Top 10 College Towns to Visit This Fall

Football season is here, and fans are gearing up to cheer on their favorite college teams across the U.S. While many travelers are looking to catch a game, some college towns offer visitors even more.

Tailgating and screaming from the bleachers is certainly part of the experience, but for those looking to make the most out of their visit, VacationRenter conducted research on the best college towns to visit this fall.

After looking into the number of home game fans, university traditions, local attractions and of course, plenty of places to stay, here’s our list of top destinations:

Here are the top 10 college towns for football fans

  1. Austin, TX – University of Texas 

    texas-longhorns-austin-best-college-town
    Fans per home game: 92,778
    Lodging: 3,073 nearby vacation rentals
    Recognitions: U.S. News #1 best place to live in America 2017 and 2018

    Austin has graced the #1 spot across many “best places” lists, including best place to live in America for the last two years in a row, and it’s not a mystery why it’s received such praise. There’s something for everyone, from the foodie and music lover, to outdoor adventure seekers. After catching a Longhorns game (look out for Bevo, and make sure to chant “Hook ‘em Horns!”), head over to Franklin’s Barbeque for a classic Texas BBQ experience. After dinner, catch a free aeriel show of – bats! From March through November, the South Congress Bridge Bats take shelter under the bridge, flying in around 7:30-8:30pm. Cap off the night on Sixth Street for happy hour and music.


  2. Ann Arbor, MI – University of Michigan
    ann-arbor-best-college-football-city
    Fans per home game: 111,589
    Lodging: 228 nearby vacation rentals
    Recognitions: CBS News #4 best cities to live 2018, Livability #1 best places to live 2018

    Home of the Wolverines, Ann Arbor offers a great home game experience for visitors, and so much more. After game day (Go Blue!) check out Kerrytown’s Historic Market District, located just a few blocks from downtown Ann Arbor. Artisan enthusiasts and shoppers will enjoy the selection of jewelry, spices, oils, clothing and more. Check off another fall bucket list item by visiting Dexter Cider Mill, the oldest, continuously operating cider mill in Michigan. Not only does the mill offer traditional cider and doughnuts, but this year they’re adding hard cider and gluten free/vegan doughnuts to the list – yum!


  3. College Station, TX – Texas A&M
    texas-a-m-best-football-town-america
    Fans per home game: 98,902
    Lodging: 396 nearby vacation rentals
    Recognitions: Livability #6 best college town 2017, Livability #41 best places to live 2018

    As the top rival of UT, Texas A&M’s hometown of College Station is also high on the list of best college towns to check out. Aggie Nation boasts strong traditions, like the 12th Man, and rich history. History buffs can visit the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, featuring more than 100,000 artifacts, or the Museum of the American G.I, featuring restored WWII collections. Check out Hullaballo Diner for a 1940s New York-style diner experience, complete with pot roast, burgers and Train Wreck Fries (bonus: they’re loaded, and Guy Fieri has taken a bite of them). Visit Messina Hof Winery for tours and tastings of their famous merlots, cabernets and rosés.


  4. State College, PA – Penn State University
    penn-state-beaver-stadium-best-football-town-america
    Fans per home game: 106,707
    Lodging: 190 nearby vacation rentals
    Recognitions: Livability #52 best places to live 2018

    Perhaps one of the most notable mascots in college football, the Nittany Lion of Penn State is a fabricated animal devised by a senior in 1907, and its influence is felt across the town. Avid adventurers can climb the mascots namesake, Mount Nittany, which is tied to a Native American legend. Beer lovers can purchase a passport for the Central PA Tasting Trail, valid at all 12 Centre County craft beverage producers, including Barrel 21 Distillery and University Wine Company. Take the whole family on an all-water limestone cavern boat tour at Penn’s Cave, a highlight from the National Register of Historic Places.


  5. Tuscaloosa, AL – University of Alabama
    university-alabama-best-football-town-america
    Fans per home game: 101,722
    Lodging: 298 nearby vacation rentals
    Recognitions: Business Insider #12 best place in America to find a job 2018

    Roll Tide in Tuscaloosa after one of the famous Alabama football games and take the Walk of Champions to bask in the presence of winning head coaches. There’s more to this town than Alabama football! Check out the Riverwalk by the Black Warrior River to walk off that post-game adrenaline. If you’re still looking for more excitement, visit Haunted Tuscaloosa Tours or take a tour of the Mercedes Benz Factory. Better yet, broaden your horizons at the Tuscaloosa Museum of Art. Before you head out in the morning, grab breakfast at The Waysider Restaurant, a favorite of legendary Alabama Coach Bear Bryant.


  6. Knoxville, TN – University of Tennessee
    university-tennessee-best-football-town-america
    Fans per home game: 95,779
    Lodging: 3,125 nearby vacation rentals
    Recognitions: Livability #8 best affordable places to live 2018

    Knoxville is not just a college town with a great football legacy – it’s a place of music, mountains and more than you’d expect! After you’ve experienced your first Vol Walk, it’s time to check out all the other fun stuff that Knoxville has to offer, including the historic Market Square just minutes away from campus. If shopping isn’t your scene, head out to Mead’s Quarry Lake or Ijams Nature Center to walk on the wild side. Out on the UT strip? Eat at Gus’s Good Times Deli, which is one of Peyton Manning’s rumored favorite dining spots.


  7. Columbus, OH – Ohio State University
    ohio-state-university-best-football-town-america
    Fans per home game: 107,495
    Lodging: 653 nearby vacation rentals
    Recognitions: U.S. News #36 best places to live 2018

    With the Buckeye Battle Cry still ringing in your ears it’s time to take on all that the city of Columbus has to offer. Want a one-of-a-kind experience? Head over to German Village – one of the best historic districts in the country – or the Short North Arts District to check out art of all styles or eat at trendy restaurants. If you’re looking for something a little more low key, take a stroll around the Park of the Roses or the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.


  8. Baton Rouge, LA – Louisiana State University
    louisiana-state-university-best-football-town-america
    Fans per home game: 98,506
    Lodging: 193 nearby vacation rentals
    Recognitions: National Geographic #19 best cities to live in the U.S. 2018

    As the heart of all things Louisiana with a unique culture and 300 years worth of Southern history, there is much to see, do and taste while exploring this “Capital City.” Once you’ve eaten your way through an LSU tailgate (a.k.a a city-wide barbeque) and witnessed a game at the 9th largest stadium in the world, stop by Mike the Tiger’s habitat (yes, he’s real and he only bites Bama fans). After that, check out the USS Kidd Museum to find the “Pirate of the Pacific” fully restored to her WWII configuration. Also, don’t forget to go to the Baton Rouge Zoo and take a walk through the Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center. End your day with a comforting pecan-smoked brisket from Zeeland Street. A perfect ending to a perfect day in Baton Rouge. Geaux Tigers!


  9. Athens, GA – University of Georgia
    university-of-georgia-best-college-football-town-america
    Fans per home game: 92,746  
    Lodging: 188 nearby vacation rentals
    Recognitions: Forbes #1 best place to retire 2017

    With more than 36 bulldog statues, it’s safe to say Athens loves their dawgs. As a fan, you can attend the famous Dawg Walk prior to the game and watch Between the Hedges. For the adventurous visitors, Birchmore Trail and Big Dogs on the River are great ways to get outdoors and explore Athens. The more artistic types can take advantage of the Athens Institute for Contemporary Art or take a stroll through the Bear Hollow Zoo. Looking for some authentic Southern cuisine while in town? Eat at Pulaski Heights BBQ, featuring pulled pork and mac and cheese.


  10. Lincoln, NE – University of Nebraska
    university-nebraska-best-college-football-town-america
    Fans per home game: 89,798
    Lodging: 216 nearby vacation rentals
    City stats: Livability #19 best places to live 2018

    Surrounded by corn fields, most people wouldn’t think of Lincoln for their next trip, but Dear Old Nebraska will surprise you. As the only garden in Nebraska in the 300 Best Gardens to visit in the United States and Canada, the Sunken Gardens are a must-see. To experience the history of the speedway, racing fans can stop by the Museum of American Speed for historical artifacts. Make sure to stop by Bison Witches for sandwiches and a nontraditional bar experience.

Getaway to Wine Country | Exploring Napa Valley

How to: Napa Valley Vacation

With its rolling hills covered in rows of grapevines and its imposing estate wineries, Napa Valley is a picturesque vacation destination. Whether you want to go on a weekend getaway from San Francisco or you want to spend your entire trip exploring the area, you’ll find lots to see and do. Book a room in a Napa Valley vacation home rental and discover the many sights and tastes this place has to offer.

Where to Stay in Napa

mTaira/Shutterstock

Napa is the biggest city in the Napa Valley, so you’ll find lots of accommodation in town. It’s also a great option if you want do shopping and sightseeing during your trip. It has plenty of historic buildings, boutiques and restaurants in its downtown core. If you want a quieter atmosphere than Napa has to offer, try St. Helena. This town has a rural feel to it, making it a suitable destination for a getaway from the city. Calistoga is another good option for a low-key destination. Nestled in the mountains in the northern part of the Napa Valley, it’s a popular place to go hiking or cycling. It’s also famous for its hot springs and geysers, offering fun and relaxation for the whole family.

When to Visit Wine Country

Lukasz Szwaj/Shutterstock

The grape harvest takes place between August and November, creating an exciting atmosphere throughout the region. In addition, the stunning fall colors are truly a sight to behold. This is the peak tourist season in Napa Valley, so if you’d prefer to visit during a quieter time of the year, try March, April or May. The spring weather is pleasant, and the blossoming landscape is picturesque.

Visiting California Wineries

Rocket Photos – HQ Stock/Shutterstock

Most people go to Napa to visit wineries and taste the region’s famous wine. In addition, many wineries open their doors to visitors and offer tours, which gives you a chance to see how they produce their wares. If you want to taste a bit of Napa for yourself, the possibilities are endless, so you should do a bit of planning before you set off. Take a look at which wineries operate close to where you’re staying and plan a route from there. You might also want to visit some famous names such as Castello di Amorosa or Robert Mondavi Winery.

How to Get Around Wine Country

Shannan Heaman/Shutterstock

If you don’t want to organize a designated driver, you can still make the most of Napa. The Napa Valley Wine Train runs from Napa to St. Helena, giving you a car-free option for exploring the area. You can also find a variety of tour buses operating in the area.

What else to do in Napa Valley besides Wine

Sundry Photography/Shutterstock

Napa Valley is a big name in the wine industry, but you can also find plenty of other activities to occupy your time in the area. Its hilly landscape makes it suitable for hiking and mountain biking. If you want to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors, try Bothe-Napa State Park, Robert Louis Stevenson State Park or Skyline Park. If hiking isn’t your thing, check out other options such as horseback riding and Segway tours.

Top 25 US Cities with Pet-Friendly Rental Properties

Have you ever thought about skipping your vacation because you didn’t want to leave your dog at home? According to recent studies, 37% of dog owners have done just that.

We decided to take a look at our own data to find out how this trend is influencing vacation rental properties. Our team found that “pet-friendly” is the 2nd most searched rental amenity among travelers, and some cities have close to half of their vacation rentals offering pet-friendly accommodations.

After looking at cities with a minimum of 1,000 property listings, Palm Springs, CA took the cake with 43% of its rental properties offering pet-friendly options, with Santa Fe, NM following closely behind with 41%.

Here are the the top 25 cities for pet-friendly vacations:

City Properties that are pet-friendly
Palm Springs, CA 43%
Santa Fe, NM 41%
Sunriver, OR 37%
Key West, FL 36%
Big Bear Lake, CA 36%
Lincoln City, OR 36%
Tucson, AZ 34%
Bend, OR 33%
La Quinta, CA 31%
Oak Island, NC 31%
Fort Lauderdale, FL 29%
Galveston, TX 28%
Corolla, NC 27%
Holmes Beach, FL 27%
Corpus Christi, TX 26%
Tybee Island, GA 26%
Phoenix, AZ 25%
Folly Beach, SC 25%
Cape Coral, FL 25%
San Antonio, TX 24%
South Padre Island, TX 24%
Scottsdale, AZ 23%
Austin, TX 23%
Oceanside, CA 23%
San Diego, CA 23%

Your dog works hard too, make sure they get well deserved vacation time in these pet-friendly locations.

How to Get the Most from Your Short-Term, Vacation Rental Property

vacation-beach-home

While some travelers will always want the convenience of a chain hotel, a growing number are seeking authentic getaways and want accommodations that offer them a taste of local culture.

There’s never been a better time to own a vacation rental property, but even the most adventurous travelers will insist on certain amenities. Knowing which are the most important—and highlighting these—is one of the keys to bringing in guests, whether you currently own a vacation rental or are in the market to buy one.

VacationRenter compiled data about the amenities that are most important to travelers, and tips for people looking to buy and market a rental property.

If You’re Looking to Buy a Property

If you are looking to acquire a property that can be rented out to travelers, the first step should be determining which cities are the most popular destinations for short-term renters; some markets are hotter than others.

To maximize income from the property, think in terms of renting it year-round, as this is more lucrative than offering a seasonal rental.

Some owners also prefer to buy a rental property in a place they enjoy visiting so they can visit a few times a year, while renting it out the remainder of the year.

Most importantly, look to acquire a property that has some of the amenities travelers want, including a swimming pool, a balcony, a kitchen, laundry facilities, a hot tub and adequate parking.

If You Already Own a Rental Property

If you already have a property that travelers can rent, think in terms of maximizing its potential by offering and highlighting the most sought-after amenities. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t add a swimming pool, because there are other perks travelers are taking very seriously.

Making your rental pet-friendly, for example, is a way to appeal to more travelers. Our data shows that accommodating pets is second only to offering a swimming pool when it comes to important amenities.

Other important features include air conditioning, Internet access and television. Below is a breakdown of amenities, which we’ve ranked according to their importance to travelers based on relevant searches:

Amenity Rank (1 highest)
Pool/Swimming 1
Pet Friendly 2
AC 3
Kitchen 4
Internet 5
Balcony/Patio 6
TV 7
Laundry 8
Parking 9
Hot tub/Spa 10

Whether you already own a rental property or are looking to acquire one, offering the right amenities is one of the top ways to ensure a steady stream of renters. But if you don’t put these amenities on display to the people searching the Internet for the right accommodation, it will defeat the purpose of offering them in the first place.

Create social media pages for your property to bring better visibility to your offerings. A great option is an Instagram page, which many travelers leverage to draw inspiration for places to go and where to stay. Since Instagram is one of the most visual social media platforms, it’s a great place to showcase your property’s amenities and build an aesthetic that will draw travelers in and prompt them to book.

Marketing the property will be important, so don’t limit yourself by simply listing on a website or two. List your rental with services like VacationRenter that pull personalized search results from the top travel sites across the Internet.

Considering the top amenities travelers seek and improving the marketing of your short-term vacation rental property is a win-win – you’ll provide travelers with a better vacation experience, and you’ll achieve a more lucrative rental business.

Top 5 Places to Visit Around Dallas

You can’t go far wrong when looking where to choose vacation rentals in Dallas, TX. The city has so much to see and do, you’ll always be near many of the great places to visit in Dallas.

The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza

Kokoulina/Shutterstock

The death of President John F. Kennedy had a profound impact on the United States, particularly in Dallas where his assassination took place. Once the site of a major crime scene, the sixth floor of what was previously the Texas School Book Depository where Lee Harvard Oswald made the fatal shot is now a museum dedicated to the tragic event. The Sixth Floor Museum — also incorporating the building’s seventh floor — includes a re-creation of the southeast window setup that Oswald used, exhibits relating to the shooting and subsequent investigations, plus a replica of the rifle used and other historical artifacts. Take the self-guided audio tour to hear historical accounts of the event, including radio broadcasts and police statements from the time.

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

All Stock Photos/Shutterstock

To enjoy natural beauty in peaceful surroundings, one of the best places to visit near Dallas downtown area is the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. Along White Rock Lake’s shore, this 66-acre park has 14 displays that are world famous, numerous fountains and sculptures, picnic areas, historic homes and manicured gardens. Visit during the fall to see acres of chrysanthemums in bloom or visit in spring to see thousands of blossoming azaleas. Keep your kids amused in the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden. Go sailing on the lake or hike along the trails to see what wildlife you can spot.

Perot Museum of Nature and Science

Oranzy Photography/Shutterstock

With dinosaur fossils, robots, interactive displays and a 3D theater, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science is a great place to take your kids when you’re on vacation. There are five floors to explore as well as a courtyard, play area and the Moody Family Children’s Museum. See what the property looks like from above when you ride on the 54-foot escalator. This museum focuses on sustainability and incorporates this into its themed areas, such as earth sciences and energy.

Dallas Museum of Art

kan_khampanya/Shutterstock

Art lovers mustn’t miss a visit to the Dallas Museum of Art. As one of the United States’ largest museums, it holds over 24,000 artworks from America, Western Europe, Africa and Asia. Whether you’re interested in contemporary art, classical art or ancient artifacts, there’s something to suit every taste in this landmark institution. As well as the permanent collections, you can see historic collections, view traveling exhibitions, take part in educational sessions and see displays of prominent artists’ artwork.

Dallas World Aquarium

Si Vo/Shutterstock

A few blocks away from the Perot Museum of Nature and Science you’ll find the Dallas World Aquarium. There, living in a natural reef environment, you’ll see leafy seadragons, sharks, octopuses, turtles, jellyfish, eels and stingrays. You may also be surprised to find other wildlife in the aquarium, such as flamingos and penguins. An ocelot and a jaguar live in the Mayan exhibit while you’ll encounter monkeys, crocodiles, manatees, toucans, poison dart frogs and tree sloths in the Orinoco Rainforest. Time your visit to coincide with some of the animals’ feeding schedules for added fun.