Here are vacation rentals that pride themselves on being close to nature.
What it does: The website offers a hand-selected roster of rental properties that are next to national and state parks, as well as other protected areas of natural beauty in the United States, Britain, the Canary Islands, and Italy.
What's hot: Nature is more than just mountains and wilderness; retreats also are available up and down the Atlantic Coast. Browse the accommodations and discover that your vacation itinerary has been laid out for you (suggested signature activities, tours, farms, shops and more). There's also a customer-service-driven "Xplore Team," as well as "retreat managers" waiting to serve your kids. I was impressed by the breadth of travelers they are willing to accommodate: a $13-a-day budget traveler, a ski-loving couple happy in a condo by the slopes, and a pampered family in a fully outfitted luxury chalet in Steamboat Springs, Colo.
What's not: The site has a section called "Packages," but with just a few lodging and activity combos, it was a tease. I wanted to see more because the site had already spoiled me with wondrous escapes. Don't miss the "Activities" section for more inspiration.