Choose Your Own (Holiday) Adventure: 10 Homes for Countryside Living or an Urban Retreat

From secluded, off-grid cabins, to impressive urban retreats, these ten design-led vacation rentals let you choose whether to get lost in the wilderness or make the most of city living.
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America is a land of remarkable contrasts, where you can find everything from dramatic wilderness, mountains, and coastlines to some of the world's most exciting cities—and vacations give us the chance to step into a different world and escape our everyday. Whether you're a city dweller looking to reconnect with nature, or you want to immerse yourself in the vibrancy of city life, the opportunities are endless.

You also don't need to travel far for dramatically different experiences—say, an off-grid cabin in Georgetown, Texas, that's just a half-hour drive from an architecturally designed home in buzzing downtown Austin; or a luxurious tiny home on an island with views of Manhattan that's just an hour from a quintessential Brooklyn townhouse in New York. Here, we've curated some of our favourite vacation rentals from across the country to create a collection that covers the best of both worlds so you can take your pick of city or country getaways.

An Off-Grid Cabin in Georgetown, Texas

Urbanites looking to escape to the great outdoors can find everything they need packed into this tiny 160-square-foot cabin that transports minimalist Scandi vibes to Texas. The Elsewhere Cabin was conceived by Texan Ryan McLaughlin and brought to life by architect Sean O’Neill. The pitched-roof cabin reimagines the interior planning for tiny spaces, with a place for everything—including a queen bed on a mezzanine above the shower, a bespoke sofa bed in the living room, integrated storage crafted from Chilean pine plywood, and a kitchen with a sink, a propane hot plate, and a mini fridge/freezer.  

This home by Davey McEathron Architecture is located in the convenient East Austin District and is built around a towering heritage pecan tree. Growing up through the central courtyard, the leafy tree is visible from almost every room in the home through dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows, making it feel as if you're in the midst of a forest and not the heart of one of America's most vibrant cities. Adding to the urban retreat vibes, the primary suite features a hybrid tub and shower designed to evoke the relaxation of Japan's onsen (hot springs). 

You don’t actually have to leave New York City to feel like you’ve escaped the urban grind—just head to Governors Island, a 172-acre island off the southern tip of Manhattan that’s open from May to October and is home to a public park with rolling green hills, bike parks, art installations, and summer festivals. The Outlook Shelter offers a luxe spot to spend the night, with Scandi-style interiors complete with comfy beds and sofas, a private deck for sunset drinks, and a bathtub that opens out to parkland. 

Located on a quintessential tree-lined block in Brooklyn, this modern townhouse has been reimagined by architect Rafi Elbaz to offer the ultimate New York getaway—think a grand living room with fireplace, yoga and meditation zones, leafy courtyard with an established mulberry tree, and a breezy rooftop terrace with views over Manhattan.

Perched atop a hill on five acres of wilderness in Palm Springs, California, this geodesic dome house celebrates the hypnotic, otherworldly beauty of California’s desert landscapes. The formerly neglected home was rescued and restored by L.A.-based architect Pavlina Williams, who imbued the unusual vacation home with characterful midcentury vibes. The timber shingle-clad dome sits atop a brick foundation and boasts distinctive interlocking triangular windows that frame the surrounding vistas, including a nearby wind farm. 

The childhood home of American director Cameron Crowe is a charming 1950s Meiselman that has been given new life as a glamorous vacation rental in downtown Palm Springs. With nods to the best design details of each decade, the property features an enormous eight-seater dining room with a private patio, an eclectic collection of vintage furniture, hand-tufted Moroccan carpets, a BBQ area, and even a citrus grove. The highlight, however, is the outdoor pool and spa, complete with a Baja shelf for lounging in the Californian sun.

Designed by award-winning Sant Architects, this four-bedroom vacation rental near Topanga elevates the concept of a mountain retreat to new heights—from its raw, concrete facade and hillside pool, to the Bauhaus-inspired interiors that feature expansive glass walls that overlook the Pacific Ocean. The clean, architectural lines are expressed using iron beams, concrete slabs, timber-panelled walls, and glass, and the sprawling, open-plan living area features a slide-away fireplace and enormous windows that seamlessly transition the property from cosy winter retreat to breezy summer getaway. 

If you’re in search of a Hollywood vacation rental with serious midcentury credentials, look no further than Lew House, which was designed by Richard Neutra in 1958 and is located about a mile from Sunset Strip. The entrance is characterised by a double carport that features floor-to-ceiling glass along two sides that create windows to the interior and transform the carport into a show-stopping exhibition space. Elsewhere, you’ll find iconic modernist furniture, a wrap-around deck, and entertaining areas that also dissolve conventional notions of inside and out—including a spectacular swimming pool and hot tub. 

This sprawling lakeside cabin is designed for groups of family and friends in search of adventure amidst the rugged wilderness of the North Cascades in Mazama, Washington. Located between Freestone Lake and Goat Wall, just a few miles from the iconic Pacific Crest Trail, the four-bedroom cabin has a large, open-plan great room at its heart with sliding glass walls on two sides and a soaring, timber-clad vaulted ceiling overhead. With an indoor fireplace and an outdoor wood-burning fireplace, a cinema room, a kid-friendly bunk room, and two deep soaking tubs, it’s the perfect escape for all seasons. 

Occupying a small site in a backyard in Portland, this timber-clad ADU guesthouse is a study in making the most of a small footprint. Designed by local practice Webster Wilson Architect and with bright, clean interiors by Pine Street Design, it’s located en route to Laurelhurst Park, making it an ideal base for exploring Portland’s many vibrant and diverse neighbourhoods. There’s also plenty of at-home entertaining space, including a private deck adorned with fairy lights at the rear, and an outdoor shower to enjoy in the warmer weather. 

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