Orlando, Hawaii, Caribbean are top 2011 vacation destinations

Americans are ready to reclaim their right to a family vacation, according to a Gallup poll from USA TODAY. More than six in 10 Americans said a vacation is important, even though they know it’s going to cost them more whether they drive or fly because of rising fuel prices.

Where are Americans going this year? According to Travelocity, they’re booking trips to Orlando (home of Disney World and Universal’s Harry Potter attraction), Honolulu, Maui, Kona and Kauai (home of American Girl’s Doll of the Year, Kanani). Also on the list are several international destinations, including two spots in Mexico, which made the cut despite ongoing bad press about safety concerns there. I’m headed to Cancun on Wednesday. I’ll let you know if I ever feel threatened.

Travelocity says there still are great family travel deals still available for the top 10 destinations. And for those of you who will be traveling domestically, always remember that the best way to make a vacation affordable is to do the free stuff. My site, TravelingMom.com, has listings of Free Things to Do in the 50 States.

Here, with Travelocity’s commentary, is the list of top 10 destinations for 2011:

1. Orlando: A family vacation in Orlando is, not surprisingly No. 1 on the list. With theme parks galore and some of the summer’s most competitive room rates, fun and value reign supreme on Orlando vacations.

2. Cancun: A destination once known for spring break debauchery, Cancun has reinvented itself as a family-friendly destination. It comes in as the number-one destination for families traveling internationally, and two on the overall list.

3. Honolulu: Four destinations in Hawaii made their way into the top 10 summer destinations for families, but of those, Honolulu comes out on top. Direct flights to Honolulu are available from many U.S. cities, making getting to world-famous Waikiki Beach a breeze.

4. Maui: Famous as a honeymoon destination, Maui vacations are also a favorite for families, especially during the summer months. Turns out kids and couples alike love the beautiful beaches, where the sand color ranges from white to black to red.

5. Kauai: Beautiful coastline and secluded beaches are a given on Hawaii vacations, but Kauai is the perfect island choice for active families and nature lovers.

6. Bahamas: Cheap flights to Nassau make getting to the Bahamas both easy and affordable. Though not technically part of the Caribbean, expect the same beautiful white-sand beaches, hotels in every price range and flowing rum punch.

7. Kona: Found on the island of Hawaii (or, The Big Island), Kona is an excellent destination from which to explore. From snow-capped mountains (yes, there’s snow in Hawaii!) to rainforests to the world’s most active volcano, this island is also the state’s most diverse.

8. Puerto Vallarta: Puerto Vallarta is Mexico’s second-most-popular destination for families this summer. Mexico vacation packages are always a great value and this beach destination on the country’s west coast is no exception.

9. Turks & Caicos: Talk about an island that just keeps getting more and more popular – Turks & Caicos climbs up the list of top-booked destinations each year. Caribbean vacations are always popular for families and this island is proving to be a top pick.

10. Dominican Republic: Rounding out the top 10 most popular summer destinations for families is the D.R. and it’s no wonder. There are many direct flights to Dominican Republic every day, so towing the kiddies and all their stuff is no problem. Plus, Dominican Republic resorts come in every shape, size and price range.

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