CHICAGO – December 18, 2006 – Want to vacation at one of the "in" places before the rest of America catches onto the tourism trend? Backed by a team of travel professionals, The Orbitz Insider knows which 2007's travel hotspots will be the "in" locations for experience seeking vacationers.
Whether that's being amongst celebrities, watching some of the world's best sporting events, or finding the off-the-chart waterways to kayak, the Orbitz Insider will ring in the New Year with new places to visit before the rest of the world catches on.
As Americans start to plan how they'll spend their vacations in 2007, the Orbitz Insider reveals some off-beat hotspot destinations for travel in the New Year that will make you want to take to the road, the air, and maybe even sail around the world.
"Plan now and get a great deal to one of 2007's hottest vacation locations. Wait, and you might get caught in the rut of doing the same old, same old," said Heather Leisman, director of merchandising for Orbitz. "Smart travelers know that with time to research options, they have the best chance to capture discount pricing and the best available selection of airfare and hotels."
Orbitz Insider Staff Picks – 2007 Hotspots
From celebrating our nation's past, to hearing the crack of yacht sails as they race for the oldest active trophy in international sport, the Orbitz Insider staff picks for 2007 travel hotspots give travelers the opportunity to see the world through very unique travel experiences.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Continuing its remarkable comeback after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is bustling and thriving once again. Events are plentiful in New Orleans in 2007 as the city welcomes travelers back for events like its always-outlandish Mardi Gras celebration in February and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in April. In addition to these staple events, the French Quarter Festival, also in April, gives travelers yet another reason to stroll down Bourbon Street, with music on 14 stages and booths full of famous Cajun cuisine. Whatever you make it to New Orleans for – they are more ready for you than ever! Since Hurricane Katrina, according to the New Orleans Mayor, 98 percent of restaurants that draw convention attendees are back and 97 percent of businesses (medium and large) are open, once again making the city a flourishing travel destination.
"Olde" is new again at Jamestown, the first English settlement in the United States. This year marks the 400th anniversary of this historic city. As part of the celebration, there will be events throughout 2007, including America's Anniversary Weekend Celebration, May 11-13. From concerts to children's events and fireworks, this town and event make for the perfect educational and fun family vacation. History buffs won't be able to get enough of Jamestown, as they explore life-size re-creations of the colonists' fort, a Powhatan Native American village and three replicas of the ships which sailed from England to Virginia bringing settlers to the United States. Near historic Williamsburg, Jamestown is only a short drive from more historic parks and family attractions!
Alaska – Via Cruise Ship
Our countrymen to the far North have it all -- wildlife, glaciers, mountains, and even luxury if you choose to see it all on a cruise. Cruising has never been so hot. It's one of the fastest growing segments of the travel industry – and we can't think of a cooler cruise than one where you can see whales, fjords, and maybe some Grizzly bears all in one day. And don't think you're just confined to the ship. Oh no. Cruisers can hop off for some serious adventure excursions like helicopter touring, glacier trekking and sea kayaking, where you can get up-close and personal with Alaska's extreme – and extremely beautiful – landscape. Keep in mind as you plan that the Alaskan cruise season only runs from May to September and booking far in advance is highly recommended.
San Juan Islands, Washington
From cruising in Alaska to kayaking north of Seattle, 2007 is all about the upper Northwest! Since 2005, 12.6 million people have started kayaking according to the Outdoor Industry Association. This growth has spurred great interest in travel to places like the San Juan Islands, a known sea kayaking hotspot. Located about an hour and a half north of Seattle, kayakers from novice to expert can explore the San Juan Islands' beautiful landscape and wildlife, which includes Orca whales, seals and a variety of birds. For adventurers that just can't get enough of the water, the San Juan Islands also boast outstanding scuba diving as well as fishing and sailing. As a great day trip destination from Seattle, ferry lines can be long, therefore it is recommended that visitors purchase ferry tickets in advance so they do not have to wait in passenger toll lines.
Located on the Mediterranean coast of Spain, Valencia is a history rich city on the rise. With roots dating back to 138 BC, the architecture of this seaside city is not to be missed. So, why name Valencia a hotspot this year? In 2007, Valencia will be host to the 32nd Annual America's Cup final, the most renowned sailing competition in the world. Known for its excellent sailing conditions, the finals in Valencia will be held between June 23 and July 7. And not only can you watch this year, you can actually learn to sail yourself. People from nine years old and up will have the opportunity to learn how to sail and how to race in the same environment as the America's Cup sailors through a school organized by the Comunidad Valenciana Sailing Federation.
Often referred to as the "new Prague," Krakow is considered the cultural center of Poland. Krakow is known for its museums and its extremely well-preserved architecture, including castles and cathedrals dating back to the Medieval and Renaissance periods. However, while its roots are deep, Krakow isn't stuck in the dark ages. This city has a vibrant social scene, with one of its most notable events being Carnival – a two-month non-stop party in January and February with events at restaurants and nightclubs throughout the city. If you can't make it for Carnival, other festivals are held throughout the year, giving travelers many chances to celebrate with the locals no matter the season. Before heading to Krakow, don't forget to purchase a European rail pass so you can take advantage of the great rail system with short trips to neighboring countries such as Germany and the Czech Republic.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Travel to Ho Chi Minh City in 2007 and get a glimpse of a country on the verge of opening up to the world. Ho Chi Minh City blends modern day Vietnam's upscale restaurants and entertainment, with traditional Vietnamese street markets and sidewalk cafes. This bustling metropolis has so much to explore including the Ben Thanh Market, selling everything from flowers and seafood to fabrics and glassware. Travelers can also visit the Museum of Vietnamese History, featuring an extensive collection of Vietnamese antiquities. For those seeking a taste of the countryside, Ho Chi Minh City is a great launch point to visit many beautiful beach destinations or the Mekong Delta, one of the richest agricultural areas of Vietnam.
A Look Back: Top 2006 Destinations
In addition to looking ahead to its travel picks for the coming year, Orbitz also takes note of the most popular 2006 destinations in its twelfth edition of the Orbitz Insider Index.
The Index reveals the most popular U.S. destinations based on 2006 air bookings from January 2006 to December 2006 on Orbitz.com.
The Orbitz Insider Index Top 2006 U.S. Destinations
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