12 Places to Travel on Your Tax Refund

From Charleston to the Dominican Republic, Iceland to Washington, DC, here are our top picks for where to go with your tax refund.

Photos

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On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!

On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!

The elite men cross the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, MA. Hopkinton has been the starting point for the nation’s oldest marathon since it was moved from a neighboring town in 1925. 960 1280

Yoon S. Byun/The Boston Globe via Getty Images  

Running Through Boston

Running Through Boston

Each year 25,000 runners attempt to complete the winding and hilly 26.2-mile route. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Framingham to Natick

Framingham to Natick

From Ashland, the runners make their way through the nearby towns of Framingham and Natick. Around 500,000 spectators turn out to watch the race each year, making the marathon the biggest sporting event in New England. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Racing Through Natick

Racing Through Natick

The runners pass a residential area of Natick. If you know someone in the race, be sure to track their progress so you don’t miss them. 960 1280

Reuters  

Running Together

Running Together

Dick Hoyt pushes his son Rick as they compete in the Boston Marathon. Rick -- a Boston University grad -- was born with cerebral palsy, and his father (now 71!) has pushed him all the way to the finish line in 29 Boston Marathons. Dick and Rick -- who have become local celebrities -- run to raise money for the Team Hoyt Foundation, whose catch phrase appropriately is “Yes, You Can!” 960 1280

Getty Images  

Halfway Done!

Halfway Done!

Downtown Wellesley marks the marathon’s halfway point, but before the runners reach the 13-mile mark, they get a significant boost in morale from the students at Wellesley College (pictured here). Thousands of Wellesley women pack the streets by the campus, creating the famous “Scream Tunnel.” Runners have claimed that they can hear the women’s screams of support a mile away. 960 1280

Dina Rudick/The Boston Globe via Getty Images  

Brookline

Brookline

From Newton, runners pass Boston’s Brighton neighborhood and enter the city of Brookline. Cleveland Circle, where the runners turn a sharp left onto Beacon Street (pictured here), is a particularly loud, but exciting place to watch the race. 960 1280

Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau   

Heartbreak Hill

Heartbreak Hill

The aptly named “Heartbreak Hill,” in the city of Newton, is one of the most daunting challenges for runners. The infamous hill is the last of 7 that the runners must climb in the quaint suburb. The hills span from miles 16 to 21 on the route. 960 1280

Stewart Dawson, flickr   

Coolidge Corner

Coolidge Corner

Spectators cheer on the marathoners as they make their way through Coolidge Corner, a popular shopping and dining area in Brookline. 960 1280

FayFoto.com  

Beacon Street

Beacon Street

As the runners continue down Beacon Street they approach Kenmore Square, where the famous Citgo sign greets them, heading into downtown Boston. 960 1280

Soe Lin, flickr  

Marathon Monday

Marathon Monday

Each year on “Marathon Monday,” Fenway Park hosts a Red Sox home game -- the only morning game in all of Major League Baseball. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Wheelchair Race

Wheelchair Race

Since 1975, disabled athletes have participated in the marathon’s wheelchair race. The Boston Marathon has become the most famous and elite wheelchair race in the world, with strict qualifying standards. 960 1280

Stewart Dawson, flickr   

The Finish Line

The Finish Line

Hundreds of runners make their way to the marathon’s finish line on Boylston Street in downtown Boston. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Thousands of fans flock to Coachella, a multiday music festival in California, to see big-name acts like Jay-Z. Other popular US music festivals include Bonaroo in Tennessee, Lolapalooza in Chicago, Ultra in Miami and Jazzfest in New Orleans. 960 1280

Reuters  

The internet has made it easier for moviegoers to visit the locations of some of their favorite movies, including Petra in Jordan, one of the major locations in the movie 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.' Even 'Star Wars' fans can visit places that seem light years away by traveling to the Mayan ruins of Tikal and the endless deserts in Tunisia. 960 1280

Reuters  

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie -- aka Brangelina -- inspire travelers to trek the globe like the rich and famous. Fans following Brangelina in 2010 ventured to Venice, the backdrop for Jolie's movie 'The Tourist' and Budapest, where she made her directorial debut on a Bosnian war epic. New Orleans and Aix-en-Provence, France, are also popular travel destinations for the celebrity power couple. 960 1280

Reuters  

New Zealand became a travel hot spot in 2010 after news in October that production on the movie adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's 'The Hobbit' was underway. Fans continue to visit the Hobbiton movie set, which is located on a working sheep and cattle ranch in Matamata, New Zealand. 960 1280

Picasa 2.0  

Thousands of people have already made plans to be in England for Prince William and Kate Middleton's royal wedding. Good luck if you're still making plans. Most hotels in London are already booked solid the last two weeks of April 2011. 960 1280

Reuters  

In Ken Burns' 12-hour DVD series, 'America's Best Idea,' he reminded us that great travel spots are just around the corner. Wonderful US National Parks, including the Grand Canyon, are inspiring travelers to hit the road and check out America's natural wonders. 960 1280

  

In the movie 'Eat, Pray, Love,' actress Julia Roberts inspired travelers to seek out their own transformative journey in 2010. Hip travel agencies like STA offered 'Eat, Pray, Love'-inspired packages, featuring food in Italy, spirituality in India and romance in Brazil. 960 1280

Reuters  

Vampires and zombies inspired several travelers to cure their blood lust by retracing the steps of popular fictional characters. Twihards invaded the tiny town of Forks, Washington. True Blood fans visit Shreveport, located near the fictional Louisiana town of Bon Temps. Fans of AMC's Walking Dead and the movie "Zombieland" searched for the undead in Atlanta. 960 1280

Reuters  

The young and old flocked to see The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando. It didn't hurt that the blockbuster movie, 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' helped generate more interest in the theme park's newest attraction. Be sure to try the butterbeer at The Three Broomsticks pub. 960 1280

Reuters  

The Titanic's 100th Anniversary cruise is sold out. More than 1,300 passengers will board the Balmoral, a ship that will sail from Southampton, England, on April 8, 2012. It will follow the Titanic's original route to New York. The trip will include a memorial service on the morning of April 15, 2012, in the exact location where the Titanic sank. 960 1280

Reuters  

Thailand is home to many affordable attractions, including jungle treks, ancient temples, flour-soft beaches and an entire island of ravers. While 2010 saw civil unrest in Bangkok, the effect on tourists was minimal, if not advantageous, as businesses tried to woo tourists with discounts. New direct flights into the Trat Islands near Cambodia, and several new resort developments, opened up this once inaccessible area. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

In the last few years, Marrakech has seen an explosion of small Riads or boutique hotels around the ancient city, catering to niche markets, including luxe, gay and family travelers. In November La Mamounia, the grand dame of Marrakech hotels, reopened after a five-year, $176-million redesign by Parisian designer Jacques Garcia. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

South Africa took advantage of the 2010 World Cup to build new stadiums, hotels and safari lodges. Cape Town, already famous for spectacular beaches, upscale nightlife and food, added several new hotels, including the Taj Cape Town. Luxe travelers can splurge on a safari trip to Richard Branson's Cliff Lodge, a new luxury hotel at Ulusaba, the billionaire's private game reserve. 960 1280

  

Vancouver was host to many winter-sports enthusiasts during February's Olympic festivities. The city and surrounding areas had a ton to offer fans of the Winter Games as well as regular travelers. There's world-class skiing at Whistler-Blackcomb, one of the best destination ski resorts in the world. At nearby Ucluetet on Nanaimo Island, the new Wild Pacific Trail follows a rugged shoreline. Kayakers love the area for beauty and a chance to spot gray whales during their annual migration. 960 1280

  

Los Angeles is a hot spot for art and museum hounds. The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) celebrated its 30th birthday in 2010 with special exhibitions. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art unveiled a Renzo Piano-designed addition to its campus. Several prominent galleries have opened outposts in LA. 960 1280

  

The dramatic collapse of Iceland's economy over the last couple of years has been a boon for budget travelers in 2010. The value of the kroner plunged against numerous currencies, and the once expensive destination became much more affordable. 960 1280

  

Once a shunned country for travelers, Colombia is Latin America's affordable, new hot spot. The capital of Bogota has been slowly transforming since the late 1990s, adding bike paths, a new bus system and sidewalk cafes. The coastal city of Caragena experienced a renaissance, sprouting stylish new boutique hotels and spas. JetBlue's new nonstop daily service to Bogota from Orlando made a trip here even more affordable. 960 1280

  

Bike paths line Copenhagen's streets where locals and tourists ride the free bikes available around the city center. The Danish capital also boasts new cultural buildings ' an opera house, library and concert hall ' as well as a booming arts district. A public bath is the newest addition to the harbor district, the city's burgeoning summertime center. 960 1280

  

Las Vegas was hit hard by US economic woes as business travel and group bookings evaporated, so hotels went into overdrive to attract budget-conscious travelers with discounts and deals galore. On the other end of the spectrum, several developers amped up the luxury despite the downturn, including MGM's massive resort complex, CityCenter. 960 1280

  

Savvy travelers knew that 2010 was the year to see the town's once-every-decade performance of the Passion Play. More than 2,000 actors, singers, instrumentalists and technicians, all residents of the village, brought the story of Jesus of Nazareth to life in an extraordinary community event. The Oberammergau Passion Play was first performed in 1634. 960 1280

  

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