Readers Choice

WINNERS: Best Bucket List TripChosen by readers of USA TODAY and 10Best

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    #1 - Galapagos

    Naturalists, old and new, who head off the Pacific coast of Ecuador to visit the isolated archipelago known as Galapagos find a microcosm of evolution. They experience some of the best up-close-and-personal wildlife encounters there are. Island-hopping adventurers snorkel with sea lions and turtles, watch the mating rituals of blue footed boobies, ponder the significance of Darwin's finches and walk across desolate lava fields.

    Photo courtesy of BlueOrange Studio/iStock

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    #2 - Alaska

    Alaska -- the United States' last great frontier -- attracts visitors to the wonders of Mother Nature. Whether cruising the Inside Passage in search of killer whales or glaciers calving ice bergs, or hiking the trails of Denali National Park, those lucky enough to visit the nation's biggest state get to see a destination at once wild, rugged, jaw-dropping beautiful and always unexpected.

    Photo courtesy of Purestock

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    #3 - African Safari

    Wildlife enthusiasts often place Africa near the top of their bucket lists, mostly because it's the only place in the world where you can see the "Big Five" in the wild. On safari in East Africa, Kenya or Tanzania, it's possible to spot elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards and Cape buffalo. Luxurious safari camps -- equipped with nearly every convenience of a traditional hotel -- heighten the experience.

    Photo courtesy of David De Lossy/Digital Vision

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    #4 - South Pacific Islands

    Lush mountain islands surrounded by dazzling turquoise lagoons. Beautiful natives.  Long, lazy days.   Tropical fruit.    And private bungalows which sit right in the sea.   The islands of the South Pacific offer this and more, part of the reason they soar to the top of many couples' bucket list.   There may be no more romantic place on earth.  

    Photo courtesy of VV-pics/iStock

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    #5 - Italy

    Despite ever-present hype, Italy's many charms simply cannot be overstated. Travelers who come here do so to indulge: in the country's art, in its food, in unending beauty, and bella vita -- the beautiful life. Bordered on three sides by the Mediterranean, Italy is amazingly diverse, and motivates its visitors to return, or spend a lifetime dreaming of doing so.  

    Photo courtesy of Andriy Kravchenko/iStock

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    #6 - Greece

    Greece's appeal as a bucket list destination is broad, with students of Western history attracted to the ancient sites of Athens and Delphi, beach lovers to the sun-kissed sands and azure waters of the Greek Isles and foodies to the scrumptious cuisine.  It's hard to resist this land of mythology, history, natural beauty and good food.  Some visitors also connect to their heritage here. 

    Photo courtesy of travnikovstudio/iStock

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    #7 - Ireland

    Those of Irish heritage naturally gravitate to this oh-so-green island of pubs, dramatic views and Celtic music. But the appeal of Ireland goes far beyond genetics.  Some would argue the whiskey alone makes it worth a visit, while countless historic villages and friendly locals make any trip memorable.

    Photo courtesy of Mustang_79/iStock

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    #8 - New Zealand

    Considered by many the most beautiful country in the world, New Zealand - where mountains meet the sea - is hard to reach but impossible to forget.   The setting for The Hobbit trilogy offers visitors adventure, unique cultures, beaches, skiing, and a panoply of nature-based entertainment.  Photographers think they've died and gone to heaven when visiting New Zealand. 

    Photo courtesy of nadlyaizat/iStock

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    #9 - Pyramids of Egypt

    The ancient pyramids of Egypt are one of the world's greatest mysteries.   Instantly recognizable, they fall into the category of "must see to believe" when it comes to scale.   Rising up from the desert floor, these tombs of the Pharoahs have a story which is still evolving. Well over 100 were discovered in 2008.   

    Photo courtesy of sculpies/iStock

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    #10 - Swiss Alps

    Travelers looking for dramatic natural scenery will find it in spades in the alpine mountains of Switzerland. In summer, lush green meadows dotted with cows and colorful wildflowers gradually give way to snow-covered peaks, while winter time transforms the Swiss Alps into a wonderland that sports enthusiasts from around the world come to experience.  

    Photo courtesy of swiss-image.ch/Christoph Sonderegger

Galapagos the Ultimate 'Bucket List' Trip

Alaska, Africa, South Pacific, Pyramids and Europe also favorites

It's official - our readers dream big!  The top ten finishers in our latest contest category - Best Bucket List Trip - are all pretty exotic, and wildlife figures heavily into the mix.   

The beautiful Galapagos Islands took top honors, followed by Alaska and an African Safari.  (See what we mean about wildlife?). Destinations in the South Pacific, Europe and a lone Middle East spot received the most votes.

All 10 winners in the 'Best Bucket List Trip' contest category for 10Best Readers' Choice are as follows:

  1. Galapagos
  2. Alaska
  3. African Safari
  4. South Pacific Islands
  5. Italy
  6. Greece
  7. Ireland
  8. New Zealand
  9. Pyramids of Egypt
  10. Swiss Alps

Is your dream destination on this list?   We'll be featuring slideshows of each of these bucket list destinations in the weeks to come.  Congratulations to them all, and we're cheering you on in checking them off your own must-see list.   

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Meet the Experts

Ben Abramson

Ben Abramson is USA TODAY's online travel editor, and has traveled all over Europe in search of memorable meals, great art and architecture, vibrant cities and tranquil hill towns. Based on passport stamps, France and Italy are his favorite destinations outside of North America.

Libby McMillan

Libby McMillan is Senior Editor for 10Best.  She's been a travel journalist for nearly 20 years and has made a dent in her own bucket list,  But she still has trips on her to-do list, including Ireland, Istanbul, Thailand, Norway, Vietnam, Buenos Aires, Montana, and traveling by boat up the Hudson River.  

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