Rent the Dream: 6 Family Vacation Rentals to Brag About

Locations in this article:  San Francisco, CA San Luis Obispo, CA

Live On a Houseboat
Houseboat Rental 4

By far the best surprise of the summer rentals was the houseboat we rented from Forever Resorts. I was in sheer awe of the natural beauty this rental afforded. We traveled during the second week of August to the Cottonwood Cove Resort & Marina in Lake Mohave, Nevada, when many families in California were getting ready to get their kids back to school. This meant we had vast amount of natural park space to ourselves. Yes, it was hot (particularly the beaches and the rocks), but the views were extraordinary and the water temperature was perfection.

We dubbed our exquisite, 70-foot houseboat rental “Biggie” because it could sleep up to 12 people and came equipped with a hot tub, direct TV, and a wet bar. At first glance, a houseboat rental may seem pricey, but with enough people to share the cost, it’s way more affordable than owning it. For 12 people, a week-long stay on this boat comes in at around $680 per person (but you can bring that down to around $410 per person for a 59ft boat). We ate and prepared all our meals on the boat, so we saved on eating out too.

It was a fantastic way to unplug and re-connect with nature. Cell phone reception is patchy at best, so we stuck all of our phones and tablets in a shoebox for the week and no one went near them. Bliss.


  • You seriously need some muscle power to tie-up the boat securely. Make sure a few of your travelers are hardy, capable, and willing to get their feet wet. Also, plan child care for your tie-up and leaving time. You’ll need all adult hands on deck, and the kids won’t be able to help, so have a designated adult there to watch out for them.
  • Take that big boat and moor it. We thought we would putter around from cove to cove, but it’s a huge job to moor and untie. Just stay in one place, swim, and enjoy. They have a one cove per boat policy, so coves are uncluttered and you feel miles away.
  • Rent a smaller boat for the day or afternoon to explore. We swam off the boat every hour and got a great idea of the terrain. Loved it! Just don’t forget that after the boat rental, there is a gas bill, so plan accordingly. I actually completely forgot to budget for ours which came to around $125 for 3 to 4 hours.
  • Water, water, water everywhere. Bring LOTS of sunscreen. We were using it constantly and we’re glad we did. By the end of the second day I even wished I had some UV protective clothing.
  • Don’t use a suitcase unless you want to use it as furniture all week – there is no place to store it on a boat. Best to pack in soft duffels and fold them away.
  • I spent the entire journey in my Keen’s sandals, which worked brilliantly on the hot rocks and the sand. Kids need some sort of footwear with grip too.

We rented our houseboat from Forever Resorts. Our 70-foot week-long rental costs around $8,000 for the week (including taxes and fees), but shorter trips and smaller boats start from around $2,000 a week.

Rent or own? Definitely rent. When I scoped online, I found comparable houseboats to own (used, not new) in the $350,000 price range. We loved it so much that we’re looking to explore new locations later this year. more>>