfall, the trail will take you through a luscious green jungle under a gorgeous canopy of trees. This hike is absolutely worth the effort for the views along the way. 

34. Hawaii State Art Museum

The Hawaii State Art Museum is the perfect activity for anyone that wants to learn more about the local culture while getting some time out of the sun. There’s always something new to see with an ever-changing array of exhibits that feature local artists.

The sculpture garden is a permanent exhibit at the art museum. Designed to evoke the image of an urban oasis, the sculpture garden has free admission.

if you're visiting oahu, then take a waikiki submarine tour

35. Waikiki Submarine Tour

Atlantis Adventures offers a submarine tour of the clear waters of Waikiki. A submarine tour is not for those with claustrophobia, as you’ll dive 100 feet underwater in a tight space to see the marine life below the water. 

This tour is one of the best ways to observe fish in their natural habitats. The trip lasts over an hour, during which you will see coral, a sunken shipwreck, and even a crashed airplane.

If you have children on the trip, it should be noted that there is a minimum of 36-inch (3-foot) height for safety reasons. 

36. Kaniakapupu Ruins

The Kaniakapupu Ruins are an important historic site on the island of Oahu. Just a short hike off Old Pali Road, nestled in a bamboo forest, is the broken-down walls of the Kaniakapupu Ruins.

These broken walls represent what was once King Kamehameha III’s summer home, originally built in 1847. It was in this summer home that King Kamehameha III would consult with his people and his chiefs, away from the prying eyes of Westerners.

37. Waikiki Aquarium

The Waikiki Aquarium is part of the University of Hawaii. Originally built in 1904, the Waikiki Aquarium is the second oldest in the United States and sees more than 300,000 visitors annually.

While visiting, you’ll see incredible marine life up close and personal—from sea horses to jellyfish, the aquarium has more than 3,000 animals in its care.

If you add the Waikiki Aquarium to your itinerary, do not miss the aquarium’s two most popular attractions, the Hawaiian Monk Seal Exhibit and the Living Reef Exhibit.

38. The Honolulu Zoo

The Honolulu Zoo is home to many unique animals you won’t have the chance to see elsewhere. From mammals and birds to reptiles and amphibians, the zoo is the perfect way to get close to wildlife without endangering it or yourself.

Pythons, tortoises, giraffes, and flamingos can all be found in the zoo. You’ll want to dedicate a full day to the zoo and its activities with dozens of exhibits.

If you’re looking for an extra memorable experience, you can stay in the park after the gates close on Saturday nights for Twilight Tours.

These tours are two hours long and will take you throughout the zoo to observe the animals at a unique time of day. Animals’ behavior changes as the sun sets, and you’ll get extra time to ask questions on the guided tour.

39. Queen Emma Summer Palace

The Queen Emma Summer Palace is another important historical site that will take your breath away. In Hawaiian, it’s called Hanaiakamalama.

This palace was home to Queen Emma of Hawaii and her husband, King Kamehameha, for nearly forty years. They raised their son, Prince Albert, in the Nu’uanu Valley.

The palace spans more than 22 thousand square feet and was saved from demolition in 1915. The Daughters of Hawaii stopped this historical site from being destroyed, and they still run it to this day. 

travel to the bishop museum to learn about polynesian culture

40. The Bishop Museum

The Bishop Museum is one of the best ways to learn about Polynesian culture and the history of the Hawaiian islands. The museum hosts information about native wildlife, local culture, and the history of the building itself.

The Bishop Museum has more than 25 million treasures from Hawaii and Polynesia. These items paint a picture of the Pacific islands’ history, making the museum the perfect stop for history buffs.

The Bishop Museum is also home to a planetarium, where you can see a show to learn more about the night sky overhead.

You can walk the same halls as Queen Emma alone or follow a guided tour. Whatever you decide, if you’re going to the Nu’uanu Valley, this palace is worth a stop. 

41. Washington Palace

Washington Palace, completed in 1847, is an important historical landmark in Oahu history. It originally housed Mary Dominis, who named it after George Washington with permission from King Kamehameha III. 

While the house was originally Mary’s, it is most known for being the home of Queen Liliuokalani, who married Mary’s son John Dominis. Queen Liliuokalani lived in the home from the time she was married until she ascended to the throne in 1891.

At Washington Palace, you can walk amongst this history and learn about the life, career, and death of Queen Liliuokalani—the last monarch of the Hawaiian islands.  

42. Honolulu’s Chinatown

The Hawaiian Islands’ proximity to Asia has meant that China and Japan have significantly impacted Hawaiian culture. Honolulu is even home to its own iconic Chinatown.

Chinatown in Honolulu stretches from North Beretania to Honolulu Harbor. You’ll find a bustling and vibrant art scene within Chinatown, restaurants that blend Hawaiian and Chinese cuisine, and incredible nightlife. 

43. Sea Life Park

The Sea Life Park is a perfect experience for families staying in Oahu. It is a great place to see a luau, watch marine life play and swim, and eat unique local cuisine. Sea Life Park is one of the few places where you can interact up close with dolphins and monk seals. 

You’ll also get up close and personal with whitetip reef sharks, small sharks native to the waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. 

Whether you go to the Sea Life Park for a dolphin encounter, a seal encounter, or just to get a closer look at the penguin habitat, make sure to pre-book your tickets and passes online, as they tend to sell out during peak seasons. 

44. Segway tours

One of the best ways to get a full view of Honolulu (without being in a car) is to take a Segway tour. Many companies offer Segway tours around the city, and you can bring your entire family along. 

In recent years, some places have even begun to offer tours riding hoverboards- the cool older sibling of the Segway. Segways are all-terrain vehicles, and with the right tires, you can smoothly transition from the city streets to the beach and back again. 

travel to oahu for golfing

45. Golfing

There are 40 golf courses on the Island of Oahu, and each offers a unique experience you won’t find anywhere else. There are options for every budget, from those who want a luxury PGA-golfing experience to those just looking to hit the course while they travel. 

The Ko Olina Golf Club course offers a quintessential Hawaiian golf experience. Boasting roughly 35,000 square feet of land, waterfalls, and breathtaking views, it’s not a surprise that Ko Olina was chosen for Golf Digest’s ‘Top 75 Resort Courses in The United States.’

46. Kitesurfing

Kitesurfing, also called windsurfing, is a sport where you use a board and a small sail to glide across the water at high speeds. The best kitesurfing on Oahu is in Kailua Bay.

If you have never done this kind of surfing before, it’s best to start with an instructor who can help you learn how to navigate safely. Fortunately, Honolulu is home to plenty of kitesurfing schools that can help you get started.

Once you get going, kitesurfing can offer you the experience of a lifetime. From breathtaking views of the island from the water to the thrill of feeling like a low-flying, there is nothing like zipping across the water with only the wind to pull you along.

47. Biking

There are tons of bike trails around the island of Oahu. Whether you’re looking to experience some unique island mountain biking or you want to navigate the city’s streets, bike rental companies can get you started so you don’t have to bring your bike from home.

48. Distillery tours

Whatever your alcohol preference, you will likely find an Oahu distillery to match it. Around the island, you’ll find distilleries that produce rum, whiskey, scotch, and more. Because of the Japanese influence on the island, you can even visit a shochu (Japanese rice alcohol) or sake distillery. 

49. Leonard’s Bakery

Leonard’s Bakery has been a staple of Oahu since 1952. It was opened by Leonard and Margaret DoRego, descendants of Portuguese immigrants. When they first opened the bakery, they stuck to traditional American desserts but quickly decided to include traditional Portuguese baked goods as well. 

When the owners of Leonard’s included malasadas on the menu for the first time, they were reluctant. They weren’t sure if the food would take off with white Americans or natives of the island, but it was a hit with both. To this day, Leonard’s Bakery represents the blend of cultures that makes Oahu and the surrounding islands unique. 

Today, the bakery serves traditional Hawaiian baked goods like Pao Doce, Portuguese foods like malasadas, and traditional American desserts like pies and cupcakes. 

Koko Crater Botanical Garden is a popular thing to do in Oahu

50. Koko Crater Botanical Garden

The Koko Crater Botanical Garden is located on the eastern side of Oahu near Honolulu. It includes sixty acres of gorgeous gardens in the basin of the 200-acre Koko Crater. 

The botanical garden includes plants from Hawaii, Africa, and Madagascar. There are tropical plants as well as plants native to arid climates. 

Due to the garden’s size, it is recommended that you wear good shoes and come prepared to walk. Guided tours are available, but you can also stroll through the garden alone or with your group. Most people spend about an hour and a half walking around the park. 

51. Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture, and Design

The Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture, and Design offers a unique way to learn about Islamic art and design. Exhibitions are always changing, so there is always something new to explore, even if you’ve been there before. 

While exhibits are always changing, the museum is home to more than 4,000 permanent objects of cultural importance from Spain, Morocco, Egypt, Syria, Iran, and more. The collection was put together over sixty years by Doris Duke. 

Final thoughts

While there are many things to do on all of the Hawaiian islands, including Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii itself, Oahu offers the most diverse array of activities in the archipelago. These 51 things to do in Oahu will keep you busy whether you’re staying just for a weekend or a week.

However long you’re on the island and whomever you’re traveling with, you can maximize your time by planning ahead and pre-booking the activities you know you don’t want to miss. 

9 Vacation Rentals with Arcade and Game Rooms

Vacations are perfect for relaxing, enjoying happy hours, reading a good thriller, and catching up with old friends… until you’ve gotta bring the kids. While they can be harder to entertain, the kids will absolutely love these vacation homes with arcade rooms so you can just do you. Whether you’re looking for a vacation rental with a hot tub, pool, sauna, or just a good TV, these homes are sure to check all the boxes on your dream vacation checklist (because who doesn’t have one of those).

inlet beach vacation home
Fin in Inlet Beach, FL

1. Fin – Inlet Beach, FL

Nostalgia is in, boring vacations are out. Bring the game to your vacay at Fin in Inlet Beach – the ideal stay for bringing out the friendly competition in your group. This home comes with an arcade, foosball, air hockey, and ping pong table to keep the kiddos entertained – and a pool and hot tub for your delightful decompression.

lake arrowhead vacation rental
Enchanted Forest in Lake Arrowhead, CA

2. Enchanted Forest – Lake Arrowhead, CA

Tucked away in the woods you’ll find Enchanted Forest. With a pool table, ping pong table, foosball, poker table, and six vintage arcade game systems, this game room came to impress. When you’re craving a moment with Mother Nature, head outside where you’ll find plenty of outdoor seating options and a front-row seat to the beauty that is Lake Arrowhead

joshua tree vacation rental with a game room
Lost Horse in Joshua Tree, CA

3. Lost Horse – Joshua Tree, CA

Lost Horse is a Joshua Tree home with its very own game casita, complete with a TV, foosball, snack bar, and arcade games. Inside the main home, you’ll find a Pac-Man-themed bathroom, desert interiors, and space for up to 10 guests. Make your way back outside for a lovely shaded patio and a stock tank pool perfect for cooling off from the heat.

smoky mountains vacation rental home with an arcade room
Sugarland in The Smoky Mountains, TN

4. Sugarland – Smoky Mountains, TN

Sugarland is a Smoky Mountain stay with an entertainer’s dream of a deck. Keep the fun going inside with a car racing arcade game, pool table, home theater, and foosball. Chill out at night with a nice soak in the indoor pool. Make sure to get a good night’s rest, then head out on a hike through the Smokies in the AM.

sonoma vacation rental with arcade games
Rivendell in Sonoma, CA

5. Rivendell – Sonoma, CA

Welcome to Rivendell. This Sonoma stay allows for seamless indoor/outdoor living via an expansive wraparound deck that flows throughout the entertainment area, dining room, and primary bedroom. Chic interiors fill the space and continue into the game room with vintage arcade games like Pac-Man, Galaga, and Marvel Super Heroes.

destin vacation rental with arcade games
Monarch in Destin, FL

6. Monarch – Destin, FL

Next stop, Destin. Monarch is a resort-level vacation home just a short walk from Henderson Park State Beach. Its bottom floor has a game room with a pool table, foosball, and a vintage Pac-Man arcade game. After some games well done, head outside to the outdoor kitchen and enjoy a swim in the luxury pool with its swim-up bar.

paso robles vacation rental with arcade games
Mermaid in Paso Robles, CA

7. Mermaid – Paso Robles, CA

For a good time, just add water. Make your way to Mermaid in Paso Robles for a game-filled vacay with activities ranging from air hockey, to Dance, Dance Revolution, to vintage arcade games. But the fun’s just begun – head outside and choose your pick from bocce ball, shuffleboard, the sand volleyball court, or you can just hide out under the pool’s waterfall. 

malibu vacation rental with a pool table
Cliffridge in Malibu, CA

8. Cliffridge – Malibu, CA

Come to Cliffridge for the views. This hillside Malibu stay features a pool table conveniently placed so you get panoramic views of the ocean while you show off your skills. Enjoy luxury amenities like the in-ground spa, fireplace, and for the gamers in your group: a Pac-Man arcade game.

destin vacation rental with a game room
Edgewater in Destin, FL

9. Edgewater – Destin, FL

We solemnly swear we saved the best for last. Edgewater is a Destin vacation home featuring an extra special Harry Potter-themed game room with foosball, Pac-Man, and plenty of board games. Outside you’ll find a hot tub, a private dock, a fire pit, and large sliding doors for incredible indoor/outdoor living.

If arcade games aren’t your thing, hundreds of our vacation rentals come equipped with classic games like billiards, shuffleboard, ping pong, and more. Start exploring our destinations to find your perfect stay…

Top 32 Things To Do in Joshua Tree Year-Round

Joshua Tree National Park is a famous destination for tourists across the country as well as California locals. This national park hosts a combination of activities for both an adventurous spirit and a relaxed soul alike.

Sightseers and nature lovers can rejoice, as the park has many hiking and nature trails to explore. This scenic park boasts numerous outdoor attractions, such as rock formations, palm springs, rock-climbing mountains, and various campgrounds. 

If you plan to visit Joshua Tree National Park during a group getaway, you have come to the right place.

Here is a list of the best and most exciting activities you can partake in at Joshua Tree. While not every activity is for everyone, there is a wide variety of things to do in Joshua Tree, so you should be able to find something to satisfy every type of traveler in your group.

visiting cottonwood visitor center is a must-see thing to do in joshua tree

Cottonwood Visitor Center

The Cottonwood Visitor Center is one of several visitor centers found inside Joshua Tree National Park. Open during the day from 8:30 am until 4 pm, this visitor center is located south of highway 62 and north of the 10 freeway, at the southern end of the park.

This visitor center is a small park store located inside Joshua Tree. While it is mostly just a gift shop, it acts as a logical first stop on your day of outdoor activity. The Cottonwood Visitor Center is a gateway to many different hiking trails located around the Cottonwood Springs area.

This visitor center is a hub for information on the park and serves as a means to purchase a parking pass. If you plan a trip to the south side of Joshua Tree National Park, consider stopping here first or giving the center a call.

Cottonwood Spring Oasis is a beautiful thing to do in Joshua Tree

Cottonwood Spring Oasis

The Cottonwood Spring Oasis is one of the best local wonders inside the Joshua Tree National Park. 

This spring has quite an interesting backstory, as it was created due to natural earthquake activities. This strategic location has also been a hub for several wars fought by the Cahuilla Indians

On top of its geographical advantage, this spring is a piece of gold rush history, as it served as an essential stop for prospectors heading west. In fact, Cotton Spring Oasis was a central hub for several mines during the gold rush since it offered access to water. If you are a history buff or enjoy learning about interesting land formations, this oasis is undoubtedly a spot for you.

Hidden Valley Nature Trail

Hiking on nature trails is easily one of the most popular activities to partake in at Joshua Tree, and the Hidden Valley nature trail is no exception to this rule.

This nature trail allows tourists to explore many of the unusually shaped but naturally-formed giant rock formations in Joshua Tree.

The Hidden Valley nature trail is especially popular because it is one of the shorter trails in this National Park. Many hiking trails take several hours, while a typical hike through this nature trail will only take 1 or 2 hours.

seeing the jumbo rock formations is a popular thing to do in joshua tree

Jumbo Rocks

Rock nature trails are a popular attraction found at Jumbo Rocks. Joshua Tree National Park is full of unique rock formations that many visitors come from around the world to see.

Climbing routes such as the Arch Rock Trail and Skull Rock provide fascinating views of unique landscapes. Fortunately, these easy nature trails will only take a mile loop to walk through so it’s possible to hike several at a time if the weather allows.

Rock nature trails are also popular for those interested in rock climbing or photography. Camera lovers truly enjoy how easy it is to get a good shot here, and you’ll often see climbers bouldering along the way.

Barker Dam Nature Trail

The Barker Dam Nature Trail is another mile loop around a lovely landscape. This nature trail takes tourists past many of the titular Joshua Trees found in the Joshua Tree National Park. 

The swaths of ancient petroglyphs found here have been left behind by earlier civilizations who lived in this park. These natural wonders are quite the mystery, estimated to be 2,000 years old or more, and attributed to prehistoric Native Americans.

On top of some of the history found here, the trail features some beautiful desert landscapes and local wildflowers. Make sure to look out for the park’s famous bighorn sheep while you are out here.

This nature trail suits those looking for an easy hike. The track is incredibly flat, and so many signs are posted that it would be difficult to get lost.

Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail

The Fortynine Palms Oasis trail stands out as one of the more lush experiences found at the national park. Many of the nature trails found in this park are filled with rocks or desert life, but Fortynine Palms stands out because its oasis gives life to some of the only non-succulent plant life in this desert.

Gaze upon the local greenery and geometric rock formations on this 3-mile trail. This path is just outside the park gates and has an easily accessible parking lot. 

Like many other attractions at this national park, this nature trail is free to explore once you are inside the park. 

Note that this trail is more challenging than a casual walk. If you are bringing small children with you, this may not be the best nature walk for your party.

enjoy the cholla cacti in joshua tree

Cholla Cactus Garden

One of the perks of being in California is that the weather is consistently sunny and warm in the desert climate.

Cholla cacti are a product of this warmer climate. While Joshua Tree consists of many different kinds of plant life, cholla cacti are one of those that stand out due to their beauty. 

The Cholla Cactus Garden has the shortest official trail found in the Joshua Tree National Park. This trail comes in at only a quarter of a mile, so it is perfect for those who may have limited mobility or endurance. Be careful to stay on the marked trail and don’t get too close to the “jumping” cholla cactus as the stems will detach when brushed to attach themselves to you or your clothes.

Contact Mine Trail

This abandoned gold and silver mine is found just a few miles past the north entrance to Joshua Tree National Park. Hikers ready to take a walk through somewhere with a little less elevation gain will do well to visit this abandoned mine trail.

This pathway provides interesting sights of rustic remains of the mine. Visitors will get to see mine carts and railways as part of the abandoned mine.

Those looking for an entry-level hike before heading deeper inside the national park would do well to stop at this abandoned mine.

Lost Horse Mine Trail

Like the Contact Mine Trail mentioned before, the Lost Horse Mine Trail shares many of the same appeals. This enormous mine is a top destination inside the park.

History buffs will thoroughly enjoy this seven-mile hike that will lead you through a historic mine and mill. This mine is well preserved, and you can easily immerse yourself in the miner’s shoes as you’re walking this trail.

make a stop at Keys View for a popular joshua tree thing to do

Keys View

Keys View is a lookout point found over the Coachella Valley. This scenic hotspot is a fantastic viewpoint of the mountains, the Salton Sea, and even Mexico. Keys Point is the perfect lookout spot because it is high atop a paved road and rests on a stable cliff in the best location in the park.

This locale is especially suitable for those looking to catch the sunset. Many visitors have claimed that watching the sunset at Keys View is one of their favorite experiences.

Keys View is undoubtedly a romantic location, so consider bringing your loved one to experience something one of a kind. Just make sure you check the weather and go on a clear day to avoid getting rained out.

Keys Ranch

If you enter from the park’s west entrance, make sure to stop at Keys Ranch. While not the most extensive attraction found in the park, Keys Ranch acts as a historical landmark to the early ranching culture found here.

Visitors can come to check out the small settlement and see all of the amenities earlier humans had used. This ranch served as a hub for the miners west during the gold rush over a hundred years ago.

Hidden Valley Campground

If you are staying in or around Los Angeles, you are only one road trip away from the Hidden Valley campground. 

Those who love sleeping under the stars should look into this hotspot campground. Enjoy the Milky Way night sky free of light pollution in the typical Los Angeles area.

This campground is generous enough to provide restrooms and fire rings for its visitors. Other necessities like water will have to be packed in for the night. 

camping in Joshua Tree is a very popular thing to do

White Tank Campground

White Tank Campground is an easy and enjoyable campground near Pinto Basin Road. This popular campground is surrounded by many granite formations, including Arch Rock. Popular activities at this campground include hiking and summer campfires.

Enjoy the pleasant, slow hike from your campground filled to the brim with geological history. You’ll find that the trek through the Arch Rock trail has a ton of plaques indicating interesting events found here.

If you want to check out some of the crazy geology found at Joshua Tree, this might be the campground for you.

Jumbo Rocks Campground

Of the many different campsites found inside the national park, Jumbo Rocks Campground manages to stand out amongst them with its scenery.

This campsite surrounds itself with a natural plant border, making it an attractive location for those who want to be surrounded by beautiful rocks and some greenery.

It is crucial to know, however, that this campsite does not allow for hammocks or other forms of horizontal ropes. These utilities are prohibited from being tied to Joshua trees or other local wildlife.

Black Rock Campground

Black Rock Campground is another locale in the backcountry of Joshua Tree. This campground offers many utilities that make it a perfect camping location.

The amenities included at this campground are cell phone reception, internet connection, a year-round dumping station, trash collection, portable water, and even some staff assistance on site.

The only downside to the campground is the risk of wildfires. Like most national parks, Black Rock Campground is incredibly dry and prone to wildfires. While campfires are permitted, campers must be cautious and keep their fire inside designated fire pits and on grills.

hiking Ryan Mountain is a classic thing to do in joshua tree

Ryan Mountain

Ryan Mountain Trail is a well-known hiking spot used by visitors. Those who frequent the park will surely be familiar with its elevation jumps and vertical landscapes.

While there are a variety of mountains to quench your thirst for climbing, this particular structure is well-paved and friendlier to a casual audience. 

The rock-piled spot towards the middle of the mountain serves as a great resting point. Many visitors choose to pack a lunch and go to this picnic area as a break during their hike.

Horseback riding in Knob Hill Ranch

While technically just west of Joshua Tree National Park, Knob Hill Ranch provides guided tours open to the public. These tours feature horseback riding through Yucca Valley, where you will see plenty of local scenery.

First-time horseback riders and trailheads alike are welcome on these tours. The ranch offers lessons to those interested but unfamiliar with the art of horseback travel. 

The tour gives ample time for you to get settled in on your horse before beginning your trek through the valley for some scenic views.

Bird-watching at the park

Bird-watching is an inspiring and accessible activity at Joshua Tree National Park. This park is in the perfect geographical location to attract avian wildlife. Birds love the permanent waterholes found throughout this crossroads between the Colorado and Mojave Deserts.

Popular birds to look out for are cedar waxwings, juncos, and even white-crowned sparrows. These birds are a hot commodity throughout bird-watching communities, as their rare presence to city-dwellers helps them stand out.

Many of the best spots for bird-watching offer other activities as well. These locations include Cottonwood Spring, the Barker Dam, and the Oasis of Mara. Each of these has natural water sources that attract bird life to it.

attending Joshua Tree Music Festival is a popular thing to do in Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree Music Festival

If you are less of a nature lover and more of a music festival fanatic, the Joshua Tree Music Festival is the spot for you. This live music festival offers much different music than just bands performing on a stage. 

On top of the typical musical performances, this music festival stands out because it offers other activities such as a yoga class, a sound bath, a songwriting class, and even a workshop about mindfulness.

This inspiring get-together is one of the unique things you can do at the national park. This one-of-a-kind music festival attracts music lovers to the scene.

San Andreas Fault

Joshua Tree is in the middle of a cross-section with hundreds of different earthquake faults. Resting on top of one of the Earth’s tectonic plates, this giant rift stands out by maintaining its status as one of the most significant faults in the world.

The San Andreas Fault runs more than 800 miles across California, stretching from the Salton Sea to Cape Mendocino. This fault is so significant that it practically splits California in two.

Those familiar with the Grand Canyon will see many of the same rock structures at this fault. 

Travelers interested in natural phenomena and fascinating geological structures should stop at the San Andreas Fault for a quick look.

The town of Joshua Tree

The town of Joshua Tree is nestled in a very small sideline of the Twentynine Palms Highway. While you might miss this town if you blink too fast, its small size is deceptive. The town is one of the most interesting locales you will see on your travels. It is filled with one-of-a-kind art and other eye-catching installations. 

Joshua Tree has become a tourist attraction because of its name and sixties-themed aesthetics. This retro sixties town hosts many local businesses, such as the Grateful Desert Herb Shoppe & EcoMarket.

Make sure to pay this quirky town a visit sometime during your trip to the Joshua Tree National Park.

joshua tree vacation rental with a sauna

Pioneertown

Travel back in time and get a taste of what it was like to be in the Old West.  

This old town was created in 1946 and was used as a movie set for various cowboy films. While the town’s origins are artificial, its fully functioning businesses are not. Pioneertown is filled with small shops and restaurants to entertain you on your visit.

On top of the authentic western aesthetic, animal lovers should rejoice. One of the highlights of this small town is its Soap & Goats store. This little business sells locally crafted goods and allows customers to visit the friendly goats. 

Slab City

Slab City, also known as just the Slabs, is a community of desert dwellers near the Salton Sea and Twentynine Palms. Slab City is full of various artists and misfits looking to make their mark on the world in a way they know how.

Like the town of Joshua Tree, his area is filled with interpretative sculptures. Some of the more inspired pieces are made from old televisions, decorated cars, and various tires.  

The obvious crown jewel, of course, is Salvation Mountain. Salvation Mountain is a relatively small man-made hill found right beside Slab City, which was made by Leonard Knight. With the message, “God Is Love,” Leonard made this as a tribute to God and the love he has for everyone. This mountain is full of colorful patterns and textures made from spray paint and other decorative materials.

The Slabs and its many artistic attractions are a popular spot for those looking to snap a photograph and spend some time enriching themselves. 

Mecca Hills Wilderness

The following location calls out to climbers of southern California. The Mecca Hills Wilderness is found just south of Joshua Tree. This enormous canyon stands out among nature lovers because of its unique surface and textured pattern.

Gazing upon the Mecca Hills Wilderness, you might see walls that resemble surfaces that would exist only on otherworldly planets. The walls of the Colorful Painted Canyon will surround you and stimulate your senses with eye candy.

Be warned that the Mecca Hills Wilderness is not the most accessible hike. This canyon is vast, and many slot canyons need ladders to climb to get through. 

Seasoned climbers, however, will be rewarded with one of the best hikes available in the United States. 

Joshua Tree Rock Shop

It only makes sense that a park famous for its many geological formations would feature a rock store. Wander around this immense store of stones to look at the many exciting crystals one might find in the national park.

While the energy of these minerals might not resonate with everyone, you will undoubtedly find phenomenal shapes and colors while browsing the wares. 

making a stop at the Joshua Tree Rock Shop is a popular thing to do in Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree Saloon

Come and enjoy a refreshing drink at the Joshua Tree Saloon. Take yourself back to a simpler time when there were fewer forms of entertainment and a saloon acted as the local hub for fun. 

The Joshua Tree Saloon is only a few minutes from the park’s west side entrance. It is the perfect location to come for a bite to eat during your day out and about. This well-preserved eatery has indoor and outdoor seating to serve everyone in different forms of weather. 

When choosing traditional bar food such as burgers and fries, it’s hard to go wrong. These simple dishes pair well with the many delicious drinks on the cocktail menu.

Algoberto’s Taco Shop

If you’re heading to Joshua Tree National Park and are not from the area, you will have to make it a point to try some authentic Mexican food. While the most authentic food from this culture would naturally be found in Mexico, restaurants in southern states such as California and Texas are your next best bet.

Feast upon the many tasty options, such as the titular tacos or meaty enchiladas. These delicacies are even made especially tastier with the knowledge that they are also incredibly cheap.

For some of the tastiest Mexican food you can find in the United States, you will want to stop at Algoberto’s Taco Shop. This taco shop is only a ten-minute drive from the park entrance.

stopping by Natural Sisters Cafe is a popular thing to do in Joshua Tree

Natural Sisters Cafe

If you are looking for something more natural and healthy, consider visiting the Natural Sisters Cafe. Alternative diets of many kinds will be satiated through these healthy plant-based food options offered at this cafe.

Classic cafe items such as a veggie wrap, smoothie, or salad are offered here.

This cafe also features the famous “Welcome to Joshua Tree” mural. This painting on the side of the building is perfect for an Instagrammable photograph and is a landmark in its own right.

After their day of history and travel, those looking for a more modern-style restaurant would do well to top their night off here.

Oasis of Mara

The Oasis of Mara is another rare commodity, as it is one of the few places in the park with natural surface water.

This oasis was quickly settled in by the Serrano. These earlier settlers named the oasis directly after its grass and spring water. The Serrano planted 29 notable palm trees when first settling, each representing a successful birth of a baby boy from their tribe. These palm trees are so important because they provided settlers with clothing, food, cooking ware, and housing. 

After the early settlers, later people who lived in this area, such as cowboys and miners, continued to utilize the oasis’s water. This natural wonder has served as a lifeline to those who have lived nearby over the centuries.

Today, this oasis is mainly filled with tortoises and other wildlife. 

Hall of Horrors

The Hall of Horrors found in Joshua Tree National Park is a set of close quarters between large rock walls. These hallway-like structures are naturally formed and make for some of the most exciting perspectives one can look through. It’s a spine-tingling experience. 

Although this location is unique and fun to look at, beware of claustrophobia, these halls are incredibly tight-fitting. 

driving down Park Boulevard is a popular thing to do in Joshua Tree

Park Boulevard

While Park Boulevard is not necessarily a location, this road can be a great way to check out what the park offers. 

While it is great to be able to explore each inch of the park, not everyone has that kind of time. Driving down Park Boulevard can serve as a terrific compromise to see a lot of different locales at once.

This road traverses many of the most interesting structures in the national park. Those seeking just a few glances before moving on to the next stop will do well to drive down Park Boulevard for some sightseeing.

Annual Night Sky Festival

Last but not least, we have the annual Night Sky Festival. This annual get-together is for those looking for a more relaxed experience. 

This festival focuses more on relaxation than the extensive hikes and learning activities offered around most of the park. Sit back and take in the panoramic views as you look out at the clear, flat landscape and admire the horizon. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will leave you feeling refreshed. 

The Joshua Tree National Park is certified as an International Dark Sky Park. Light pollution or the abundance of light makes it difficult to stargaze effectively, particularly around big cities. Areas such as national parks that are further away from large metropolitan areas allow for the luxury of top-notch stargazing.

Stargazing is accessible anywhere in the park during any time of year, but the annual Night Sky Festival provides a more communal experience under a unified theme. 

Final Thoughts

In the end, there are so many things to do in Joshua Tree National Park. This treasure of a park contains hundreds of scenic views and tourist attractions to appeal to all sorts of interests and hobbies.

People who enjoy warmer climates such as the Mojave Desert, Death Valley, or the Colorado Desert will be particularly at home in this warm and hospitable climate.

The NPS, or the National Park Service, considers Joshua Tree National Park one of the fascinating clashes in a distinct desert ecosystem. Plants and animals make their home here in a land sculpted by dry heat and the occasional sight of rain.

Next time you want to get away to a warm location such as San Diego or Las Vegas, consider heading out to Joshua Tree National Park instead for a desert getaway.

15 Tips to Become the Hostess with the Mostest

The winter months have officially arrived, and quickly transitioning your home from trick-or-treat friendly to family feast ready can be stressful. Given that this is the time of year when you should be winding down, opening up your doors to host an event can be overwhelming. So why not open up ours

Elevate your holidays by hosting your plans in an AvantStay vacation home – where you can leave the prep and cleanup to us, so you can focus on the personal touches that make entertaining your guests worth it! Whether you’re hosting Friendsgiving, Christmas dinner, or ringing in the New Year with your loved ones, we’ve got you covered with 15 tips that are sure to crown you the hostess with the mostest. 

friends co-hosting an event with avantstay

1. Co-host with a friend or close family member

You don’t have to do it all! Take a breather knowing that you have help from a trusted co-host who can help split and delegate tasks with you. Is one of you a better baker than the other? One has a better eye for design and decoration? There are no hard rules here, but simply knowing that someone has your back can relieve the pressure of tackling a holiday party on your own. 

avantstay concierge team set up a beautiful beachscape

2. Lean on our concierge team

Our concierge team is here to cater to you. Think of a dedicated specialist there to ensure that your plans run as smoothly as possible. With options from stocking your fridge before your arrival, mid-stay cleans, itinerary planning, and even coordinating a private bartender or private chef for you, we’ve got you covered.

organize your hosting to have the best guest experience and be the hostess with the mostest

3. Stay organized and plan ahead

This one may seem obvious, but being proactive and maintaining a checklist minimizes surprises and helps to ensure that nothing gets forgotten. If you’re hosting a potluck, keep a running list of what everyone is bringing to avoid duplicates and/or missing pieces. Be sure to confirm your guests, reinforce dates and times, and keep a cooking schedule on hand. This is particularly true for Friendsgiving since there’s no official date for this “holiday.” 

use the avantstay app to coordinate which guests stay in which rooms

4. Designate rooms for each guest

When planning for an overnight stay, bypass the last-minute scrambling by assigning everyone rooms before check-in. Fortunately, we have a “choose your room” feature in our app where you and your added guests can effortlessly see all rooms and beds and reserve your pick. From the bookings tab, simply locate your reservation, select “choose rooms” under the Guests and Rooms section, and then swipe through each room while adding a name to each room.   

find a rental home with a record player to impress your guests and be a hostess with the mostess

5. Curate your music just right

Once you’ve happily arrived, it’s time to personalize your vacation home to your ideal vibe. One of the most important ways to set the mood is with the perfect album or playlist. Select AvantStay homes, like Chicory, are vinyl-ready with record players waiting for you. If you prefer more of a mix, create a collaborative playlist on your favorite streaming platform. And if you’re feeling especially adventurous, there are plenty of premade playlists out there eager to be set on shuffle.

set the ambiance for your guests to be the hostess with the mostess

6. Ambience is everything

Musical stimulation is only one piece of the puzzle which is ambience. Think of a cozily lit fireplace, perfectly dimmed mood lighting, or diversifying each and every space for a different activity. You can make your guests feel welcome by ensuring that they feel right at home. This is extremely easy to do at all of our vacation homes because they are designed by professional (award-winning!)  interior designers rather than just anyone.

make sure your guests have fun by setting up board games to be considered a hostess with the mostess

7. Have a game plan

As we previously mentioned, itineraries are your best friend, and we can help you build one. Our concierge team creates excellent, personalized itineraries that can have minute-to-minute schedules or loose plans to keep everything flowing if that’s more your style. They can also build unique local experiences to ensure you’re making the most of your getaway.

you and your guests can relax by the campfire at your vacation rental

8. Entertainment for all

What’s your preference? Playing a game, watching a movie in a home theater, or cozying up by an outdoor firepit? No need to choose just one! Our homes are set up with all the amenities to ensure that there will never be a moment of boredom between the feast and festivities. 

9. Have a signature something

Think signature party favor, activity, centerpieces, or even themes! Having an on-brand something that your guests associate with your events (and therefore get excited for) is always a win. Not sure what to do? Lean on our concierge team to help you brainstorm.

serve your guests nothing but the best drinks to be the hostess with the mostess

10. All the libations for a memorable celebration

What celebration is complete without a cocktail or mocktail station? Our homes allow you to easily create your own self-serve bar with features like wine coolers, beverage stations, and wet bars like Chateau Syrah’s. Take it a step further by providing a menu of go-to recipes for your guests! Put a spin on classic cocktails by creating a naming convention around the holiday theme such as ‘Cold Turkey’ or ‘Bloody Merry.’ We’ve even compiled some of our favorite tequila recipes for you.

if you want to be the hostess with the mostess, then prepare snacks galore

11. Snacks, Snacks, Snacks!

As everyone gathers and mingles, it’s always a great idea to have finger foods ready to go. From a charcuterie board to the all-time favorite chip bowl, we’ve got gourmet kitchens (that can be fully stocked upon request) ready to handle whatever gets your guests’ mouths watering.

minimize your work after serving a meal by cleaning as you cook

12. Clean as you cook

One of the best pieces of advice any host or home cook has passed down is “clean as you cook.” In a home like Castle Rock, with not one, but two dishwashers at your disposal, we make it easy to tackle the cleanup after a feast of any kind. 

enjoy a unique experience with your whole family at your vacation rental

13. Create new traditions

Here’s your chance to get really creative. Is there an activity that brings you overwhelming joy? Maybe it’s taking an annual road trip, doing a white elephant gift exchange, or baking a holiday treat together. Choose something that not only sounds fun to you but will keep your guests looking forward to your hosted events in the future – the power is in your hands. Your tradition could even become experiencing the holidays in a different AvantStay home every year! 

take a lot of photos at your upscale vacation rental

14. Document all the moments

It’s easy to get so caught up in the holiday hustle and bustle that you don’t take a minute to be present and capture the moments. Whether you provide disposable cameras to your guests, set up a photo station, or take advantage of the photo booth we already have at The Monkey Tree Hotel, don’t be afraid to pause and pose. Let the memories serve as a reminder of what an amazing time you had on your group trip. 

make time for self care on vacation

15. Treat yourself to some self-care

Once it’s all said and done, take a pause. Don’t get so caught up in catering to your guests that you end up neglecting yourself. Our concierge team can book you an in-home massage, or you can take a moment to de-stress in an in-home sauna like Nightstar’s. Some other ways to relax in our homes include sleeping in extra late, taking a bubble bath, or curling up on the couch to binge-watch your favorite holiday sitcom episodes. Tend to your needs, because at the end of the day, it’s meant to be a vacation for you as well. 

The Top 35 Things To Do in the Smoky Mountains Year Round

Are you looking for things to do in the Smoky Mountains? We’ve put together a round-up of the top activities in the area.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, not far from Knoxville and Asheville. There are fun activities both in the national park and nearby towns.

Whether you’re an outdoorsy person who loves hiking or you would rather cozy up in a mountain cabin with a cup of hot chocolate, there is something for everyone. Get adventurous on a rollercoaster ride, see historic structures, or have fun at a casino.

We’ll discuss the top things to do in the Smoky Mountains for every season. No matter what time of year you visit, you can have an unforgettable experience. Read on to discover the best things to do in the Smoky Mountains today!

Hit the trails in the spring

There’s nothing like springtime in the Smoky Mountains. Rhododendrons, mountain laurels, and wildflowers are in full bloom, and the temperatures rise to the mid-60s and higher.

If you visit the mountains in early spring, you might be able to hit the ski slopes. However, for the most part, the snowy weather will be gone by March.

Spring is a perfect time for outdoor activities like hiking, and we’ll discuss the best trails to check out. Also, consider visiting open-air historic sites.

roaring fork motor nature trail is a required thing to do in the smoky mountains

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

Take a drive on Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, a winding road that snakes through the Smoky Mountains. It’s a one-way loop road that extends for five miles, and you can enjoy some of the most scenic drives in the mountains.

It takes about an hour to drive through Roaring Fork, but there are many things to do along the way. Stop at the Visitor’s Center at the head of the motor trail to pick up a guidebook.

You can park and hike along sunny trails or check out waterfalls and historic buildings. Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is one of the top-recommended activities in the area, and it’s an experience you won’t want to miss.

Chimney Tops Trail

Hike Chimney Tops Trail in the spring to see rushing streams and beautiful mountain views. It’s just a few miles south of the Sugarlands Visitor Center on the northern side of the mountain range.

Chimney Tops Trail is just a short drive from many of our top rental properties. Check out the four-bedroom Fontana or the Pine Needle house with a hot tub.

Abrams Falls

Abrams Falls is a hiking trail area near Mill Creek. Take a five-mile hike to see the 20-foot waterfall named for a famous Cherokee chief.

The stunning pine tree forest is full of blooming rhododendrons in the spring, and you can take a leisurely walk through the nature preserve. It’s a moderately challenging hike, and you might need prior experience before embarking on this trail.

Tricorner Loop Trail

Consider the Tricorner Loop Trail if you’re a fan of backpacking. It stretches over 31 miles and offers spectacular views of the Smoky Mountain Range.

Head to the Big Creek campground to find the Tricorner Loop trailhead. While you can hike it during any season, we recommend visiting in the spring when temperatures are mild.

take a horseback riding trail ride in the smoky mountains

Horseback Riding

You can go horseback riding in the Smoky Mountains starting in mid-March. There are four stables in different park areas, and you can take a short ride or go out for the afternoon.

Check the schedule to see if a ranger-led tour is coming up or ride with a local guide. You can also book carriage and wagon rides through the park.

Laurel Falls

Laurel Falls is one of the longest paved trails in the Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s ideal for adventurous hikers, and you can trek the entire trail in about two hours.

Some steeper sections can get slippery, so avoid the trail during spring showers. The waterfall at the end of the hike features a wooden bridge perfect for an Instagram photo opportunity.

Mt. Leconte

Mt. Leconte is the third-highest point in Tennessee and one of the best places for spring hiking. It’s in the Blue Ridge Mountain range of Smoky Mountains National Park, and you can enjoy waterfalls, overlooks, and local wildlife. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a llama!

Grotto Falls

Head to Grotto Falls for a peaceful spring hike. The waterfall is over 25 feet high, and the environment is home to an abundance of wildlife, including salamanders.

You can access the waterfall through the Trillium trail system, which takes you on a three-mile scenic journey past rushing mountain streams. The hiking trails wind through rocky pathways and a beautiful hemlock forest.

oconaluftee indian village is a popular thing to do in the smoky mountains

Oconaluftee Indian Village

Oconaluftee Indian Village is a living museum in Cherokee, North Carolina. It’s on the southeast border of the Smoky Mountains, and the outdoor museum is ideal for a warm spring day.

The location is a historical replica of a Cherokee community dating back to the 18th century. The Cherokee Historical Association runs the museum, and you can learn about the daily life and customs of the Cherokee people.

Guided tours start every 15 minutes, so grab a spot and explore the facilities. Check the schedule to see if a dance or other event is happening soon.

Andrews Bald

Don’t miss Andrews Bald, a scenic grassy clearing named after a cattle herder in the 19th century. You can access it via Forney Ridge Trail, a short hike near the Clingmans Dome parking lot. It’s a year-round trail, but we recommend visiting in the spring to see the Innocence wildflowers bloom.

Near the end of spring, watch for blackberries and raspberries along the trail. There’s an elevation change of 1,200 feet to get to Andrews Bald, so bring plenty of water to hydrate yourself.

Get adventurous in the summer

Are you looking for a summer getaway? The summer is the height of the tourist season in the Smoky Mountains. There’s a massive number of things to do, from theme parks to water sports, and you might feel overwhelmed. 

Fortunately, we are here to help. We’ll go over the best summer activities in the Smoky Mountains, including outdoorsy excursions in the park, exciting roller coasters, and local sightseeing.

There’s something fun to do no matter where in the mountain range your accommodation is. Get in touch with local wildlife at the petting zoo, hit the rapids in an inner tube, or take a cave tour if it’s hot outside.

Dollywood

A trip to the Smoky Mountains wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Dollywood, a theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Owned by the legendary country music artist Dolly Parton, Dollywood is an Appalachian-themed attraction with rides, water slides, and gift shops.

Dollywood is an essential trip for any Dolly Parton fan, and you can learn about her life and legacy at the Chasing Rainbows Museum. Listen to live country music at night or walk through Dolly’s Country Home attraction.

Even if you aren’t familiar with Parton’s music, you can enjoy the roller coasters and the Wild Eagle, a 135-foot drop. End your day with American cuisine from Red’s Drive-In.

Seven Islands State Birding Park

Head to the great outdoors and explore Seven Islands State Birding Park in Kodak, Tennessee. It’s just north of the Smoky Mountains, not far from Knoxville.

The park is ideal for summer fun. Hike, ride a bike, fish in the river, or look out for protected wildlife like barn owls, waterfowl, and hawks. Seven Islands borders the French Broad River, where you can kayak or canoe in the summertime.

ober gatlinburg is a very popular thing to do in the smoky mountains

Ober Gatlinburg

Ober Gatlinburg is an amusement park next to the Smoky Mountain range’s north border. It’s full of adventurous rides and attractions, but there are quieter activities like mini golf if that’s more up your alley. 

Ride the roller coaster and try your hand at the rock climbing wall. You can beat the summer heat at the waterslide or grab a bite to eat at the Ober Loft Lounge.

Dollywood’s Splash Country

Dolly Parton owns multiple theme parks in the Smoky Mountains area, but Dollywood’s Splash Country is one of our top picks for local summer activities. It’s a great way to cool down on a hot Tennessee day, and the water rides are fun for families or groups of friends.

Head to Pigeon Forge to visit this 35-acre splash park and ride the Mountain Scream Slide and Raging River Rapids inner tubing. The attraction is open from May to September, and you can book tickets in advance.

Clingman’s Dome

Clingman’s Dome is a mountain peak in the North Carolina area of the Smoky Mountains. It’s the highest point in the Smoky Mountains range, and the 360° views of the park are spectacular. 

The paved trail system is only open in the summer and fall, so schedule a hike before the season ends. There’s also an observation tower perfect for watching summer meteor showers.

Whitewater Rafting

Go whitewater rafting on the Pigeon River for a fun summer activity. You can rent a raft from March to October, and the nearly seven-mile path includes 70 rapids.

A certified guide will take you upstream, and you’ll have a thrilling experience on the rapids. We recommend booking a reservation and scheduling around two hours for a raft trip.

enjoy a forest trail in the smoky mountains

Rainbow Falls Trail

The Rainbow Falls Trail is a winding forest trail that leads you to an astounding 80-foot waterfall. It’s in the Roaring Fork area, about five miles from Gatlinburg. If you’re interested in Gatlinburg rentals, consider our Ashberry property which sleeps ten people, or our Sugar Cove log cabin.

We recommend visiting during the summer to catch a glimpse of a rainbow. The light streams through the waterfall on sunny days, creating a shimmering rainbow effect.

Smoky Mountain Deer Farm and Exotic Petting Zoo

The Smoky Mountain Deer Farm and Exotic Petting Zoo are in Sevierville, just north of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You can book a summer trail ride on a horse or pony, watch wildlife, or visit cute animals at the petting zoo. 

The farm and zoo encompass over 140 acres of natural beauty, and the institution has been around for nearly four decades. 

This spot is good summer fun for the whole family. Kids even receive discount tickets!

Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster

Bring some adrenaline to your trip and ride the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster. With one mile of track, it claims the title of the longest downhill ride in the United States.

This one-of-a-kind ride allows you to control the speed, making the roller coaster thrilling to experience. The attraction is in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, north of the Smoky Mountains.

Forbidden Caverns

Although it varies by area, summer in the Smoky Mountains can be hot. Skip the heat and cool off at a below-ground cave tour at Forbidden Caverns.

Forbidden Caverns is in the Sevierville area, just off Blowing Cave Rd. Descend into the cave and tour the tunnels, with handrails and lighting, for an incredible experience. 

You can book a guided tour and check out the underground river and ancient cave formations. It closes during the cold season, so catch this attraction in the warmer months.

kayaking is a popular thing to do in the smoky mountains

Kayaking

Kayaking on a clear day in the Smoky Mountains is an unbeatable experience. There are dozens of lake and river spots great for kayaking, but we recommend the Little Tennessee River in Maryville.

You can book a kayak from one of the local rental agencies and spend the afternoon paddling peacefully through the river. Stop by the Citico Recreation Area to enjoy lunch by the waterfront.

Find spooky fall attractions.

Spend your fall vacation in the beautiful Smoky Mountains enjoying the fall foliage and fresh mountain air. The leaves change into brilliant fall colors, the temperature drops, and the peak tourist season levels off, making it an ideal time for a weekend getaway.

You can check out one of the campsites at the national park or go sightseeing in a nearby town and enjoy the crisp fall weather. Keep an eye out for black bears, as they’ll be venturing out to stuff themselves to prepare for winter!

Fall can be a spooky time of year, and nowhere more so than in the Smoky Mountains, legendary for its eerie natural fog. We’ve selected some creepy-themed activities and other ways to enjoy fall in the Smoky Mountains.

Elkmont Ghost Town

Fall is the perfect time to visit Elkmont Ghost Town. The cooler temperatures are ideal for a long walk around the once-inhabited buildings.

In the early 20th century, Elkmont, formally known as Little River, was a weekend getaway destination for wealthy Tennessean families. When the National Park Service annexed the area, the buildings were left to deteriorate. Today, there’s now an eerie ghost town of both abandoned and restored historic houses. 

Cades Cove

October and November are the best months for visiting Cades Cove. The fall foliage will be in full swing, and you can see some of the best wildlife sightings in the area.

Cades Cove Loop Road, an 11-mile stretch of paved road, encircles the cove. You can take a beautiful self-guided tour and enjoy the orange and red trees by driving the route or exploring it on foot on certain days. Take a hayride on a chilly fall afternoon and experience guided commentary from the NPS.

Newfound Gap Road

Newfound Gap Road runs right through Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and it’s one of the easiest ways to experience the park. The trees are brilliant red and orange colors during the fall, making this drive one of the prettiest in the region.

morristown is a popular place to visit in the smoky mountains

Morristown

Want to see the location of a real horror movie? Morristown was the filming spot for the iconic 1981 film Evil Dead, and it’s a perfect place to visit in the fall months.

The cabin used in the film sits right in the woods near the Smoky Mountains, and you can venture into the forest to see its remains. Consider staying at one of our nearby properties, like Bluestem.

Mingus Mill

Mingus Mill is a historic grist mill built in Cherokee, Tennessee, in 1886. Parts of the machinery are still functional, and you can see the water turbine at work on a guided tour. It’s open to visitors until the end of the fall season.

The mill is just a half-mile from the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, so stop by for cultural exhibits, ranger programs, and a bookstore. The mill and visitor center is in the southern part of the Smoky Mountains National Park, near Newfoundland Gap Road and Cherokee, North Carolina.

Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail is undoubtedly among the most famous attractions in the area, with over three million yearly visitors. It’s one of our top picks for fall because the weather is temperate, and there are fewer tourists than in the summer.

The trail cuts through the Smoky and Blue Ridge mountains, following the Tennessee-North Carolina border. Consider taking a weekend getaway to section-hike the Appalachian Trail or drive up to the trail entrance for a photo op. 

Nantahala National Forest

Don’t miss Nantahala National Forest in Bryson City, North Carolina, a pristine natural reserve with waterfalls, campsites, whitewater rafting, and horseback riding. Hike over 60 miles of trails and enjoy the fall colors of the National Forest!

visiting blue ridge parkway is a gorgeous thing to do in the smoky mountains

Blue Ridge Parkway

Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway is a great fall activity. It’s a National Parkway with scenic views, and the road boasts attractions like Mount Mitchell, Linville Gorge, and New River, the oldest river in North America. The parkway ends in Cherokee, North Carolina, near the Smoky Mountains.

See the snowy mountains in the winter

Winter is the offseason in the Smoky Mountains, but there’s still plenty to do. Curl up with a cup of hot chocolate at a hotel, learn about local culture at a heritage center, or check out a museum.

The Smoky Mountains have plenty to offer if you’re a winter sports lover. It’s just a few minutes round trip between the park and the ski areas, and you’ll be acing the slopes in no time.

The National Park is beautiful in the winter, from the snow-capped mountains to the slow flurries gracing the spruce firs. Spend your winter break in the Smoky Mountains, and you won’t be disappointed!

Harrah’s Cherokee Hotel and Casino

Harrah’s Cherokee Hotel and Casino is an upscale resort in Cherokee, North Carolina, off US Route 19. It’s just a 20-minute round trip from the Smoky Mountains, so you can retreat to the casino and play a round if it gets cold. Enjoy top restaurants, live music performances, and designer shopping while the snow falls outside. 

Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center

The Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center is a fantastic way to learn about the local area without venturing outside. It’s in Townsend, Tennessee, right next to the entrance to the Smoky Mountains.

The galleries and exhibits range from Cherokee history to regional cooking practices. Visit for a concert or festival, see ancient pottery on display, and learn about the traditions of Townsend and Cades Cove.

The Mountain Farm Museum

The Mountain Farm Museum is near the southern border of the Rocky Mountains, not far from the town of Cherokee, North Carolina. It’s a collection of historic farm buildings dating back to the 19th century.

The Davis House is a log cabin made entirely from now-extinct American chestnut wood, and you can also see a working blacksmith shop with authentic tools. Learn about daily life in the 1800s and visit an apple house, barn, and log farmhouse. You can take a self-guided tour or see a demonstration of historic gardening or livestock practices.

skiing at Cataloochee is a popular thing to do in the smoky mountains

Cataloochee Ski Area

Cataloochee Ski Area sits at 5,400 feet near the Maggie Valley area in North Carolina. The ski season peaks from mid-December to the end of February, so schedule your ski trip to coincide with the heavy snow. Cataloochee Ski Area also has snow-making machines to ensure your vacation is perfect if the winter is mild.

Sugarlands Visitor Center

Sugarlands Visitor Center is on the north side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s a few minutes from Gatlinburg, on the Tennessee side of the mountain range.

The center is the perfect place to introduce yourself to the national park. Stop by for information about the area, and find out what local plants and wildlife you can see in the winter.

There are natural history exhibits to explore and programs led by the NPS park rangers. They offer special winter hours, so check the schedule before going.

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

Don’t miss Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, the perfect activity for a snowy winter day. It’s on River Road in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, on the north border of the Smoky Mountains. 

The massive aquarium contains more than 10,000 sea creatures in ten different galleries. Book your tickets and step into the fascinating world of sea life!

Each gallery has a theme, like the Penguin Playhouse, the Shark Lagoon, and Stingray Bay. Stop by for a live show like the daily penguin feedings or a lecture on coral life.

Wrapping up

The Smoky Mountains comprise some of the most beautiful territories in the southern United States. From sprawling pine forests to snow-capped mountains, the natural beauty of the mountain range is unparalleled. 

Explore wildflower-covered hiking trails in the spring, and feel your heart race as you fly down rollercoasters and waterslides in the summer. The Smoky Mountains turn red and gold colors in the fall, perfect for a hayride or drive, and the winter is ideal for skiing or touring museums. 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park has attracted visitors for nearly a century. The picturesque scenery, historical structures, theme park attractions, and outdoor activities make it the ideal place for a vacation.

AvantStay Unlocked: Elevated Guest Experiences

Delivering a consistent, first-class vacation experience for every guest is the standard at which we operate. We give guests all the amenities of a hotel, paired with the comfort of a private home to create a top-notch guest experience. By going above and beyond for our guests, we receive more five-star ratings than the competition, drive more bookings, and increase our homeowners’ revenue. 

Guest-ready homes 

A fantastic guest stay starts with a well-stocked home. ​​We ensure that each home is stocked with anything guests might need during their stay, including an array of high-quality consumables and thoughtful localized welcome packages. If guests need additional supplies or want to begin their stay with a fully-stocked fridge, they can easily get in touch with our concierge team through our proprietary app, Butler

Dedicated concierge team 

beach picnic setup

In addition to fridge stocking, guests can request mid-stay cleans, book a private chef or in-home massage, and arrange at-home or local outdoor activities through our dedicated concierge team. In addition, our local partnerships offer guests an opportunity to experience any destination like a true local with personalized recommendations and exclusive discounts. 

Some fan-favorite activities we’ve planned for our guests include: 

  • At-home spas
  • Wine tours
  • Snorkeling cruises
  • Paint parties
  • Casino nights
  • Snowmobile adventures
  • Dog sledding
  • Deep sea fishing 
  • Yoga and sound baths 
  • And more! 

Interactive spaces designed for the way people travel

AvantStay guests gathering around an outdoor firepit

We believe the best accommodations are designed to enhance every aspect of a guest’s travels, which is why we transform beautiful homes into incredible experiences that foster unforgettable memories. We style and equip homes with high-quality features to attract top-tier guests who trust our brand and treat your property with respect.

All AvantStay homeowners have access to our design and procurement services. Our interior designers create custom, locally inspired spaces that guests love. We also help procure high-quality, durable furniture and upscale amenities, and coordinate delivery and installation on your behalf so you don’t have to lift a finger. Our thoughtfully designed spaces encourage gathering and allow guests to make the most of their time at your home—leaving them recharged and ready to write a glowing review! 

Around-the-clock guest support 

AvantStay guests have access to 24/7 live support via SMS, email, or phone, and we troubleshoot every issue to ensure they are well cared for so you can sit back and relax. By resolving 90% of guest issues on the first call, we receive higher ratings and better guest satisfaction scores than any other manager in the space.

Earn more with an optimized home and top-notch guest experience

A high-quality guest experience is the backbone of a successful vacation rental business. Why not partner with the leading hospitality platform to bring that to your vacation rental? 

AvantStay offers end-to-end, flexible management programs to give you peace of mind. From financials to design to maintenance, we take care of your home as if it were our own. Our proprietary tech suite powers bookings, operationalizes in-field management and provides premium guest care. We take care of all the work to maximize your home’s income so you can sit back and relax—it’s that simple.

Interested in learning more about how AvantStay delivers a premium experience that leaves guests eager to book again? Our team is ready to help. Get in touch with our vacation rental management experts today

9 Vacation Homes with Basketball Courts

One thing about us: we’re firm believers that you should never have to leave your hobbies at home. That’s why we created this MVP roundup of vacation homes with private basketball courts – perfect for players that like to consider themselves sharpshooters, fanatics, and everything in between.

temecula vacation rental with a basketball court

1. Burgundy – Temecula

Burgundy is guaranteed to get your head in the game – vacation and all. Sprawl out in this Temecula, CA oasis filled with all the vacation activities you could ever need: a private basketball court, gazebo, pool, hot tub, and plenty of outdoor lounge areas for an al fresco dining moment. When you’re ready for a change of scenery, try out a wine-tasting experience at one of the local vineyards, like Wilson Creek Winery.

scottsdale vacation rental with a basketball court

2. Lotus – Scottsdale

He shoots, he scores (with this home). Lotus is a 4 bedroom stay in Scottsdale, AZ with room for up to 11 guests. Get your head in the game with all this outdoor oasis has to offer: a newly renovated basketball court, fire pit, and an oh-so-inviting pool.

3. Preston – Scottsdale

Swish you were here! Located in Scottsdale, AZ, Preston is this retreat-ready estate with its own basketball court, wet bar, casita, and sleek interiors. The game doesn’t stop once you step off the court – thanks to this pool’s basketball net, you can have a slam-dunk swim sesh. At night, relax under the palm trees decked out with LED lights and enjoy a dreamy glow during your night swim.

temecula vacation rental with a basketball court

4. Villa Verdot – Temecula

Game on. Villa Verdot is a Temecula, CA stay complete with a basketball court, spacious lawn, patio, putting green, pool, hot tub, and tennis court. Relax in the hammock after a game or two then make your way to the outdoor kitchen where you can show everyone who the grill master is around here. Enjoy a meal al fresco or head inside to the expansive dining table and cheers to a vacay well done.

scottsdale vacation home with a basketball court

5. Primrose – Scottsdale

Welcome to Primrose in sunny Scottsdale, AZ! Today’s forecast: courtside hangs with a 100% chance of winning. Take your shot in a game of basketball, ping pong, pool, or mini-golf. Detox before you retox in the sauna. Let the kids take their own shot at giving you a makeover in this stay’s salon (at your own risk). Finish the night off with a cozy movie night in the home theater. 

6. Sandstone – Scottsdale

From the pool to the hot tub, the basketball court to the fire pit, Sandstone’s got it going on. Lucky for you, this stay’s located in sunny Scottsdale, AZ where you get 330 days of sunshine a year. When you’ve soaked up all the sun you can handle, head back inside to the home’s indoor theater or throw your own cocktail party in the chic living room. Cheers!

the riseling retreat is a temecula vacation rental with a basketball court and private pool

7. The Riesling Retreat – Temecula

Odds are, if you’re taking a trip to Temecula, CA, you’ve got a thing for wine. Next time you find yourself in wine country, stay at The Riesling Retreat – a vacation home just as sweet as its name. This expansive estate has room for up to 14 guests and has a pickleball/basketball court, volleyball court, and a putting green. Grill it up on the BBQ and enjoy dinner al fresco or head to the local favorite Bluewater Grill.

vacation rental with a basketball court temecula

8. La Barrique – Temecula

We hope you’re a team player – this home’s got room for the whole crew, up to 25 guests. Nestled between Temecula, CA’s famous vineyards and mountain views, La Barrique comes with a ping pong table, basketball hoop, pool, beach volleyball court, and firepit made for enjoying sips of local wine.

9. Kendrick – Scottsdale 

Scottsdale, AZ is home to this stunner of a stay complete with a pool, your own private putting green and basketball court, and a large patio with an outdoor kitchen and fireplace. Inside, you’ll be pleased to find even more games, like ping pong and billiards. We see the way you’re looking at the screen – seems like Kendrick’s scored as the winner of your next vacation home.

30 Best Things To Do in Fort Lauderdale: The Venice of America

Fort Lauderdale is a year-round oceanfront getaway in South Florida with endless activities for couples, families, and friends to enjoy year-round.
In fact, whether you’re a local or just visiting for spring break or a weekend, there are so many cool things to experience in and around this beachside city that it can be hard to decide what to do first.

Twenty-five miles north of Miami, Fort Lauderdale is just a short drive from Miami’s lively nightlife, award-winning restaurant scene, and unparalleled shopping districts, but it has the benefit of fewer crowds.

That makes Fort Lauderdale an idyllic place to spend some time lounging in the Sunshine State’s perfect weather, exploring the many nearby attractions, or taking in its picturesque canals, while never feeling too far removed from Miami’s buzzing and diverse international energy.

So, if you’re planning a trip to South Florida or Fort Lauderdale, we’ve got you covered —from kayak adventures and airboat tours to the best shopping, entertainment, and outdoor experiences.
With this list of the 30 best things to do in Fort Lauderdale, you’ll be perfectly prepared to experience all of the fun in the sun that you can handle in the “Venice of America.”

Let’s jump in!

swimming at Fort Lauderdale beach is a must-do thing to do in Ft Lauderdale

1. Swim at Fort Lauderdale Beach

Fort Lauderdale Beach is a must-visit if you’re passing through South Florida. This seven-mile stretch of white sand and crystal blue ocean—famous for its reputation as a Spring Break Mecca—is within walking distance of Las Olas Boulevard (#3 on this list) and close to many of Fort Lauderdale’s top-rated restaurants like Gianni’s Table

You can enjoy swimming, jet skiing, snorkeling, stand-up paddle boarding, sunbathing, and more at Fort Lauderdale Beach without ever running out of things to do. 

The Fort Lauderdale Beachfront promenade also has scenic walking and biking paths lined with palm trees and benches along the ocean, making it the perfect spot to stop for a little sightseeing or indulge in some ice cream.

2. Explore the Everglades

The Everglades are not technically in Fort Lauderdale. But this iconic National Park is located just west of the city and is absolutely worth visiting especially if you’re a nature lover or looking for adventure. 

The Everglades wilderness comprises the largest area of contiguous wetlands in America and is the perfect place to get face-to-face with South Florida’s spectacular beauty, birdlife, and wildlife, or maybe even spot an alligator or a Florida Panther, among other fun things. 

Everglades National Park protects 1.5-million hectares of wetlands from environmental harm and there are multiple interpretive centers and exhibits throughout the Park that explain to visitors the importance and rarity of this vital, tropical ecosystem. Families, couples, and friends looking for a little more of an adrenaline-boosting experience also can enjoy airboat tours, kayak rides, or an alligator safari through the Everglades.

shopping on Las Olas Blvd is at the top of the things to do fort lauderdale list

3. Shop on Las Olas Boulevard

You can’t go to downtown Fort Lauderdale without taking a stroll down Las Olas Boulevard. Shopping along Las Olas—frequently referred to as the Rodeo Drive of South Florida—is one of the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale because it has everything you need to shop until you drop. 

Swanky stores, boutique shops, and iconic brands line this manicured street near the ocean. And when hunger or thirst strikes, there are dozens of nearby restaurants and bars to satiate your cravings and fuel your second wind. You also might just spot a celebrity or two. 

4. Suntan at Hollywood Beach

Hollywood Beach is one of the popular Fort Lauderdale beaches. The soft sand makes Hollywood Beach an ideal spot to unfurl a blanket or towel and enjoy a picnic or tanning session. Be sure also to bring your bathing suit since the clear blue Atlantic Ocean will beckon you in especially if you visit in the middle of the day. 

Hollywood Beach boasts a beautiful 2.5-mile boardwalk in addition to the beach itself which is a hub of activity, restaurants, and bars attracting both locals and visitors year-round.

a cultural thing to do in fort lauderdale is to attend a show at the broward center for performing arts

5. Enjoy a Show at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts

The Broward Center for the Performing Arts is one of Fort Lauderdale’s cultural icons. This playhouse is one of the most visited in the world and hosts over 700 performances each year, making it an ideal place to spend an afternoon or evening if you ever want to get out of the sun.

The Broward Center for the Performing Arts is located on the scenic banks of the New River, so you can admire the spectacular view before and after you enjoy one of the shows. If the Broward Center is fully booked, check out the nearby Parker Playhouse, which is another Fort Lauderdale cultural hotspot where you and your travel companions can experience South Florida’s emerging arts scene and enjoy a show.

6. Visit the Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

One of the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale if you love the outdoors is a day trip to Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. This state park spans 180 acres of preserved land where visitors and residents can picnic on the beach or grass, camp under the stars, hike along nature trails, witness spectacular wildlife, or go on a guided tour. 

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is open year-round from 8:00 a.m. until sunset, and the entrance fee to the park is under $10 per vehicle. Just be sure to book your tour tickets in advance to ensure you get the time slot of your preference, especially if you want to stay out of the sun in the middle of the day.

dine with friends at the S3 restaurant for a tasty thing to do in fort lauderdale

7. Dine at S3 (Sun Surf Sand)

S3 (Sun Surf Sand) is one of the top-rated restaurants in Fort Lauderdale that serves up award-winning seafood, steak, and sushi. The restaurant opened its doors in Fort Lauderdale in 2013 and has been a favorite spot for locals and visitors ever since. 

S3 has gorgeous views of Fort Lauderdale Beach and the Atlantic Ocean while offering artfully crafted food that’s designed to be shared for a culinary experience that everyone at the table can be a part of. 

Each plate served up at S3 includes delicious cuts of premium meat, freshly caught fish, and locally sourced ingredients so you’re guaranteed to never go home from here hungry.

8. See Animals at Flamingo Gardens

Flamingo Gardens in Fort Lauderdale is a family-friendly, exotic, and exciting thing to do. Why? Because there are few animals more photogenic or statuesque than the bright pink flamingo. 

Flamingo Gardens is technically a botanical garden, but it’s also an aviary (a.k.a. bird) zoo that provides a peaceful escape and unique opportunity to experience South Florida’s wild nature without ever having to leave Fort Lauderdale.

Flamingo Gardens is home to dozens of native “Champion” trees (state record holders in size, width, and age) as well as hummingbird species and countless rare plants. Be sure to have your camera handy as you wander through the scenic pathways and mangrove forests.

shopping at sawgrass mills is a popular thing to do in fort lauderdale

9. Go Shopping at Sawgrass Mills

Sawgrass Mills in Fort Lauderdale is the largest single-story outlet mall in America, so remember to charge your Fitbit or Apple Watch before you go to get credit for all the steps you’ll take while shopping at the hundreds of stores. 

Sawgrass Mills features dozens of famous retail brands like Balenciaga, Armani, Burberry, and many more, while also offering a vast selection of excellent food options throughout the mall. If you prefer to pay full price for luxury brands, you can also head to The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale for one of South Florida’s most famous, premium shopping experiences.

10. Explore Butterfly World

Butterfly World is exactly what it sounds like: a butterfly sanctuary with over 20,000 colorful butterflies and birds. Butterfly World is the perfect attraction to visit when you’re exploring Fort Lauderdale if you want to do more than just shop or lay on the beach.

Whether you’re traveling with friends, a partner, or family, Butterfly World offers guided educational tours or you can also wander around and explore at your own pace. The South Florida Adventure Pass includes entry to Butterfly World as well as three other top outdoor destinations to visit in Fort Lauderdale, including Flamingo Gardens, Sawgrass Recreation Park, and the Museum of Discovery and Science.

surfing is a popular thing to do in fort lauderdale

11. Learn To Surf

Make vacation memories and get your adrenaline pumping by taking a surfing lesson in Fort Lauderdale. Pompano Beach is one of the best spots to try this watersport because the waves are consistent and not too forceful. However, you can enjoy surfing along nearly any Fort Lauderdale beach. 

If you’re not quite ready to ride the waves on a surfboard yet, try taking a paddleboarding lesson instead to get your feet wet. Paddleboarding lets you get out onto the water, but the large board is easier to stay upright on than a surfboard and there typically aren’t any waves involved. 

12. Embark on a Seaplane Tour

If sightseeing is on your travel bucket list, then a seaplane tour is a must-do when visiting Fort Lauderdale. You can fly over Fort Lauderdale for 30 minutes and soak in the views as you soar through the sky, getting a unique vantage point of the crystal clear the Atlantic Ocean, white sand beaches, and towering palm trees of South Florida.

A seaplane tour of Fort Lauderdale is more expensive than your standard boat sightseeing tour, but it will be a memory that your entire travel group will remember for years to come.

one thing to do in fort lauderdale is experience the city from the water

13. Enjoy a Boat Cruise

Fort Lauderdale has endless boat cruise options that allow you to experience South Florida’s coastline, beaches, bays, and canals from the water. A sightseeing cruise is one of the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale because it shows off this beach city from a new vantage point and allows you to get out on the water without actually getting in it.

Las Olas Gondola operates romantic boat tours in a fleet of Venetian-style gondolas, while the Jungle Queen Riverboat is a multi-deck ferry for large sightseeing tours along Fort Lauderdale’s waterfront. 

Fort Lauderdale is also known as the yachting capital of the U.S. So, don’t miss the chance to hop onto one of the city’s luxury yachts if you’re looking for a fast-paced on-the-water experience.

14. Kayak Along the Venetian Isles

There’s no better way to explore the “Venice of America” and Fort Lauderdale’s intricate system of canals than in a single or tandem kayak

You can rent a kayak or book a group kayaking tour depending on your comfort level. Whatever you choose, experiencing Fort Lauderdale by kayak lets you go at your own pace as you meander through the crystal-clear waterways and allows you to see some of South Florida’s most expensive waterfront mansions in a unique way.

the Bonnet Museum and House is a scenic indoors and outdoors thing to do in Fort Lauderdale

15. Visit the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens

The Bonnet House Museum and Gardens is a historic home museum in the heart of Fort Lauderdale. The house was built in 1920 and was formerly the home of two famous American artists, Frederic and Evelyn Bartlett. 

The Bonnet House Museum shows off the artists’ furnished home and also includes many of their original works of art still decorating the walls. 

The gardens are a space of tranquility amidst the city. The brightly colored flowers beg to be photographed, while the manicured gardens offer a calming place to relax and rejuvenate after a busy day at the beach canoeing, in a kayak, or on a seaplane tour.

16. Learn about South Florida History at the Historic Stranahan House Museum

The Historic Stranahan House Museum is the oldest standing house in Broward County, which includes Fort Lauderdale. This historic home was built in 1901 and was the residence of two of Fort Lauderdale’s first residents, Frank and Ivy Stranahan.

Enjoy a guided tour through the museum and Stranahan house, while hearing stories about one of Fort Lauderdale’s founding families and learning more about the history of this bustling, up-and-coming city.

17. Go Sightseeing on the Community Shuttle

Formerly known as the Sun Trolley, the Community Shuttle is an easy and effortless way to get around Fort Lauderdale. It’s free to ride and has links and stops throughout the city, so it’s perfect for visitors who want to self-guide themselves on a tour of Fort Lauderdale’s top sights and attractions.

Whether you use the Community Shuttle for sightseeing or as cheap transportation, it’s a convenient way to check off multiple items on this list of the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale. Especially if you aren’t driving into town or don’t want to rent a car.

treating yourself to a delicious meal at casa d'angelo is a popular fort lauderdale thing to do

18. Try a Meal at Casa D’Angelo

Casa D’Angelo is one of Fort Lauderdale’s best restaurants where you can indulge in delicious Northern Italian cuisine and a large wine selection in an elegant, upscale atmosphere. 

Casa D’Angelo’s food is award-winning, its service impeccable, and it’s the original location of the now famous brand started by chef Angelo Elia, which currently has other locations throughout the U.S. If you’re a foodie—or just spent all day working up an appetite being out and about around town—Casa D’Angelo is a can’t-miss Fort Lauderdale culinary icon.

an outdoors thing to do in fort lauderdale is drink at the tiki bar

19. Have Fun on a Floating Tiki Bar

Fort Lauderdale Cruisin’ Tikis proves that boat tours in the Venice of America come in all shapes and sizes. On this tiki bar boat cruise, you and your friends can enjoy drinks, live entertainment, and experience Fort Lauderdale’s scenic waterways all at the same time. 

Cruisin’ Tikis has boat tours with jazz music under the stars as well as cruises that depart morning, afternoon, and at sunset. You can also custom charter a tiki bar boat for a private party which will make for a waterfront event that you and your traveling companions will remember for the rest of your lives.

20. Try Something Delicious at The Katherine

One of the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale is to experience its world-class, up-and-coming culinary scene. The Katherine is a new restaurant in Fort Lauderdale that opened its doors in 2021 and has quickly established itself as one of the city’s most coveted reservations. 

This Argentinian Steakhouse serves up premium cuts of meat in artfully plated dishes. The skilled chefs can also accommodate allergies and food intolerances as well as whip up something special for the kids. Don’t pass up the decadent dessert menu when you’ve finished dinner either.

if you're looking fort a cultural thing to do in ft lauderdale then definitely make a stop at the NSU Art Museum

21. See Art at the NSU Art Museum

The NSU Art Museum in Fort Lauderdale is one of the places to visit in the city if it rains or you need a few hours out of the sun. The exhibitions and art installations are inspiring and educational, and they are sure to keep everyone in your travel group entertained. 

The art gallery has permanent and rotating exhibitions so that visitors who have explored the NSU before can always find something new. 

After browsing the paintings, sculptures, and digital art, head to the onsite cafe and gift shop to pick up treats and souvenirs.

jockeys racing at gulfstream park

22. Win Big at the Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino

If you’re feeling lucky during your getaway to Fort Lauderdale, head to the Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino in nearby Hallandale Beach to experience the energy of a real-life horse race, a pulse-pounding casino night, or to catch some live entertainment or a show. 

The Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino are also home to several excellent restaurants so you can easily spend an entire afternoon or evening here (or both) without running out of things to do.

23. Open Your Mind at the Museum of Discovery and Science

The Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale is an excellent activity for the entire family to enjoy. This interactive museum and science center has hands-on exhibits for kids and kids-at-heart to learn from. 

The Museum of Discovery and Science includes an onsite IMAX 3D theater, a prehistoric Florida section, and interactive exhibits about Florida’s rare flora, fauna, and ecosystems. For outdoor lovers, the Museum of Discovery and Science is an excellent activity to pair with a visit to Flamingo Gardens or the Everglades.

24. Pretend to be a Pirate on a Bluefoot Pirate Adventure

Bluefoot Pirate Adventures is one of the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale, especially if you are visiting with children. This exciting boat tour takes the whole family out to sea on a replica pirate ship, where you’ll take orders from your captain, learn pirate lingo, and even battle another pirate ship with water cannons. 

This interactive tour gets you and your travel group out onto Fort Lauderdale’s beautiful crystal clear waters while making endless vacation and Instagram-worthy memories that your kids will love. 

25. Have a Blast at Flippo’s Family Center

Flippos Family Center is an indoor playground that spans 9,000 square feet of interactive fun and offers families the perfect place to visit in Fort Lauderdale if it’s raining, too hot outside, or you’re just looking for something unique to do. At Flippo’s Family Center, you and your kids can slide down mega slides, play in the laser maze, cannonball into ball pits, climb, jump, and play. 

Children ages one to 14 are welcome to run around and blow off some steam while parents can enjoy drinks and snacks in the comfortable seating areas.

family in a flat-bottomed boat. seeing alligators is a popular thing to do in fort lauderdale

26. See alligators at Sawgrass Recreation Park

Sawgrass Recreation Park is a beautiful destination near Fort Lauderdale that your entire family will enjoy. The Sawgrass Recreation Park is in the Florida Everglades and offers unique tours through miles of jaw-dropping scenery and wetland wilderness. 

An airboat ride at Sawgrass Recreation Park is also one of the best ways to see an alligator because these flat-bottomed boats with a giant fan on the back instead of an engine are designed to explore shallow waters like the Everglades.

drinking a beer at Invasive Species is a popular Fort Lauderdale thing to do

27. Have a Beer at Invasive Species Brewing

After a long day of exploring, head to Invasive Species Brewing and try one—or a few—of this craft brewery’s delicious beers. 

You never know what to expect at Invasive Species Brewing because their beer selection constantly rotates based on the experiments they conduct in their taproom, and their menu adjusts weekly based on which seasonal ingredients are available.

The brewery and bar are also decorated with taxidermied native animals on nearly every free wall space for a unique and laid-back atmosphere that perfectly captures the South Florida outdoor vibe.

28. Play a round of golf

Fort Lauderdale is home to some of South Florida’s best golf courses, so you have unending options to choose from if you like to hit the greens on vacation. Enjoy a scenic spot to practice your shots as well as clubhouses with epic views. 

The private Grand Oaks Golf Club is one of Fort Lauderdale’s most renowned courses, but golfers must have a membership or know someone who’s a member to play here. Other respected golf courses in Fort Lauderdale include: 

  • The Jacaranda Golf Club
  • The City of Lauderhill Golf Course
  • The Coral Ridge Country Club
  • The Club at Emerald Hills 
  • The Fort Lauderdale Country Club
  • The Bonaventure Golf Club
  • The Davie Golf Club
  • The Country Club of Coral Springs
enjoying a fancy cocktail at Blue Martini is a popular fort lauderdale thing to do

29. Have a Drink at the Blue Martini

The Blue Martini is a sophisticated bar and nightclub in Fort Lauderdale on Sunrise Boulevard at the Galleria Mall. For anyone visiting Fort Lauderdale over the age of 21, this bar and nightclub is a must-visit spot. 

The Blue Martini is open Wednesday to Sunday nights with Happy Hour between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. They also have live music almost around the clock, which will get you and your travel companions onto the dance floor. If you’re traveling in a large group, you can also host private events here.

30. Rent an epic vacation home

One of the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale is to rent a vacation home with a pool, comfortable amenities, water views, and a space for your furry friends to run around. There are so many options of amazing rentals for families, friends, and couples that give you more privacy than a hotel room as well as the comfort of feeling like you’re at home.

Whether you’re looking for a vacation rental near your favorite beach or you want to rent a home that’s closer to one of your must-see attractions while you’re in town, Fort Lauderdale has rental options suited to any type of traveler.

Conclusion

Fort Lauderdale is chock-full of fun activities and things to do for couples, groups, and families. Travelers searching for history and culture will adore the Historic Stranahan House Museum and the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Meanwhile, adventure lovers will get a thrill out of jet skiing, an airboat tour, or exploring Fort Lauderdale’s canals by kayak or paddleboard.

If you prefer a slower pace, enjoy lounging on the many amazing Fort Lauderdale beaches or shopping at outlet malls and boutique shops. Whatever you choose, you’re in for a great time in the “Venice of America.”

9 Friendsgiving Ideas for a Group Getaway

Thanksgiving, and therefore, Friendsgiving is right around the corner. Time to spend time with your chosen family! But don’t settle for your run-of-the-mill potluck this year. You’ve got a great friend group and you all deserve a pre-holiday celebration just as special as you are. Listed below are our 9 favorite ways to elevate your Friendsgiving at an AvantStay vacation rental. 

this smoky mountain vacation rental offers ample seating for hosting friendsgiving

1. Room for the whole crew

Delmont – Smoky Mountains, TN Starting at $47/pp/night

Easily turn one meal into one weekend with plenty of space for your group to spread out and let the food coma settle in. Nestled in the Smoky Mountains, Delmont is a 20-guest stay with four floors, a hot tub, pool, game room, yard space, two spacious living rooms, and two dining tables – perfect for a proper feasting sesh.

enjoy this outdoor grill for celebrating friendsgiving in the hudson valley

2. Pump up the vibe with pre-feast activities

Clove – Hudson Valley, NY Starting at $81/pp/night

Get everyone excited with festive pre-feast activities at one of our homes in Hudson Valley! Clove is just a short drive away from all the great fall activities like visiting pumpkin patches, leaf peeping, and roasting marshmallows. Hot tip: get ready to make cider or apple pie from fresh apples – this home is close to multiple local apple orchards.

fill your entire group around this large table for friendsgiving at a sedona vacation rental

3. You don’t have to cook

Pyramid – Sedona, AZ Starting at $85/pp/night

Not interested in cooking? No problem. Have us coordinate a private chef for you and yours directly from our app! We recommend a stay at Pyramid in Sedona where you can soak up the views while you soak in the hot tub. With ample seating for everyone, you can easily watch a culinary artist in their element without ever having to worry about being in the way.

one of the best friendsgiving ideas is to enjoy your meal outdoors at this newport beach vacation rental

4. Enjoy plenty of activities for the group

Bay Breeze – Newport Beach Starting at $46/pp/night

It doesn’t have to be all about the food. Our homes have tons to do for those in your group that just can’t sit still. For a fun-filled stay, try Friendsgiving weekend at Bay Breeze in Newport Beach, CA. This 10-guest bayside home has multiple dining areas, a fully-stocked kitchen, a basketball court, paddleboards, a fire pit, and a stocked game area.

one great friendsgiving idea is to feast al fresco at this lake tahoe vacation rental

5. Say “au revoir” to post-meal cleaning

Homewood – Lake Tahoe, CA Starting at $85/pp/night

Take the pressure out of hosting (and cleaning) with a stay at Homewood in Lake Tahoe – the ideal stay for a nature lover who just can’t get enough of that fresh mountain air. We’ve got you covered pre- and mid-stay – with fully-stocked kitchens and the option to book a mid-stay cleaning, we’re here to make your Friendsgiving as worry-free as can be.

celebrate friendsgiving surrounded by the best sunset views at this san diego vacation rental

6. Experience a change in scenery

Belmont – San Diego, CA Starting at $102/pp/night

Soak in new views surrounded by your favorite company. Located right on the water, Belmont is a San Diego stay with all the ocean views you can handle. Experience the perfect blend of indoor/outdoor living with an extra spacious dining and living room, a grill on the balcony, and a chance to show off your mixologist skills with a cocktail and “cheers” to this extra-dreamy view.

prepare the ultimate feast if cooking is one of your friendsgiving ideas

7. Cook like a proper chef in our gourmet kitchens

Mirabella – Coachella Valley, CA Starting at $185/pp/night

Take advantage of an array of spacious, gourmet kitchens like Mirabella in Coachella Valley. This sprawling estate comes complete with an outdoor kitchen, pool, hot tub, ping pong table, equestrian barn, wet bar, paddle boards, kayaks, paddle boat, and a private lake surrounding the property.