Investing In A Vacation Rental in 2015? Here are the US Most Searched Vacation Hot Spots

Whether it is an emerging nightlife and food scene or just the appeal of a beachside oasis, travelers are drawn to different vacation spots for a variety of reasons. The booming vacation rental industry has grown tremendously over the past few years allowing for travelers to experience new destinations in unique ways.

For those interested in cashing in on this vacation rental trend, 2015 may be the time to invest. According to the National Association of Realtors, 717,000 vacation homes were purchased in 2013- the most since 2006 before the housing crash. With asking prices rising 7.4% year-over-year, 2015 may be the year to purchase an investment home before price tags get too high.

According to the National Association of Realtors, median sales for a vacation home rose 12.5 percent to $168,700 in 2013. However, our partner HomeAway says despite the rise, 54% of vacation rental owners are actually able to cover more than three quarters of their mortgage from renting their vacation home. On average, the renting of vacation homes grosses an annual income of $27,360.

For investors looking for hot spots, Tripping.com has gathered the year's most searched US vacation destinations. We've also attached each metro's median sales price to get a sense of the housing market.

According to our findings, the majority of our most searched list contains metros with median sales prices higher than the median vacation home price of $168,000. San Francisco, New York and Seattle have always been notoriously expensive housing markets. However, big vacation hot spots in Florida such as Sarasota, Fort Myers and Cape Coral make the most searched list and offer lower median home sale prices.

1. San Francisco, CA

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Median home sales price: $975,000

Rentals priced from: $30 a night to $3,000 a night

Lodging Tax: 14.5%

This small city has earned a big name for itself among tourists. Famous for its funky boutiques, trendy restaurants and cafes, vibrant music and arts scene, cultural diversity, and of course, its natural beauty, it's no wonder San Francisco is so popular. Its moderate climate is perfect for outdoor activities all year round, from exploring the city, to escaping to one of the neighboring hotspots like Napa Valley or Muir Woods.

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2. The Villages, FL

aerial view of entrance to nice florida golf community

Median home sales price: $211,900

Rentals price from: $23 a night to $495 a night

Lodging Tax: 10% (For 6-months+)

The Villages is the nation's hidden gem for retirees. Known as “Florida's Friendliest Hometown", this central Florida community welcomes adults 55 years and older to embrace a relaxing lifestyle filled with golf, beach and parties. Visitors will appreciate the city's large assortment of community-focused events and activities as well as its variety of shopping and dining options.

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3. New York City, NY

Manhattan

Median home sales price: $1,175,000

Rentals price from: $35 a night to $7,000 a night

Lodging Tax: 4.5%

The City That Never Sleeps: New York's unrivaled energy and myriad of attractions, from the Statue of Liberty to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, beckons visitors from near and far. Home to world-renowned museums, galleries, restaurants, theatre, and shopping, The Big Apple truly offers something for everyone to enjoy. With so much to do and see and so much delicious food to be sampled, tourists are left wanting more.

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4. New Orleans, LA

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Median home sales price: $180,222

Rentals price from: $40 a night to $4,700 a night

State Sales Tax: 4%

New Orleans is not only one of the top-searched cities on Tripping.com but also one of the most visited cities in the country. Home to the annual Mardi Gras and New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival celebrations, visitors embrace NOLA's vibrant nightlife and world famous music scene all year round. From Bourbon Street's inviting bars that host live performances, to the array of exceptional cafes and restaurants, New Orleans is truly a music and food lovers' dream destination.

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5. San Diego, CA

San Diego skyline and Waterfront

Median home sales price: $455,000

Rentals price from: $62 a night to $4,725 a night

Lodging Tax: 10.5%

San Diego's stunning beaches, incredible food, popular attractions, and warm weather make it a true California hot-spot. From great shopping and dining options downtown and in the Gaslamp Quarter, as well as world-class beaches and scenic hiking trails, visitors will love their countless options when planning their trip. Animal lovers should explore the San Diego Zoo, home to fascinating wildlife and fun activities perfect for all ages.

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6. Seattle, WA

Seattle skyline

Median home sales price: $440,000

Rentals price from: $55 a night to $1,200 a night

Lodging Tax: 9.5% (for stays under 30 days)

Known for its eclectic vibe and friendly, laidback locals, Seattle is one of the West Coast's most popular destinations. Its vibrant arts scene, beautiful evergreen forests (which have earned the city the title “The Emerald City"), and top-notch cafes where you can indulge in some carefully crafted coffee, attract tourists from all over. The Space Needle, a more than 600-foot tower offering incredible views of the city, the Puget Sound, and the Olympic Mountain Range are all popular tourist attractions.

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7. Chicago, IL

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Median home sales price: $243,000

Rentals price from: $35 a night to $2,000 a night

Lodging Tax: 16.4%

From magnificent modern art, beautiful architecture, world-class dining, and a passionate sports culture, the lakefront city of Chicago has it all. Visitors gush over its beautiful urban skyline and the majesty of Lake Michigan, whose blue waters and beaches attract vacationers during the summer months. Visitors enjoy memorable performances at The Second City Theater, which is the Alma Mater of some of the most successful comedians, and cool jazz and blues clubs.

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8. Fort Myers Beach, FL

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Median home sales price: $165,000

Rentals price from: $30 a night to $1,990 a night

Lodging Tax: 5% (for stays under 6-months)

Once the winter home to the famous Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, Fort Myers Beach has remained one of the most popular destinations among travelers. Its warm climate attracts vacationers all year long as well as northerners looking to escape the cold during the winter months. The nearby Gulf Coast beaches invite boating, sailing and fishing enthusiasts while those preferring to stay on land can enjoy great shopping and dining.

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9. Sarasota, FL

Lido Beach, Sarasota, Florida

Median home sales price: $212,000

Rentals price from: $33 a night to $2,300 a night

Lodging Tax: 5% (for stays under 6-months)

The Gulf Coast city of Sarasota is one of Florida's most visited destinations. Home to gorgeous beaches and situated between the popular cities of Tampa, to the north, and Fort Myers, to the south, there is plenty to do in this warm city. Visitors looking to indulge can enjoy an assortment of high-end shops and fine dining. Among its unique attractions is the Ringling Estate and the Ringling Museum of Art, which offers unique insight into the world famous circus and showcases the family's incredible art collection.

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10. Cape Coral, FL

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Median home sales price: $152,000

Rentals price from: $25 a night to $1,990 a night

Lodging Tax: 5% (for stays under 6-months)

Like its popular Gulf Coast neighbors, Cape Coral is famous for its lovely beaches. This Florida gem is perfect for beach and outdoor enthusiasts of all ages who can pursue boating, fishing, shelling, hiking, swimming, and golfing, among countless other activities. With hundreds of miles of canals and serene nature preserves, Cape Coral also attracts wildlife enthusiasts. To add to the long list of activities in this pretty city, the enormous Sun Splash Family Waterpark offers a fun place for families to cool off on a hot day.

Check out vacation rentals in Cape Coral, FL!