Holiday hospitality: Vacation rentals for family gatherings

There’s nothing better than gathering friends and family around the table to celebrate the holidays—unless, perhaps, it’s a new table. We’re all for traditions like baking your favorite pumpkin pie recipe, but why not start a new one, such as renting a vacation home for the holidays? A destination holiday combines tradition with the fun of exploring a new place. It also shakes up the same ol’ same ol’. Try something different, like swapping your midcentury ranch for a cozy mountain cabin. And best of all, when you get to choose the size of the home, no one gets stuck on an air mattress. We’ll toast to that.

One for all in Austin

Some families like to flop on the couch after a big festive meal, but if your family never stops moving, this Austin retreat will help keep the adrenaline pumping. Picture this. After gobbling up the turkey, head out into the warm Texas sun to shoot some hoops. Need to shoo the kids (and a few adults) out of the kitchen to concentrate on the gravy? Send them outside to the trampoline or onto the two-acre lawn to play a game of football. After your feast, gather together on the massive couch in front of the fireplace to relive the day’s adventures. Hungry athletes ate all the leftovers? No problem. Plan on a spending an evening barbecuing around the pool.

Happy holidays in Lake Arrowhead

Ahhh. Crisp mountain air, snowflakes falling, and rosy cheeks after a day of sledding. If your perfect holiday celebration takes place in a snowy landscape, book this cozy cabin in the mountains of Lake Arrowhead. Gather the troops for a morning of skiing before the big feast, and then snuggle on the leather couch to warm up in front of the fireplace. Kids will love piling into the bunk beds while parents do their best to ignore the late-night giggling. There’s also a game room for some competitive post-turkey foosball and Pac-Man.

Amazing entertaining in Leavenworth

If you’ve always dreamed of taking your family to Germany for one of its famed Christmas markets, the next best thing is Leavenworth. Seriously. You’ll think you’re in Germany, thanks to its Bavarian-style architecture in an Alpine setting. When you’re not skiing or visiting the town’s Nutcracker museum, whip up holiday meals in this rustic home that was built for large-scale entertaining. You can feed an army, thanks to the two stoves, refrigerators, and dishwashers. Set out gluehwein and spiced cookies on the island, which can easily fit 10 people. Catch up on favorite holiday movies in the screening room, or indulge your competitive side with some foosball in the game room.  

Charm everyone in Palmetto Bluff

If you normally celebrate the holidays with a glass of bubbly, consider swapping it for a mint julep. This gorgeous home on Palmetto Bluff is all about graceful Southern charm, complete with Spanish-moss-covered trees, so make sure your cocktail matches accordingly. What makes this home a gem is its décor as well as the easy flow of the indoor/outdoor living space. While some folks are on dinner duty in the gleaming kitchen, other guests can mingle in the great room. Got a warm night? Throw open the glass doors to the porch for added living space and to catch a breeze. Did someone say pimento cheese and crackers?

Room for the whole family in Rehoboth Beach

Do you need your vacation rental home to be supersized—and we mean supersized with a capital S? Look no further than this bright and colorful beach house. This home is big enough to comfortably hold 36—that’s right, 36—people in their own beds, plus everyone gets their own bathroom. The downstairs is all open plan, so whether you’re stretched out on the sofa or hanging out at the kitchen peninsula, you won’t miss a minute of the action. If you can tear yourself away from the pool table or the fireplace, the beach and boardwalk are just minutes away.

Make merry in Nashville

If your family talks about Garth, Keith, and Carrie—and no last names are needed—then make a pilgrimage to the country music capital of the US. Nashville is hotter than ever, and if you want to serve up the holidays with a side of live music, book this stylish home in Music City. The vibe is a little bit country and a little bit modern, thanks to sliding barn doors as well as a sleek kitchen. And while the kitchen is the heart of this home, at night you’ll be tempted to take your glass of wine outdoors to enjoy around the firepit. And to all a good night, y’all.

Enjoy all the trimmings in Eureka Springs

People used to flock to Eureka Springs for the healing qualities of the water, but staying at this vacation home will soothe away any holiday stresses. Why? It comes down to a genius layout, as well as breathtaking views. This Ozarks hideaway is configured as two separate homes, each with its own gourmet kitchen and living room, plus plenty of bedrooms. This means everyone can retreat to a quiet place for a nap after the big feast. But you might want to skip that nap to take in the views of Beaver Lake from the deck’s Jacuzzi tub.

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