Top 10 Vacation Spots for 2008

Posted January 14, 2008 1:11 p.m. EST

Travelers who are drawn to trendy destinations will find a world of possibilities in 2008. The hottest travel spots include a portion of the Dark Continent, Arizona’s high desert, the Far East and a unique way to see Europe.

1. European River Cruising

Call it Europe up close and personal. Small ship river cruises are a different way to experience some of the world’s greatest destinations. Glide along rivers like the Seine, Rhine or Danube aboard a luxury ship with gourmet meals, spacious cabins and a variety of on-board and on-shore activities as you travel along serene waterways to inland areas big ships can’t reach. Unpack once, but travel to a variety of cities and villages.

2. China

With small-ship river cruises gaining popularity and China taking the world stage as host of the 2008 Olympics, cruising the Yangtze may be the perfect getaway. There’s no better way to experience China’s stunning landscapes, ancient culture and unique architecture than on a Yangtze River cruise. You’ll discover China’s unique blend of ancient traditions and modern cities, explore world treasures like the Great Wall and visit palaces where Emperors ruled for centuries.

3. Greek Islands

Vacation like a tycoon with an idyllic sail to mythic ports such as Rhodes, Crete, Santorini and Mykonos. No matter which islands you sail to, you’ll encounter beautiful beaches, white-washed buildings and blue-domed churches, plus magnificent antiquities and ruins of ancient civilizations.

4. Italy’s Lake District

Those who have visited Rome, Florence or Venice can find a different view of Italy with a visit to the trio of sparkling lakes that skirt the northern edge of Italy: Como, Maggiore and Lugano. Surrounded by hills, the lake district is sometimes called “Italy’s Best Kept Secret.” It may not stay that way for long, as travelers discover the quaint villages, markets, museums and gardens.

5. Belize

Interested in eco-tourism? Come to Belize and celebrate local flora, fauna and rich cultural heritage, as well as the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere. (Only Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is bigger.) Belize is emerging as a cruise ship stop, as well as a destination for dive enthusiasts and adventure vacationers.

6. East Africa

Experience rare and beautiful animals in their breathtaking natural environs. Safaris into Kenya and Tanzania take you into such locales as Serengeti National Park and Lake Nakuru National Park for glimpses at zebras, lions, gazelles, hyenas, impalas and other spectacular wildlife. An unforgettable family vacation.

7. Sedona, Ariz.

Hop on a Harley and see Sedona. Only AAA can offer the experience of a motorcycle tour through the famous red rocks of Sedona. If you've got loftier ambitions, check out AAA’s exclusive Sedona Dream Helicopter Flight for a birds-eye view of the rocks and canyons. Outdoor enthusiasts, adventurers, history and art buffs agree Sedona is an ideal Western vacation. Whether you choose an amenities-laden resort or a more rustic accommodation, Sedona satisfies.

8. Maui

Hawaii is a perennial vacation hot spot and no wonder: It’s a lush wonderland and tropical paradise. Maui, the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands, offers many options for visitors, from adventurous activities like snorkeling, hiking and hang-gliding to tamer pursuits like whale-watching and soaking up rays on a pristine beach. In between, there are 20 golf courses on the island.

9. Virgin Gorda, BVI

Turquoise blue waters. Quiet beaches. Exotic plants and birds. Just another day in paradise, right? Virgin Gorda offers all that and more. The oddly shaped island, named by Christopher Columbus because its shape reminded him of a reclining woman, Virgin Gorda (“Fat Virgin”) attracts many to The Baths, a natural wonder of boulders, grottoes, saltwater pools and a connecting trail that provides an ideal spot for swimming, snorkeling and exploring.

10. Ireland

The beauty of the Emerald Isle, coupled with its rich history, make it an always popular travel destination. More than 80 million people worldwide claim Irish ancestry. Many flock to Ireland each year for attractions such as castles, monuments, museums, music, fishing and golf.