SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - Planning your next holiday for 2010? Here is a list of the world’s best travel spots recommended by travel website TripAdvisor (www.tripadvisor.com).
This list is not endorsed by Reuters.
1. Best Destination in the World -- Monaco. Monte-Carlo is home to the celebrated Monte Carlo Casino. This glamorous palace is full of frescoes, sculptures, and features an astonishing gold and marble atrium -- not to mention the main attraction, gambling. Steeped in 700 years of Grimaldi royal history, Monte-Carlo’s location is stunning, tucked between French medieval villages and the Alps. Take in a world-class opera or ballet, bask in the sun on Larvotto Beach or get an adrenaline rush at May’s Formula 1 Grand Prix.
2. Best Destination in the U.S. -- San Francisco, California. Who cares about a little fog when there’s so much to do in San Francisco? By day, explore Fisherman’s Wharf and the Aquarium of the Bay, ride a cable car, and stroll around the Presidio; by night, have a fabulous dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant or a tiny place in Chinatown, then hit some of the best clubs on the West Coast.
3. Best Destination in the World for Beach and Sun: Providenciales, Turks and Caicos. Scuba diving, horseback riding, sunbathing, take your pick. “Provo” offers plenty for the happy couple to do, including picture-perfect coastlines to walk along, hand in hand. The island itself is relatively tranquil; try Malcolm Beach to get even further away from crowds.
4. Best Destination in the U.S. for Beach & Sun -- Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Myrtle Beach is a family-friendly beach destination -- which means in addition to great beaches, there’s plenty to do when the kids are sick of making sand castles. Amusement parks, water sports and golf courses are nearby. And family-friendly dining and hotels abound.
5. Best Destination in the World for Culture and Sightseeing -- Florence, Italy. Everyone’s heard the Doors of Paradise, the Duomo and Michelangelo’s David are captivating, but in Florence, beauty can sneak up on a traveler unexpectedly. You’ll duck into a random church to escape the heat only to spend two hours staring at an impossibly pure blue in a fresco. Or you’ll consider writing a sonnet about pear gelato. It’s just that kind of place. Don’t miss the sunset over the Arno and the famous wines of the Chianti region just south of town.
6. Best Destination in the U.S. for Culture & Sightseeing -- Washington, D.C. Make sure you bring cash to Washington, D.C. Not that it’s expensive -- actually, many museums are free -- or that no one accepts plastic. It’s just an awful lot of fun to hold up a $5 bill next to the actual Lincoln Memorial, or a $20 in front of the White House. In between touring monuments and historical sights, check out the quirky International Spy Museum, watch pandas at the National Zoo, or catch a military band playing an outdoor concert on Capitol Hill.
7. Best Destination in the World for Families -- Marne-la-Vallee, France. Why did Marne-la-Vallee make the list? It’s simple: Disneyland Park Paris. Families have flocked here since its opening in 1992. Other Disney attractions include Walt Disney Studios Park and Golf Disneyland. If you need a break from Minnie and Mickey, visit the Sea Life Center or Val d‘Europe Shopping Center.
8. Best Destination in the U.S. for Families -- Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. Shaped by the currents and curves of the Wisconsin River, Wisconsin Dells has been a favorite family vacation destination for more than 150 years. An explosion of indoor water parks has turned the Dells from a summer hot spot to a year-round destination. Kids will enjoy the seemingly endless supply of fun and games, from go-karts to miniature golf, sideshows to thrill rides. If the weather’s right, you can take a Duck tour of land and water, and top it all off with a heaping helping of the local fudge.
9. Best Destination in the U.S. and World for Food & Wine -- Napa, California. Napa made three of the lists this year - it might just be the world’s most perfect spot for a weekend getaway. What more do you really need than romantic inns, great food and wine and relaxing spas?
10. Best Destination in the U.S. and World for Nightlife -- New Orleans, Louisiana. While parts of the city still are rebuilding the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans welcomes travelers and pulls out all the stops to show them a good time. And it’s not merely Southern hospitality -- tourism funds help make rebuilding possible. So take a tour of the elegant Garden District, hit a jazz club, dine at the Commander’s Palace, or join the crowds on Bourbon Street - you’ll have a fine time, and you can feel good about every dollar you spend.
11. Best Destination in the World for Outdoor and Adventure -- Queenstown, New Zealand. Staggering beauty and heart-pumping thrills await in the resort town of Queenstown, which is also known for its Hobbits -- much of the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed in the area. Outdoor enthusiasts flock to Queenstown for kayaking, bungee jumping, jetboating, white-water rafting, hiking and skiing. More mild-mannered adventurers can take a quiet cruise through nearby Milford Sound, part of the Fjordland National Park World Heritage area or sample South Island pinot noir from one of the region’s 75 wineries.
12. Best Destination in the U.S. for Outdoor and Adventure -- Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. This gorgeous, high-altitude National Park straddles the Continental Divide -- which means there are two distinct climate patterns here. Visitors enjoy prime rock-climbing, hiking and biking trails, and plenty of camping options. If you’re after a more educational outdoor experience, take one of the Rocky Mountain Nature Association Field Seminars.
13. Best Destination in the U.S. and World for Relaxation and Spa -- Sedona, Arizona. Anyplace can have an amazing pool and spa, but an amazing pool and spa in the middle of a gorgeous desert? That’s what you’ll find at Sedona’s resorts. If you do feel like taking a break from lounging poolside and sampling different kinds of massages, you’ll find miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback tours. Afterward, of course, you’ll need another massage. It’s the good kind of vicious cycle.
14. Best Destination in the World for Romance -- Oia, Greece. Oia is carved out of the cliffs, and visitors can see houses built for Venetian sea captains as well as the more typical “cave houses” of the villagers. You’ll find the pure white buildings with colorful roofs that are typical of Greek architecture, and you’ll probably enjoy poking around the town. But don’t breeze through in an hour -- you must stay for the sunset. It’s legendary. Watch from a cafe, or, better yet, from a boat -- you’ll be spellbound.
15. Best Destination in the U.S. for Romance -- Napa, California. It’s no wonder Napa made three of our lists this year - it might just be the world’s most perfect spot for a weekend getaway. What more do you really need than romantic inns, great food and wine, and relaxing spas?
16. Best Emerging Destination in the World -- Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. South of Garmisch-Partenkirchen on the Austrian border lies Germany’s highest mountain, Zugspitze, rising nearly 10,000 feet and offering gorgeous glacier-top skiing. The towns of Garmisch and Partenkirchen used to be separate, but were merged for the 1936 Winter Olympics. With almost 75 miles of downhill runs of all difficulty levels, Zugspitze also has 68 miles of cross-country trails, a terrain park and Germany’s first superpipe.