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10 Top Vacation Destinations

Summer vacation season is in full swing. I just got back from a vacation weekend (well, I did a little work, too) in Florida. This was the view from my hotel window.

Despite high gas prices, million of Americans are touring around our great nation, and hitting some of our best vacation destinations.

Whether you like to camp, cruise, or carouse around town, Coldwell Banker has narrowed down a wide list to ten top vacation spots, around the country, that are fun and family friendly and what it might cost to own a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home in one of them.

And for those of you who can't get enough information on celebrity cribs, I've also noted a few celebrities who live, year-round, in these holiday destinations. There's more than one kind of stargazing you can do while getting away from it all. Go and enjoy your vacation. Stay and buy a house! (Your Realtor will thank you!)

San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio is a jewel in the crown of Texas. With just over a million citizens, San Antonio is the second largest city in Texas. San Antonio has a strong military presence--it is home to Fort Sam Houston, Lackland Air Force Base, Randolph Air Force Base, and Brooks City-Base, with Camp Bullis and Camp Stanley outside the city.

Also home to the San Antonio Spurs, it is a town with a rich musical history and boasts high-profile residents such as Dixie Chick Emily Robison and actor and musician Steve Earle.

This is also a very affordable vacation home destination, with a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home averaging $186,343.

Orlando, Florida

Orlando, Florida is one of the top vacation destinations for families all over the world because of Mickey Mouse and all his friends at Disney World.

Orlando also plays host to Universal Studios and SeaWorld. If you're looking for celebrities who aren't cartoon characters, you might see Joey Fatone or Chris Kirkpatrick of 'N Sync, or NBA star Shaquille O'Neal. These attractions form the backbone of Orlando's tourism industry, making it the most visited American city in 2009, per Forbes.

A four-bedroom, two-bathroom home in Orlando carries a reasonable average price tag $189,220, per Coldwell Banker. And if you lived there, you could get to know Shamu personally.

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois is a great vacation destination (and not just because I live in the metro area) with a lot to offer a family on a budget.

The large downtown area boasts scenic parks, Navy Pier, theater, live music, and fine art museums. Every weekend from Memorial Day to Labor Day there is a festival in Grant Park and if you keep your eyes open you might spot one of the many celebrities who call Chicago home like Vince Vaughn, Mr. T, or John and Joan Cusack.

The average home price for a four-bedroom, two-bathroom in Chicagoland is $250,631. To be within an hour's drive of Lake Michigan, and avail yourself of the culture and history that Chicago has to offer would be a great incentive to live in the Windy City.

Miami, Florida

Miami is another city in Florida with a big tourist draw; the gorgeous beaches and nightlife.

Many rich and famous people are attracted to the culture of wealth and decadence. You may see Lenny Kravitz, Gloria Estefan, or even former tennis pro Anna Kournikova running through the sand, soaking up the sun or hitting Miami's fabulous high-end shops.

A four-bedroom, two-bathroom house will run you, on average, $265,895.
Miami also enjoys cultural diversity with large Cuban and Haitian populations, and is a perfect place to explore great food. We had an amazing late lunch at Havana 1957.

Madison, Wisconsin

There is no better place for good, Midwestern fun than Madison, Wisconsin. Home of the Big Ten's University of Wisconsin, Madison is a quaint college town with a lot to offer.

With no fewer than four lakes (Mendota, Monona, Waubesa and Kegonsa), Madison offers many outdoor activities including biking, hiking, watersports and in the winter, hockey, curling and ice fishing.

One of the advantages of living in a college town is the access to famous writers who teach there, like Neil Gaiman and Lorrie Moore, who can be seen out and about, mingling with the populace.
A four-bedroom, two-bathroom home in Madison costs an average of $280,800.

Flagstaff, Arizona

Flagstaff, Arizona is known for its mild weather and mountain views. And, Flagstaff has acquired a reputation as a magnet for outdoor enthusiasts, and the region's varied terrain, high elevation, and amenable climate attract campers, backpackers, climbers, recreation and elite runners, and mountain bikers from throughout the southwestern United States.

A four-bedroom, two-bathroom house in Flagstaff costs, on average, $370,655, and you might run into former Cheers star Ted Danson while you are enjoying the area.

San Diego, California

Bordering Mexico on California's Southern tip, San Diego, California has it all. Natural beauty, a striking city, beaches, mountains, and thriving culture.

San Diego has a world famous zoo and is a great place to raise a family. It also has a thriving gay community and the region will be one of the first in the nation to have a charging infrastructure to support electric vehicles.

You could run into any number of celebrities in the San Diego area, including Denise Richards, Olivia Newton-John, Raquel Welch and Janet Jackson. A four-bedroom, two-bathroom house in the area averages $522,247.

Boston, Massachusetts

Known as Bean Town, the City on a Hill, the Cradle of Liberty and Rat City, Boston, Massachusetts is a wonderful vacation destination.

The home of Ben Affleck (and former home of his partner in crime Matt Damon), it is the capital of, and largest city, in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest urban areas in the United States.

Boston is full of cultural opportunities from museums to the famed Fenway Park, as well as a wonderful aquarium where members of the community can volunteer to feed the penguins. The city is an intellectual Mecca as the home of M.I.T., Harvard, and a plethora of other colleges and universities.

Boston is surrounded by lush suburbs, and the average price of a four-bedroom, two-bathroom house is $695,358. An example of one of the verdant suburbs is Arlington where you can still take the T to the city and you might run into Yo-Yo Ma at the local Whole Foods.

Los Angeles, California

Very close to its SoCal neighbor San Diego, Los Angeles, California is where the stars live and play. Star sighting in L.A. is a hobby of many residents and tourists alike.

It is also a treasure trove of Hollywood landmarks and history. Universal Studio, Mann's Chinese Theatre, and the famous Hollywood Boulevard have been attracting visitors for decades.

A four-bedroom, two-bathroom home in L.A. averages a hefty $795,632, but that is a small price to pay to live among stars like Charlie Sheen and the Osbournes.

Honolulu, Hawaii As close to a tropical paradise as you can get on American soil, Honolulu, Hawaii is our final vacation terminus.

A sublime place to live or visit, Honolulu is the former residence of President Obama and a frequent destination when the First Family goes on vacation. Honolulu offers a bustling downtown with tropical respite just steps away.

A four-bedroom, two-bathroom home in Honolulu runs a pricey $797,675 but who said paradise was cheap?

Would you like to live in a vacation destination?

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Ilyce R. Glink is the author of several books, including 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask and Buy, Close, Move In!. She blogs about money and real estate at and The Equifax Personal Finance Blog, and is Chief Content Strategist at, a community for real estate investors.
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