TripAdvisor’s Top 15 US Destinations to Watch

Fifteen US destinations are among the up-and-coming favourites for 2012, say TripAdvisor users and travel editors. The list has been compiled based on those US destinations which have received an especially high number of reviews lately – from music city Nashville, Tennessee at number one, to the beautiful laid back beach destination of Santa Cruz, California.

TripAdvisor’s Top Vacation Hotspots on the Rise for 2012 are:

1. Nashville, Tennessee
Home of country music and a unique place to visit.

2. Austin, Texas
Austin has grown significantly but still maintains its mellow, small-town appeal and this is a big music town, also, famous for its music festivals all year round, including one of the highlights, South By Southwest (SXSW).

3. Fort Myers, Florida
Fort Myers is a winter sun favourite with its deep-sea fishing, golf and white sandy beaches stretching the length of the Gulf Coast. For a break from the sunshine, other attractions include the winter estates of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, as well as nearby Naples and the islands of Sanibel and Captiva.

4. Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Europeans may not be familiar with Pigeon Forge, but US fans will be. Set against the misty blue backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Pigeon Forge is a gateway to 500 thousand acres of Appalachian wilderness-style beauty.

5. Pensacola, Florida
No theme parks here, but there are plenty of beaches which make it a great weekend escape. Home to Gulf Islands National Seashore, the city offers some of the best fishing and boating in the area.

6. Louisville, Kentucky
With its bluegrass roots, Louisville boasts a range of exciting attractions while baseball fans will love the Louisville Slugger Museum, a celebration of the sport’s legends.

7. Branson, Missouri
Night owls will love The Strip – a seven-mile stretch of live music, restaurants, theme parks and more – this hospitable town is also a paradise for outdoor recreation. The rolling hills offer 200 miles of trails, while three scenic lakes are home to great fishing and water sports.

8. Scottsdale, Arizona
Blue skies are almost guaranteed in Scottsdale, Arizona’s winter sunshine is a honey pot for sunseekers. (March and April are hotter than most British summers, and the mercury soars in summer). There are more than 200 golf courses in the area, and a lot of spas and wellness resorts as well as cultural attractions including the genius architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter studio.

9. Saint Augustine, Florida
There’s a special place – St. Augustine’s Fountain of Youth National Archaeological Park – which travellers drink from when they visit, this was the site where the conquistadors arrived when they reached the USA. Like most Florida beach resorts, the atmosphere is all about relaxing, or you could indulge in some retail therapy among the many arts and crafts stores you’ll find here.

10. Charleston, South Carolina
Most famous, perhaps for the dance, Charleston oozes warm hospitality and it’s alive with history – it’s one of the best preserved cities in the States. Various museums worth visiting are dedicated to the Civil War and the Old South.

11. Albuquerque, New Mexico
A charming mix of Native Indian and Spanish cultures come together in the Old Town, with its pretty churches, quaint shops and piazzas. The desert landscape is stunning.

12. Wildwood, New Jersey
Wildwood and its beach and boardwalk are where city denizens from Philadelphia and New York have escaped to for decades. Travelers can soak up the ‘50s-style theme motels, the fried food palaces and the Doo Wop tours – this place has real rock ‘n roll history!

13. Asheville, North Carolina
Not a name Britons would probably be familiar with, but the area is so beautiful that millionaire George W. Vanderbilt to locate Biltmore, his castle-like mansion, in Asheville. While the city has historically been a resort for the wealthy, it is also a magnet for outdoor enthusiasts, who have their pick of activities including hiking, whitewater rafting, and more.

14. Park City, Utah
Park City has a rugged beauty as well as around 100 restaurants and bars, open air concerts, numerous spas and health clubs, plays, independent film screenings, and hosts world-class events and festivals.

15. Santa Cruz, California
Biker and surf dude country, Santa Cruz even has its own surfing museum. The Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary and Natural Bridges State Park are utterly beautiful so if you’re in Northern California, this is a must-visit.

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