2012 Hottest Destinations

From sea to outer space, check out our picks for the hottest travel destinations in 2012.

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What's more picturesque than one of the 7 natural wonders of the world? Victoria Falls in Zambia is the world's biggest waterfall, and its mist served as the perfect backdrop for the stunning models. 960 1280

Getty  

Less than 2 miles from the falls, models lounged by the infinity pool at Stanley Safari Lodge and took in the spectacular views. 960 1280

Stanley Safari Lodge  

Sports Illustrated set sail in Apalachicola on the Florida Panhandle. The quaint town is a far cry from spring break-staple Panama City located 60 miles up the Gulf Coast. 960 1280

Apalachicola Bay Chamber  

SI says Coombs House Inn is the place to stay in Apalachicola -- and it's easy to see why. Its historic Victorian mansions boast 4-poster beds, private verandas and afternoon teas, making it one of the most luxurious bed and breakfasts in the US. 960 1280

Coombs House Inn  

San Blas are remote islands along the Caribbean coast of Panama home to the Kuna Indians. The SI crew stayed aboard an ocean liner to capture the islands' crystal clear waters. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

While in the Bocas del Toro province of Panama, models relaxed in the scenic Playa Tortuga Hotel. 960 1280

Playa Tortuga Hotel, a member of Summit Hotels & Resorts  

Models frolicked on the rocks and white sands of Narrabeen Beach, in northern Sydney. 960 1280

Pavel Sigarteu, flickr  

SI says no other hotel in Sydney "can match the panoramic view you will take in with a drink in your hand, after a glorious day at Bondi Beach, from the Blue Bar on the Shangi-La's 36th floor." 960 1280

Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts  

Finally SI made it to Desroches Island in the Seychelles, a stunning stretch of sand less than 1 square mile. 960 1280

Karl Blackwell  

When members of the SI team weren't being catered to by butlers and private chefs in their sprawling villas at the Desroches Island Resort, they could be found relaxing in the open-air Escape Spa. Where would you want to escape to? 960 1280

Michael Lewis  

Helitrax
For Adventure Seekers: Telluride, CO

For Adventure Seekers: Telluride, CO

Experienced skiers can take it to the next level by spending the day heli-skiing, which, like it sounds, is downhill skiing on a course accessible only by helicopter. For $1,235, Telluride Helitrax, in operation since 1982, offers daylong excursions that include 6 ski runs, a guide, equipment and food. Helicopters take groups of 4 to an elevation of at least 10,000 feet, where skiers are surrounded by majestic backcountry terrain while on empty slopes. If that’s not enough, customized tours are also available. 960 1280

Jeff Cricco/Telluride Helitrax  

For Culture Vultures: NYC

For Culture Vultures: NYC

Start the clock by catching a matinee of Hamilton, Broadway’s hottest hip-hop musical about founding father Alexander Hamilton. Plan ahead, since tickets tend to sell out months in advance. Cap off the day with an adults-only sleepover at the American Museum of Natural History, where guests can enjoy live music, presentations and the chance to explore the museum all night long. The $350 price includes a buffet dinner, cots and more. 960 1280

© AMNH\R. Mickens  

For Girlfriend Getaways: Miami

For Girlfriend Getaways: Miami

Sunshine, spa treatments and drinks are all that are needed for a quick getaway, and one can find all that and more at The Standard in Miami Beach. It’s removed from the madding crowd, and guests can luxuriate in a Turkish Hamam and take a yoga classes by the water. Leave time to head to nearby Miami Beach for dinner at celeb hotspot Matador Room, Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s latest Miami venture offering Latin-fusion fare. Sit on the terrace for ocean views and lush, foliage surroundings. Follow up with poolside drinks at the sophisticated Delano South Beach, where you can camp out in a lantern-lit private cabana before it’s time to head home. 960 1280
For Foodies: Culinary Institute of America: California, New York, Texas

For Foodies: Culinary Institute of America: California, New York, Texas

Boasting such notable alum as Anthony Bourdain and Cat Cora, many a foodie has daydreamed about enrolling at one of the nation’s best culinary schools. While that’s not realistic for most, what is possible is taking a half-day cooking class. Each location offers a bevy of year-round options, from global street food to holiday favorites. Classes include lunch, CIA apron and chef’s hat. For the ultimate experience, 2- to 5-day boot camps are a must for when time isn’t of the essence. Of course, the upside to taking an afternoon class, particularly at the CIA in California, is the opportunity to have dinner just a quick 20-minute ride away at French Laundry, considered one of the top 10 restaurants in the US. The prix fixe chef’s tasting menu costs $295 -- be sure to book 2 months ahead. 960 1280

By Ɱ (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons  

For Family-Friendly Fun: Mohonk Mountain House

For Family-Friendly Fun: Mohonk Mountain House

This sprawling, fairy tale-esque castle in the scenic Hudson Valley literally has something for everyone. Rock climbing, horseback riding and golf are among the warmer-weather options at Mohonk Mountain House, while ice skating, snow tubing and cross-country skiing are among the winter activities. There’s also an award-winning spa, watersports and a host of fitness classes. (And that’s still not everything.) Trying to cram as many activities as possible into 24 hours is a worthwhile challenge. 960 1280

By Fred Hsu on en.wikipedia (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons  

For Romantics: New Orleans

For Romantics: New Orleans

New Orleans has no shortage of romantic neighborhoods and experiences, and the food-and-music scene has some of the best ways to experience them. Start with a late breakfast at Café Amelie and sit outside in the greenery-filled courtyard for a secret garden feel. Stroll through the historic French Quarter to work up an appetite for the Creole jazz brunch at Muriel’s Jackson Square, or simply get a drink at Muriel’s bordello-themed Séance Lounge (ask about the ghost). Don’t miss dinner at top-rated French restaurant August before collapsing into a plush seat at the intimate Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse 960 1280
For Shopaholics: Los Angeles

For Shopaholics: Los Angeles

Bypass the ubiquitous luxury chains on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and head to unique boutiques selling hard-to-find favorites. Fred Segal, Maxfield, Kitson and Madison are among the old-guard standouts, selling on-trend, high-end designer wares and more. Visit newer trendsetters include Opening Ceremony and TENOVERSIX for well-curated selections of the hottest designers and up-and-comers. Shoe addicts will find nirvana among the wall of shoes at Kathryn Amberleigh. Fans of the offbeat shouldn’t miss Just One Eye, a conceptual space that’s part art gallery, part fashion boutique, or The Well, a combination boutique/hair salon that’s perfect for multitaskers. Before heading out, pop into Poketo for one-of-a-kind gifts for everyone back home. 960 1280

Courtesy of Poketo  

For the Unconventional: Quebec City

For the Unconventional: Quebec City

Even though Quebec City is impossibly charming in the warmer months, it’s downright magical in the winter. Warm up with high tea at the iconic Château Frontenac Hotel in Old Quebec. While it’s tempting to stay there, the highlight is spending a night at Hotel de Glace, a seasonal ice hotel just outside downtown Quebec, and the only one in North America. Book the Adventure Package and squeeze in dogsledding for extra bragging rights. 960 1280
For Animal Lovers: Grand Canyon

For Animal Lovers: Grand Canyon

It’s one thing to experience the Grand Canyon from a prime viewing spot, and another from the saddle of a mule. While 3-hour trips are available, opt for the once-in-a-lifetime overnight ride to Phantom Ranch, a rustic lodge located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The trail ride each way takes about 5 hours and includes rest stops and lunch.  960 1280
For Sports Fanatics: Super Bowl

For Sports Fanatics: Super Bowl

Yes, Super Bowl tickets are notoriously hard to score, even when it’s not the 50th anniversary of the game. Luckily, it’s not impossible with QuintEvents, the official provider of Super Bowl packages. To really go over the top for this year’s game in Santa Clara, CA, on Feb. 7, choose the “On the Fifty” package, which nets you seats on the 50-yard line, the chance to meet players and cheerleaders and get autographs, and access to a private club serving gourmet food and drink before, during and after the game. Best of all, this package can be purchased for just the day of the game -- for a mere $13,000.    960 1280

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