By Colleen Kane, CNBC.com
Despite continuing economic troubles, more Americans are planning to travel this holiday season. According to a new report from AAA, an anticipated 42.5 million will be traveling 50 miles or more, which is 4 percent more than last year.
Palm Springs, CaliforniaTo find out where the greatest numbers of those Americans will be traveling, Bert Sperling of Sperling's Best Places looked at airline flight statistics from last year. The resulting top 10 busiest cities are those that have the highest percentage of flights during the holidays. However, the list was not determined just by looking at raw numbers. Sperling's team arrived at a list of the 100 largest airline destinations, counting only those flights that ended in each particular city so as not to include transfers.
See the Slideshow: Busiest Cities for the Holidays
"The large number of Florida cities in the top spots likely points to holiday travel to visit elderly parents who have retired to that state," Sperling remarked. However, these may not all be ranking due to visiting family members - two tropical cities on the list are probably visited at this time more for vacations.
At the bottom of Sperling's top 100 busiest holiday cites list were (counting from 100-96), Columbia, S.C.; Anchorage, Alaska; Santa Barbara, Calif.; Savannah, Ga.; and Louisville, Ky. Check out the 10 cities that ranked at the top, counting down to number 1.
Fort Myers, FloridaFort Myers, Florida
Holiday Rank: 1
Thanksgiving Rank: 4
Christmas Rank: 1
There were 32,676 annual flights into southwest Florida's City of Palms in 2010, with 1,150 of those occurring at Thanksgiving and 1,041 at Christmas. Travelers to Fort Myers are likely visiting older relatives who retired in Florida, in such surrounding cities as Cape Coral, Punta Gorda or Naples. But who knows, maybe some percentage of these travelers are big fans of industry and want to visit the summer homes of pals Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, which are both major local tourist destinations.
Cincinnati, OhioCincinnati, Ohio
Holiday Rank: 2
Thanksgiving Rank: 1
Christmas Rank: 2
In 2010 there were 55,545 annual flights into the Queen City, with 2,010 flights timed for the Thanksgiving holiday and 1,662 at Christmas. Flyers could be visiting relatives in Norwood, Sharonville or Blue Ash, Ohio, or possibly Covington or Edgewood in Kentucky. Those sticking around Cincinnati itself might take in the festival of lights at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanic Garden or the New Nutcracker, among other holiday events and attractions.
Miami, FloridaMiami, Florida
Holiday Rank: 3
Thanksgiving Rank: 2
Christmas Rank: 4
Miami was the destination for 82,172 flights last year, of which 2,956 were at Thanksgiving and 2,414 at Christmas. Miami's white sandy beaches, nightlife and cuisine make it a popular destination in itself, although there may be some family visiting obligations fulfilled by travelers to Miami or nearby cities such as Coral Gables, Pinewood and Westview.
Hartford, ConnecticutHartford, Connecticut
Holiday Rank: 4
Thanksgiving Rank: 3
Christmas Rank: 6
Hartford was the destination for 27,992 flights in 2010, of which 990 came at Thanksgiving and 809 at Christmas. Travelers to this airport could be visiting family in nearby cities including Avon, Bristol, Ellington, Middletown or Newington, or venturing a bit further afield to the rural winter wonderland of the Berkshires in western Massachusetts.
Fort Lauderdale, FloridaFort Lauderdale, Florida
Holiday Rank: 5
Thanksgiving Rank: 7
Christmas Rank: 5
Some 73,355 flights terminated at Fort Lauderdale last year, with 2,560 of those occurring at Thanksgiving and 2,149 at Christmas. Fort Lauderdale's " Hyatt Extreme Christmas ," a residential display, was ranked among the top Christmas light displays in the U.S. last year, and the Fort Lauderdale Christmas Pageant is another popular tradition.
See the full slideshow: 10 Busiest Cites for the Holidays
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