Top five U.S. vacation destinations for the end of 2011

Las Vegas reclaimed its top spot in the recent Fall Travel Trends Survey conducted by Travel Leaders. The desert glamour spot had consistently ranked as the top choice of travelers booking a vacation in the U.S., but recently lost that position to Orlando, Fla., and its fantastic theme parks. The 2011 Fall Travel Trends Survey, which gathered actual booking data and insider expertise from 443 Travel Leaders owners and agents nationwide, once again has Las Vegas on top, albeit by a small margin.

Robbert van Bloemendaal, Blue Ribbon News special contributor and world traveler

There’s always something new in Las Vegas, a city that understands how to reinvent itself. Along the Strip, one of the newest casino resort hotels is The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. The contemporary-style hotel has many rooms that overlook the lights and excitement of the Strip, including some at very affordable rates. Trends among established Vegas hotels include new pet-friendly programs, featuring room service for pampered pooches; in-house tattoo parlors; and gourmet vegetarian and vegan selections on restaurant menus.

Orlando’s theme parks have introduced some new features this year that are appealing to first-time and return visitors. SeaWorld Orlando has a new killer whale show, One Ocean, with lots of high-energy leaps and stunts. Visitors to Disney’s Hollywood Studios give great reviews to the new Star Wars-based Star Tours 3-D attraction. And a new attraction, Legoland Florida, opened Oct. 15.

Rounding out the top five U.S. vacation destinations for the rest of 2011 are balmy Honolulu, Hawaii, at number three; bustling New York, N.Y., at number four; and Kahului (Maui), Hawaii, at number five.

Travel Leaders’ survey also found that overall travel is up slightly from this time last year, an encouraging sign at a time when the U.S. economy continues to have ups and downs. To plan your late-2011 vacation, talk with your travel professional.

To spice up your Thanksgiving, see Robbert’s pick of of the top six Thanksgiving destinations.

This travel column was written by special contributor Robbert van Bloemendaal, an experienced world traveler, native of Australia, an Ambassador with the Rowlett Chamber of Commerce, and president of  Travel Leaders of Rowlett.

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