Whether you're on a two-day romantic weekend or an extended family vacation, nothing beats a cabin stay for privacy, comfort, and convenience. Gone are the days of cold nights, no running water, and midnight trips to the outhouse. Many modern rental cabins offer the same level of luxury as the best four and five-star hotels. Many have gourmet kitchens, hot tubs, and even game rooms. Just about every size cabin offers more space to stretch out than the largest hotel room. With that said, here are five of the nation's favorite cabin vacation destinations.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee
A mix of unique attractions, gorgeous scenery, wildflowers, trees, wildlife and the mists that give the Smoky Mountains their name have made this designated unique biosphere one of the country's most popular cabin vacation destinations. The small and bustling town of Gatlinburg is located at the national park entrance, and one of the hundreds of Gatlinburg cabins perched in the foothills puts you right in the middle of the action. With 800 miles of trails and almost 3,000 miles of streams, the free-admission national park offers beauty at every turn and easy access to nature. Inside and throughout the area surrounding the park, practically every road is a scenic drive in its own right.
A family-fun downtown with attractions, shops, restaurants, and shows for all ages bring families to Gatlinburg and its neighboring town of Pigeon Forge year-round. If it's just you and your significant other, cabins in the Smokies offer a level of privacy and seclusion not found in any other type of lodging. Whether you snuggle up by a warm fire or sip champagne in the hot tub, area cabins come with everything needed for a perfect romantic getaway.
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Clean, crisp mountain air, stunning views, and an endless variety of outdoor activities bring vacationers to Rocky Mountain National Park. A hiker's paradise, the park has over 350 miles of trails that range from steep mountain climbs to flat lakeside strolls. Estes Park, a picturesque little town 70 miles north of Denver, serves as the gateway to the national park, and hosts many of the area's cabins on its outskirts.
The Beaver Meadow Visitor Center, located in the center of town, has rangers onsite who answer questions, host daily tours, and run a Junior Ranger Program for the kids. If you prefer to experience the park's beauty from the comfort of your car, Trail Ridge Road (a designated Top Ten American Byway) offers 48 miles of breathtaking views. Two onsite riding stables offer various horseback tours that let you get a real sense of the park's majestic beauty. Over 60 species of mammals, including elk, bighorn sheep and black bear, call Rocky Mountain National Park their home.
The Adirondack Mountains, New York
New York's Adirondack Mountains feature a mix of majestic peaks, pristine lakes, and historic little towns. The area's many water bodies, including Lake George and Lake Placid, make the Adirondacks a popular summertime destination. Snow season starts in November, and eight different slopes bring skiers from all over the country. Located near the northern tip of Lake George, Fort Ticonderoga offers a glimpse into the life of early settlers as well as gorgeous views of the lake.
About a 15-minutes drive from downtown Lake George, the sprawling Six Flags-owned Great Escape Amusement Park offers a break if the kids get cabin fever - and those cabins are scattered throughout the area, including many in lakeside settings. The beautiful town of Lake Placid, about 40 miles north of Lake George, boasts excellent skiing, a serene lake, and a bit of its own historical significance - the arena where the US Men's Hockey team stunningly defeated the Soviets in 1980 (the miracle on ice) still hosts events today. Many of the original 1980 Olympic facilities are still in use at the Whiteface Mountain ski area.
Ancient sequoia trees, spectacular waterfalls, and stunning rock formations make Yosemite National Park one of the country's most popular cabin vacation destinations. The United States' third-oldest national park, Yosemite attracts over 3.5 million visitors every year. The park's most popular sites include North America's tallest waterfall, Yosemite Falls, a 3,000-foot vertical granite rock formation known as El Capitan, and Mariposa Grove, home to over 500 Giant Sequoia trees. The charming village of Yosemite Valley has a handful of shops, restaurants, and lodgings, as well as The Ansel Adams Gallery. Cabins are available both inside the national park and in the surrounding area. In total, Yosemite National Park encompasses almost 1,170 square miles of gorgeous landscape.
Lake Tahoe, California
With shores straddling California and Nevada, beautiful Lake Tahoe offers a unique mix of lakeside activities, world-class skiing and casino gambling. Lake Tahoe's calm water, pristine beaches, and interesting little coves attract kayakers in the summertime. Nearby Squaw Valley - home to the 1960 Winter Olympics - draws skiers from all over the world during snow season.
On the Nevada side of the lake, Las Vegas-style casinos feature top-name entertainment, a wide variety of dining options, and lots of table games. Heavenly Village, located in the town of South Lake Tahoe, has a wide range of eateries and shops, two hotels, an ice skating rink, and miniature golf. A tram - the Heavenly Gondola - takes skiers up the mountain in winter and sightseers in summer. As with every location mentioned here, cabins are often available to buy as well as to rent. Partners can easily set up an LLC and go in on a cabin as an investment. One day your perfect vacation might just happen in your own cabin.