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Top 10 vacation hot spots

HomeAway

Looking for the hottest vacation spots of the year? You won't necessarily find them near Miami or Myrtle Beach.

Many Americans are seeking out new vacation destinations in 2014, off the beaten path and away from the throngs of tourists flocking to the nation's tried-and-true spots, according to HomeAway.com, an online marketplace for vacation rental properties.

According to their data of traveler inquiries, the Florida Panhandle is seeing a big spike in interest, the Jersey Shore is coming back after being battered by Superstorm Sandy and some small spots along the coasts of Florida and California are turning heads.

Here are 10 of the country's newly popular destinations.

Mexico Beach, Florida

This four-bedroom home in Mexico Beach rents out for $900 per week. HomeAway

Increase in demand: 164 percent

Average nightly rate for home rentals: $229

If the Gulf Coast and white sand beaches are your preferred form of R & R, head to Mexico Beach. It's a popular tourist hub for fishing, scuba diving, birding, boating and food.

Northwest Florida is home to 57 different kinds of ecosystems. A quick day trip away from the beach will give you access to tidal marshes, springs and savannas with their own unique forms of wildlife. Just offshore, the Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association is developing a stunning reef that helps improve the natural environment and educate the public about marine creatures.

Nearby Wakulla Springs is one of the locations rumored to be Ponce de Leon's legendary Fountain of Youth. As the world's deepest freshwater spring, it holds some natural wonders that visitors can check out through glass-bottom boats or snorkeling.

Cape San Blas, Florida

This five-bedroom home in Cape San Blas rents out for $1,770 per week. HomeAway

Increase in demand: 137 percent

Average nightly rate for home rentals: $338

Cape San Blas is a great destination if you like to catch your own seafood. There are many opportunities for inshore and offshore fishing, and the bordering St. Joseph Bay is one of the few places in Florida where you can harvest fresh scallops. In August, hundreds of people bring their families and catches of the day to the St. Joseph Bay Scallop Festival.

The Florida Panhandle city is also home to St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, which was named the best beach in America in 2002 by Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman -- known as "Dr. Beach." The 101-foot-tall Cape San Blas lighthouse is a place where many visitors go to get a bird's-eye view of the water.

Lavallette, New Jersey

This four-bedroom home in Lavallette rents out for $2,000 per week. HomeAway

Increase in demand: 130 percent

Average nightly rate for home rentals: $329

The New Jersey beach community of Lavallette has made a strong rebound following Superstorm Sandy, according the HomeAway.com. The town on the Barnegat Peninsula has an area of less than a square mile, but draws thousands of tourists each year.

Families may appreciate the lifeguard services and playgrounds provided with the cost of admission to two Barnegat Bay beaches during the summer. Entry fees also underwrite area maintenance, which makes the bay shorelines cleaner and safer places for kids. Adults can enjoy tennis, basketball, roller hockey and shuffleboard courts.

After the beach, guests may want to shop and eat at any number of businesses along Route 35.

Cape Canaveral, Florida

This three-bedroom home in Cape Canaveral rents out for $225 per night HomeAway

Increase in demand: 129 percent

Average nightly rate for home rentals: $217

Cape Canaveral has the lowest average nightly rate for home rentals of any destination on this list, so it's a good choice for vacationers on a budget. Staying in this coastal city 50 miles east of Orlando can offer you less-expensive access to the attractions in both places. People often travel to Cape Canaveral to learn about the history of the Kennedy Space Center and the Air Force Space and Missile Museum -- but it could be worth the trip just to experience gorgeous weather and outdoor recreation in the Sunshine State.

Moonridge, California

This four-bedroom home in Moonridge rents out for $350 per night. HomeAway

Increase in demand: 120 percent

Average nightly rate for home rentals: $227

Moonridge, California, in the Big Bear Valley, started as a gold rush site in the 1800s. Now it's a place for skiers, snowboarders, hikers, cyclists, fisherman and anyone who enjoys spending time in the mountains.

The Big Bear Zoo at Moonridge is one of only two alpine animal parks in the country. Grizzly bears and bald eagles have found a haven at the 2.5-acre facility, which is open to the public every day.

Balboa Peninsula, California

This four-bedroom home on the Balboa Peninsula rents out for $7,500 per week. HomeAway

Increase in demand: 119 percent

Average nightly rate for home rentals: $354

The Balboa Peninsula has a long and important history of good nightlife. A long boardwalk is a major draw for out-of-town guests wanting to eat at the original Ruby's Diner, ride the Balboa Fun Zone Ferris wheel or do some whale-watching.

But music lovers might make the trip for another reason: The Balboa Pavilion, built in 1905, started as a transportation terminal and bath house. In the 1930s, it became famous for showcasing Big Band greats like Benny Goodman and Count Basie.

Manteo, North Carolina

This five-bedroom home in Manteo rents out for $2,710 per week. HomeAway

Increase in demand: 112 percent

Average nightly rate for home rentals: $224

Manteo is home to the nation's longest-running outdoor musical drama.

"The Lost Colony," written by Pulitzer Prize-winner Paul Green, is one way for visitors to learn about Manteo's mysterious past. North Carolina native Andy Griffith acted in the production during the 1940s and '50s before he became a television star.

Manteo features plenty of historically-inspired activities, including colonial reenactments at Roanoke Island Festival Park and the Elizabethan Gardens with several acres of flowers and trees.

Cocoa Beach, Florida

This two-bedroom home in Cocoa Beach rents out for $2,150 per week. HomeAway

Increase in demand: 106 percent

Average nightly rate for home rentals: $218

Cocoa Beach has a lower-than-average nightly rate for HomeAway rental properties, and according to CocoaBeach.com, it's one of the more affordable places to stay in Florida. Its close proximity to two international airports and Port Canaveral cruise lines make it a convenient travel hub.

Surfers often make the trip to visit Ron Jon's, the world's largest surf shop, and hit the waves. And kayak, sailing and airboat tours make it possible to see Florida wildlife sitting down.

Indoors, the nearby Brevard Community College Planetarium and Observatory offers guests a unique look at outer space.

Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey

This three-bedroom home in Point Pleasant Beach rents out for $1,800 per week. HomeAway

Increase in demand: 101 percent

Average nightly rate for home rentals: $300

Consider trying your luck at games of chance on the southern stretch of the Point Pleasant Beach boardwalk. This lively area is home to rides, arcades and shopping. The northern end features the family-friendly Jenkinson's Aquarium and the adults-only Martell's Tiki Bar and Jenkinson's Nightclub.

The famous boardwalk ends at the Manasquan Inlet where tourists and locals can enjoy fishing and boating in the Atlantic.

Point Pleasant also has public and private beaches available for swimming, sports and relaxation. For an entrance fee, private beaches provide lifeguards during regular business hours. Public beaches are free, but you swim at your own risk.

Crested Butte, Colorado

This five-bedroom home in Crested Butte rents out for $650 per night. HomeAway

Increase in demand: 101 percent

Average nightly rate for home rentals: $286

Crested Butte is a National Historic District as a result of its mining heritage, which began in the 1880s. This Rocky Mountain town is still attracting adventurers with warm and cold-weather sports of all kinds. You may want to experience skiing at the world-famous Crested Butte Mountain Resort or wait to plan a biking trip in the summertime.

People who appreciate art, music and architecture are also drawn to Crested Butte's galleries, festivals, live venues and Victorian buildings.

If your commute's got you down, Crested Butte doesn't have any traffic lights. You could even leave your car at home and travel on one of the area's hand-painted buses that operate 24/7.