From green and tropical Hawaii, to the sunny beaches of Florida or the breathtaking scenery and wildlife of Alaska, American consumers have a travel wish list that ranges far and wide.
Hawaii tops the list of dream destinations for U.S. travelers, according to a recent survey by Travel Leaders Group, one of North America’s largest travel agency companies. The Aloha State is followed by California, Alaska, Florida and Colorado.
Here’s a rundown of the top five destinations.
Each of Hawaii’s major islands offers something different. Oahu is home to the capital, Honolulu, Waikiki Beach and the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. The Honolulu Festival, March 6-8, celebrates the culture of the Pacific Rim. Maui boasts more than a dozen golf courses, as well as a magnificent sunrise and sunset from Haleakala National Park. Kauai, the Garden Island, is great for outdoor enthusiasts, with hiking, kayaking and snorkeling. The island is home to Waimea Canyon, known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.
One of the best ways to see California is on a road trip along Highway One, a scenic route that hugs the Pacific Ocean from San Diego to San Francisco, a distance of nearly 600 miles. Along the way, stroll around Huntington Beach, a classic California beach town; admire the priceless collection of art and antiques at the mountaintop Hearst Castle; stop for a photo op at Big Sur, one of the most unforgettable stretches of coastline; and check out marine life at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Combining a cruise with shore excursions is the perfect way to see Alaska. The state’s mountains and glaciers are spectacular, and the deck of a ship affords a panoramic view. Popular ports of call include Ketchikan, rich in Native Alaskan culture and a great spot to fish for salmon. Before or after the cruise, be sure to spend some time in Denali National Park, home to the highest mountain peak in North America.
Make a Florida beach vacation even more memorable by combining it with one of the Sunshine State’s festivals. Calle Ocho, held March 7-8, is the grand finale to the annual Carnaval Miami. Stroll along 20 blocks in Little Havana filled with performers, craft vendors and food. At Disney World, enjoy the sights and smells of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, from March 4-June 1. Head to Key West, Florida’s southernmost point, for the Conch Republic Independence Celebration, April 17-26, honoring the region’s independent spirit.
Encompassing most of the southern Rocky Mountains, Colorado is a paradise for active travelers, with lots of outdoor pursuits year-round. The state has dozens of resorts for wintertime activities like skiing, skating and snowboarding. Or, go in the spring and summer for biking, hiking and rafting. For something off the beaten path, take the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop to enjoy the scenery and a relaxing soak in a mineral water pool.