2023's most buzzworthy vacation destinations

Published Date: January 9, 2023

A luxury home in Palm Springs has views of the mountains from the comfort of its backyard pool, showcasing why this city is one of the top vacation destinations in the country.
The United States is full of great vacation destinations for travelers of all ages, but only a select amount have enough offerings to keep visitors coming back.While certain locations saw an uptick in second home purchases in 2022, we wanted to discover where big-city dwellers are looking to escape and return to year after year. Pacaso asked residents in 12 major cities about their dream place for a second home and, in turn, discover the country's most buzz-worthy, top vacation destinationsSpoiler: The country has California top of mind.

Favorite destinations for big-city dwellers

An image identifies the major trends of what second home buyers look for in top vacation destinations.
The top 10 national second home destinations
1. Palm Springs, California
2. Lake Tahoe, California
3. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
4. Miami, Florida
5. Napa Valley, California
6. Malibu, California
7. Park City, Utah
8. Aspen-Snowmass, Colorado
9. Orange County, California
10. Breckenridge, Colorado
Before diving into individual city findings, we’ve highlighted some key takeaways that represent the trends of second home seekers on a national scale. The data show where major city residents overwhelmingly desire to vacation or own a vacation home.

All roads lead to California

Turns out, the West is the best in the eyes of major city residents — no matter their primary location. Four of the 12 major cities surveyed are located in California, so it makes sense that they would want a second home close to their primary residence. But city residents across almost every corner of the country also see California as one of the best places to visit.The top California vacation destinations are:
  1. Palm Springs
  2. Lake Tahoe
  3. Napa Valley
  4. Malibu
  5. Orange County
These five destinations garner nearly 73% of all second home interest nationally and make up half of the top 10 destinations.   Even city dwellers as far away as Chicago and New York City appear willing to travel across the country, as each has four California locations in their ranking of top vacation destinations.   

Palm Springs is the #1 dream destination

When it comes to the top vacation destinations, Palm Springs, California, reigns supreme for second home seekers. Palm Springs edged out Lake Tahoe as the most desireable travel destination for city residents across the country. It attracted 22% of all interest and appeared in the top 10 for every surveyed city. 

Californians want to drive to their favorite destination

An impressive 90% of the top 10 destinations for California cities can be reached within an eight-hour drive. Los Angeles residents appear to be the most willing to venture farther away, with two top destinations — Park City and Aspen — taking more than 10 hours to reach by car. Denverites are the next most likely residents to want destinations within driving distance, with five cities being reachable in under eight hours. Miami follows closely behind, with four top destinations being reachable by car. All other surveyed cities had two or less of their top destinations within reasonable driving distance.

Los Angeles residents

A map identifies the ten top vacation destinations for Los Angeles residents.
They say you need to have a car to get around Los Angeles, and residents apparently feel the same about getting to their most desirable second home locations and top vacation destinations. Eight of Los Angeles residents’ top vacation destinations are within the state, and five of the destinations take just a couple of hours to get to by car.  The only two destinations outside the state — Park City, Utah, and the Aspen-Snowmass area of Colorado — present a sharp contrast to the warm California destinations. Both destinations are vacation hot spots for snowbound fun, a quality missing from the other destinations aside from Lake Tahoe. 
Los Angeles dream locations
1. Palm Springs, California
2. Malibu, California
3. Lake Tahoe, California
4. Orange County, California
5. Napa Valley, California
6. San Diego, California
7. Park City, Utah
8. Santa Barbara area, California
9. Monterey-Carmel area, California
10. Aspen-Snowmass, Colorado
Takeaway: Los Angeles residents dream of escaping to other destinations in California.

New York City residents

A map identifies the ten top vacation destinations for New York City residents.
Unlike Los Angeles, New York City’s top vacation destinations for second homes are scattered across the country. New Yorkers showed interest in five different states, all far from home.  The top two rankings are held by cities in Florida, while cities in California hold the most rankings with four. The closest destinations to New York are Charleston and Hilton Head in South Carolina, with 7% of people interested in second homes at these locations. 
New York City dream locations
Miami, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Palm Springs, California
Lake Tahoe, California
Charleston, South Carolina
Malibu, California
Park City, Utah
Napa Valley, California
Hilton Head, South Carolina
Aspen-Snowmass, Colorado
Takeaway: Dream locations for New York City residents span from coast to coast.

Chicago residents

A map identifies the ten top vacation destinations for Chicago residents.
Chicago — conveniently located for travel to the East and West — has the greatest number of states in their top 10 list with six. Seven percent of respondents expressed interest in Palm Springs. Fort Lauderdale and Miami follow closely behind the leader, with roughly 6% interest in each. While Chicago has snowfall of its own, its options for ski resorts are lacking. Nearly 13% of Chicagoans identified the popular ski hubs of Lake Tahoe, Park City and Aspen-Snowmass as areas of interest.
Chicago dream locations
Palm Springs, California
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Miami, Florida
Napa Valley, California
Lake Tahoe, California
Park City, Utah
Malibu, California
Scottsdale area, Arizona
Aspen-Snowmass, Colorado
Hilton Head, South Carolina
Takeaway: Chicago residents have their eyes on the whole country.

Dallas residents

A map identifies the ten top vacation destinations for Dallas residents.
Dallas residents appear to prioritize mountain getaways as their favorite vacation spots above all other traits. Five of the top 10 destinations are located in the mountains of California, Colorado and Utah. These five cities combine to make up 29% of all second home interest coming from Dallas.  
Dallas dream locations
Lake Tahoe, California
Aspen-Snowmass, California
Breckenridge, Colorado
Palm Springs, California
Park City, Utah
Vail, Colorado
Malibu, California
Napa Valley, California
Miami, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Takeaway: Dallas residents dream of escaping to the mountains.

San Francisco residents

A map identifies the ten top vacation destinations for San Francisco residents.
Nine of San Francisco’s top 10 favorite vacation spots remain in California. Unsurprisingly, the top two rankings are held by Napa Valley and Lake Tahoe, destinations that make for convenient weekend getaways. Park City, Utah — the lone outlier —  snuck in at number nine with around 3.2% of the interest. Along with Lake Tahoe, these are the only alpine destinations in the top 10 that San Franciscans identified.
San Francisco dream locations
1. Lake Tahoe, California
2. Napa Valley, California
3. Palm Springs, California
4. Malibu, California
5. Monterey-Carmel area, California
6. Sonoma, California
7. Healdsburg, California
8. Orange County, California
9. Park City, Utah
10. San Diego, California
Takeaway: San Francisco residents desire convenient weekend getaways within California.

Miami residents

A map identifies the ten top vacation destinations for Miami residents.
Miamians keep their second home interests close to home, with their own city taking the top spot of their prospects. Even the second rank is held by their close neighbor to the north, Fort Lauderdale. Combined, they make up 24% of total responses coming from Miami. Miami is the only city to show enough interest in the Keys for the island chain to make it into the top 10, with a 4% share. From there, interest gets scattered, with the top four mountain towns taking up a nearly 18% share of overall interest.
Miami dream locations
1. Miami, Florida
2. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
3. Park City, Utah
4. Aspen-Snowmass, Colorado
5. Palm Springs, California
6. The Keys, Florida
7. Malibu, California
8. Lake Tahoe, California
9. Napa Valley, California
10. Breckenridge, Colorado
Takeaway: Miami residents dream of getaway closer to home.

San Jose residents

A map identifies the ten top vacation destinations for San Jose residents.
All 10 of San Jose’s dream vacation destinations are within California. The familiar favorite — Lake Tahoe — once again takes the top rank, receiving 15% of interest. Napa Valley garnered the second most interest, but still trailed by 5%. Residents of San Jose have an affinity for keeping their second homes within easy driving distance — five of their top 10 favorite vacation spots are less than three hours away.
San Jose dream locations
1. Lake Tahoe, California
2. Napa Valley, California
3. Palm Springs, California
4. Monterey-Carmel, California
5. Malibu, California
6. Orange County, California
7. Santa Cruz, California
8. San Diego, California
9. Healdsburg, California
10. Sonoma, California
Takeaway: San Jose residents want their retreats to stay in Northern California.

Denver residents

A map identifies the ten top vacation destinations for Denver residents.
Four of Denver residents’ top 10 desired destinations are found in Colorado, making up 24% of total interest. Denver gives Telluride its only top 10 appearance and Breckenridge its only number one ranking. Denverites show a preference for alpine environments. All of the Colorado destinations are acclaimed for their ski mountains. Plus, Lake Tahoe and Park City — also included in the top 10 — are world-class ski destinations in their own right.
Denver dream locations
1. Breckenridge, Colorado
2. Aspen-Snowmass, Colorado
3. Palm Springs, California
4. Vail, Colorado
5. Lake Tahoe, California
6. Park City, Utah
7. Napa Valley, California
8. Malibu, California
9. Orange County, California
10. Telluride, Colorado
Takeaway: Denver residents like alpine escapes, preferably within Colorado.

Atlanta residents

A map identifies the ten top vacation destinations for Atlanta residents.
Atlanta upholds the trend of wanting second homes that are near rather than far. Four of the top five destinations are on the East Coast of the United States. These cities make up nearly 27% of Atlanta’s overall interest gathered from this study. From there, eyes shift westward. California maintains heavy interest, with four of the top spots. These cities stretch from Palm Springs in the south all of the way to Lake Tahoe in the north.
Atlanta dream locations
1. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
2. Miami, Florida
3. Hilton Head, South Carolina
4. Palm Springs, California
5. Charleston, South Carolina
6. Lake Tahoe, California
7. Park City, Utah
8. Napa Valley, California
9. Malibu, California
10. Aspen-Snowmass, Colorado
Takeaway: Atlanta residents dream of escapes both near and far.

Seattle residents

A map identifies the ten top vacation destinations for Seattle residents.
Seattle is the only major city outside of the state of California with the majority of their top vacation destinations within California. Seattle residents don’t seem put off by long distances to second homes, as their dream vacation spot — Palm Springs — received nearly 16% of interest. The next highest ranked city only had about half that amountThe closest destination to Seattle to make the cut was Bend, Oregon, again underscoring drivability as a main factor in vacation destination selections.
Seattle dream locations
1. Palm Springs, California
2. Lake Tahoe, California
3. Malibu, California
4. Napa Valley, California
5. Scottsdale area, Arizona
6. Park City, Utah
7. Bend, Oregon
8. Aspen-Snowmass, Colorado
9. San Diego, California
10. Orange County, California
Takeaway: Seattle residents want to their sunny escape in California.

Houston residents

A map identifies the ten top vacation destinations for Houston residents.
Houston residents want to take advantage of their centralized location and explore cities to the west, north and east. Their top 10 includes destinations in California, Colorado and Florida. Their interest in each location remains relatively close — ranging from nearly 7% for Lake Tahoe to 4% for Malibu. Collectively, interest in the state of California is greatest, at 21%. Colorado is a close second, with almost 18%.
Houston dream locations
1. Lake Tahoe, California
2. Breckenridge, Colorado
3. Aspen-Snowmass, Colorado
4. Park City, Utah
5. Palm Springs, California
6. Vail, Colorado
7. Miami, Florida
8. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
9. Napa Valley, California
10. Malibu, California
Takeaway: Houston residents look all over the country for their second home destination.

Oakland residents

A map identifies the ten top vacation destinations for Oakland residents.
Rounding out our study, Oakland maintains the trend of California cities exhibiting a preference for California destinations. Park City is the only destination in the top 10 that’s located outside of the state. Even so, it only garnered just over 3% interest, barely beating out San Diego for ninth place. Destinations in Northern California are also decisive favorites. Lake Tahoe claims first place, receiving nearly 14% of interest. Napa Valley claims second place with 11% of interest. As a whole, results for Oakland closely mirror those from San Francisco.
Oakland dream locations
1. Lake Tahoe, California
2. Napa Valley, California
3. Palm Springs, California
4. Malibu, California
5. Monterey-Carmel area, California
6. Healdsburg, California
7. Orange Country, California
8. Sonoma, California
9. Park City, Utah
10. San Diego, California
Takeaway: Like other Californians, Oakland residents want their regular vacation spot to stay in the state.Comparing these trends from major cities across the country provide a greater perspective of the second home market as a whole. Use these insights regarding the top vacation destinations in the country to inform your understanding of the direction home buyers are heading — and you might consider heading there, too.

Our methodology

The results of this survey were collected between January and October 2022 from a total of 29,791 respondents interested in buying a second home. Pacaso compiled data from destination preferences provided by website visitors, subscribers, social media audiences and other users engaging with the Pacaso brand across various channels.

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