Updated: Sep 20
UPDATED SEPT. 20, 2023
Every year, people spend thousands of dollars to travel to Colorado for hiking and skiing in the mountains and the culture of Denver. Many stay in hotels, but an increasing number of travelers are choosing a vacation rental. And with those travelers comes opportunities for the real estate investor.
Oh sure, you've heard of vacation rentals in Vail and Aspen. And everyone wants a short-term rental in Breckenridge. But those cities are expensive and chock full of STRs. Whether buying a second home or purchasing a pure Airbnb/VRBO investment property, I'm more interested in buying where others have not yet.
So what are the best unheard of towns for buying a vacation rental? Here are five cities or areas you might not have considered (but definitely should) for a vacation rental. (And all areas actually allow you to Airbnb a rental, which is not always the case. Learn more about Airbnb laws on the front range here.)
DIVIDE & FLORISSANT
Just 45 minutes northwest of Colorado Springs, Divide & Florissant are growing hotspots for vacation rentals. (Some people know of Woodland Park, the biggest town northwest of the Springs, and these are just down the road.) Tucked into aspens and pine trees, these towns offer the ultimate in mountain getaway cabins. Wraparound decks and hot tubs are in high demand from travelers, and you can capitalize on those desires.
Amazing mountain views and still relative proximity to the city life in Colorado Springs makes these great towns for a profitable vacation rental.
Not every successful vacation rental needs to be in the mountains. More tourists travel to Denver than any other area of the state. Unfortunately for STR investors, Denver's Airbnb laws are super strict. But Wheat Ridge is a five minute drive from two of Denver's hottest areas, and the city allows for Airbnb investment properties
If you buy on the east side of Wheat Ridge, you're a stone's throw from Highlands Square shops and restaurants along 32nd, and you're equally as close to Tennyson Street in the Berkeley neighborhood with its bars, boutiques and restaurants. Both areas are home to some of Denver's hottest real estate.
If you buy on the west side of Wheat Ridge, you're right by Golden and it's quaint downtown and right by Red Rocks Amphitheatre and all the hiking and mountain biking available in the foothills.
Wheat Ridge is an easy inclusion on any list of great Colorado towns for vacation rentals.
Both cities are just southwest of Denver, along the US-285 corridor, zipping in between mountain valleys and forested areas.
Conifer and Bailey are to Denver what Divide and Florissant are to Colorado Springs. Small mountain towns dotted with aspens and pines and great views just outside a major metro area.
Conifer and Bailey are great towns to buy that second home or vacation rental. You can get the full mountain experience with an A-frame or traditional cabin, and you've got Denver is just 40 minutes away.)
There are some key differences -- Bailey will likely get you slightly less revenue, but it's also in Park County, a very Airbnb-friendly area (for now -- ask us about this). Conifer will likely bring you more revenue, but it's also in Jefferson County, which has a slightly more cumbersome STR application process.
You like skiing in Breckenridge? Then you should buy an STR in Fairplay. The tiny town sits at 9,500 feet of elevation, but more importantly, it sits just 30 minutes directly south on Highway 9 from one of the state's most popular ski resort at Breckenridge.
Homes prices are significantly lower in Fairplay, and it has an average Airbnb occupancy rate of 82%, largely due to ski bums looking for a slightly more affordable vacation rental. AirDNA gives Fairplay an "A" rating.
Former mining town and now the casino town, Cripple Creek is tucked into the souther Pikes Peak region and is more than just a place to play some slots. Gold Gamp Road and Phantom Canyon offer scenic drives. There's great fly fishing and tons of hunting to be done nearby as well. While no prices in Colorado are great, you can get more house in this area than in some of the more well-known, ritzier mountain towns.
If you're looking for a second home or an Airbnb investment property, you can definitely buy in the more well-known ski towns. But you're not looking to drop $2 million or just want something different, there are better unheard of towns that will make you Airbnb money and give you the Colorado experience.