Top US Summer Travel Destinations Survey Results

The most popular summer travel destinations in the US offer plenty of activities and attractions for a wide range of vacations. The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) reports that its top requested US travel destinations of the year were all major cities, with Orlando, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles claiming the top three spots.

Universal Studios Orlando Best for Family Travel (Jennifer Miner)Now, these three vacation destinations offer a variety of things to do, of course, but generally speaking people who travel to Orlando plan to spend a lot of time in the theme parks. It’s hard to imagine a family vacationing in Orlando and NOT hitting Walt Disney World or Universal Studios Orlando at least once, isn’t it?

Similarly, Las Vegas appeals to those with more adult vacation aspirations. Sure, there are child-friendly activities off the Strip, but Las Vegas is primarily known for gambling, partying, Vegas shows, and activities that border on the illicit. Travel planners booking stays on the Strip surely have some grown-up activities in mind.

Last, it pains me to acknowledge this, but Los Angeles attracts travel planners who very often hope to get a glimpse of a Hollywood star. Sure, there are several terrific activities in downtown LA, the beaches are great, and Santa Monica Pier’s Pacific Park is a nice way to spend an afternoon after a morning on the beach below. But “star maps” sell well for a reason; Hollywood stars are basically like America’s version of royalty, and tourists can’t be blamed for wanting to see them in the wild. So to speak.

The top 10 popular summer travel destinations, according to the ASTA survey, are as follows:

  1. Waikiki Honolulu Hawaii is a Top Summer Vacation Destination (Jennifer Miner)Orlando
  2. Las Vegas
  3. Los Angeles
  4. San Francisco
  5. New York City
  6. Miami
  7. San Diego
  8. Washington DC
  9. Honolulu
  10. Seattle

The Space Needle is a Popular Tourist Attraction in Seattle Washington (Jennifer Miner)All of these US cities are very appealing for different types of vacation experiences. Surely, a tropical Hawaiian vacation with time in Honolulu will feel vastly different than one in the crowds of New York City. Our nation’s history is on full display in Washington DC, and silly beach fun with clubs, high-end shopping and people-watching is the name of the game in Miami. Seattle is absolutely more sedate than Miami’s South Beach, but the fun things to do in Seattle and its proximity to British Columbia make it a notable member of this “top 10 club.”

Thinking about this list of most popular US summer travel destinations has got me thinking about my own summer travel plans (which are currently almost nonexistent). These listed here are popular, yes — and that means crowd-pleasing, and that means crowds. It may very well be that the idea of getting away from it all, this summer, means getting away from the most popular tourist spots. Serendipity and discovery in a new vacation destination makes for incredible travel memories; it’s easier to have adventures in the less well-trodden parts of the world. It’s important to remember that one person’s favorite type of vacation may not be someone else’s, and it’s best to travel the way we feel works for us.

The American Society of Travel Agents collected their data vis a vis a survey of their clients. This is important to note: Not every travel planner goes through an agent. Travel agents are pretty great at securing travel deals and vacation packages, though. I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of money my family has saved by booking travel through our favorite Virtuoso travel agent.


9 Responses to “Top US Summer Travel Destinations Survey Results”

  1. 1

    Lists like this always surprise me. I would never visit some of those destinations in the summertime. Orlando, Miami, New York City and Washington DC are all incredibly humid, and Las Vegas bakes (although if you’re in the casino, you’d freeze from the AC). San Francisco in the summer can be chilly and foggy, and LA smog is at its worst then.

    What these destinations all have in common is that they are cheaper during the summer months (with the exception of Seattle). And maybe that’s the biggest takeaway from this list – that people are still looking to save money, even if the recession is technically over.

  2. 2
    SoCalGal says:

    Interesting analysis, Chris. My own feeling is that most people are not adventurous travel writers or travel-doers…and known quantities on vacation are comforting. So, people go to Disney World, they go to the Hollywood Walk of Fame…but all the less traveled corners of our country remain just that — less traveled. And that’s fine by me, I suppose: I can’t wait to get back to the Olympic Peninsula some day.

    The most popular travel destinations likely also have more competitive hotel packages as well, tying into your hypothesis regarding hesitancy to spend money.

  3. 3
    Pete says:

    I think it is a good idea fr everyone to take their children to Washington DC to see our nation’s capital and feel the pride and patriotism from all the monuments there, for vacation.

  4. 4

    I remember when I first visited Washington D. C. with my father. He was into politics and I wanted to see the Panda Bears! Not all children appreciate adult-oriented “teachable moments.”

    That being said, I did appreciate D.C. and it’s wonderful museums and monuments when I was a young adult.

    I’m glad San Francisco made the list. We have a lot of great places to visit.

  5. 5
    Marylyn McLaughlin says:

    I am trying to find your email address to pitch a blog idea. I am a mom in NJ with 4 boys. We travel quite a bit with them, but our greatest feat was our 2006 2 month cross country RV trip. I journaled the entire trip, and would love to share my story in a blog. Many national parks, many chance meetings with wonderful strangers…. Please let me know where I can pitch my ideas. I must be technologically challenged, as I can’t get it from your site.



  6. 6
    Jennifer says:

    Marylyn: Check your email, as I’ve written you instructions there regarding how to pitch to us through the right channels. Thanks!

  7. 7
    Sophie says:

    People seem to stick to the coasts, it seems (except Las Vegas). Shame in a way; the USA has so many (often overlooked) interesting destinations in between.

  8. 8
    tripgirl6 says:

    Google lead me here – good for you i suppose! Keep up the great information. Also you can enjoy others travel experiences and share yours.
    Congrats !!

  9. 9
    Frank says:

    This list is very strange for me. I’d rather escape from a metropolis in the summer heat…

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