1. London, England
This is definitely the year to visit London, England as there is soon to be a royal wedding. Of course most tourists won’t get there on time for the happy occasion but if history holds true, the entire country will be festive throughout the entire year. In fact, it would be difficult to count the number of tourists who actually visit London simply because there is a real live Queen, a Palace and plenty of food for the imagination in a land where literary greats such as Charles Dickens, Jane Austin and Lewis Carroll walked the earth. With its famous Tower of London, Buckingham Palace and the Palace of Westminster that is home to Big Ben and both Houses of Parliament, London is the perfect blend of history and fantasy. Take a tour on one of London’s famed double-decker buses or ride a ferry along the Thames for a historic view of this magical city, but always leave time for a day of shopping at the centuries old outdoor market at Petticoat Lane in East London.
2. Paris, France
Who in the world could hear the name ‘Paris’ without calling to mind the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and the majestic Cathedrale de Notre Dame? Even such famous landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower aren’t enough to attract such a great number of tourists to the City of Lights each and every year. In the spring, love flourishes in Paris and romance takes on new meaning. A place where there is an artist on every corner and a quiet cafe where lovers can share an intimate embrace. Rumor has it that a trip to Paris can rekindle the smoldering flames of love with revitalized passion. Perhaps that is why this beautiful city is always at, or near, the top of the list of favorite vacation destinations around the world! There is so much to see and do in Paris but one ‘memory’ that tourists always bring home with them is dining in the world’s center of epicurean delights. Nowhere in the world is it possible to find such an array of award winning chefs and restaurants all in one city!
3. Hawaii, United States
Another of the top ten vacation destinations, Hawaii, is most known as the number one destination for honeymooners. Actually, there is much, much more to attract visitors than luaus on the sandy white beaches and honeymoon suites overlooking blue ocean waters. The temperature in Hawaii is mild year round as cool ocean breezes float over the islands in the heat of the summer keeping this island paradise generally between the 75 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the higher elevations of the volcanic islands can see a good bit of snow in the winter which adds even more to the enchanting scenery all around. Year round you will see surfers riding the waves and if you would like to try your hand at this exciting water sport there are even a number of surfing academies for just this purpose.
4. Cancun, Mexico
Even though Cancun has long been a favored port-of-call on all the major cruise lines, the year 2012 is rapidly approaching which is promoting a great desire to visit ancient Mayan ruins. There is a great deal of interest in the prophecies foretold in the Mayan calendar cycle which many believe indicates the end of the world as we know it today. As a result, many tourists are flocking to Cancun to see such architectural wonders in nearby locations such as the mysterious capital of the ancient Mayans, Chichen Itza. When visiting Cancun it is a ‘must do’ to see the traditional folkloric dancers while sampling Mayan cuisine. You should also be prepared to take a dip in the magical Ikil, a sacred cenote. Immerse yourself in Mayan culture so that you can truly appreciate this ancient people who were well advanced for their time. Anyone looking for a travel destination that adds layers of fun to a truly educational experience needs to seriously consider a trip to Cancun.
5. Orlando, Florida
There probably isn’t another city in the world that can boast as many theme parks as Orlando, Florida. While everyone knows that Orlando is home to Disneyworld, it’s not everyone who can say they’ve danced with Snow White or dined with the Seven Dwarves. Perhaps that’s just the stuff that dreams are made of, but anything is possible when you ‘wish upon a star.’ In fact, with the Kennedy Space Center but an hour’s drive away, budding young astronauts just might one day truly visit the stars! On the other hand, if it’s theme parks you’re after there is always:
Islands of Adventure
But that is just a few of the alluring attractions that keep Orlando on the top 10 vacation destinations. You can also tour nearby orange groves to see where Florida orange juice comes from or take part in a mystery dinner show at Sleuths. Then, if you are a basketball fan you can catch a live Magic game if you happen to be in town during the season.
6. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
One of the newer cities in the top ten vacation destinations is Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. While this city has always been a favorite among Floridians to the south in the hot summer months, it is quickly becoming a popular tourist destination because of its year round award winning festivals. In the summer there is the annual Canadian American Days Festival, fondly referred to as the ‘CanAm.’ However, the festival that actually kicks off the summer season is the Sun Fun Festival followed by the Beach Boogie and BBQ Festival and a unique South Carolina style rodeo, the Grand Stand Fishing Rodeo that runs all summer long from April through October. If you happen to be in the area around the holidays you won’t want to miss the Christmas Towne Holiday Festival. It does get a bit nippy in South Carolina during the winter but Myrtle Beach, on the Atlantic Ocean, doesn’t see the extremes that might be evidenced farther inland. This is why it is also a favorite winter residence for Canadian snowbirds from the north.
7. Miami, Florida
Miami will probably never fall out of the top 10 vacation destinations in the world simply because it’s Miami! As a major seaport in the United States with an international airport, millions of tourists arrive annually to visit the Sunshine State or to embark from there to other points of interest. Of course there is always plenty to see and do in Miami such spending a night on the town in South Beach or taking a casino cruise off the coast but one of the main attractions will always be the miles of sandy beaches that are open 12 months out of the year. There are literally hundreds of stores that stay open 24 hours a day and some of the finest cuisine in the world can be found in Miami’s award winning restaurants such as the iconic Joe’s Stone Crabs. Don’t forget that other popular tourist destinations like Key West and Fort Lauderdale are just a short drive away from Miami which makes it an ideal location as a ‘home base’ while on vacation.
8. Las Vegas, Nevada
Believe it or not there is much more to Las Vegas, Nevada than the myriad of casinos that have always been the biggest attractions in this southwestern desert city. Thousands of big names in entertainment can be found in dinner theaters throughout the city on any given evening and there are scores of activities to fill your days. While most of the evening entertainment can be found on the Strip, there are an amazing amount of Off-Strip attractions as well. To name a few of the exciting places to visit in and around Vegas there is:
Fiesta Ice Arena – NHL regulation sized ice rink
Old Mormon Fort – Learn how a settlement of 29 Mormon settlers led to the development of Vegas
Atomic Testing Museum – The leading atomic testing center in the USA from 1951 to 1992
Sky Zone – 3-D jumping area housed in a renovated warehouse; amusement for all ages
Sunset Stampede – animated water, laser and light show for a blast from the past
From museums to zip-line rides high above the desert, there is always something to do in “The City that Never Sleeps.” If you should happen to find yourself at a loss for something to do, take one of the hundreds of Las Vegas tours to see what else is out there!
9. Rome, Italy
Many people dream of visiting Rome just once in their lifetime, sometimes for religious reasons and sometimes because of the rich history that is part of the very fiber of the city. Tourists flock to Rome to visit ancient sites like the Colosseum, the Pantheon, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Arch of Constantine. Others are attracted to all the historic works of art that can be viewed such as those priceless treasures housed in the Vatican museums. In fact, hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to the Vatican City each year both to hear the Pope preside over Mass in St. Peter’s Square as well as to tour the world’s smallest state that is completely encircled by Rome. While the most popular vacation destinations in Rome are closely associated with Christianity, there are a great number of other tourist attractions that draw a significant amount of visitors as well. There isn’t another city on earth that has such a wealth of preserved ancient architecture but there is a modern side to Rome as well and there are a great number of dance clubs, cafes and some of the world’s finest food. Needless to say, you will never leave Rome hungry!
10. San Francisco, California
Perhaps best known for its famed Golden Gate Bridge and its historic trolleys, San Francisco is an all-time favorite travel destination because there is always something happening. Actually, San Francisco quickly rose to ‘fame’ in the 1960′s during the flower power days and Haight Ashbury is still a haven for artists and a number of underground subcultures to this day. However, one of the things which many visitors remark on is the amazing number of family attractions in and around San Francisco such as:
Children’s Fairyland where Talking Storybooks come to life with a ‘Magic Key’
Nearby Oakland Zoo – over 500 acres with more than 300 native and exotic animals
Raging Waters theme park with interactive family play
Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum & Planetarium – Friday evenings history comes to life
Winchester Mystery House – Guided tours of architecturally odd Victorian mansion with 160 rooms
Tech Museum – more than 250 hands-on high tech exhibits to inspire the techie in you
From the serene and meditative Hakone Japanese Gardens to the bustling waterside shopping district, Jack London Square, San Francisco has much to offer which is why it has earned its spot in the prestigious top 10 vacation destinations in the world. Don’t forget to catch a live game as San Francisco also has several professional sports teams including the Giants, the 49ers, the Athletics and the Golden State Warriors!