New York City may be the most popular place to visit in America, but the country has many small towns that are worth exploring, too. Here are the 2016 “Destinations on the Rise,” chosen by the travel website TripAdvisor.
The expression ‘on the rise’ means that something is becoming better and more popular. The list includes the 10 destinations that saw the largest increase in positive TripAdvisor traveler reviews in the past year.
Most of the cities on the list are small, with less than 20,000 people. Four of the destinations -- including the number-one pick -- are next to some of America’s most famous national parks.
The Great Smoky Mountains rise in the background about 20 miles away from this Knoxville, Tenn., neighborhood on Thursday, March 10, 2005.
1. Gatlinburg, Tennessee:
Number one on the list is Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is best known as the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, America’s most-visited national park. Gatlinburg offers hiking, fishing, and horseback riding in all seasons. Visitors can ride up to the top of the 100-meter Gatlinburg Space Needle for views of the Smoky Mountains. The area’s scenery attracts painters, photographers and other artists.
In this Sunday, Aug. 1, 2010, photo, Tracy Burgess of Cullman, Ala. sits on the beach in Orange Beach, Ala.
2. Orange Beach, Alabama
Number two on the list is Orange Beach, Alabama. Orange Beach sits along the Gulf of Mexico. It is a popular place for travelers looking for rest and calm on the white sand beaches. Orange Beach serves up excellent Gulf Coast seafood, like fried oysters and seafood gumbo. It is known as an excellent location for deep-sea fishing.
The beach in Destin, Florida. Photo courtesy of Anzhela Rudenko.
3. Destin, Florida
Just two hours east of Orange Beach is Destin, Florida, the third pick on the list. The beach town calls itself the “world’s luckiest fishing village.” It is home to several kilometers of white sand beaches along Florida’s Gulf Coast. The town of 12,000 people welcomes more than 4 million visitors a year. Destin even holds a yearly “Fishing Rodeo.”
With Lake Tahoe as a backdrop, a skier kicks up some powder at Heavenly Ski Resort, Wednesday, April 14, 2010 in South Lake Tahoe, Calif
4. South Lake Tahoe, California
Number four is South Lake Tahoe, California. Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America. Tahoe is along the California-Nevada border. The area offers outdoor adventures and beautiful views. One way to enjoy the mountains and lake view is on the 5-kilometer ride up in the Heavenly Mountain Gondola. In the winter, the gondola takes you up to Tahoe’s famous ski areas. In summer, the same area offers hiking opportunities.
One of the most beautiful national park views, seen by fewer visitors this year, is of the Teton Range from the flat valley in Grand Teton National Park.
5. Jackson, Wyoming
Next on the list is #5 - Jackson, Wyoming. Jackson is in the valley of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and just six kilometers from Grand Teton National Park. Like Tahoe, people come to Jackson Hole in the winter to ski. The spring and summer offer hiking and plenty of chances to see wildflowers and wildlife, from elk to bison to black bears. The Grand Teton Music Festival brings classical music to the mountains every summer. Summer visitors can also go to a rodeo to experience the Old West.
This July 19, 2014 photo shows Alberta Falls in the Bear Lake Corridor Trails area in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.
6. Estes Park, Colorado
Our sixth destination is Estes Park, Colorado. Estes Park sits 2,300 meters above sea level in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. The area is a paradise for nature lovers. Estes Park’s main street is lined with art galleries and shops. The city is the gateway to the Rocky Mountain National Park, which provides visitors with scenic drives, rock climbing, and world-class hiking.
Musher Wade Marrs of Wasillal, Alaska, leads his team Saturday, March 7, 2015, during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage, Alaska.
7. Anchorage, Alaska
Number seven is Anchorage, Alaska. Anchorage is Alaska’s biggest city. It is located near several of the state’s eight national parks, including the Kenai Fjords National Park, known for its glaciers and wildlife. Anchorage marks the start of the famous Iditarod dog sled race, which takes place every year in March. Anchorage is also home to the Alaska Native Heritage Center, where visitors can learn about Alaska’s native people.
The Roberto Clement Bridge is seen spanning the Allegheny River near downtown Pittsburgh, September 22, 2009. The G20 summit will be held in Pittsburgh September 24 and 25. REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES POLITICS BUSINESS) - RTR285PO
8. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Number eight is Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh is known as the Steel City. It is home to more than 400 bridges and 300 steel-related businesses. Pittsburgh is also often called “America’s Best Sports City” because of its many professional sports teams. The city has 90 neighborhoods, which represent the diverse history of Pittsburgh. In 2004, the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Central Northside started providing international writers in exile a place to live through a program called City of Asylum.
A couple pauses to take in the view of a colorful sunset while walking their dog in a park, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Portland, Maine.
9. Portland, Maine
Portland, Maine is #9 on the list. Portland is on southern Maine’s rocky coast. Portland’s city motto is, “Yes. Life’s good here.” The city is famous for its food, art, and nature. Visitors come to eat Maine lobster at one of Portland’s downtown restaurants. Nearby are many beaches, walking trails, and places to go boating or fishing.
Snow on Mauna Kea is seen Friday Jan. 31, 2014, behind a statue of the Hawaiian King Kamehameha in Hilo, Hawaii.
10. Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
Our 10th and final destination 'on the rise' is Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. The Big Island of Hawaii has eight of the world’s 13 climate zones. The historic fishing village of Kailua-Kona is on the western, “dry side” of the Big Island. The area grows some of the most prized coffee beans in the world, Kona coffee. From Kailua-Kona, visitors can explore the Mauna Kea volcano. The 4,200-meter top is home to the world’s largest observatory for astronomy. The research center has high-powered telescopes that visitors can use to explore the night sky.
I’m Ashley Thompson.
And I’m Caty Weaver. Join us next week when we reveal the world’s top destinations 'on the rise!'
Words in This Story
destination - n. a place to which a person is going or something is being sent
gateway - n. near the entry to a place
hike - v. to walk a long distance especially for pleasure or exercise
scenery - n. a view of natural features (such as mountains, hills, valleys, etc.) that is pleasing to look at
rodeo - n. an event in which people compete at riding horses and bulls, catching animals with ropes, etc.
alpine - adj. existing in high mountains
gondola - n. a vehicle that hangs from a cable and is used for carrying passengers (such as skiers) especially up a mountain
festival - n. an organized series of performances
paradise - n. a very beautiful, pleasant, or peaceful place that seems to be perfect
gallery - n. a business that sells paintings, sculptures, etc.
world-class - adj. among the best in the world
sled - n. a small vehicle that has a flat bottom or long, narrow strips of metal or wood on the bottom and that is used for moving over snow or ice
diverse - adj. made up of people or things that are different from each other
asylum - n. protection given by a government to someone who has left another country in order to escape being harmed
downtown - n. the main or central part of a city or town