2012 Hottest Destinations

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

You Might Also Like

Blowing Rock Winterfest
Blowing Rock Winterfest

Blowing Rock Winterfest

Head to the mountains of North Carolina for the annual Blowing Rock Winterfest. This lively winterfest features a plunge into the icy waters of Lake Chetola, followed by the chance to warm up with hot chocolate and chili in downtown Blowing Rock. When: Late January 960 1280

Todd Bush Photography  

Vancouver Polar Bear Swim

Vancouver Polar Bear Swim

Run for your life! This group of New Year’s revelers rushes from the freezing waters of Vancouver’s English Bay. 2014 marks the Vancouver Polar Bear Swim’s 94th year, making it one of the largest and oldest clubs of its kind in the world. When: New Year's Day 960 1280

Reuters   

Courage Polar Bear Dip

Courage Polar Bear Dip

Courage, lads! Since its start in 1985, the annual Courage Polar Bear Dip in Oakville, Ontario, has become the largest polar bear dip for charity in Canada. Money raised supports clean water projects organized by the advocacy organization World Vision Canada. When: New Year’s Day 960 1280

Courage Polar Bear Dip  

Seattle Polar Bear Plunge

Seattle Polar Bear Plunge

They’re freezin’ for a reason. Plungers take to the waters off Seattle’s Matthews Beach for the city’s annual polar bear plunge. Now in its 12th year, the Seattle Polar Bear Plunge is one of 8 statewide plunges to benefit Special Olympics Washington. When: New Year’s Day 960 1280

mordac, flickr   

Aruba New Year's Plunge

Aruba New Year's Plunge

In search of warmer climes to take the plunge? Head to Aruba for the Caribbean island’s annual Aruba New Year's Plunge. Hundreds of people gather at MooMba Beach for the “Unox Nieuwjaarsduik” (New Year’s plunge), which takes place at noon sharp. The event is open to everyone; no charge. When: New Year’s Day 960 1280

Aruba Daily Newspaper  

Coney Island Plunge

Coney Island Plunge

Cold enough for you? These 2 brave guys take part in the annual Coney Island Plunge organized by the Coney Island Polar Bear Club, the oldest ice swimming club in the US. The yearly dip into the Atlantic begins at 1 p.m. sharp; afterward, if you’re still breathing, check out the famous Coney Island boardwalk. When: Jan. 1 960 1280

Getty Images  

Russian Orthodox Epiphany

Russian Orthodox Epiphany

In the name of the …wow, this water is cold! A Russian man celebrates the Russian Orthodox Epiphany with a dip in frigid waters. The age-old ritual commemorates Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River, but we have a feeling the Jordan’s waters were a lot less cold. When: Mid-January 960 1280

Reuters  

Tybee Polar Plunge

Tybee Polar Plunge

Thousands of people flock to Tybee Island, near Savannah, GA, for the annual Tybee Polar Plunge plunge into the brisk waters of the Atlantic. Plungers register for a nominal fee, with proceeds going toward the historic Tybee Post Theater, built in 1930. When: New Year’s Day 960 1280

Tybee Polar Plunge   

Scotland's Loony Dook

Scotland's Loony Dook

Showing their white-and-blue Scottish pride, these 2 “loony dookers” take a dip in Scotland’s River Forth. The annual Loony Dook event in Scotland began in 1987 with a handful of participants; the event has since grown into a New Year’s rite of passage for thousands. When: New Year’s Day 960 1280

Lee Carson, flickr  

Baltimore PlungeFest

Baltimore PlungeFest

Holy moly, ma, Darth Vader’s not wearing any clothes under that cape! This wickedly cool plunger takes a dip in the Chesapeake Bay’s cold waters near Baltimore. The annual Baltimore PlungeFest kicks off in Annapolis, MD’s Sandy Point State Park, with proceeds going to Special Olympics Maryland. When: Late January 960 1280

Steve Ruark Photography  

Chicago Polar Plunge

Chicago Polar Plunge

Skip the clothes, grab a wig! Celebrate the New Year (and a good cause) with hundreds of revelers who dive into the icy waters of Chicago’s Lake Michigan in early spring. 2015 marks Chicago Polar Plunge’s 15th year, with proceeds going toward Special Olympics Chicago. When: Early March 960 1280

Grace Trivino, flickr   

Netherlands New Year's

Netherlands New Year's

Wearing colorful vestments, this man takes a dip in the waters off Scheveningen, a beachside resort town in the Netherlands. The annual event began in 1960, and attracts more than 10,000 people, who plunge into the icy North Sea on New Year’s Day. When: Jan. 1 960 1280

Reuters  

Plunge Into 2014  12 Photos

Telluride, Colorado
Telluride, Colorado

Telluride, Colorado

Aspen's chilled-out neighbor, Telluride has the perfect recipe for a summer getaway: laid-back culture, outdoor adventures and plenty of summer festivals including its legendary Telluride Bluegrass Festival. The best way to take in the sweeping views: a 3-mile gondola ride. 960 1280

Telluride Tourism  

San Juan Islands, Washington

San Juan Islands, Washington

Summer on Washington's San Juan Islands is idyllic with dry clear days and wildlife- watching galore, including orca whales, which gather near the islands every summer. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Summer Olympics, London

Summer Olympics, London

If you’re the type who needs to be in on the action, then head to London (along with everyone else in the world) for a less-than-quiet summer getaway at the Summer Olympics. Even if you can’t score tickets, you can still soak up the excitement with live broadcasts of Olympic events in locations such as Trafalgar Square and Hyde Park. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Sanibel Island, Florida

Sanibel Island, Florida

Escape to the unspoiled and quiet beaches of Sanibel Island, only 15 miles west of Fort Myers -- but a world away from the rest of Florida's crowded and chaotic coastline. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Vieques, Puerto Rico

Vieques, Puerto Rico

Vieques, Puerto Rico’s “secret island,” has neither the high-rise resorts or even the traffic lights of a place like San Juan. So you’ll have the beach to yourself in this national wildlife refuge. And check out the Bioluminescent Bay at night to see glowing microorganisms light up the ocean. 960 1280

Mark Donoher, flickr  

Stockholm Archipelago, Sweden

Stockholm Archipelago, Sweden

Swedes are known for traveling to warmer climates during their cold winters, but in the summer many stay put to enjoy the temperate weather and extra hours of sunlight (the sky doesn't darken until 10 p.m.). Cafés and most attractions stay open to take advantage of the late-night sun. 960 1280

Oleksiy Mark  

Roatan, Honduras

Roatan, Honduras

Some of the best scuba diving in the Caribbean can be found in Honduras’s Bay Islands, off the world’s second-largest barrier reef. Roatan is the largest of the islands, with butterfly and iguana farms, canopy tours, small villages and idyllic beaches to entice both divers and non-divers alike. 960 1280

Dennis Sabo  

Newport, Rhode Island

Newport, Rhode Island

Don’t forget about America’s smallest state, Rhode Island! While the rest of the US battles record-heat days in summer, Rhode Island stays cool with New England breezes. Head to Newport to sample the legendary seafood -- lobster, lobster and more lobster. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Montreal, Canada

Montreal, Canada

Montreal is full of European charm, but a lot closer and more affordable than Paris. And summer is the best time to go to enjoy the balmy weather, foodie culture and outdoor cafes. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Coast Starlight

Coast Starlight

Leave the car in the garage this summer and board the Coast Starlight, which links the greatest cities on the West Coast -- LA, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle. You’ll ride through spectacular scenery in style, with sleeping cars, fresh cuisine (served on real china and table linens) and a daily tasting of local wines. 960 1280

Reuters  

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Gearing up the for the 2014 Soccer World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics, Rio de Janeriro keeps moving up the hotlist of South American tourism. Shedding its reputation as a dangerous city, Rio is claiming more of the spotlight with its stunning beaches and lively culture. 960 1280

Celso Pupo Rodrigues  

Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park, Montana

Last summer was Yellowstone. This summer head to Glacier National Park, along Montana’s northern border, for a nature lover’s paradise: dramatic mountains, sapphire lakes and rivers, and unforgettable hiking trails. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

The Hot List

Explore America’s most stunning scenery.
Join the conversation on Social Media!
Stay updated on the latest travel tips and trends.
Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss Travel Channel in your favorite social media feeds.