Soaring gas and airline ticket prices, the plunging dollar and the weak economy aside, Americans en masse will still take their vacations this summer. As part of its "2008 Hot Spots for Summer" survey, the American Society of Travel Agents asked members which destinations had been booked most often for the season. Susan Tanzman, president of Martin's Travel & Tours in Los Angeles and an ASTA member, said, "We're seeing a hodgepodge of different locations from our clients. People that normally drive are starting to see the disadvantages they could have this summer." She noted that airlines like JetBlue and Southwest have gotten smart and begun adding more routes. "They'll benefit from those not wanting to drive. Let's face it: Fueling a motor home might be the most expensive vacation a family can take this summer."
Amount of travel agents who say their clients have booked a vacation to this destination: 23.6 percent
Because the weather might not be the most suitable for many tourists this time of year — think heat, humidity and rain — the Sunshine State is actually ideal for vacationers who want to save a few dollars. Aside from the most popular spots, which include everything from South Beach to Disney World to Key West (left), other resorts like Club Med Sandpiper in Port St. Lucie and The Breakers in Palm Beach have plenty to offer the entire family. And water parks abound, like Adventure Landing in Jacksonville and The Rapids Water Park in West Palm Beach. And then there's shopping. Miami is home to The Shops at Sunset Place, an outdoor complex that offers Urban Outfitters, Forever 21 and Banana Republic. And north of Miami, new additions to the Bal Harbour Shops mall include Tory Burch, Agent Provocateur and Chloé.
It's a gamble to spend a long vacation in Nevada during the summer months, since temperatures can hover around 100 degrees endlessly for days on end. But those heading to Reno and Las Vegas don't seem to mind: Over 39.2 million people visit Las Vegas each year — in fact, 17 of the 20 biggest hotels in the U.S. are in Las Vegas — including the Wynn, the Bellagio, the Venetian, Caesars Palace, the Luxor and Mandalay Bay. All of the aforementioned hotel-casinos feature their own shopping sites, like the Wynn Esplanade, Via Bellagio, Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian, the Forum Shops at Caesars, Luxor Galleria Stores and Mandalay Place. Companies such as Gray Line also offer sightseeing tours from Vegas to destinations such as the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam and Lake Mead.