2012 Hottest Destinations

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

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World Bodypainting Festival
World Bodypainting Festival

World Bodypainting Festival

Since 1998, Carinthia, Austria, has hosted the colorful World Bodypainting Festival. Artists from more than 40 different nations do their best to stun, entertain and win the title of “World’s Best Bodypainter.” In addition to workshops and demos, the 3-day festival also includes music concerts, a Runway & Body Art Fashion Show and fireworks synchronized to music. 960 1280

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Queenstown Winter Festival

Queenstown Winter Festival

More than 45,000 people flock to Queenstown, New Zealand, for perhaps the biggest winter celebration in the southern hemisphere -- the Queenstown Winter Festival. Since 1975, this gold mining camp, turned sophisticated city, comes alive during balmy, but cool temps (44°F - 46°F) in June. The 10-day celebration of winter has more than 75 events, including ski races, ski jumping, colorful parades and exhibitions. 960 1280

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Gay Pride Month

Gay Pride Month

June is Gay Pride Month. Make a trip out of the annual LGBT celebration and travel to World Gay Pride, held in a different location every year like Rome, London and Toronto. Head to San Francisco for the largest Pride festival and parade in the US, or save your money and pack your bags for Sao Paulo, which hosts the largest Gay Pride celebration in the world. 960 1280

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Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon Classic

Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon Classic

Soar to new heights in California’s beautiful Wine Country. The Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon Classic draws thousands of people to this 2-day event in Windsor, CA. On Saturday and Sunday, set your alarm clock early to make sure you’re awake to catch approximately 30 colorful balloons launch around 6:30am. 960 1280

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Chicago Blues Festival

Chicago Blues Festival

Chicago is the place to visit in June, especially if you’re a fan of the blues. The Chicago Blues Festival is the largest free blues music festival in the world. During 3 days, more than 500,000 people converge on Grant Park to hear well-renown performers like B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, KoKo Taylor and Otis Rush (pictured) perform on the festival’s 5 stages. 960 1280

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Dragon Boat Races

Dragon Boat Races

Visit Hong Kong to experience the excitement of the Duanwu Festival, celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar calendar. The Festival includes dragon boat races in Aberdeen -- one of the first places to host these races in Hong Kong. Fishermen believe that rowing dragon boats during the Duanwu Festival will bring them luck. 960 1280

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Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival

From indie rock to reggae, the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, draws thousands of fans to hear notable acts like Bob Dylan, Arcade Fire, Bruce Springsteen, Jay-Z, Tool, The Beach Boys and The White Stripes. During this 4-day music festival, bands, rappers, musicians and singers perform from around noon until 4am or later at Great Stage Park, which is located on a 700-acre farm. 960 1280

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Midsummer Festival

Midsummer Festival

Apart from Christmas, the Midsummer Festival is the most important holiday on the Swedish calendar. Flowers in your hair, dancing around a maypole, singing songs while drinking schnapps and eating pickled herring is all part of this special celebration. We recommend visiting Leksand to experience the largest midsummer festival in Sweden. 960 1280

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Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Explore the incredible Inca ruins of Peru’s Machu Picchu, often called “Lost city of the Incas.” Take an adventurous climb to see the Temple of Condor and Sun Gate -- the end point for the Inca Trail. Visit in June to take advantage of the dry season and to avoid the heavy crowds in July and August. 960 1280

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Father's Day

Father's Day

Don’t forget about Dad this month. Spend some extra time with your father figure by planning a trip to go fly fishing, rock climbing or skydiving. For a getaway minus the adrenaline-pumping thrills, we have a few Father’s Day travel ideas like a brewery tour in Portland, OR, or game of golf in Myrtle Beach, SC. 960 1280

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Glastonbury Music Festival

Glastonbury Music Festival

Since 1970, music fans and art lovers have swarmed to Pilton, Somerset, England, to attend the Glastonbury Festival. Only 1,500 people attended the first festival, and today more than 170,000 people flock to Worthy Farm -- owned by festival organizer Michael Eavis -- to hear leading pop and rock artists as well as other forms of art, including dance, comedy, theater, circus and cabaret. 960 1280

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Gettysburg Fest

Gettysburg Fest

The Battle of Gettysburg -- the bloodiest battle in American history -- is known as the turning point in the American Civil War. Today, locals and tourists don’t have to be history buffs to enjoy the annual Gettysburg Fest. This 5-day festival has more than 50 live performances on 7 stages, 7 art shows, culinary experiences, movie premieres and more. Over the past 6 years, more than 3,000 artists, musicians and performers --The Suzanne Farrell Ballet, blues artist Robert Cray and world-renowned guitarist/singer John Pizzarelli -- have been featured at the festival. 960 1280

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Summer Solstice

Summer Solstice

June marks the official start of summer, and what better way to welcome the Summer Solstice than by joining thousands of people at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England. It’s not uncommon for groups to celebrate by performing impromptu ceremonies that include samba bands and drummers. No amplified music is allowed here. 960 1280

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Wimbledon Tennis Championships

Wimbledon Tennis Championships

Arguably the most famous tennis tournament in the world, the Wimbledon Championships have been played since 1877. Starting towards the end of June and lasting approximately 2 weeks, or until all events are complete, tickets for Wimbledon are always in fierce demand, especially with pro tennis players like Andy Murray competing. 960 1280

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Sri Lanka
Southern Asia Trek

Southern Asia Trek

"A budgetista when it comes to travel, I can't even imagine how far a budget of $10,000 would take me! Instead of going the luxe route, I'd use this ample amount of cash to fund a long trip … perhaps a grand tour of less-than-easy places to get to in southern Asia. I’d love to see the happiest people on in Earth in Bhutan, tour the temples in Nepal, go tea-house trekking in Sri Lanka … and just keep on travelin’ until the money runs out." -- Kathleen, Interactive Producer
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First-Class Flight to Dubai

First-Class Flight to Dubai

"Fly first-class to <a href="http://www.travelchannel.com/video/travel-trends-2013-dubai">Dubai</a>! $10,000 will get you a round-trip first-class ticket from New York to Dubai. Just remember: When traveling to a city that uses Lamborghinis for police cars, it’s important to arrive in style."  -- <i>Josh, Online Production Manager</i>  960 1280

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Golf at St. Andrews Links

Golf at St. Andrews Links

"With $10,000, I would take 3 of my best friends to <a href="http://www.travelchannel.com/video/travel-trends-2013-scotland">Scotland</a> for the ultimate golf adventure. After arriving in the “Home of Golf,” we’d hit St. Andrews Links for not 1, but 2 incredibly tough rounds of golf. On day 1, we’d play the famed “Old Course,” then on day 2, see how it compares to St. Andrew’s new course (although I should mention, the “New Course” was designed in 1894 by Old Tom Morris)." -- <i>Ben, Interactive Producer</i>  960 1280

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Whirlwind Tour Around the World

Whirlwind Tour Around the World

"As a mileage runner and rock climber, I’d fly around the world -- first stops in Paris and Cape Town for bouldering, in Fontainebleau and Rocklands respectively. Then continue on to Tokyo for some sashimi, with a final stop in Buenos Aires, just because I’ve never been there. Besides the fun, this trip would earn me 47K elite qualifying miles, which will help me maintain my Delta elite flyer status." -- Arthur, Video Project Manager 960 1280

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Amazing Amalfi Coast Getaway

Amazing Amalfi Coast Getaway

"I would probably make my $10,000 last as long as possible and save most of it. However, I’d throw some caution to the wind and splurge a little on a fun getaway to Italy’s Amalfi Coast or Spain to explore the Canary Islands, Ibiza, Costa del Sol and Seville." -- Kwin, Managing Producer 960 1280

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Great Greek Adventure

Great Greek Adventure

"I’d take that $10,000 and hop on the next flight to Greece, where I’d charter a yacht and sail the Aegean. I’m not talking a big, hulking cruise ship with subpar onboard meals and a set itinerary -- my Greek adventure would include a gorgeous sailboat and a personal skipper who’d chart an off-the-beaten-path course. I’d spend my days admiring the crystal-clear waters, exploring ancient ruins and dining on fresh seafood. Oh, and drinking plenty of ouzo." -- Allee, Interactive Producer 960 1280

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Scotland Road Trip

Scotland Road Trip

"I'm currently planning a spring trip to Scotland, so $10,000 would come in handy! I'd rent a car and explore the arts-and-culture hub of Glasgow, historic Edinburgh and then head north to Inverness, castle trail and the Highlands. Or, I'd stay in a castle in Stirling, and then charter a boat to see the Inner and Outer Hebrides, like Skye (beautiful craggy mountains) and Islay (famous for malt whisky distillation). Actually, I could do it ALL for $10,000, and still have change to spare." -- Liz, Photo Editor 960 1280

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Tuscany Bike Tour

Tuscany Bike Tour

"I'd spend my $10,000 on la dolce vita! I'd book the first flight to Firenze, where I'd indulge in Italian food, culture and fashion. I would attend Cucina con Vista, where I'd attempt to learn how to cook from chef Elena Mattei, and then peddling it off on a Backroads bike tour of Tuscany, drinking in the Renaissance architecture, scenic olive orchards -- and private wine tastings." -- Sara, Interactive Producer 960 1280

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Italy's Wine Country

Italy's Wine Country

“I use the $10,000 to travel through Italy’s wine country. I would sip my way through the vineyards in Tuscany and eat authentic Italian food until my heart’s content. The money would also give me the opportunity to see where some of my family originated from and experience Italian culture at its best.” -- Kristen, Photo Editor 960 1280

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Jao Camp, Okavango Delta, Botswana

Jao Camp, Okavango Delta, Botswana

“With $10,000, I would take my husband home. Ha! Seriously, he was born in Uganda and he hasn’t been back since he was 2 years old. We’d travel around the country, and also visit Rwanda (where his mother was born) and Botswana, where we’d experience the ultimate sleepover at Jao Camp in the Okavango Delta.” -- Rani, Managing Producer 960 1280

Wilderness Safaris  

Presidential Inauguration
Presidential Inauguration

Presidential Inauguration

“Faith in America’s Future” was the theme of America’s 57th presidential inauguration. In a nod to 2 big milestones -- the 150th anniversary of both the Emancipation Proclamation and the Capitol dome’s completion -- the Washington, DC, festivities culminated in President Obama’s public swearing-in ceremony on the Capitol’s west side. 960 1280

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One World Trade Center

One World Trade Center

Out of the ashes, a resilient triumph: In November One World Trade Center was officially named the tallest building in North America. The height of One World Trade Center was purposely set at 1,776 feet, in tribute to America’s Declaration of Independence and the nearly 3,000 Americans who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001. 960 1280

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Prince George of Cambridge

Prince George of Cambridge

Royal baby mania gripped the world, as news crews waited outside London’s St. Mary’s Hospital for news of Kate and William’s royal delivery. Initial reports of a baby girl were quickly put to rest once the easel outside Buckingham Palace delivered the July 22 news: George Alexander Louis had arrived. 960 1280

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Breaking Bad Tours

Breaking Bad Tours

It’s not every day that a city embraces its image as a meth-producing drug haven, unless, of course, that city is the subject of one of the most popular dramas of all time. Breaking Bad put Albuquerque on the map in a big way, and while Walt and Jesse’s adventures have ended, don’t count on Breaking Bad tours to follow suit anytime soon. 960 1280

ABQ Trolley Co.  

Government Shutdown, Blue Ridge Parkway

Government Shutdown, Blue Ridge Parkway

For the first time in 17 years, the US government shut down in October, and for the next 3 weeks, the nation watched as America’s national parks and memorials were barricaded. The grim news turned the spotlight on state parks nationwide, as well as the Blue Ridge Parkway, where travelers could still find reprieve. 960 1280

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Gettysburg Anniversary

Gettysburg Anniversary

At just under 300 words, the Gettysburg Address summed up what was at stake in the Civil War, and what the death of tens of thousands of young men could ultimately mean to a hurting nation. In November the town of Gettysburg celebrated Lincoln’s words, months after having marked the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. 960 1280

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London Underground Anniversary

London Underground Anniversary

London had its own big 150th anniversary to celebrate this year, with the London Underground – the world’s first underground railway – marking its historic birthday. Various events throughout London have marked the Tube’s 150th anniversary, including a restored antique railway that traveled the same path as the Tube did back in 1863. 960 1280

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Pope Francis, Vatican City Tour

Pope Francis, Vatican City Tour

In a shock to the world, Pope Benedict abruptly resigned in February, becoming the first pope to do so in nearly 600 years. But then the world got a look at affable Pope Francis, originally from Argentina, and an upbeat air returned to this fascinating city-state within Italy, along with renewed interest in Vatican City tours. 960 1280

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Miss America, Atlantic City

Miss America, Atlantic City

It was exciting enough that the historic Miss America pageant returned to Atlantic City for the first time in 6 years. Then the pageant got even cooler when 2013’s winner turned out to be the first-ever Miss America of Indian descent: New York native Nina Davuluri. 960 1280

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JFK Assassination Anniversary, Dallas

JFK Assassination Anniversary, Dallas

A dark day in Dallas, and the nation’s history, was relived in late November, as somber crowds gathered in Dealey Plaza to remember America’s 35th president. This year marked the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination, sparking epic reminiscences of how life changed that day. 960 1280

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Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal

In the 1970s, Grand Central Terminal was slated for demolition, until Jackie Kennedy joined in the effort to help save the iconic NYC train terminal. February marked Grand Central’s 100th anniversary, and with it, the continuation of a NYC landmark that sees some 700,000 commuters a day. 960 1280

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Beating out some formidable competition (Istanbul and Madrid), Tokyo landed a big win in September: For the first time since 1964, Japan’s capital got the nod to host the Summer Olympic Games. Slated for 2020, the games will unfold in Tokyo’s revamped National Olympic Stadium. 960 1280

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Bret Michaels on Travel Channel

Bret Michaels on Travel Channel

In May, legendary rocker Bret Michaels traded in his mic for a sledgehammer and a whole new venture. As host of Travel Channel’s Rock My RV, Bret brought his passion for RVs to Travel’s audience, and proved that America’s favorite bandana-wearing rocker knows how to rock it in more ways than one. 960 1280

CARIN_BAER  

Hyperloop

Hyperloop

No, it’s not Blade Runner, it’s better: The futuristic Hyperloop will transport passengers in under 30 minutes between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The vision of billionaire Elon Musk, which he unveiled in August, the solar-powered transportation system is slated to take off once California state government approves the project. For commuters who must currently brave a 6-hour commute, that may not be a moment too soon. 960 1280

Elon Musk  

Obamas in Ireland

Obamas in Ireland

First Lady Michelle Obama’s paid a visit to the Emerald Isle in June with daughters Sasha and Malia. Part of the Obamas’ 2-day Ireland trip included a visit to the valley of Glendalough, in County Wicklow, where they met with local tour guide George McClafferty. No word on whether he sang, “There’s No One as Irish as Barack Obama,” to them in honor of the president’s Irish roots. 960 1280

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Ghost Adventures in Transylvania

Ghost Adventures in Transylvania

In October, Ghost Adventures ushered in its 100th episode in a monumental way, becoming the very first paranormal TV program to investigate the St. Louis home that inspired The Exorcist movie and novel. The crew followed up the 100th episode with another big turn, heading to Transylvania for Halloween. 960 1280

  

Nik Wallenda's Grand Canyon Walk

Nik Wallenda's Grand Canyon Walk

Plenty of nail-biting moments unfolded during the live broadcast of Nik Wallenda’s high-wire act near the Grand Canyon in June. The self-proclaimed “King of the Wire” walked across the Little Colorado River Gorge outside Grand Canyon National Park's borders, in under 25 minutes, with no safety harness. Can we say insane? 960 1280

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Boston World Series

Boston World Series

A city shaken by the Boston Marathon bombing in April rebounded with a bittersweet win in October, when the Boston Red Sox scored 3 runs in the third inning and 3 in the fourth to defeat St. Louis and win the World Series. 960 1280

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Philippines Typhoon

Philippines Typhoon

The Philippines suffered its most devastating loss in early November, when Typhoon Haiyan made landfall, killing nearly 10,000 people in what would become the deadliest typhoon in the Philippines’ history. 960 1280

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Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, Antarctica

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, Antarctica

The world’s sexiest models, across 7 continents. Sports Illustrated celebrated its 50th anniversary year in style 2013’s SI Swimsuit edition, with one eye-catching look of Kate Upton going polar bare in Antarctica. We went undercover ourselves, revealing SI’s sexiest models’ sexiest destination picks. 960 1280

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