What's In, What's Out for 2013

In: Northern lights. Out: City lights. The year ahead is filled with up-and-coming travel trends to watch. Find out Travel Channel's picks for what's hot (and what's not) in 2013.

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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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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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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Tour de France’s 100th
Tour de France’s 100th

Tour de France’s 100th

Cycling’s premier annual event marks its 100th anniversary in 2013. The very first Tour de France comprised a 5-stage race, beginning in Paris and stopping in Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux and Nantes before returning to Paris. Today, the race typically spans 21 days and a total of 2,000 miles; 2013’s Tour de France will start in Corsica, in the city of Porto-Vecchio, and finish at dusk in Paris. 960 1280

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Grand Central’s 100th

Grand Central’s 100th

This megadaddy of rail travel turns 100 in 2013. Spanning 48 acres, the grand Beaux-Arts-designed terminal has risen and fallen (it went into bankruptcy in 1970 and even faced potential demolition), and risen again. Today, the hub is the world’s sixth most visited tourist attraction, according to a Travel + Leisure survey. 960 1280

Katie Hards   

Groundhog Day at 20

Groundhog Day at 20

Thank the 1993 Bill Murray flick for catapulting this furry little guy onto the national scene. 2013 marks the American comedy-turned-classic’s 20th anniversary. Celebrate with a trip to the central Pennsylvania town of Punxsutawney, where thousands have gathered each year since 1886 to await Punxsutawney Phil’s end-of-winter predictions. According to records dating back to 1887, Phil’s been accurate 39% of the time. 960 1280

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125 Years of Nat Geo

125 Years of Nat Geo

Many leaders have had the National Geographic Society to thank for kindling their imagination in exploring the world around them. Among them was America’s 36th president LBJ -- he once said, “My mother brought me up by putting the Bible in my right hand and the National Geographic magazine in my left.” 960 1280

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Amsterdam’s Big Year

Amsterdam’s Big Year

Amsterdam sees an epic year of milestones ahead: In 2013, Amsterdam marks the 175th birthday of the Artis Royal Zoo, the nation's most famous zoo, which houses 900 species of animals. The Dutch capital is also celebrating the 400th anniversary of its famed Canal Ring, which has given Amsterdam the moniker, "Venice of the North." 960 1280

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Hitchcock’s The Birds 50th

Hitchcock’s The Birds 50th

One day, without warning, this idyllic coastal town in Sonoma County, CA, was attacked by … the birds! Who can ever look at birds the same way after watching Hitchcock’s suspense-horror classic, which turns 50 in 2013. Mark the occasion with a visit to Bodega Bay, and keep a watchful eye on the sky -- you just never know. 960 1280

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Harley-Davidson at 110

Harley-Davidson at 110

The freedom of the open road, the need for speed -- this journey began 110 years ago in Milwaukee. In 1903, the granddaddy of American motorcycle manufacturers got its start in a small machine shop, where a 23-year-old engineering genius William Sylvester Harley toiled away. Harley worked on a “motor-cycle” with childhood friend Arthur Davidson; the rest is bad-ass history. 960 1280

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The Drive-In Turns 70

The Drive-In Turns 70

This icon of American pop culture became official 70 years ago, when a chemical company magnate was granted a patent for his invention: an outdoor theater. From humble beginnings (the first drive-in opened in Pennsauken Township, NJ), the drive-in movie theater peaked in popularity from the late 1950s to early 1960s. You can relive the glory days at retro drive-ins like Sandell Theater in Clarendon, TX. 960 1280

Orange County Archives, flickr  

Lamborghini at 50

Lamborghini at 50

You are what you drive. Who’d want to admit that -- unless, of course, you’re driving this motor-sportin’ beaut. Fifty years ago, the Italian luxury sports car manufacturer got its start in the northern Italian town of Sant'Agata Bolognese. In May 2013, the automaker celebrates by hosting a 700-mile road trip through northern and central Italy. Andiamo! 960 1280

Ben_in_london, flickr  

David Livingstone's 200th

David Livingstone's 200th

“Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” Why, indeed it is: 2013 marks the 200th anniversary of the famed Scottish explorer’s birth. At the age of 27, the young missionary headed for Africa. Fascinated by the continent’s beauty, he went on to spend 30 years in places such as modern-day Botswana and Zambia. In the end, his one regret was that he hadn’t spent enough time with his children. Honor the great doctor’s legacy; take the kids on safari. 960 1280

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Elvis’ Aloha from Hawaii 40th

Elvis’ Aloha from Hawaii 40th

We’re caught in a trap, I can’t walk out … and why would you want to? Not when the setting is the beautiful Aloha State. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the King’s live concert from the capital city of Honolulu. Celebrate Elvis’ love of all things Hawaiian with your own journey to his favorite spots, like Hanauma Bay, featured in his films Blue Hawaii and Paradise, Hawaiian Style. 960 1280

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Emancipation Proclamation's 150th

Emancipation Proclamation's 150th

With a stroke of the pen, Abraham Lincoln opened the door to the eradication of America’s greatest evil. The end of slavery would not come with the simple signing of this executive order on Jan. 1, 1863, but it did make abolition an official goal of the Civil War. Revisit that chapter in the exhibit “Changing America,” at Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History through Sept. 15, 2013. 960 1280

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Gettysburg at 150

Gettysburg at 150

“Four score and 7 years ago …” The passion of Abraham Lincoln’s words, all 272 of them, gave meaning to what history would record as the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. Relive this pivotal moment in US history with a trip to this stretch of southern Pennsylvania, during the 150th anniversary year of the Battle of Gettysburg and the Gettysburg Address. 960 1280

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I Have a Dream Turns 50

I Have a Dream Turns 50

Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. led the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom; stand in the exact spot where MLK delivered his speech at the Lincoln Memorial. 2013 sees other big civil rights anniversaries, including the 100th birthday of the “first lady of civil rights” Rosa Parks and the 50th anniversary of protests in Birmingham, AL, that triggered a national dialogue about the need for civil rights for African-American citizens. 960 1280

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West Virginia's 150th

West Virginia's 150th

The Mountain State marks its 150th anniversary in 2013. In June 1863, at the height of the Civil War, an expanse of land in the Appalachian Mountain range broke away from the state of Virginia, becoming the only state to form by seceding from the Confederacy. Among West Virginia’s must-see sites is the New River Gorge, a 3,030-foot-long steel arch bridge near Fayetteville, WV. 960 1280

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Madrid

Madrid

“Spanish people are sexy in general, but I love the locals in Madrid. In addition to good genes, they just have this confidence that oozes sex appeal. I think it's enhanced by the city's architecture, which could easily be the backdrop of a fashion shoot or fragrance campaign. It's just very romantic and Goth and moody. Throw in some flamenco dancers, soccer players, accents and dramatic hand gestures -- whatever it is, everything here is sexy to me.” – Jimmy Im 960 1280

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Stockholm

Stockholm

“Slim, tall and impeccably dressed, the people of Stockholm are more diverse than the blond-haired, blue-eyed stereotype would lead you to believe. Dressed-to-kill publishing types frequent the areas around Stureplan and trendy restaurants like Ekstedt, while the look in music and cafe-mad Sodermalm slants far more hipster. And while Swedes aren't exactly the outgoing-with-strangers types, they do love to practice their English with native speakers -- use it to your advantage to make friends.” – Terry Ward 960 1280

Nicho Södling -- Stockholm Visitors Board  

Italy

Italy

“Despite stretches of living, working and traveling across Italy, I never tire of ogling Italians; they exude a pervasive, innate sexiness. Whether they're -- against all odds -- making red-linen pants look seductive, casually sipping an espresso while perusing La Repubblica newspaper or being freakishly dexterous by simultaneously chattering on a cell phone, smoking a cigarette and eating a gelato while wearing a micro-mini skirt and careening through Rome's streets on a Vespa -- Italianos are dead sexy.” – Valerie Conners 960 1280

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Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv

"The the fun-loving, hedonist vibe of Tel Aviv's residents is definitely sexy. They don't need a special occasion to stay out until dawn any day of the week -- whether it's lounging inside a cozy wine bar, sipping cocktails at a glamorous restaurant created by a celebrity chef or rocking out to a deejay at a gritty nightclub. Residents take their leisure time very seriously and seem to pursue pleasure with a passion. Observing how they drink up the present moment despite living in a sometimes rocky corner of the world gives them a seductive charm that's all their own." –- Lost Girl Holly Corbett 960 1280

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Argentina

Argentina

“Argentina’s cowboys, known as gauchos, make my world’s sexiest list. On a trip to a ranch outside Buenos Aires, I was one of many women swooning over Luca. He excelled at a gaucho game called the ring race, where gauchos race on horseback to capture a small hanging ring on the end of a metal rod. When they capture the ring, they place it on the finger of a lady of their choosing. Every woman on that ranch, married or single, wanted Luca to put a ring on it.” -- Robin Bennefield 960 1280

Robin Bennefield  

Mexico City


Mexico City


"As one of the largest cities in the world, maybe the odds of having the sexiest people are simply this city's favor. Or maybe it is the outcome of the mixing of native Aztec and Mayan cultures with old world Spanish that has taken place over the centuries. Or maybe its the language. Even when you don't understand what is being said, it makes your heart beat faster from the mere sound of it. Regardless of the reason, this city's Latinos and Latinas are as spicy as its cuisine, as sultry as its music and as captivating as its history.” -- Troy Petenbrink 960 1280

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Rome

Rome

“Perhaps I’m biased since my father’s from Italy, but a gene pool that turned out Roman native Sophia Loren is nothing if not sexy. And anyone who has seen La Dolce Vita may never look at the Trevi Fountain quite the same again. Add the art, passion, history, fashion and food–-even the language is romantic--and you have a city that pulses with excitement. Trim, tawny Romans dress beautifully and embody the idea of ‘bella figura.’ I’m pretty sure I have a good idea of what many Romans are up to during their daily siestas.” -- Rina Rapuano 960 1280

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Brazil

Brazil

“The sexiest people in the world can be found in that renowned epicenter of bulbous backsides, Brazil. The über-toned beach bodies and striking coal-to-cream complexion speak to Brazil’s virtually endless coastline and centuries-old history of intermixing and immigration. And there’s the pervasive friendliness and joie de vivre that Brazilians seem to be born with, resulting in people who are both sexy and sweet.” -- Ernest White II 960 1280

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Uruguay

Uruguay

“Even though I'm Argentine, I would always take the ‘Buquebus’ over to Punta del Este, Uruguay, during my winter break. I don't know whether it’s because a lot of the polo players, models, celebrities and the super posh vacation there, but every break I spent there was always amongst a sea of beautiful men and women. I now make sure to hit a month-long boot camp before I go, just so I don't feel so out of place!” -– Marianela Pereyra 960 1280

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New York City

New York City

“It may not always be conventional, but sexy is waiting around every corner in New York. I love never knowing whom I'll meet next here, be it a gaggle of top international models or a crazy person channeling alien wisdom. And for me, New Yorkers get extra-sexy points just for living in this tough but glorious melting pot, where beauty and style take an infinite variety of forms, and span the widest spectrums of class and nationality. As Garbo well proved, this is a city where even the most extraordinarily sexy can blend in as just another New Yorker.” -– Dan Allen 960 1280

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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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

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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  

London

London

London, England
When the 2012 Summer Olympics get rolling in July, millions of visitors will descend on the British capital. The first event ticket application window has closed, but officials plan to release more during the winter. While you’re in London, don’t miss the Making of Harry Potter studio tour at Leavesden Studios, where all 8 Harry Potter films were shot. The tour officially opens in spring 2012.
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Necker Island

Necker Island

Necker Island
Sir Richard Branson’s exclusive island getaway in the British Virgin Islands suffered a devastating fire in summer 2011 that destroyed the resort’s Great House. Actress Kate Winslet famously helped save Branson’s 90-year-old mother from the inferno, carrying her down slippery stairs in the midst of hurricane-force rain and wind. The Great House is scheduled to be rebuilt by the end of 2012, and in the meantime, 7 luxurious Balinese homes dot the island and are currently open for business.
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Titanic

Titanic

North Atlantic Sea
April, 15, 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the maiden voyage and sinking of the Titanic. At least 2 companies are offering memorial cruises with itineraries that include key ports of call, as well as experts, family members’ descendants and memorial services at the wreck site. Two expedition ships will go a step further, offering guests the opportunity to dive to the wreck in submersible vehicles. Cost is approximately $66,000 per person for divers and $12,000 for non-divers. Visitors to the Titanic’s embarkation port of Southampton can tour the Sea City Museum, which is slated to open in 2012.
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Belize
According to legend, the world will end in 2012 because the ancient Maya calendar, which spans 5,000 years, mysteriously ends on Dec. 21. Belize will host several events on and around the predicted apocalypse. The ruins of Xunantunich will be the location of Belize’s main event on Dec. 21, where festivities will include a concert and light show on the ruins, plus a fire ceremony to usher in the next 5,125 years.
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New Zealand
2012 will usher in epic levels of fanboy drool in anticipation of the first installment of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit films, set for release in December. Why not celebrate with a jaunt to the island nation where it all began with the epic Lord of the Rings trilogy? Visitors can ride a jet boat or fly in a helicopter to tour the trilogy’s shooting locations. Then hop over to the town of Matamata on the north island where Jackson is currently filming in nearby Hobbiton.
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Guimarães, Portugal
This city in northern Portugal has been dubbed the European Capital of Culture in 2012. Building on an already robust arts scene, 2012 will see the city showcasing the work of creative artists from Portugal and across Europe. Don’t miss a tour of the medieval old city, a Unesco World Heritage Site, where you can wander a maze of red-roofed, colonnaded buildings, palaces and a central castle.
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New York City
If you haven’t been to NYC lately, 2012 would be a good time to visit. The Conrad New York, slated to open in early 2012, is the city’s newest all-suite luxury hotel. Located in the heart of lower Manhattan's Battery Park City, the future hotel boasts views of the Hudson River, is adjacent to the Hudson River Park and is a great base from which to explore lower Manhattan neighborhoods like SoHo and TriBeCa, as well as the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
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Curacao
Celebrating its first year of independence since the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles, Curacao is a cosmopolitan Caribbean island where flavors of both Europe and the West Indies mingle with white sand beaches, turquoise seas and vital coral reefs. Take a spin around the capital, Willemstad, where gabled colonial architecture is splashed with playful Caribbean color, then grab a snorkel and mask and take a dip in the Curacao Underwater Marine Park.
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Spaceport America
Travel to the middle of the New Mexico desert to tour Spaceport America, the world’s first commercial spaceport. Follow the Sun Tours offers exclusive public access to the site, with tours that include visits to the vertical launch area and vertical mission control building, as well as construction areas like the airfield, spaceport operations center, fuel storage complex and iconic terminal hangar facility. Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic plans to begin flying paying customers into space from the facility before the end of 2012.
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Oman
We can’t ignore the fact that this little gem on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula and its capital city, Muscat, is on all sorts of 2012 must-see lists, including those from Lonely Planet and National Geographic. While neighboring oil-rich countries are erecting skyscrapers, Oman is adding an opera house and planting desert gardens amid the capital’s white stone buildings. We want to go to there.
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