Marolt: We’re No. 20! |

Marolt: We’re No. 20!

Roger Marolt
Cluster Phobic
Roger Marolt

Great news from U.S. News & World Report: Aspen, and presumably Snowmass Village by virtue of perpetual shadow coverage and desire, is the 20th-best place to visit in the entire United States. Wahoo! There are only 19 destinations more worthy for tourist dollars to go to die and foam our beer through the offseasons. It also means there are about a zillion places vying for touristic affection that can’t carry any one of our pictorial shoppers’ maps and dining guides. Take that, wannabes, from sea to shining sea!

Ahhhh. Think of the money we can save on marketing. Las turistas han hablado!

Out of curiosity, though, it would be fun to have a look at the entire list, just to see who has the edge on us, even though we all know how flawed these rankings are, unless we are listed in the top three. What we really need is a playoff system for tourist destinations like they do in — never mind. Let’s just have a look at the others on the list ahead of us.

OK, as far as other “authentic” mountain-town resorts with amenities like five-star hotels, art galleries and private-jet-handling facilities go, Jackson Hole beats us by six slots. It’s not top-10, but it made the top 15. That hurts a little bit, but, hey, I can live with it. It’s a cool place, and at least it’s not Vail up ahead of us, as is usual in surveys.

There are a few other outdoorsy places that we are looking up at on the list, too. Yellowstone Park comes in at No. 2, Yosemite is at No. 7, and the Grand Canyon is at No. 15. Those are hard to argue with. Yes, they are almost so crowded that nobody goes there anymore, but they are also magnificent natural beauties that never fail to inspire pure awe in anyone, whose feet are not so blistered and legs cramping from standing on them all day, who is able to pay attention to what they are staring at.

Of course there are beach places ahead of us. Maui is No. 1 in the national rankings! Honolulu is eighth. And, for those who prefer an ocean view they can drive to, San Diego comes in at sixth. I love sand. I love sun. I love doing nothing all day, except maybe a little surfing. I can’t argue with any of these choices that crams all of these things into one actionless-packed vacation. Another tropical place that made the cut ahead of us is the U.S. Virgin Islands. Our cab driver there wouldn’t let us out until we were safely inside the hotel gates because he was afraid we’d be robbed, at best, so I am biased against that place and will refrain from comment.

The list also includes educational places (Washington D.C.), exciting cities (New York) and hedonistic, lawless retreats (Las Vegas and New Orleans). In case you didn’t realize it, these places are all more fun to visit than Aspen.

At this point I’m starting to lose a little buoyancy in my float of initial enthusiasm perusing the rankings. San Francisco, Cape Cod and Charleston are on the list ahead of us. What? They are all charming cities, but …

It gets worse, or at least more debatable. Chicago and Seattle are, allegedly, better places to visit than Aspen. When? Has hell frozen over? My goodness, I’m beginning to think we may see that on the list.

This is complete nonsense! Anchorage is the 11th-best place in our great country to visit? Well, sure, if you like to watch them process a fresh salmon haul. I was there once on the summer solstice. It was a fantastic experience, and I didn’t sleep a wink. I couldn’t wait to get out of there and into the wilderness. What more can anyone say about Anchorage?

Now, for the big finish. Are you ready for this? If you are, we need to talk about getting involved in some community activities, a workout routine, hobbies, anything to get you out of the house a little more often. On this illustrious list of vacation paradises, in the top 10 no less, is none other than Disney World. It is a small vacation world after all!

All right, all right — we can’t dwell on our abysmal showing at 20th place on the list of “the best” vacation places. I suppose we could sue the magazine for slander by association. Or we could be positive and focus on all the places we are more desirable than. Let’s see, there’s Tonapah, Nevada; Barstow, California; Dimmit, Texas; Fort Kearney, Nebraska …

Roger Marolt has been from Tucson to Tucumcari, from Tehachapi to Tonapah and driven mad by every travel survey that’s ever been made. Contact him at

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