For a pretty penny, you, too could vacation in eco-friendly style in Boulder, Colo.

Got a hankering for a summer home and not a lot of cash?  ATTOM Data Solutions’ newest report is a one-stop guide to the best places to buy a summer vacation home without breaking the bank.

The report analyzes the nation’s 100 most popular vacation home cities — where, according to ATTOM, at least one in every 12 buyers is looking for a second home — to find those with the best combination of good air quality, comfortable summertime temperatures, low crime, and appreciating home values — along with still-reasonable home prices.

Stick around for a look at all 100 vacation cities, or just follow after the jump for a top twenty cheat sheet.



The Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square offers sweeping views of San Francisco Bay. The waterfront project is in a historic part of the California city on the sea that has always captured my heart. I’m here checking out this amazing property that is available as a fractional ownership for a smidgen over $200,000 for a two bedroom, even less for a one-bedroom!

“We were looking at buying property for a second home in a few places, including Phoenix and Palm Springs,” says Canadian Ron Deyholos. “But my wife is not much of a golfer, so we started to look in San Francisco because we really like the city.”

The couple recently purchased a share in a fractional unit in Fairmont Heritage Place, and love it primarily because they have no headaches or upkeep. This came painfully to my mind as I landed at SFO this morning to news that not one but BOTH hot water heaters were dead upstairs and oh yes, it’s 107 in Dallas and one A/C is out. Great.

It’s about 70 degrees here in San Fran.

Located near Fisherman’s Wharf, the waterfront project is a collaboration between JMA Ventures, LLC, and the Fairmont Hotel chain and is part of the historic former Ghirardelli chocolate factory complex, which dates back to 1893. The red brick exterior walls are original to the chocolate factory, and later I’ll show you how cleanly and cleverly they preserved the original windows but made them more efficient. The development offers 53 one-, two- and three-bedroom homes right in the heart of the city. A courtesy car is about to whisk me off to Inman’s Real Estate Connect at the Hilton in Union Square.

The project is right on the water, offering beautiful views of the Bay across to Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate Bridge. Plus there’s a fire pit, boutique shops, restaurants and pubs on the street level, so you feel very much in the city.

Fractional ownership gives the buyer a one-tenth deeded ownership of the unit and entitles the buyer to 35 nights per year with benefits, like reciprocity at any Fairmont and Raffles Hotels and Resorts or other Fairmont Heritage communities worldwide. Want to spend more than 35 days per year on vacation? You must be French. Fairmont lets Heritage place owners stay at Ghirardelli for $100 U.S. bucks a night. There are heavy duty discounts available on all other Fairmont properties, too: little bird told me 20%.

What I’m liking and here to really check out: the private residents’ club gives you a five-star experience in your second home. Which is exactly what you want in a second home, not more headaches. Some of these units are in the toney Exclusive Resorts collection. Other benefits I’m checking on for you: the car shuttle, owners’ storage facilities for, say, wine if you hop up to Napa or Sonoma, exercise facility, daily housekeeping (will there be turn-down service? I love turn-down service), great dining, shopping and grocery provisioning. I’m told I’m six quick blocks from Safeway and Trader Joes!

We have a friend in Dallas who owns one of these fractionals –he has a child living in the area, as we do. Also a lot of Canadians are buying in San Francisco  — two lovely gents just popped by my two-bedroom unit for a look/see. Western Canadians love the Fairmont brand, they told me,  and have access to about 12 Fairmont hotels, including the famous Whistler. They were quite impressed with the kitchen. Me, I can hardly wait to draw a bubble bath… and forget about everything that’s breaking in Dallas.





I had not heard about Moab, Utah, until a friend emailed me the home he is selling there. First of all, gotta love Utah. We used to ski there every year when our children were younger and I fell in love with the state. In fact, that may be when my love affair with second homes blossomed, at SnowBird. So when I heard about Moab, I perked and poked.

The closest city is Grand Junction Colorado – 1 1/2 hours away by car. Salt Lake is about 4 hours away by car, north. There’s a local airport with regular flights from Denver. There’s also a ground shuttle to and from Salt Lake City, which has always been an easy flight from Dallas.

Life in Moab is about being outdoors, and there is a plethora of things to do.  The hiking, biking, boating, rafting, and Jeeping are awesome. Key events include the Moab Music Festival, Moab Art Festival, Moab Classic Car Show, and the Jeep Safari. It’s also an artists’ mecca and brags about resident nationally known artists Kathy Cooney (painting) and Tom Till (photography). This home, in fact,  is right near the world famous Slick Rock Mountain Biking Venue and Jeep Trails. It’s within walking distance of downtown, restaurants, clubs, galleries, gift shops, museums, bakeries, and coffee shops. In the high tourist season, the flavor is clearly international reflected in the number of great restaurants, impressive considering the size of the town. 

I had, I confess, a pre-conceived notion about this part of Utah: how many granola crunchers, I asked my friend?

Not many, he said. Pretty sophisticated folks who just love the outdoors.

We had great neighbors and you’d hardly call them granola munchers. The people are an eclectic mix from artists to bikers to cyclists to Jeepers to golfers to writers. Moab was the residence of world famous writer, Edward Abbey. Thelma and Louise was filmed in Moab, as were the sequels of Indiana Jones and Mission Impossible.

So yes, I’m convinced this could well be the next Santa Fe in the great state of Utah. Cool summers, snowy winters and world class skiing just a three hours away. Moab, here I come!

By the way, this home is for sale, listed at a mere $545,000 for 2900 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, half acre right near town with pool built in 2oo3. What a great second home!