It’s that time of the year to start planning your annual vacation.
If you haven’t thought about it, consider traveling to one or more of the 2013 “hot spots” identified by various consumer groups and travel industry experts. Surprisingly, a trend has developed to more exotic destinations, but the U.S. also has its share.
Domestically, Orlando, Myrtle Beach, Nantucket, New York and Miami top the list. Orlando is a great destination for families, couples and singles. Its top five attractions are: Walt Disney World, with its many resorts; Universal Studios, where you can be part of the Hollywood and Shrek experiences; SeaWorld Orlando, with amazing marine life; Aquatica Water Park, with 36 waterslides, six river lagoons and 80,000 square feet of beach; and Discovery Cove, where you can swim and interact with dolphins in a tropical setting.
Myrtle Beach South Carolina is considered the No. 1 golf and beach destination in the states. There’s a multitude of activities including a beach walk and promenade. Check out their official visitors’ website at www.visitmyrtlebeach.com.
Nantucket Island, Mass., conjures up visions of romance, seaside villages and clambakes. It’s a popular destination for weddings, getaways and water sports. Activity, lodging and transportation information can be found on the Web at www.newenglandtravelplanner.com/go/ma/nantucket/info.html.
The Big Apple – New York City – and Miami, two of the country’s major cities, have countless entertainment, culinary and cultural opportunities. Due to their popularity, a number of pre-arranged tour packages are available from travel suppliers. Websites include www.nycgo.com and www.miamiandbeaches.com. If you choose these destinations, take advantage of the visitor’s pass that provides discounts and admission to a number of venues.
Heading south of the U.S., Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is a good bet. Because it depends heavily on tourism, this area has avoided the problem plaguing the western part of the country. In addition to numerous resorts, many cruise ships call at Yucatan ports. Visit http://travelyucatan.com/first-3.htm for locations and visitor information.
Brazil, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands are projected to be popular destinations in South America. Brazil is readying itself for the 2014 Soccer World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics. This year it’s hosting the Confederations Cup, the precursor to the World Cup. So visitors can benefit from improved infrastructure and amenities needed to show off Brazil for the coming major events. For more information, see www.visitbrasil.com or www.ecuador.travel for Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.
More distant destinations included on the list are: New Zealand, www.tourismnewzealand.com; the Philippines, www.dotpcvc.gov.ph; Vietnam, vietnamtourismboard.org; Burma/Myanmar, http://tourismmyanmar.org; and Sri Lanka, www.srilanka.travel.
Each country has Unesco World Heritage sites and are popular with Australian and European visitors. In addition to being accessible by air, most can be explored by sea or river cruises. Their numerous activities and attractions are too numerous to mention in this column, so please refer to the websites listed after each or consult your professional travel consultant for more information.
Rose Alston is a certified travel counselor and master cruise counselor. She operates a business in Fairfield and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.