To vote on which city should be No. 1, visit the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
They're not Orlando. And they certainly aren't Las Vegas. But that's the point of the towns on the annual America's Dozen Distinctive Destinations list selected by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
For the past 11 years, the organization has chosen locales that might not be obvious vacation destinations, but nevertheless harbor rich cultural and recreational experiences and "exude an authentic sense of place."
The 2011 winners were announced today and the NTHP wants you to vote for the place that deserves the No. 1 spot (or just has the most fans). Voting continues through March 15 and stuffing the online ballot box is allowed -- you can vote once a day -- but you must be 18 or older and a U.S. resident. Voters are automatically entered to win a two-night stay at any Historic Hotel of America.
And the winners are:
Alexandria, Va. – The culturally rich Washington, D.C., suburb sports an "extraordinary blend of early America and modern chic, (with) an eclectic mix of neighborhoods, historic sites, dining and shopping."
Chapel Hill, N.C. – Well-preserved historic districts and a bustling downtown are some of the assets in a city nicknamed the "Southern Part of Heaven."
Colorado Springs, Colo. – The historic Rocky Mountain town has fabulous views of Pikes Peak from almost everywhere in town.
Dandridge, Tenn. – Set in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, the southern Appalachian town has "a welcoming small town spirit and a charming historic downtown."
Eureka, Calif. – The beautifully preserved Victorian seaport on the state's northern coast boasts "a lively Old Town, the Carson Mansion -- one of the most photographed homes in America -- and nearby forests of majestic old growth redwoods."
Muskogee, Okla. – Once the unofficial capital of Indian Territory, the town has a multi-cultural history that blends Native American, African American and Euro American influences. It celebrates that history with a number of festivals in its vibrant downtown.
New Bedford, Mass. – Scenic beaches, maritime history, architectural and historical riches and a growing arts community make this former whaling port an attractive place.
Paducah, Ky. – The river town has thriving historic districts with one-of-a-kind shops and eateries. It's a community that "creatively celebrates its cultural and artistic heritage."
San Angelo, Texas – "A bustling downtown historic district and vibrant cultural offerings" exude authentic Old West ambiance.
Saint Paul, Minn. – "Visitors can browse the quaint shops of Grand Avenue, dine in the strikingly restored warehouse district, or be awed by the stately mansions along Summit Avenue."
Sheridan, Wyo. – The town has a lively Main Street commercial district, plus lots of recreational opportunities in the shadow of the Big Horns.
Sonoma, Calif. – "The town offers all the perks of being in the heart of wine country, with the added benefit of a laid-back vibe that complements the award-winning wine and food."
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