Where to Save on a Vacation Rental Home in Florida

vacation rental Florida

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Skipping the hotel and renting a house or an apartment on vacation in Florida can be a great way to save money. Not only do they come with full kitchens, keeping you from having to eat every meal in a restaurant, there are extra perks like washer/dryers, flatscreen TVs and even free Wi-Fi. Also, you can find them just minutes from theme parks and stops from the beach.

Spring break is considered high season in Florida, when families flock to the Sunshine State for sun, sand, and trips to Disney. Hotel prices skyrocket, but you can still get two-bedroom, two-bathroom houses and condos for less than $100 a night and no more than $200 a night. Here are five vacation-worthy destinations, and where to book.

The most popular and plentiful choices are in Orlando's "Attractions Area," a loosely defined area southwest of the city where choices will likely be in subdivisions and condominiums close to Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, and Universal Orlando. There's a lot more stock here than in oceanfront locations, and the price reflects that. A two-bedroom townhouse in the Towns of Legacy Park, less than 10 minutes from Disney, is around $530 a week in March. Or rent a two-bedroom house with a pool for around $800 a week.

Tucked on the Gulf Coast of southwest Florida, Naples has a pricey reputation. While definitely still upscale, the recession did take some of the bloom off the rose and vacation accommodations can be found at costs unheard of prior to 2008. The two most attractive districts are in Olde Naples near trendy Third Street and anywhere near the beach. Many houses and condos are rented out on a monthly basis, but VRBO reveals a single-family three-bedroom home on a canal leading to the Gulf of Mexico rents for $1,200 per week while, through VacationRentals, a two-bedroom condo corner unit at the 5th Avenue Beach Club (near shopping and the beach) is available at a high of $1,800 per week during the mid-January to mid-May peak season.

One of the most populated cities in Florida covers 55 square miles and encompasses a variety of distinct areas from the bohemian enclave of Coconut Grove to the Spanish-Mediterranean beauty of Coral Gables to the ethnic refuge of Little Havana. Each has its own appeal, but as a rule the popular draw for travelers is the jet set trendiness of South Beach. While it's doubtful you'll find a waterfront home (unless Gloria Estefan decides to rent you a few rooms), you can find two (or more)-bedroom choices in SoBe as well as adjacent communities leading north on the barrier island several miles to Bal Harbour and Sunny Isles. VacationRentals has a two-bedroom condo close to the ocean for $1,500, while you can score deals on Craigslist like a two-bedroom in Miami (about ten minutes from the ocean) for a more modest $525 per week.

Cocoa Beach
It may not pack the punch of Miami or the panache of Naples, but little Cocoa Beach has a lot going its way: it's less than an hour east of Orlando, it's ever-so-close to the Kennedy Space Center, and surfers call it the "Small Wave Capital of the World." Putting it all over the top are several miles of beaches popular with students, surfers, seniors, and families. There's also tons of lodging within walking distance of, or a short drive from, the ocean. HomeAway has a two-bedroom oceanview condo within steps of the beach for $1,700 during the spring break season with a similar unit near the pier posted on VRBO for $1,000 per week in high season.

Siesta Key
Located just southwest of Sarasota, this popular island has gained the attention of vacationers thanks to a very special asset: some of the softest sand beaches you'll ever find. Consistently ranked among the finest in the state -- and often the nation -- the beaches of Siesta Key are what draw travelers here, and lodging choices, including some beachfront bungalows, allow vacationers to stay for a day, a week, or longer in one of the most tranquil and calming sanctuaries in Florida. Perfect Places has a two-bedroom villa steps from the Gulf of Mexico for $1,600 per week or a two-bedroom Gulf front condo that can sleep six listed on from HomeAway for $1,650 per week.

For more information on how to find the perfect vacation rental, check out AOL Real Estate's tips and expert advice.

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