2012 Hottest Destinations

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

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Washington Nationals
The World Series

The World Series

Every October, sports fans sit on the edge of their seats to watch tense playoff games and the World Series, in anticipation of which team will be crowned the champs of Major League Baseball. 960 1280

Patrick McDermott  

Presidential Debates

Presidential Debates

In a different nail-biter, the contentious US presidential race kicks into high gear this month, with both candidates racking up thousands of miles campaigning and debating all over the US. 960 1280

Win McNamee  

Grand Cayman

Grand Cayman

As autumn brings cooler weather, we’re dreaming of somewhere warmer in the Caribbean, like Grand Cayman. In October, 1 lucky winner can enter to win a trip for 2 to this sunny spot to enjoy fun activities, including a swim with stingrays. 960 1280

Jo Ann Snover  

Columbus Day

Columbus Day

We celebrate Christopher Columbus’s spirit of exploration on Columbus Day, such as the Knights of Columbus (pictured) did at this special celebration in Washington, DC. This year’s holiday marked the 100th anniversary of President William Howard Taft unveiling the National Columbus Memorial. 960 1280

Win McNamee  

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer survivors and supporters in search of a cure converge on the National Mall in Washington for the Susan G. Komen Foundation's annual Race for the Cure. The foundation raises awareness and funding for breast cancer research and services. 960 1280

� Joshua Roberts / Reuters, JPEGTOII2/MED  

NY ComicCon

NY ComicCon

Zing! Pow! Bang! We may not be obsessed with New York Comic Con, but we know thousands of fans who enjoy this unique convention, which allows them the chance to rub elbows with their favorite sci-fi characters and chat with like-minded people who also enjoy talking about their favorite comic-book superheroes. 960 1280

Daniel Zuchnik  

NFL Football

NFL Football

NFL football is another reason why we’re obsessed with October. The season is in full swing , bringing cheers, jeers and tailgating fun. 960 1280

Frederick Breedon  

Fall Festivals

Fall Festivals

What’s not to love about the wonderful fall and harvest festivals in October? It’s the perfect time to take the kids for a hayride, as well as embark on a trip to explore a corn maze or go an adventure in search of the perfect pumpkin. 960 1280

  

Great American Beer Festival

Great American Beer Festival

Aside from Munich’s Oktoberfest, beer is also king at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. Tip back a cold one as you sample quality beers that have been entered in the annual beer competition, while professional judges decide which breweries win the gold, silver or bronze medals across 75 beer-style categories. 960 1280

Photo © Brewers Association.  

Austin City Limits Music Festival

Austin City Limits Music Festival

Rock out to some of the world’s best indie and alternative rockers -- like Radiohead, Jack White and Esperanza Spalding -- at the Austin City Limits Music Festival this October. 960 1280

  

Fall Foliage

Fall Foliage

It just wouldn’t be October without a fun leaf-peeping road trip to see the colorful foliage in prime locations, including Natchaug State Forest in Connecticut, Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and Kettle Moraine State Forest in Wisconsin. 960 1280

Greg M. Cooper  

Halloween

Halloween

Boo! We’re obsessed with Halloween, things that go bump in the night, costumes, candy, glowing jack-o’-lanterns and other places where we can get our “spook” on, like Knott’s Scary Farm. 960 1280

  

Ironman World Championship

Ironman World Championship

It’s the ultimate test of mind, body and spirit. Thousands of spectators converge on Kona, HI, to see triathletes swim, bike and run to the finish line to win the annual Ironman World Championship. 960 1280

© Hugh Gentry / Reuters, JPEGTOII2/MED  

College Football

College Football

Before the New Year’s Eve college bowl craze begins, football fans bundle up in their warmest gear to catch their favorite college football teams in action. 960 1280

Streeter Lecka  

San Francisco Fleet Week

San Francisco Fleet Week

The sky is the limit if you’re looking for a fun fall getaway. Be one of thousands of spectators who come out to enjoy the air show -- one of the final events of a busy Fleet Week in San Francisco. 960 1280

© Robert Galbraith / Reuters, Reuters Picture Stream/MED  

Monsters

Monsters

October is full of ghosts, ghouls, vampires, witches, zombies and other creepy creatures. We’re also obsessed with the people who make these monsters. 960 1280

  

NYC Food Film Festival

NYC Food Film Festival

Raise a beer, sample food and be the first of a select few to see critically acclaimed cuisine-related films at the annual NYC Food Film Festival. 960 1280

  

Taste of Fall

Taste of Fall

Enjoy the lip-smacking, obsessively good tastes of October, including pumpkin pie, hot chocolate, beef stew, candy corn and apple cider. 960 1280

David Smith  

National Hispanic Heritage Month

National Hispanic Heritage Month

We recognize National Hispanic Month in October. The rich culture is brought to life through special events, including this Fiesta Musical at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, DC. 960 1280

Mehgan Murphy  

Bolt Bus and Amtrak
Bolt Bus and Amtrak

Bolt Bus and Amtrak

In: Amtrak
Out: Bolt Bus
Oh, Bolt Bus, how we wanted to love you. A one-way ticket from DC to NYC costs only $25. After an orderly boarding at Union Station, we were all aglow. But then we were forced to sit for 30 minutes at a time in several nasty Jersey Turnpike rest stops. We thought we could still be friends. But then we got to the embarkation point in NYC for the trip home. Holy nasty corner and crowds, Batman! After a street-side scuffle over luggage space, we were done. Dear Acela, please let us pay you $166 one way, we won’t leave you again.
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In: Pacific Northwest
Skiing Out: European Summer
Skiing The Farmers’ Almanac is forecasting “clime and punishment” for the winter of 2012, a season of unusually cold and stormy weather that will be strongly influenced by La Nina. Translation? Ski bonanza for the Pacific Northwest! At the same time, European ski resorts across the Alps are being forced to close summer ski areas due to the combined effects of global warming and glacial melting. In 2012, only 3 resorts in France are able to offer conditions suitable for summer skiing.
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In: Dirty Hotel Towels
Out: Stealing Hotel Towels

You, too, can help save the planet by simply reusing hotel room towels and linens. According to Green Suites, a hospitality service company, when guests participate in towel and linen reuse programs, an average 150-room hotel can save 6,000 gallons of water and 40 gallons of detergent monthly. And for those of us who sometimes find a towel in our luggage, FYI: Linen Technology Tracking has patented a washable chip for hotels to sew into towels, robes and bed sheets that triggers an alarm when tagged items leave the premises. Ouch.
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Eyecandy Images  

In: Stockholm
Out: Venice

Last year, around Christmas time, we had our Italy travel guides primed in anticipation of Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie zooming around the canals of Venice in The Tourist. In 2012, we’re all about the dark side of Stockholm as the US version of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo brings us a menacing Daniel Craig and badass Rooney Mara. Here’s to a very Scandinavian 2012.
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In: Traveling Social
Out: Traveling Solo
Savvy travelers have been using TripAdvisor to help plan getaways for several years, and going forward, social travel website and app launches will only accelerate. A dizzying glut of startups hope to cash in on the trend in 2012 with services that run the gamut from sharing and planning itineraries to meeting up with people along the way.
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In: Mayans
Out: Incas

Silly Incas, you need to predict a world apocalypse if you want to be “In” next time. Maya calendar buffs will want to visit a few key sites this year on or before Dec. 12, 2012, the date on which the world is predicted to end (or be reborn) in the Mayan “long count” calendar. Mexico’s Tortuguero no longer exists as an archaeological site, but Monument 6, its most famous relic containing the only text bearing the actual date, is now housed in the Museo Regional de Antropología Carlos Pellicer Cámara in Villahermosa.
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Don Bayley  

In: Space Hotels
Out: Underwater Hotels
This year Galactic Suites plans to open the world’s first orbiting hotel. The Barcelona-based company says guests will orbit the earth every 80 minutes, see the sun rise 15 times a day and crawl around pod rooms using Velcro suits. Your 3-day stay in space will cost approximately $4 million. Meanwhile, Poseidon Undersea Resorts, a proposed chain of underwater hotels, was slated to open its first property in Fiji by 2008. We’re still waiting to sleep with the fishes.
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conrad maldives hotel  

In: Books on Mobile
Out: Books on Kindle

Last year we carried our laptop for work, mobile for texting, tablet for movies and Kindle for books. But this year we’re asking ourselves, “Why carry an extra device when we can download our library to a mobile phone or tablet?” From handy dandy travel guides to beach reads to movies and Angry Birds, the tablet or phone can handle them all. Some of us remember the days when we tore the pages out of our “Let’s Go” after we left a destination to save room in our backpack. You kids have it so easy.
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In: Lima for Eating
Out: Lima for Breathing

Recently this coastal city has been drawing foodies from all over the world to sample a new breed of modern cuisine reflecting Lima's cultural mix of Spanish, African, Chinese and Japanese. The country’s long Pacific coast provides an endless bounty of fresh seafood for all sorts of recipes, including Lima's signature dish -- ceviche. Unfortunately the Peruvian capitol suffers from the worst air pollution of any South American capital.
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Ildiko Papp  

In: Edutravel
Out: Glamping

NBC’s Who Do You Think You Are, a program on which celebrities trace their genealogy to destinations across the globe, is capitalizing on a trend that travelers are also embracing -- trips on which learning and activity is emphasized over lazing around the beach or pool. Many tour companies are also offering trips where experts lead the way through historical, scientific and archaeological sites. We’re up for these authentic experiences over last year’s kind-of creepy “glamping” trend. Even the Sex and the City women can’t pull off couture while riding a camel.
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In: 4-Wheeled Luggage
Out: 2-Wheeled Luggage
The first time we saw a woman in Paris’s Charles de Gaulle gliding along next to her suitcase as she daintily guided the large bag down the concourse, we did a double take. We were shocked -- SHOCKED! -- to notice the thing had 4 multi-directional wheels. We were skeptical even as our right shoulder ached from the weight the 2-wheeler that added several feet to our total length. Color us convinced. WANT.
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In: Sonoma, CA
Out: Napa, CA

Wine connoisseurs have long been in on the secret that Sonoma’s 300-plus wineries offer superlative tasting, but travelers have discovered that Sonoma has a more well-rounded flavor than her sister county, Napa. From floating the Russian River to hiking through ancient redwood stands, to browsing Petaluma’s Victorian row to sampling Sepastopol’s Gravenstein apple pies, Sonoma satisfies all tastes.
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Chris Boswell  

In: Mérida
Out: Cancun

Travelers to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula in 2012 are forgoing the tired Americaland of Cancun and turning to the “real Mexico” a few hours inland at Merida. The city’s Spanish colonial center is ringed by 16th-century cathedrals and free art museums. Plus, 5 Mayan sites are situated on public bus routes. It’s simple to arrange day trips to the region’s magical cenotes (water-filled limestone sinkholes unique to the Yucatan), as well as the village of Celestún where hundreds of pink flamingos nest and feed in the mangroves.
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Joao Canziani  

Rio Carnival
Rio Carnival

Rio Carnival

Fabulously sexy, this annual fest of flesh and fun rightly lays claim to being the world’s biggest Carnival bash. Join the throngs of 2 million revelers who descend upon Rio this February -- we dare you not to get swept up in the fabulous energy of blocos, bandas and bods. 960 1280

Reuters  

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue

Fabulous genes meet fabulous scenes in the most hotly anticipated sports magazine cover of the year. Nearly 50 years after the magazine’s debut, the latest entrants onto the scene carry on the time-honored tradition of sun, sand and skin. 960 1280

iStock  

NY Fashion Week

NY Fashion Week

Fabulous fashionistas stay ahead of the fashion curve here. Officially known as Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, this twice-annual bash is NYC’s single-largest media event, attracting more than 100,000 industry insiders from around the world. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Quebec Winter Carnival

Quebec Winter Carnival

For fabulous winter fun, head to this annual festival in Quebec City. Fabulous skiing, snow rafting, sled rides and a masquerade ball are among the many attractions, in what is the largest winter carnival in the world, now 60 years strong. 960 1280

Reuters  

Chocolate-Covered February

Chocolate-Covered February

Yes, yes, yes! February wouldn’t be quite so fabulous without this fabulously decadent treat! Treat your Valentine to the Sweetest Place on Earth (Hershey, PA, of course) for this month-long celebration. No guilt allowed. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day

Our fabulous, furry little friend here sure knows how to grab our attention. Bring your lawn chair to Gobbler’s Knob, and keep your eyes peeled as Punxsutawney Phil, the Seer of Seers, the Prognosticator of Prognosticators, reveals his end-of-winter predictions. 960 1280

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Super Bowl

Super Bowl

Are you ready for some football? Don your warrior paint, grab your favorite jersey, it’s time for the ultimate fabulous showcase of brawn and muscle. As the Ravens and 49ers go toe-to-toe, place your bets in our city vs. city showdown. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Grammys

Grammys

Music’s biggest night of the year spells fabulous entertainment. This February’s headliner is JT, taking center stage after a 4-year hiatus, plus Jack White, The Lumineers, The Black Keys, Taylor Swift and the fabulous Sir Elton. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Black History Month

Black History Month

Inspiring will and accomplishment that paved the way for future generations -- mark this fabulous month-long celebration with a trip to a place like the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the interpretive museum in Alabama that chronicles the struggles of the civil rights movement. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Oscars

Oscars

Fabulous performances, fabulous fashions, fabulously long speeches (oh, please, no!) -- the 85th annual Academy Awards take center stage at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre this month. Our prediction: Daniel Day-Lewis for best actor, Jennifer Lawrence for best actress. What's yours? 960 1280

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Westminster Dog Show

Westminster Dog Show

Before there was ever “America’s next top model” or “America’s top chef,” there was America’s top dog. For the past 137 years, this annual showcase of canine’s best breeds has dazzled dog lovers everywhere. And in fabulous news for Russell Terrier lovers, this year sees the little pooch make its Westminster debut. Woof! 960 1280

Reuters  

American Heart Month

American Heart Month

Feel fabulous as you do your part in this month-long public health campaign. First thing’s first: Get up out of that chair (you know, the one you’re sitting in now), and go for a walk. Thirty minutes, most days of the week, is all you need to get going. Your heart will reward you in fabulous ways. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year

The longest and most important festivity on the Chinese calendar had to make our fabulous list. Get ready to ring in the Year of the Snake! Our sources tell us lucky directions for the snake are southwest and northeast. Start … slithering. 960 1280

Getty Images   

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