Top 10 Tourist Towns
1. Mackinaw City, MI (Score: 89)
This charming resort town is the gateway to Michigan's rugged upper Peninsula (via the world's third-longest suspension bridge), to historic Mackinaw Island with its famous Grand Hotel (by ferry), and to the area's many museums, lighthouses, forts, and campgrounds (by car, bicycle, and foot). During summer months, the village (population: 806) welcomes some 1.2 million visitors. Families say they love this spot on the Straits of Mackinac, between Lakes Huron and Michigan, for its combination of history and nature. They also come for Mackinac fudge, a treat so popular it's celebrated with an annual festival.
2. Monterey, CA (Score: 88)
Nestled along a crescent of pristine Monterey Bay, this unimaginably scenic spot is as rich in family activities as it is in aquatic life. Seafaring sorts strike out on whale watches, kayak expeditions, and glass-bottom boat tours of one of the world's most important marine preserves. More lubberly types opt for hikes along breathtaking coastal trails and the land-ho! enticements of Cannery Row -- a once scruffy, seafood-packing district turned shop-lined tourist attraction. Everybody loves the beaches and the celebrated Monterey Bay aquarium. "We had gone on our honeymoon," said one mom, capturing the city's broad appeal, "and it was just as nice taking our child twelve years later."
3. Lake Tahoe Region, CA & NV (Score: 87)
North America's largest alpine lake sparkles throughout the seasons. "Absolutely beautiful, with so much to do," wrote a California family. Winter months bring a nonstop carnival of skiing, snowshoeing, dog-sled tours, and ice-sculpture contests set amid the frosted peaks of the Sierra Nevada. In summer, outdoor enthusiasts indulge in such pursuits as mountain biking, water sports, and hot-air balloon rides above the rugged scenery. all year round, wall-to-wall festivals -- music, theater, yoga, food -- keep things lively.
4. Gulf Shores, AL (Score: 85)
5. St. Augustine, FL (Score: 85)
6. Duluth, MN (Score: 84)
7. Wildwood And Cape May, NJ (Score: 84)
8. Traverse City, MI (Score: 83)
9. Myrtle Beach, SC (Score: 83)
10. Bar Harbor, ME (Score: 83) & Wilmington, NC (Score: 83)