TripAdvisor’s Top Vacation Hotspots on the Rise for 2012:
1. Nashville, Tennessee
Country music is the lifeblood of Nashville. Long before the music gained fame though, Tennessee was already putting together a long and storied history, some of which can be explored at the state Capitol building and the state museum.
2. Austin, Texas
Despite its growth, Austin has managed to maintain its mellow, small-town appeal. History buffs can head to the Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library and Museum, while travelers can also enjoy recreational activities - from golf, to walking trails in beautiful parks.
3. Fort Myers, Florida
Most visitors go to Fort Myers for the deep-sea fishing, the golf courses and the famous white sand beaches that line the Gulf Coast. 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
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. If hiking over 800 miles of mountain trails and camping in dense ancient forests is a step too far, travelers can head to Dollywood for rollercoasters and waterslides.
5. Pensacola, Florida
For travelers seeking some great Florida beaches without a mega-resort or theme park atmosphere, Pensacola might just be the place for a perfect weekend. Home to Gulf Islands National Seashore, the city offers some of the best fishing and boating in the area.
6. Louisville, Kentucky
In addition to equestrian endeavors and bluegrass roots, Louisville boasts a range of exciting attractions the whole family can enjoy. Baseball fans will love the Louisville Slugger Museum, a celebration of the sport’s legends.
7. Branson, Missouri
While entertainment is nonstop on 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 havens for fishing and water sports.
8. Scottsdale, Arizona
With more than 200 golf courses in the area, ample spas and wellness resorts, and cultural attractions such as master architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter studio, the city is the perfect weekend antidote for life’s stresses.
9. Saint Augustine, Florida
Savor a restorative drink in St. Augustine’s Fountain of Youth National Archaeological Park, site of the conquistadors arrival in what is now the United States. Travelers can also take a break from history at a local beach, or indulge in some retail therapy among the many arts and crafts stores.
10. Charleston, South Carolina
Southern charm, hospitality and history imbue Charleston, one of the most well-preserved cities in the United States. History buffs will relish the old plantations and numerous historical museums dedicated to the Civil War and the Old South.
11. Albuquerque, New Mexico
In the historic section of Old Town, ancient Indian and Spanish cultures come to life through old churches, quaint shops and piazzas. Outdoor types will find ample opportunities for hiking, biking and golf in the area.
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 that recall the many rock ’n’ roll stars who performed here.
13. Asheville, North Carolina
The area’s spectacular beauty led 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’s rugged beauty is complemented by over 100 restaurants and bars, open air concerts, numerous spas and health clubs, plays, independent film screenings, a series of world-class events and festivals, and as many kinds of lodging as there are people.
15. Santa Cruz, California
Santa Cruz is one of America’s surfing capitals, complete with its own museum devoted to the sport, and a beach whose waves are known all over the world. For outdoor recreation, the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary and Natural Bridges State Park are the places to be.
“These U.S. destinations have really piqued TripAdvisor travelers’ interest over the last year, making them great options to consider as thoughts turn to vacation planning for 2012,” said Karen Drake, senior director of communications for TripAdvisor.