New York City has edged out Chicago to become the most popular Fourth of July destination for 2012, according to an annual Priceline poll.
Big cities and red-hot beaches from Key West to Maui dominated Priceline's 2012 list of the top 50 destinations for U.S. travelers over the upcoming Fourth of July holiday.
This year, there were really two themes, said Priceline's Travel Ekspert Brian Ek. Many travelers decided to visit cities like New York, Chicago, Boston and Washington, D.C., where there are big July Fourth celebrations planned. Others decided to escape the recent heat wave by heading for the beaches.
The Priceline survey looked at hotel room booking requests made by customers using priceline.com. Because the annual survey assesses credit card-backed booking requests, Priceline claims it's the most accurate predictor of Fourth of July travel trends.
New York City's Midtown West neighborhood, near Times Square, beat out last year's winner, Chicago's North Michigan Avenue/River North area, to become the top spot for Independence Day celebrations. Two other New York City neighborhoods, Times Square and the Upper East Side, also made the top 10.
In the West, San Diego's Harbor Island, San Francisco's Fisherman's Warf, and the Las Vegas Strip rounded out the top five at third, fourth, and fifth respectively.
The Priceline survey also revealed that Americans are traveling farther afield this year.
Because the Fourth falls on a Wednesday, many travelers are making a week's vacation out of it, said Ek. And some are splurging a bit on their trips. Hawaii destinations are No. 6, No. 9 and No. 39. This is the first time I've seen Hawaii ranked so high, or so many times. Despite record high international summer airfares, London and Paris made the list, perhaps because of the recent strength of the dollar.
AAA seems to agree, estimating that as many as 42.3 million Americans will drive or fly more than 50 miles from home during the midweek holiday. If correct, that figure would tie a record high for the decade set in 2007 and mean 4.9 percent more people are traveling than this time last year. AAA believes lower gas prices are spurring more Americans to hit the road. The biggest increase over last year, however, is in air travel, even though airfares remain unchanged.
Have a look at the complete list of popular destinations for Fourth of July 2012, according to Priceline:
#1 New York City, Midtown West
#2 Chicago, North Michigan Ave./River North Area
#3 San Diego, Downtown & Harbor Island
#4 San Francisco, Fisherman's Wharf
#5 Las Vegas, Strip North
#6 Oahu, Waikiki Beach Area
#7 New York City, Times Square/Theater District
#8 New York City, Upper East Side
#9 Maui, Ka'anapali/Lahaina
#10 Boston, Waterfront/Convention Center
#11 Los Angeles, Santa Monica/Marina Del Rey
#12 Chicago, Millennium Park/Loop & Grant Park
#13 Seattle, Downtown/Pike Place
#14 Orange County, Disneyland/Anaheim North
#15 Niagara Falls, St. Catharines
#16 Las Vegas, Strip Vicinity South
#17 New York City, Midtown East
#18 Paris, Champs Elysees/Arc de Triomphe
#19 Seattle, City Center/Space Needle
#20 Montreal, Downtown/City Center
#21 Portland, Downtown
#22 San Francisco, Union Square East
#23 Milwaukee, Downtown
#24 Orange County, Newport/Huntington Beach
#25 Orange County, Disneyland/Anaheim South/Orange/Garden Grove
#26 Washington, DC, Convention Center/Capitol Hill Area
#27 St. Louis, Downtown
#28 Washington, DC, Crystal City
#29 Newark, Jersey City/Hoboken/Weehawken
#30 New Orleans, French Quarter
#31 Toronto, Downtown/Toronto North
#32 Boston, Harbor Front/Aquarium
#33 London, Westminster
#34 San Antonio, Riverwalk Area
#35 Orlando, Downtown Disney/Lake Buena Vista
#36 San Diego, Coronado
#37 Boston, Copley Square/Back Bay
#38 St. Petersburg, Clearwater Beach
#39 Oahu, Executive Center Area
#40 San Francisco, Financial District/Embarcadero
#41 Chicago, Greater Chicago
#42 Los Angeles, Downtown
#43 Washington, D.C., White House/Downtown
#44 Niagara Falls, Buffalo Side
#45 San Diego, Coastal Area
#46 Key West
#47 New York City, Central Park South
#48 Los Angeles, Airport Area
#49 San Francisco, SOMA/Moscone Center
#50 Washington, D.C., Dupont Circle/Woodley Park