10 Dreamily Private Places To Stay Near the South’s Best National Parks and Seashores



Slide 1 of 11: Whether you consider yourself “outdoorsy” or not, there are certain special places across our Southern landscape that deserve spots on everyone’s bucket lists. That includes the towering peaks of the Great Smoky Mountains and the sprawling wetlands of the Florida Everglades. While they might seem like polar opposites, they also share one thing in common: they’ve claimed a spot within our vast and diverse National Park system. These rugged and unspoiled gems offer world-class hikes, breathtaking vistas, and ample opportunities for complete seclusion–a perfect recipe for the safe, memorable, and socially distanced vacation we all need this year. If you’re ready to check some of the South’s best national parks and seashores off your must-see list, here are 12 perfect places to stay nearby in solitude.
Slide 2 of 11: Stay here: Off-Grid Adobe Dome in Terlingua, Texas Texas’s desert gem is known for its dark skies, and there’s no better place to stargaze than from this off-the-beaten-path, solar-powered dome house. Located in quirky Terlingua—known for its famous ghost town—the remote escape includes WiFi, a small indoor kitchen and outdoor grill. But chances are you won’t be spending too much time here—the mountains of Big Bend are just a stone’s throw away. Rent it: $101 per night; airbnb.com
Slide 3 of 11: Stay here: Sandy Feet Retreat in New Smyrna Beach, Florida If you think Florida’s beaches aren’t the best places for social distancing, you haven’t yet met Canaveral National Seashore. This long stretch of barrier island beach is calm and pristine, but it also happens to be somewhat of a hidden gem (except to the sea turtles that nest on its shores). Just north of the park is the laid-back town of New Smyrna Beach, where this quaint little beach cottage offers three bedrooms and a spacious deck with private beach access. Rent it: $179 per night; airbnb.com
Slide 4 of 11: Stay here: Kozy Creek A-Frame Chalet in Gatlinburg, Tennessee It doesn’t get more charming than a classic A-frame cabin tucked away in the mountains, especially when you throw in faux log siding, natural wood interiors, and a spacious deck where you can hear the sounds of a babbling creek down below. This little hideaway also happens to be well placed: It’s just two miles from a ski lodge and eight to the national park. Rent it: $105 per night; vrbo.com

Slide 5 of 11: Stay here: Hutch’s Bluff in Charles City, Virginia As tempting as it is to live like the locals did in an authentic colonial home, if you’re wanting some seclusion during your visit to Virginia’s Historic Triangle—that’s Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown—this is a pretty dreamy option. Perched on a blufftop overlooking the Chickahominy River, the two-bedroom A-frame includes updated interiors, an outdoor fire pit, and a private 100-foot pier affording direct river access. Rent it: $192 per night; airbnb.com
Slide 6 of 11: Stay here: Congaree Vines in Gaston, South Carolina Congaree National Park offers the rare opportunity to witness a bevy of champion trees (the largest known of their kind). But when you’re not walking among giants, you can kick back at this rustic cabin set on the edge of a vineyard. Here, you can sip on complimentary homegrown port wine while lounging in a hammock or around the property’s fire pit. Yes, please. Rent it: $82 per night; airbnb.com
Slide 7 of 11: Stay here: The Happy Crabby in Key Largo, Florida If you’re visiting Florida’s famed swampland, why not combine it with a bit of island fun? Key Largo is just a quick 30 minutes to the airboats and gators, so you can get your wildlife fix before heading home to your private floating paradise and…getting more of a wildlife fix. According to the listing, visitors are likely to spot dolphins, manatees, and fish from their front porch; come happy hour, that same spot is “a magnet for stunning sunset views.” Rent it: $134 per night; airbnb.com
Slide 8 of 11: Stay here: Falling Leaf Cabin in Luray, Virginia If your answer to “mountains or ocean” is forever the former, we’ve found just the spot for you. Situated on three wooded acres between the Massanutten and Blue Ridge Mountain ranges, this cozy cabin offers endless opportunities for exploring the wilderness (or just kicking back and enjoying the views). Perks of the place also include a large deck with a hot tub, lofted bedroom with skylights, and a wood-burning fireplace. Rent it: $203 per night; vrbo.com
Slide 9 of 11: Stay here: Mountain Air Treehouse in Hot Springs, Arkansas Made up of a network of ancient thermal springs and historic bathhouses all tucked within a scenic mountain range, Hot Springs National Park is a spa lover’s dream outdoor retreat. At this modern two-sleeper treehouse, you can soak up the history—downtown Hot Springs is just minutes away—while also enjoying the feeling of being completely removed from it all.   Rent it: $194 per night; airbnb.com

Slide 10 of 11: Stay here: Charming Lake House in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky As the world’s longest known cave system and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this natural wonder is an awe-inspiring sight that every Southerner (and beyond) should have on their travel list. If you’re taking the family, this rustic eight-sleeper cabin compound is the perfect home away from home: Located off a quiet road, the property boasts three structures, including a main house with a kitchen, a separate bunk house, and a pavilion for dining and hanging out among the trees. Rent it: $135 per night; airbnb.com
Slide 11 of 11: Stay here: A Boater’s Dream on Chincoteague Island, Virginia The next-door neighbor to Assateague Island, Chincoteague is a quiet, charming place to get away with easy access to the national seashore’s famed wild horses. This two-bedroom cottage is a perfect home base, with front-row views of the Assateague Channel, lighthouse, and wild ponies in the distance, plus a dock for fishing, crabbing, and tying up a boat or kayak. Rent it: $110 per night; airbnb.com

Luray VA cabin rental

Whether you consider yourself “outdoorsy” or not, there are certain special places across our Southern landscape that deserve spots on everyone’s bucket lists. That includes the towering peaks of the Great Smoky Mountains and the sprawling wetlands of the Florida Everglades. While they might seem like polar opposites, they also share one thing in common: they’ve claimed a spot within our vast and diverse National Park system.

These rugged and unspoiled gems offer world-class hikes, breathtaking vistas, and ample opportunities for complete seclusion–a perfect recipe for the safe, memorable, and socially distanced vacation we all need this year. If you’re ready to check some of the South’s best national parks and seashores off your must-see list, here are 12 perfect places to stay nearby in solitude.

If you’re headed to…Big Bend National Park

Stay here: Off-Grid Adobe Dome in Terlingua, Texas

Texas’s desert gem is known for its dark skies, and there’s no better place to stargaze than from this off-the-beaten-path, solar-powered dome house. Located in quirky Terlingua—known for its famous ghost town—the remote escape includes WiFi, a small indoor kitchen and outdoor grill. But chances are you won’t be spending too much time here—the mountains of Big Bend are just a stone’s throw away.

Rent it: $101 per night; airbnb.com

If you’re headed to…Canaveral National Seashore

Stay here: Sandy Feet Retreat in New Smyrna Beach, Florida

If you think Florida’s beaches aren’t the best places for social distancing, you haven’t yet met Canaveral National Seashore. This long stretch of barrier island beach is calm and pristine, but it also happens to be somewhat of a hidden gem (except to the sea turtles that nest on its shores). Just north of the park is the laid-back town of New Smyrna Beach, where this quaint little beach cottage offers three bedrooms and a spacious deck with private beach access.

Rent it: $179 per night; airbnb.com

If you’re headed to…Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Stay here: Kozy Creek A-Frame Chalet in Gatlinburg, Tennessee

It doesn’t get more charming than a classic A-frame cabin tucked away in the mountains, especially when you throw in faux log siding, natural wood interiors, and a spacious deck where you can hear the sounds of a babbling creek down below. This little hideaway also happens to be well placed: It’s just two miles from a ski lodge and eight to the national park.

Rent it: $105 per night; vrbo.com

If you’re headed to…Colonial National Historical Park

Stay here: Hutch’s Bluff in Charles City, Virginia

As tempting as it is to live like the locals did in an authentic colonial home, if you’re wanting some seclusion during your visit to Virginia’s Historic Triangle—that’s Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown—this is a pretty dreamy option. Perched on a blufftop overlooking the Chickahominy River, the two-bedroom A-frame includes updated interiors, an outdoor fire pit, and a private 100-foot pier affording direct river access.

Rent it: $192 per night; airbnb.com

If you’re headed to…Congaree National Park

Stay here: Congaree Vines in Gaston, South Carolina

Congaree National Park offers the rare opportunity to witness a bevy of champion trees (the largest known of their kind). But when you’re not walking among giants, you can kick back at this rustic cabin set on the edge of a vineyard. Here, you can sip on complimentary homegrown port wine while lounging in a hammock or around the property’s fire pit. Yes, please.

Rent it: $82 per night; airbnb.com

If you’re headed to…Everglades National Park

Stay here: The Happy Crabby in Key Largo, Florida

If you’re visiting Florida’s famed swampland, why not combine it with a bit of island fun? Key Largo is just a quick 30 minutes to the airboats and gators, so you can get your wildlife fix before heading home to your private floating paradise and…getting more of a wildlife fix. According to the listing, visitors are likely to spot dolphins, manatees, and fish from their front porch; come happy hour, that same spot is “a magnet for stunning sunset views.”

Rent it: $134 per night; airbnb.com

If you’re headed to…Shenandoah National Park

Stay here: Falling Leaf Cabin in Luray, Virginia

If your answer to “mountains or ocean” is forever the former, we’ve found just the spot for you. Situated on three wooded acres between the Massanutten and Blue Ridge Mountain ranges, this cozy cabin offers endless opportunities for exploring the wilderness (or just kicking back and enjoying the views). Perks of the place also include a large deck with a hot tub, lofted bedroom with skylights, and a wood-burning fireplace.

Rent it: $203 per night; vrbo.com

If you’re headed to…Hot Springs National Park

Stay here: Mountain Air Treehouse in Hot Springs, Arkansas

Made up of a network of ancient thermal springs and historic bathhouses all tucked within a scenic mountain range, Hot Springs National Park is a spa lover’s dream outdoor retreat. At this modern two-sleeper treehouse, you can soak up the history—downtown Hot Springs is just minutes away—while also enjoying the feeling of being completely removed from it all.  

Rent it: $194 per night; airbnb.com

If you’re headed to…Mammoth Cave National Park

Stay here: Charming Lake House in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

As the world’s longest known cave system and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this natural wonder is an awe-inspiring sight that every Southerner (and beyond) should have on their travel list. If you’re taking the family, this rustic eight-sleeper cabin compound is the perfect home away from home: Located off a quiet road, the property boasts three structures, including a main house with a kitchen, a separate bunk house, and a pavilion for dining and hanging out among the trees.

Rent it: $135 per night; airbnb.com

If you’re headed to…Assateague Island National Seashore

Stay here: A Boater’s Dream on Chincoteague Island, Virginia

The next-door neighbor to Assateague Island, Chincoteague is a quiet, charming place to get away with easy access to the national seashore’s famed wild horses. This two-bedroom cottage is a perfect home base, with front-row views of the Assateague Channel, lighthouse, and wild ponies in the distance, plus a dock for fishing, crabbing, and tying up a boat or kayak.

Rent it: $110 per night; airbnb.com

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