In most countries, summertime almost always means vacations, and every year, a new destination is crowned the best. One year it’s the blue lagoons of Malta and the next year it could be the ever-so romantic city streets of Paris. Have you ever wondered what type of trip was popular the year you were born? It may surprise you, but some locations that are popular today were even more famous in the ’50s and ’60s. Traveling back then sure looked different, and anything from the Monaco Grand Prix to the World’s Fair determined your next voyage.
A-list stars like Marilyn Monroe and Marlon Brando gained a reputation for traveling to places and making it the top destination of that year. Other times, it would be something like the opening of Disneyland that would decide your next holiday. In the 2000s, travel influencers took the reign of “determining” what’s a cool destination and places like the Amalfi Coast, Marrakech, and Isla Holbox were at the top of everyone’s bucket list. Nowadays, the idea of traveling is scaled back in more ways than one, but don’t let that stop you from using this list for inspirational trip ideas. Things are complicated right now, but we’re more than confident everything will get better. 2021 is right around the corner and who knows what will be the next popular destination. At this point, we’re happy with just driving down the street. We’ve rounded up the most popular vacations by year, so find your birthday and start planning your post-COVID getaway.
1950: Honolulu, Hawaii
Nine years before statehood, Honolulu was a popular destination for West Coast residents. Beaches like Waikiki were popular for tourist and locals alike. Hawaii’s colorful history was noted pretty much everywhere and its beautiful waters enchanted visitors. Lodgings like the historic Moana Hotel were widely sought after as the place to be and be seen.
1951: Tel Aviv, Israel
With more than 13 beaches, this blossoming city was a go-to in 1951. Hotels like The Sharon and Dan Accadia acted as this destination’s first luxury dwellings. Tel Aviv today still acts as one of the world’s best kept travel secrets.
1952: Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota
Around this time, packing up your Chevrolet and traveling all around the Midwest was the perfect vacation. Stopping at destinations like Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone River, and Old Faithful encapsulated the American essence.
1953: Daytona Beach, Florida
Watching the 1953 NASCAR Grand National Series was something the whole family could enjoy. It didn’t hurt that it was right next to one of Florida’s most popular beaches at the time.
1954: Palm Springs, California
Golfing was a big sport at Palm Springs and so were celebrity sightings. Here you could find actors like Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe escaping to this wonderful oasis.
1955: Anaheim, California
The first Disneyland opened on July 17 1955, and the world of theme parks was forever changed. Located in Anaheim, families flocked to the opening enjoying attractions never seen before.
1956: Paris, France
Made famous by its numerous high-end fashion design houses like Christian Dior, Paris became a burgeoning destination for progressive types that enjoyed jazz and rock & roll.
1957: London, England
With more than 12 years after WWII ending, the face of London was changing. On top of numerous celebrities using it as a vacation playground, London had emerging theaters showcasing its rich history and innovative future. The Ritz Hotel, London opened in 1906 and has since continued being one of the most well-known luxury hotels, adding to 1957 London’s status as the place to be.
1958: Rome, Italy
If you read The Talented Mr. Ripley then you know how popular Italy was for socialites. Rome in particular was a busy city with a streak for modern cues. A mixture of old world and metropolitan vibes made this city a go-to.
1959: Dorado, Puerto Rico
With the opening of the Dorado Beach hotel the prior year, Dorado became a popular destination for beach and salsa lovers alike.
1960: Athens, Greece
Known as the capital of Greece, Athens was more than just a historical site. With a blossoming artisanal scene, Athens was expected to become the next metropolitan city of Europe.
1961: West Palm Beach, Florida
Similar to Palm Springs, West Palm Beach was known for great golfing. The point of difference was Palm Beach’s scenic waterfronts and laid-back sensibilities. Golfers like President John F. Kennedy enjoyed visiting and taking a swing or two.
1962: Saint-Tropez, France
Many a playboy would visit Saint-Tropez in the summer. But it wasn’t just for the boys—Brigitte Bardot would often be seen on a boat here and there. Hotels like Château de la Messardière charmed and are still charming visitors today.
1963: Miami Beach, Florida
The Sunshine State had a new vacation contender in Miami Beach. The aesthetic of Miami was changing from a primarily Jewish population with the recent arrivals of Cubans either fleeing or exiled from Cuba. This led the city to incorporate dual identities that still charm vacationers today.
1964-65: World’s Fair, New York
The World’s Fair was hosted in Queens, New York, from 1964 to 1965. The fair (which still goes on today under a new name) held exhibitions showcasing advancements in technology, achievements of nations and a Dinoland. 51 million people attended the World’s Fair and some of its remnants can still be found in Queens.
1966: Las Vegas, Nevada
The city of sin was just gearing up in 1966 and, even then, it was the place to be. 21 million visitors flocked to Las Vegas while rooms ranged from $12 to $100 a day making this oasis in the desert easily accessible. The now famous Caesars Palace hotel opened this year adding to an already impressive destination inventory.
1967: Coral Beach, Bermuda
Popular due to its close proximity to the America’s, Bermuda had (and has) extensive reefs and beaches making this an ocean-lovers top destination.
1968: Monte Carlo, Monaco
The 1968 Monaco Grand Prix drew in crowds from all over making Monte Carlo a yacht and car lover’s paradise.
1969: Cocoa Beach, Florida
Cocoa was a mecca for deep space fanatics, but the 1969 Apollo 11 mission really drew in the crowds. Apollo 11 was the first spaceflight that landed humans on the moon. This included famed astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. The John F. Kennedy Space Center had opened in 1962 officiating this part of Florida as the space coast.
1970: Copacabana Beach, Brazil
Already globally famous, Copacabana Beach really hit the airwaves in the early ’70’s due to its expansion and Portuguese pavement recreations by famed architect Roberto Burl Marx.
If you wanted to be seen, checking in to the Copacabana Palace and relaxing by the beach was the way to do it.
1971: Persepolis, Iran
1971 was the year the then Iranian imperial majesty, Mohammad Reza Shah threw one of the most infamous parties known to man. The intent of the party was to celebrate the anniversary of the Persian Empire. Kings, queens, princesses, princes, presidents and more attended the event which according to some was the last time some monarchies were together due to uprisings and abolishments.
1972: Waikiki Beach, Hawaii
Throughout the ages, Hawaii has been a favorite for many vacationers due to its iconic beaches and accessible distance.
1973: Bali, Indonesia
In 1973, tourism in Bali grew quickly. In 1972 alone, 100,000 tourist visited doubling the amount from the year before. For the most part, the tourism during this time was welcomed and vacationers were able to experience Indonesia’s culture and beautiful weather making Bali a favorite to many. Today, tourism makes up 80% of Bali’s economy.
1974: Coney Island, New York
If you lived in Philadelphia, New Jersey or any of the surrounding areas, you knew New York’s Coney Island was the place to be for the summer. With miles of beaches, great food, a theme park, and an almost 3-mile boardwalk, it was the perfect place to spend summer solstice.
1975: SoHo, New York
New York was the place to be in the ’70s and if you were into art then its SoHo neighborhood was the spot. In the early ’70s many of the neighborhoods historic buildings were reconverted into artist lofts following a failed attempt at attracting large-scale manufacturers. The makeup of the neighborhood completely changed and artist from all over flocked.
1976: Kaloa Beach, Port-Au-Prince, Haiti
While mainland Haiti itself dealt with severe political and civil issues, its tourism sector flowed. At least 16 luxury villas rimmed it’s beach areas in or near Port-Au-Prince making Haiti in 1976 a top destination.
1977: San Francisco, California
The June 1977 Gay Freedom Day parade in San Francisco drew more than 250,000 attendees starting an upwards spiral of large parade numbers for the cause. This and San Francisco’s large LGBTQ+ community made it a destination worth visiting.
1978: Aspen, Colorado
With dozens of après ski locations, Aspen became a favorite to novices and pros alike for their great trails and amazing after parties.
1979: Havana, Cuba
For what seemed like a blink of an eye, U.S. travel restrictions were lifted (in 1977) that allowed tourist to visit Cuba. People flocked until the restrictions went right back down in 1982.
1980: Versailles, France
The 1978 bombing by the Breton Liberation Front spooked the rest of the world to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site before anything else happened to it.
1981: Eleuthera, Bahamas
The start of the 80s came with a Caribbean fever that left no nation untouched. Places like Ten Bay Beach and Windermere Island in the Bahamas were frequented by tourists and celebrities.
1982: Cruise Ships
Another ’80s travel trend that was taking the world by storm was getting on a cruise. Cruise ships during these times saw sales rise exponentially.
1983: Sydney, Australia
The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race of 1983 attracted spectators and fans from all over.
1984: Istanbul, Turkey
Places like the Grand Bazaar and Blue Mosque made Istanbul one of the top destinations of 1984.
1985: Tokyo, Japan
Interest in Tokyo skyrocketed in the ’80s partially due to its almost futuristic city-aesthetic and deep rooted culture. Films like Blade Runner also drew in fans from all over the world.
1986: Ibiza, Spain
Considered a popular tourist destination for nightlife in the ’60s and ’70s, Ibiza ranked as number one for all those that wanted to dance the night away (or in some cases, day). Super nightclub Space opened this year adding its irregular partying schedule to a lineup that put the “p” in “party.”
1987: Half Moon Island, Antarctica
If you were looking for seclusion then you probably made your way to Half Moon Island in Antarctica. This destination was a favorite for many who preferred animals to humans.
1988: Valletta, Malta
Malta was known as a top destination for it’s beautiful blue lagoons and century-old Baroque architecture. Even today Malta continues to shock visitors with its outstanding beauty and appeal.
1989: Chateau d’Oex, Switzerland
Switzerland is known for great skiing, but also for the International Hot Air Balloon Festival held in Chateau d’Oex.
1990: Menorca, Spain
Known as part of the Catalonia region, the Balearic island of Menorca has a long history with tourism mainly from other European countries. Designated by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve, it was famous in the ’90s for being less crowded than other Spanish islands.
1991: Kuda Bandos, Maldives
Considered “pristine” by the New York Times, the Maldives was the most fashionable place to visit in 1991.
1992: Prague, Czech Republic
Tourist looking to take advantage of both countries before the dissolution of Czechoslovakia made bold attempts at visiting Prague. Even though sentiments about the dissolution were pretty tame, tourist felt some things would be lost in the transition and elected for a visit before the change.
1993: Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
President Bill Clinton put Martha’s Vineyard on the map during his family vacations here.
1994: Moscow, Russia
Visiting Moscow was a favorite to many in 1994.
1995: Miami Beach, Florida
Shows like Miami Vice and The Golden Girls inspired many tourists to check out magic city. Hotels like The Biltmore and the Lord Balfour Hotel drew in fans of Art Deco architecture adorned with neon lights.
1996: Kruger National Park, South Africa
With the success of films like Jumanji, safari tours of South Africa’s Kruger National Park were very popular in 1996. Tours (guided or not) showcased the reserve and all of its splendor.
1997: Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Interest in the American road trip ignited again in 1997 with multiple trips planned to the Grand Canyon National Park and beyond.
1998: Cancun, Mexico
Popular for college spring breakers, Cancun became the favorite vacation destination for anyone in college in 1998.
1999: New York, New York
What better place to fear Y2k than New York City? The new millennium didn’t result in the end of technology, but it did give us a reason to visit New York.
2000: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Dubai has gone through advancements at an extreme rate since the ’60s. In the year 2000 alone, projects and buildings like the Burj Al Arab, Emirates Towers, and Dubai Internet City were completed, giving this growing city the ultimate cool factor. 3.4 million tourist visited Dubai in 2000 and we honestly know why.
2001: Monte Carlo, Monaco
The 2001 Monaco Grand Prix brought tourist from the United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil and more.
2002: Bangkok, Thailand
Just like Leonardo DiCaprio in The Beach, tourist from all over backpacked throughout Asia in 2002. First stops usually began in Thailand.
2003: St. Kitts, Saint Kitts and Nevis
On the eastern side of the Caribbean lies 2003’s most popular destination. St. Kitts is known for luxury resorts and white sand beaches.
2004: Grindavík, Iceland
The therapeutic milky blue waters of the Blue Lagoon alone attracted hordes of visitors to the Reykjanes Peninsula in 2004.
2005: Dubrovnik, Croatia
Designated as a vacation worthy destination by multiple publications, Dubrovnik proved to be worth it with its old-world charm architecture and elegant Adriatic Sea waters.
2006: Malibu, California
A short drive from Los Angeles, Malibu is a luxury surfer’s paradise that entranced tourist during the 2006 season.
2007: New Orleans, Louisiana
Two years after Hurricane Katrina, tourist flocked to New Orleans during Mardi Gras season to show support for the historically lively city.
2008: Saint John’s, Antigua and Barbuda
Heading over to the islands for the weekend never hurt anyone.
2009: Washington, D.C.
Sworn in on January of 2009, President Barak Obama’s presence alone can be attributed to the massive waves of tourist visiting Washington, D.C., at the time.
2010: Portofino, Italy
Considered to be the most beautiful Mediterranean port, Portofino was a favorite among celebrities and tourists.
2011: Nice, France
Beyoncé performed in Nice and it was more than enough of a reason to visit this fashion- and art-forward part of France.
2012: Marrakech, Morocco
Popular because of the film Casablanca and Yves Saint Laurent, Marrakech was known to have a varied geography making it compatible for every type of traveler.
2013: Ibiza, Spain
While the nightclubs and parties of yesteryear were still happening, the identity of Ibiza began changing. Government requirements called for more leisure spaces making what was once a day-long party, a place to relax and drink tinto de verano.
2014: Tulum, Mexico
The age of Mexican leisures began in 2014 with Tulum becoming multiple celebrities summer playgrounds.
2015: Mykonos, Greece
In 2015, Mykonos had everything you could want: culture, scenic views, nightclubs, restaurants, and miles of beautiful blue waters.
2016: Isla Holbox, Mexico
Another addition to the Mexican leisure era, Isla Holbox blew us away with the best of the Yucatan Peninsula. Exotic bird watchers and people who don’t drive were pleasantly surprised by what the island offered.
2017: Cartagena, Colombia
Facing the Caribbean Sea, Cartagena was a favorite to many because of its rich history, inescapable views, vibrant city streets and 7-star accommodations.
2018: Amalfi Coast, Italy
Many influencers were seen on the Amalfi Coast in the summer of 2018. Not only a fashionable spot, it catered to lovers of turquoise waters and charming old world architecture.
2019: The Azores, Portugal
Nine islands are what the mid-Atlantic Azores consist of and it was gearing up to be the next “it” place pre-coronavirus. Each island has a different attraction and tradition making it an adaptable destination for every type of vacationer. From great hiking to walking inside of a volcano, the Azores became the perfect place to get thrills at an affordable rate.
2020: Your Living Room
Because of the COVID-19 virus, millions of travelers were forced to stay home to stop the spread of the deadly infection. Social distancing and rising numbers have left vacationers more excited about hanging out in their living rooms than booking a destination.
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