This past year may not have seemed like the most ideal time to travel because of worldwide economic slumps. However, statistics show that the percentage of Americans who traveled 50 miles or more in the 2011-2012 holiday break was about 30%, up 1.4% from last year. That translates to 91.9 million Americans hitting the roads, seas and skies- the second highest amount in the past decade.
Where exactly does everyone go? AOL compiled a top five list of 2011’s hottest destinations, spanning several continents and remote corners of the globe. Whether or not you have visited one of these places on your holiday break, their rising popularity among tourists can definitely give you something to think about when planning a future vacation.
- 1. New York, New York
A perennial top ten pick, New York City is definitely the place to be for shopping, fashion, theater, art and culture. With a tremendous range of things to do and see, it is impossible to be bored. In addition, several landmarks are reaching milestone anniversaries: the Statue of Liberty turned 125, Carnegie Hall celebrated its 120th birthday, and the National 9/11 Memorial recently opened, just in time to mark the tenth anniversary of the tragic attacks. Thanks to the hotel boom of 2010, room capacity has increased by nearly 20%, so there is now more space for everyone to enjoy what the Big Apple has to offer. We’re lucky to live so close to such an amazing city!
- 2. London
Between the royal wedding last spring and the anticipation for the 2012 Summer Olympics, London is bustling. Always a center for world-renown architecture, museums and theater, the city also comes alive with glamorous nightlife. Whatever your interests, London has plenty of things to do and see.
- 3. Doha, Qatar
Pretty far away, but totally worth it! Doha is the capital city of Qatar,
a country on the Persian gulf. Known for its incredible beaches, restaurants and nightlife, it has all of the attractions without the over-the-top glitz of Dubai. Beautiful hotels and waterfront promenades intermix with historic minarets for a scene that cannot be missed. Last but not least, The Pearl, encompassing at least 13 amazing artificial islands, is slowly opening with a planned 154 square miles of deluxe residences, hotels, dining and shopping. Definitely an unforgettable vacation.
4. St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Kitts and Nevis are sister islands located in the Leeward islands; it is a federal two-island nation in the West Indies. Lush rainforests, rich history and exquisite renovated plantations are all parts of this paradise. St. Kitts, the larger island of the two, boasts great hiking and diving as well as reasonably-priced places to stay. The Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean meet by St. Kitts’ narrowest point, which is also home to fun beach bars. Some major new developments, including a Tom Fazio golf course, are under way for 2012 and are definitely going to be popular attractions.
5. Atlanta, Georgia
An expanding hotel scene and many activities make Atlanta a new hot spot. A Legoland Discovery center, Pirate museum, and state-of-the-art dolphin exhibit at the Georgia Aquarium are set to open this year, so Atlanta is the perfect place for a family getaway. Other attractions in the city include the World of Coca-Cola and a top-notch zoo. There are plenty of places to party and dine at night, especially in Midtown. Although you may not expect Atlanta to be much of a social and leisure destination, it is quickly becoming one of America’s most fashionable cities.