2012 Hottest Destinations

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

You Might Also Like

Barton Springs (Austin, TX)
Barton Springs (Austin, TX)

Barton Springs (Austin, TX)

Locals enjoy year-round swimming at Barton Springs, a manmade swimming pool fed from underground springs that keep the water temperature a constant 70 degrees. Spanning 3 acres in Zilker Park, Barton Springs is home to grassy hills and moss-covered rocks that are ideal for sunbathing when it's equally nice outside. 960 1280

Wally Gobetz, flickr  

Central Park (New York City)

Central Park (New York City)

Central Park's iconic, 250-acre lawn is home to several sunbathing spots. Join the crowds on the Great Lawn or Sheep Meadow (where Wi-Fi is available) -- because isn't people watching half the fun? -- or sneak off to a more secluded corner on the East Green, which is also one of the park's quiet zones. 960 1280

iStock  

North Avenue Beach (Chicago)

North Avenue Beach (Chicago)

Try keeping Chi-Town residents off the Lake Michigan beachfront after surviving a subarctic winter. In May, North Avenue Beach becomes a hive of activity, with sand volleyball courts, access to water sports, Castaways restaurant and bar as well as unbeatable skyline views. 960 1280

Gezelle Rivera, flickr  

Charles River Esplanade (Boston)

Charles River Esplanade (Boston)

This wide, wooden pier attracts dog-walkers, joggers and bikers -- as it is best accessible via the Arthur Fiedler footbridge crossing Storrow Drive. Enjoy the only waterfront sunbathing spot within Boston city limits, and relax as teams of sailboats and racing college crews go by. 960 1280

Manindra Singh  

Dolores Park (San Francisco)

Dolores Park (San Francisco)

On weekends, Dolores Park in the Mission fills up with families on the playground, tennis players on the free courts and sunbathers on the grassy hill -- all seeking an urban "beach" with some of the most beautiful views of San Francisco. 960 1280

iStock  

Lake Calhoun (Minneapolis)

Lake Calhoun (Minneapolis)

The largest -- and most popular -- of Minneapolis's Chain of Lakes, Lake Calhoun's Thomas Beach tends to attract a younger crowd for sunbathing, picnics and beach volleyball. The paved trail circling the lake, which is almost exactly a 5k, boasts views of downtown Minneapolis and is popular with cyclists, runners and walkers alike. 960 1280

twodolla, flickr  

Georgetown Waterfront (Washington, DC)

Georgetown Waterfront (Washington, DC)

The nation's capital is not known for lacking green space, but unabashed sunbathers eschew quieter neighborhood spots like Lincoln and Meridian Hill parks for the bustling Georgetown Waterfront. Walkers and joggers take advantage of the paved paths along the Potomac River; children run through the 50-foot-wide fountain; professionals spill out onto the decks of waterfront bars; and a lucky few party on docked boats. 960 1280

iStock  

Lake Havasu (Lake Havasu City, AZ)

Lake Havasu (Lake Havasu City, AZ)

There's no shortage of sunshine in the desert, but you still might be surprised to find this spring break oasis on the Colorado River between California and Arizona. On nice weekends Arizona college students, boating enthusiasts and retirees alike trade in the community pool for Rotary Beach's pristine sands and calm waters (due to a no-wake zone). 960 1280

Rick Taylor  

Volunteer Park (Seattle)

Volunteer Park (Seattle)

North Capitol Hill's 45-acre Volunteer Park is perfect for sunbathing when there's a reprieve from Seattle's perpetual rain. See the Space Needle and Olympic Mountains, meant to be viewed through Isamu Noguchi's 1969 sculpture, Black Sun, then visit the Seattle Asian Art Museum (located in the middle of the park) and 5 adjacent green houses -- after you've covered up, of course. 960 1280

Eric Frommer, flickr  

Cheesman Park (Denver)

Cheesman Park (Denver)

Bordered on 3 sides by private residences and apartment buildings, Cheesman Park's beautifully manicured lawns are a hidden respite from the city. There's a running trail, beautiful pavilion, children’s playground and roughly 80 acres of green space to throw a frisbee, fly a kite or just stretch out with a book -- if you can get over the fact that you're sunbathing over scores of unmarked graves. No seriously, Cheesman Park used to be Prospect Hill Cemetery, boasting ghost tours as well as botanical gardens. 960 1280

Marketing Punk, flickr  

Ironman World Championship (Kailua-Kona, HI)
Ironman World Championship (Kailua-Kona, HI)

Ironman World Championship (Kailua-Kona, HI)

See some of the world’s most elite athletes compete in the big daddy of Ironman events. On Oct. 11, more than 2,000 athletes from around the world will set out on a 140.6-mile triathlon race from Kona, HI. Come as a participant, spectator or volunteer because this is one competition you won’t soon forget. 960 1280

Reuters  

New York Comic Con

New York Comic Con

Gear up as the X-Men or any other favorite action hero at the largest comic and pop culture celebration on the East Coast. Showcasing the latest in comics, graphic novels, video games, anime and more, New York Comic Con kicks off at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on Oct. 9. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Taste of DC

Taste of DC

What better place to enjoy Columbus Day weekend than in the city that bears the famed explorer’s name? Head to Washington, DC, for a Taste of DC, an annual showcase featuring more than 40 area restaurants and live musical performances. 960 1280

USDAgov/ Lance Cheung, flickr   

Shocktoberfest (Sinking Spring, PA)

Shocktoberfest (Sinking Spring, PA)

Experience the Unknown at Shocktoberfest in Sinking Spring, PA. Halloween revelers can take the “Almost” Naked and Scared Challenge and explore this spooky house in nothing but their, um, knickers. 960 1280

Shocktoberfest  

Acadia National Park (Maine)

Acadia National Park (Maine)

Catch a glimpse of Maine’s gorgeous fall colors at Acadia National Park this month. Each October, 600,000 visitors enter the park, but with 47,000 acres to explore, you’ll have plenty of leaf-peeping options. Looking for something closer to home? Check out our favorite fall foliage road trips. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Race for the Cure

Race for the Cure

On your mark, get set … join one of the hundreds of Race for the Cure events taking place in cities across the US this month. Go pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month at any number of walks and races occurring nationwide, and make it a Pinktober to remember. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Autumn Color Fly-Drive (West Virginia)

Autumn Color Fly-Drive (West Virginia)

Another great fall leaf-peeping option: the Mountain State. As America’s third-most-forested state, West Virginia boasts 36 state parks and 6 national parks — together, they’re home to more than 200,000 acres of fall-foliage wonder like this. 960 1280

iStock  

Austin City Limits (Austin, TX)

Austin City Limits (Austin, TX)

Head to the most extraordinary 3-day music fest of its kind in the US. Held each year in Austin’s Zilker Park, Austin City Limits draws more than 130 music acts, showcasing the best in indie, rock, country and more, across 8 stages. This year, the music fest will unfold over 2 consecutive weekends (Oct. 3-5 and 10-12). 960 1280

Ashley Garmon  

Pumpkin House (Kenova, WV)

Pumpkin House (Kenova, WV)

Take in a display of 3,000 hand-carved pumpkins at the famous Pumpkin House in Kenova, WV. This illuminated wonder, which welcomes nearly 30,000 visitors each year, takes center stage at a Victorian house, dating back to 1891, at 748 Beech St. In times past, the house won fame for securing a visit from President Grover Cleveland; in recent years, it’s garnered national media attention for its number of glowing jack-o'-lanterns. 960 1280

  

Grand Canyon (Arizona)

Grand Canyon (Arizona)

Take advantage of off-season travel to popular landmarks such as the Grand Canyon. Each October, the 1.2-million-acre park sees half its summer crowds. Enjoy cooler temperatures (in the 70s), as well as the deepening colors of aspen, oak and birch trees that adorn this national treasure. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

MLB World Series

MLB World Series

Head to one of America’s most iconic baseball stadiums and take in the spirit of the World Series, which is expected to kick off Oct. 21. Sorry, Sox fans, but our favorite remains Yankees Stadium, home to 27 World Series wins. Whatever your stadium of choice, you’re likely to have a hard time passing up all the mouthwatering ballpark food. 960 1280

Getty Images  

World’s Largest Corn Maze (Spring Grove, IL)

World’s Largest Corn Maze (Spring Grove, IL)

Wind your way through 33 acres of corn in the world’s largest corn maze at Richardson Farm in Spring Grove, IL. This year’s design celebrates the 200th anniversary of The Star-Spangled Banner and includes 5 mazes with shapes such as a flag, a battleship and soldiers. After you find your way out of the maze, enjoy other family-fun activities, including a pumpkin patch, hayride and zip line. 960 1280

Michael Kappel, Flickr  

Chicago Marathon

Chicago Marathon

Lace up your running shoes and head to the Windy City for the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 12. One of the 6 major marathons, this annual race welcomes both elite athletes and everyday runners from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. Even if you’re not participating, join runners as they cross the finish line in Chicago’s Grant Park for the post-race party, which features live entertainment and vendors. 960 1280

REUTERS / Kamil Krzacynski  

National Bike Month
National Bike Month

National Bike Month

The days are longer and the weather is getting warmer, so now’s the perfect time to leave the car in the garage and dust off your bike. Celebrate National Bike Month by taking your bike for a spin around the best cities for cycling in the US or plan a sip ’n’ spin weekend biking in wine country. Bathing suit season is almost here, so get on your bike now to spin your way to a perfect beach bod. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Lotus Lantern Festival

Lotus Lantern Festival

It’s Buddha’s birthday! One of the largest events in Korea, the Seoul Lotus Lantern Festival is a tradition that celebrates the birth of Buddha and the lanterns symbolize offerings of light, wisdom and compassion. More than 100,000 locals light up one of the city’s busiest streets as they carry illuminated lanterns in the shape of Buddhist symbols. 960 1280

Reuters  

Kentucky Derby

Kentucky Derby

Grab your Derby hat and a mint julep for “The Greatest 2 Minutes in Sports” at the 140th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY. Each year, more than 150,000 spectators attend the Kentucky Derby to witness the first leg of the US Triple Crown. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Mother's Day

Mother's Day

Don’t forget about mom this month! Sure, mom would love a travel gift for her next vacation. But she would probably rather spread some quality time with you instead, so treat her to a Mother's Day escape like a fitness retreat, wine tasting, day at the spa or a fancy afternoon tea. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Cannes Film Festival

Cannes Film Festival

Film fanatics, the mother of all film festivals is here – Cannes Film Festival. This annual film festival brings Hollywood’s elite to the sun-drenched French seaside town of Côte d'Azur every year in May. If the stars on the red carpet don’t dazzle you, the picture-perfect beaches and chic resorts here certainly will. Or escape the paparazzi and head to the nearby picturesque beaches of Nice, Monte Carlo and St. Tropez. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo

Celebrate Mexican heritage on Cinco de Mayo (5th of May) at over 120 official US celebrations, across 21 states, in cities such as Cleveland, Los Angeles, Dallas and Atlanta. No matter where you are on this day, we suggest celebrating Mexico the right away -- feasting on Mexican cuisine and washing it all down with a margarita (or 2). 960 1280

Getty Images  

Monaco Grand Prix

Monaco Grand Prix

Rev your engines for the world’s greatest and most glamorous motor race! Dating back to 1929, the Monaco Grand Prix takes place on the Circuit de Monaco. A playground for the rich and famous, the Monaco Grand Prix always attracts a bevy of Hollywood A-listers, like stars Cameron Diaz and Antonio Banderas. 960 1280

Getty Images  

The Preakness

The Preakness

Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course hosts the second leg of the US Triple Crown – the Preakness Stakes. While the Preakness has been a time-honored tradition since 1873, you can expect something new every year like this year’s headlining musical act by Lorde, the 17-year-old double Grammy Award-winning artist. 960 1280

Reuters  

NYC Fleet Week

NYC Fleet Week

NYC hosts Fleet Week -- a celebration of the men and women in the US Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. A tradition since 1984, Fleet Week features several military demonstrations and a chance for the public to step aboard select military ships. Don’t miss the parade of ships in the harbor or musical performances by the sailors and marines. 960 1280

Getty Images  

World BBQ Championship

World BBQ Championship

If you’re craving a good ‘ole fashioned BBQ showdown, watch the best-of-the-best from all over the world compete in Memphis in May's World BBQ Championship in Memphis, TN. Want a taste of the action? Don't miss the Willingham family's booth -- they're the only competitors allowed to sell their Southern specialties to the public. 960 1280

  

Memorial Day

Memorial Day

It’s finally here – the official kick-off to summer! Pack your new suit and plenty of sunscreen for the first beach weekend of the season. Check out our 2014 Travel’s Best Beach Award Winners for inspiration on where to go. Whether you crave a family-friendly spot, sun and solitude, or a boisterous party beach, there’s a perfect beach for you just a drive away. 960 1280

Gonzalo Azumendi  


Follow Us Everywhere

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