2011 America's Dozen Distinctive Destinations - be sure to see them all

21.02.2011 In: Travel destinations

The National Trust for Historic Preservation announced its 2011 list of America's Dozen Distinctive Destinations. For 12 years the National Trust has annually selected communities across America that offer cultural and recreational experiences different from the typical vacation destination. From dynamic downtowns and stunning architecture to cultural diversity and lively entertainment, the selected destinations boast a richness of character and exude an authentic sense of place.

This year's destinations range from a waterfront city that George Washington called home and an Old West town that was once the unofficial capital of Indian Territory to a laid-back wine country destination and a charming seaport town with a rich seafaring tradition.

"This year's Dozen Distinctive Destinations include some of America's best places to visit," said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "They combine historic appeal and modern culture in a way that keeps visitors coming back."

The 2011 list of America's Dozen Distinctive Destinations includes:

Alexandria, Va. – Located across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., Alexandria is one of the most culturally rich destinations in the country – and not just because it was home to the nation's founding father, George Washington. An extraordinary blend of early America and modern chic, the city offers an eclectic mix of neighborhoods, historic sites, dining and shopping.

Chapel Hill, N.C. – From its well-preserved historic districts to its quiet winding streets and its bustling downtown area, Chapel Hill certainly lives up to its nickname as the 'Southern Part of Heaven.'

Colorado Springs, Colo. – Nestled at the base of the Rocky Mountains, visitors to Colorado Springs can enjoy commanding views of Pikes Peak from just about any part of this vibrant, historic town.

Dandridge, Tenn. – With its idyllic natural setting in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, a welcoming small town spirit and a charming historic downtown, Dandridge epitomizes the quintessential Southern Appalachian town.

Eureka, Calif. – Located on the Northern California coast, Eureka is a beautifully preserved Victorian seaport that features 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, Muskogee's storied past and Native American, African American and Euro American influences are well-preserved and the vibrant town has many unique festivals, museums, restaurants and more.

New Bedford, Mass. – Once one of the world's largest whaling ports, New Bedford is awash in maritime history, as well as scenic beaches, abundant architectural and historical riches, diverse neighborhoods and a burgeoning arts community.

Paducah, Ky. – The heart of Kentucky's Four Rivers region, visitors to Paducah will find thriving historic districts filled with turn of the century architecture and one-of-a-kind shops and eateries as well as a community that creatively celebrates its cultural and artistic heritage.

San Angelo, Texas – A frontier city with a rich past, San Angelo offers visitors an authentic Old West experience, a bustling downtown historic district and vibrant cultural offerings.

Saint Paul, Minn. – Known for some of Minnesota's most famous historic buildings—including the Cass Gilbert-designed State Capitol and the home of F. Scott Fitzgerald—visitors to St. Paul 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. – Set in "the shadow of the Big Horns," Sheridan offers a vibrant Main Street commercial district, abundant recreational opportunities, and an authentic Western experience.

Sonoma, Calif. – Dating back to the early 19th and set amidst winding country roads and family-owned vineyards, Sonoma 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.