What's In, What's Out for 2012

In: Traveling Social. Out: Traveling Solo. Find out more of Travel Channel's picks for what's hot and what's not for travel in 2012.

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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Iceland
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Iceland

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Iceland

Ben Stiller directs this film adaption of the short story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and stars as the hapless dreamer Mitty, who finally takes an adventure outside of his wild imagination. And what an adventure it is -- from jumping out of a helicopter off the coast of Greenland to skateboarding down Iceland’s Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Iceland is taking advantage of the film’s inspiring scenes and is offering Walter Mitty Tours of film locations, skateboards not included. 960 1280

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The Great Gatsby, Long Island, NY

The Great Gatsby, Long Island, NY

This much-buzzed-about Baz Luhrmann film adaptation of literary classic The Great Gatsby spurred a huge interest this year in Long Island’s Gold Coast, where Gatsby lived in his lavish West Egg mansion. Everyone went gaga for Gatsby this year, including New York’s iconic Plaza Hotel, which invited guests to travel “ceaselessly back into the past” of the opulent Jazz era with their new Gatsby-inspired Fitzgerald Suite. 960 1280

Vince Kish  

Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Hawaii

Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Hawaii

The second installment in the Hunger Games trilogy, Hunger Games: Catching Fire , is doing just that in tourism. Fans are following Katniss’ footsteps traveling to filming locations on Oahu’s North Shore in Hawaii. The dense jungles and natural beaches there were the backdrop for 75th Hunger Games battle-to-the-death. And Kawela Bay, minutes from Turtle Bay resort (where cast stayed during filming), served as the saltwater lake Quell arena in the film. 960 1280

Max Kiesler, flickr  

Big Sur, Big Sur

Big Sur, Big Sur

Based on a Jack Kerouac novel, Sundance film Big Sur portrays the rugged and evocative beauty of California’s Central Coast. You can’t watch the film and not imagine hopping in your car to take a road trip down winding Pacific coast highways, complete with the sun on your face and the wind whipping through your hair. Donning a pair of Beat-inspired dark shades wouldn’t hurt, either. 960 1280

Medioimages/Photodisc  

Gravity, Space Travel

Gravity, Space Travel

After watching Sandra Bullock adrift in space in Gravity, the idea of space travel becomes even more intriguing. Luckily, for those that have the budget, Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is set to make its inaugural flight to space in 2014. For a mere $250,000, you can finally realize your dream of being an astronaut and travel to the final frontier. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Lee Daniels' The Butler, Washington, DC

Lee Daniels' The Butler, Washington, DC

Lee Daniels’ The Butler depicts the Civil Rights movement from a unique perspective – the White House butler. The man who inspired the film, Eugene Allen, worked in the White House for more than 30 years. Take a detour off the Mall, and celebrate more African American history on a tour of the U Street neighborhood, DC’s cultural center for the African American community from the Civil Rights movement to today. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Inside Llewyn Davis, NYC

Inside Llewyn Davis, NYC

Film and music lovers can’t get enough of Inside Llewyn Davis, the Coen Brothers film that follows the 1960s folk scene in New York’s Greenwich Village. Take the “Greenwich Village Rock Tour” to walk the streets and visit the bars that your favorite musicians, like Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix, once did. Warning: desire to break out in song likely. 960 1280

iStock  

Before Midnight, Greece

Before Midnight, Greece

Greece isn’t a hard sell when it comes to travel. We are reminded of why this Mediterranean paradise is such a hot spot in Before Midnight, the “threequel" to Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. The filming location of Messenia in the southwest Peloponnese Peninsula has been off the radar for tourists. Until this film came out, of course. Sorry, Santorini and Mykonos, we have fallen in love again. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Adore, Australia

Adore, Australia

Adore, an Australian film about 2 old friends falling in love with each other’s son is a provocative tale. And the beaches where it was filmed are just as shocking … in how stunningly beautiful they are. Seal Rocks in New South Wales was the setting for the small town coastal paradise where the son swapping takes place, but the film had us lusting after any beach Down Under. 960 1280

Photographer: Mikulas Jaros  

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, South Africa

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, South Africa

The passing of Nelson Mandela and the release of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, a biopic about Mandela’s struggle to free South Africa, brings even more interest to the places that played an important role in his life. Just off Cape Town, Robben Island, the prison where Mandela was incarnated for almost 2 decades, offers tours to “honor a legacy of forgiveness.” Visiting the tiny cell where the civil rights leader spent so much of his life is sure to be both a powerful and unforgettable experience. 960 1280

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Chichen Itza is the largest known city of the Mayan civilization, located in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. The powerful city flourished from AD 800 to 1200 and was a trading center for cloth, slaves, honey and salt. 960 1280

istockphoto  

The main attraction of Chichen Itza is the pyramid also known as El Castillo. Built sometime between 1000 and 1200, the pyramid was used as a temple to the god Kukulkan. Archaeologists believe that the pyramid also served as a calendar for the Mayas. In total it has 365 steps -- one for each day of the year. 960 1280

istockphoto   

The Christ the Redeemer statue stands at the top of the 2,330-foot-tall Corcovado Mountain, looming over the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 960 1280

istockphoto  

The 130-foot-tall statue of Jesus Christ was completed in 1931 and is made of reinforced concrete and soapstone. It is one of the largest Art Deco statues in the world, and it weighs in at 2.5 million pounds. 960 1280

Reuters  

The Roman Colosseum was built between AD 70 and 80, and it was in used for gladiatorial events, battle reenactments, animal hunts and other performances for 500 years. 960 1280

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The Colosseum sat nearly 50,000 spectators, and its design still influences the construction of modern-day amphitheaters. Earthquakes and stone-robbers have left the Colosseum in a state of ruin, but portions of the structure remain open to tourists. 960 1280

istockphoto  

The Great Wall of China, actually a series of many walls, stretches 5,500 miles across northern China. 960 1280

istockphoto  

Built between the 5th and 16th centuries BC to protect China's borders from invasion by nomadic tribes, the Great Wall is the world's longest manmade structure. 960 1280

istockphoto  

Machu Picchu, a 15th-century Inca archaeological site, sits 7,000 feet above sea level in the Andes Mountains of Peru. It is often referred to as the 'Lost City of the Incas,' because it was known only to locals until it was discovered in 1911 by American historian Hiram Bingham. 960 1280

istockphoto  

Archaeologists estimate that 1,200 Incas could have lived in Machu Picchu, although many believe it was most likely a retreat for Incan rulers, built as an estate for the emperor Pachacuti (1438-1472). 960 1280

Getty Images   

Petra, an archeological city in Jordan, is known for its dusty pink buildings carved out of rock and its impressive water conduit system. Built sometime around the 6th century BC, Petra was the capital city of the Nabataeans. 960 1280

istockphoto  

The entrance to the city of Petra is through a narrow gorge, flanked on either side by 250-foot cliffs. The most recognizable building in Petra is the Treasury, carved completely out of rock as a tomb for a Nanataean king. The building's façade stands almost 150 feet high. 960 1280

istockphoto  

Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan was so distraught by the passing of his third wife Mumtaz Mahal, that he commissioned an elaborate mausoleum to be built for her. The Taj Mahal shines as a symbol of eternal love and was built entirely of white marble. Construction stretched over a period of 22 years, beginning in the 1630s. 960 1280

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The Taj Mahal, located in Agra, India, is just one part of a vast complex that consists of a main gateway, an elaborate garden, a mosque, a guest house and several other magnificent buildings. 960 1280

istockphoto  

Kentucky Derby
Kentucky Derby

Kentucky Derby

On your mark, get set … it’s off to Louisville for the granddaddy of all horse races. In time-honored tradition, the 140th annual Kentucky Derby -- the first leg of the Triple Crown -- kicks off the first Saturday in May. Settle into your seat at Churchill Downs racetrack on Central Avenue, sip a mint julep and enjoy the "Most Exciting 2 Minutes in Sports." 960 1280

Getty Images  

Mother’s Day Tea at The Plaza

Mother’s Day Tea at The Plaza

Mom is always fussing over you, now’s your chance to turn the tables -- in style. Treat Mom to afternoon tea at The Plaza’s Tea Room. A tradition since the hotel opened in 1907, tea at this NYC landmark has inspired scenes in popular films and novels, including Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Mom can enjoy a selection of sandwiches and savories from the Fitzgerald Tea for the Ages and The New Yorker menus. 960 1280

The Plaza  

Cannes Film Festival

Cannes Film Festival

La lumière, la caméra, l'action! Slip on some shades, and head to the French Riviera for the largest annual showcase of cinema in the world. Don’t have a ticket to events inside the Palais des Festivals et des Congres building where the festival is held? Pas de probleme! Enjoy open-air shows at the Cinema de la Plage, and for celebrity sightings show up extra-early outside the Palais. You may just spot Ang Lee, Nicole Kidman or Steven Spielberg on this year’s red carpet. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Indianapolis 500

Indianapolis 500

Rev up for the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Part of the Triple Crown of Motorsports (with the Monaco Grand Prix and 24 Hours of Le Mans right behind) this annual race is quite possibly the largest single-day sporting event in the entire world, attracting roughly 400,000 spectators. Head to Indianapolis the last weekend in May, and prepare for a high-speed show around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 2.5-mile oval circuit. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Brighton Festival, England

Brighton Festival, England

Enjoy a 3-week celebration of music, theater, dance, art and film at the 47th annual Brighton Festival. Held each May in the southeastern English city of Brighton and Hove, the gathering is the largest multi-art form festival in all of England: More than 370 performances from artists such as Sinead O’Connor and 3-time Grammy winner Lucinda Williams, are slated for 2013. 960 1280

Brighton Festival  

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival

Take in the small-town charm of Winchester, VA, in this 6-day celebration of spring. First held in 1924, the annual festival packs a wallop of more than 30 events into its lineup: band competitions, dances, parades, carnival, a 10K race, the coronation of Queen Shenandoah and so much more, attracting crowds in excess of 250,000. 960 1280

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival   

Whale Watching, Stellwagen Bank

Whale Watching, Stellwagen Bank

Did winter come and go without you getting a chance to see whales? There’s still time: Between May and September, more than 400 orcas swim in the waters around Canada’s Vancouver Island. Or head to the Azores, the Portuguese archipelago about 1,000 miles from Lisbon, where sperm whales gather from May to October. Closer to home, Stellwagen Bank, a submerged sandbank between Cape Cod and Cape Ann in Massachusetts, attracts the endangered North Atlantic right whale to its waters. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

When chef Mark Abernathy of Arkansas restaurants Red Door and Loca Luna kicks the bucket, he wants to skip heaven and head straight for this food extravaganza. Such is the praise heaped on this annual fest by critically acclaimed chefs. Now in its third year, the gathering celebrates the best of Southern cuisine’s past and future, with cooking and cocktail demos, tasting tents and seminars on everything from the history of the Southern cocktail to Southern beer culture. 960 1280

AFWF/Raftermen  

National Bike Month

National Bike Month

Dust off that old bike, or buy a new one: It’s National Bike Month. Cities nationwide, including Austin, Boston, Santa Barbara, and Portland (pictured), are among the cities actively participating in the event. In San Francisco, you’ll find “energizer stations” this month, with food, drinks, red blinky lights and reflective leg bands available for bikers participating in the month-long public awareness campaign. Sounds like a great way to get free stuff -- and get in shape! 960 1280

Portland  

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo (meaning "fifth of May" in Spanish) right here in the United States. Nationwide, there are more than 120 official US celebrations, spanning 21 states, in cities such as Cleveland, Los Angeles, Dallas and Atlanta. The holiday stretches back to the first few years of the American Civil War, when Mexican-American communities sought to commemorate the causes of freedom and democracy. Head to downtown Denver for one such celebration: Here, members of a Mexican folkloric dance academy perform at the city’s Civic Center Park. 
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Getty Images  

Vesak (Buddha Day)

Vesak (Buddha Day)

Seeking enlightenment? Celebrate Buddha’s birthday this May. Or take in the festivities as Buddhist devotees mark the occasion in Southeast Asian countries from Nepal to the Indonesian island of Java (pictured). Here, Buddhist monks pray at Borobudur, a 9th-century temple (and UNESCO World Heritage Site) that is Indonesia’s single most visited tourist attraction. 960 1280

Getty Images   

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Head to this amphitheater at Carlsbad Caverns National Park for a grand show: Each May Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from a large, rocky passage within Carlsbad Cavern in search of a tasty mix of insects for dinner. In case you’ve happened on this wondrous sight in southeastern New Mexico with your family (and your kids have questions), a park ranger gives an informative talk as visitors wait for the bats to come out. 960 1280

carlfbagge, flickr  

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