Best U.S. Cities for Fun
NEW YORK (MainStreet)CCRA Travel Solutions, a consulting organization that provides travel solutions for industry professionals, tracks the number of hotel bookings every season and ranks cities based on the number of those bookings.
This spring, Las Vegas, Orlando, New Orleans, Ft. Lauderdale and New York City were ranked the 5 cities with the most hotel bookings through May 31.
As the summer travel season picks up, it is expected that millions more will flock to these cities in August and well into the beginning of fall.
So what's the draw? MainStreet put together some of the top attractions and new surprises in each of these top cities.
1). Las Vegas
While Sin City might still be a top attraction for people who wish to spend their nights gambling and their meals at all-you-can-eat buffets, Las Vegas today isn't the same as the Vegas of the 50s, 60s, or even the 1990s.
According to Hotel Managers Group,some fun new attractions in Las Vegas this spring and summer celebrate the city's colorful past.
The Mob Museum shows tourists everything there is to know about the city's underworld beginnings, while the Neon Museum displays some of the city's other colors that are famous for lighting up the desert nights.
If you're into outdoor adventures, a new zipline called Flightlinze will definitely be the attraction for you. In addition, staying in Vegas has never been so luxurious, as several Sin City hotels just underwent major renovations. Some of these include the Bellagio, Caesar's Palace (no, Caesar didn't really live there), the Flamingo, MGM Grand and The Four Seasons.
If you made a trip to Orlando in 2012 and still think you've done it all, think again. You're missing out on some amazing new attractions that opened or are scheduled to open in 2013.
For space fans, the Kennedy Center was recently named the new home of the retired space shuttle Atlantis, which flew a total of 33 missions in outer space. From space to water, Teresa Mears, the founder of orlandoonthecheap.com, says the Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin at SeaWorld has it all. Also fairly new in Orlando is the Legoland Florida Waterpark, Mears says.
3). New Orleans
New Orleans has been on the road to recovery since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but that hasn't stopped tourists from checking out all there is to see in this Louisiana town. If you've never been, some of the best sites to visit include the French Quarter, New Orleans City Park and at least one of the historic cemeteries, such Metairie or Lafayette.
Since the water table here doesn't always allow for underground burials, this city has learned how to honor its dead through mausoleums and monuments that tell distinct stories of historical value. Continuing the trend of historical value, a trip to the National World War II Museum helps put into perspective just how far the world has come since the 40s.
For those with Irish heritage, Kerry Dexter, blogger at Music Road a site for the Irish music lover recommends The Irish House as an excellent venue for Irish food and music. Matt Murphy, the chef of the restaurant, is a past winner of the Food Network's show Chopped. Dexter says the location of the Irish Cultural Museum in New Orleans is a surprise in a city better known for its Cajun and French heritage.
4). Fort Lauderdale
Let's face it most spring visitors to this sunny paradise spot go for spring break parties on warm beaches. Other times of the year, vacationers may go just to hit the beach, but this city has plenty of other things to offer to keep tourists entertained year-round. The Intracoastal Waterway is home to the canals that earned the city its Venice of America nickname, and there are plenty of excursions and other watersport activities to keep visitors busy as well.
If you're looking for a tour of the city, you can get one for just .50 cents a ride on the Fort Lauderdale Sun Trolley. If museums are more up your alley, the Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum or the Naval Air Station Museum may keep you entertained, or you can check out the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale. Need entertainment for the whole family? Mears, who also manages FortLauderdaleonthecheap, says one of the newest attractions in town The Barbie Dreamhouse Experience is all about the kids.
5). New York City
There are literally thousands of things to do in the Big Apple, including taking a trip to the ever popular Statue of Liberty, riding the Staten Island Ferry, or visiting Times Square, Broadway and the Empire State building, to name a few.
The biggest new attraction in New York this year is the new World Trade Center, complete with a 408-ft steel spire on top of the building that was erected this spring. The building, which stands a symbolic 1,776 feet tall, is also a symbol of both the city and our nation's stance against terrorism. It can be seen from many different vantage points, but the Port Authority recommends making a trip down to the financial district and doing a tour of the 16 acre site to get the full effect. While in the area, you can also visit the 9-11 Memorial.
Other things to do in NYC include going on one of the many neighborhood, cultural or gangster tours of the city. Irene Levine, travel blogger at MoreTimetoTravel, suggests going site seeing on one of the new Citi Bikes a new bike share program that has placed 6,000 bikes at more than 300 stations throughout the city. The bikes are primarily used by residents as an alternative to other public transit, but at $10 for a 24-hour pass or $25 for a 7-day pass (with an unlimited number of 30 minute trips), they allow visitors a healthy and fun way to explore parts of the city, 30 minutes at a time.