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Top 10 Wish Destinations

Most wishes involve travel. In fact, of the 14,000 unique wishes Make-A-Wish® grants each year, 10,000 of them involve a trip somewhere.

We’ve scoured our records and turned to some great travel experts – wish kids themselves – to bring you the Top 10 Travel Destinations According to Wish Kids*. We’ve compiled their thoughts, favorite memories and first-hand observations. 

You can help wish kids reach these far-flung destinations for their Make-A-Wish trips. Consider donating your airline miles to Make-A-Wish through Wishes in Flight to help wish kids feel better … and in some cases, get better. 

Alaska is one of the top 10 most popular travel wish destinations.

Dylan in Alaska

Dylan, 15
Ewing sarcoma
I wish to go salmon fishing in Alaska

Fans of the great outdoors frequently tout Alaska as a must-see destination. From glaciers and jagged, snow-capped mountains to bald eagle habitats and whale encounters, Alaska's natural beauty is hard to match. For Dylan, fishing Alaska's salmon-filled streams helps wash his worries away. Alaska has that same therapeutic effect on many of its wish kid visitors. Fresh air and picturesque scenery create the perfect setting for wish kids to enjoy life beyond the reach of their medical condition.

Australia is one of the top 10 most popular travel wish destinations.

Christopher in Australia

Christopher, 12
end stage renal disease
I wish to go to the Barrier Reef

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef welcomes millions of visitors each year, including a host of wish kids. They flock to the Great Barrier Reef to experience this majestic and mysterious home to sea turtles, dolphins, sharks, mollusks and more than 1,500 fish species. The reef’s world-renowned snorkeling lured Christopher, who recalls his favorite part as just being able to "see the coral reef and all the fish. That was awesome." Christopher says his wish trip to Australia was "the trip of a lifetime."

Italy is one of the top 10 most popular travel wish destinations.

Tedd in Italy

Tedd, 12 
I wish to go to Italy

Beautiful architecture, world-famous cuisine and historical landmarks are just some of the many reasons why wish kids visit Italy. For Tedd, its historical significance made Italy an obvious choice. Tedd spent his wish trip getting an up-close look at the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Roman Colosseum and other sites he could previously only read about in his history books. The trip was a “most unforgettable experience,” according to Tedd’s parents, a sentiment echoed by many of the wish families who visit Italy.

France is one of the top 10 most popular travel wish destinations.

Alexandra in France

Alexandra, 13
Rett syndrome
I wish to go to France

The magnetic culture, unique cuisine and unforgettable sights of France draw wish kids and their families from throughout the U.S. Alexandra says she is still “enchanted” by her experience in France, calling a visit to the country a “beautiful gift.” Whether it’s getting energized by the big city feel of Paris or resting on the calm coast of Nice, France shows such diverse settings that allow any wish kid to get a full European experience in one country alone.

San Diego is one of the top 10 most popular travel wish destinations.

Keegan in San Diego

Keegan, 6 
Hodgkin lymphoma
I wish to find seashells on the beach

The sun always seems to shine bright in San Diego. Perhaps the only thing brighter is the smile on wish kids’ faces during their trips to the beautiful Southern California city. In addition to miles of pristine beaches, San Diego is home to some of the most famous marine wildlife parks and zoos in the world. The lure of seashells attracted Keegan to the Pacific. His wish: to discover seashells on his own private "wish beach." Every seashell he finds takes him farther from the hospitals and lymphoma treatments that occupy his time.

New York City is one of the top 10 most popular travel wish destinations.

Angelina, 14
I wish to go to New York City

The moment New York City comes into view from their airplane window, a wish kid’s imagination kicks in. Angelina has always dreamed of strutting down Broadway, in the glow of the city lights, decked out in the latest chic designer pieces. During her trip to New York City, she brought her vision to life. From trying on luxury clothes from her favorite designers to visiting the endless list of attractions like Radio City Music Hall, America’s largest city gave Angelina an experience to live life as a normal teenage girl.

The Caribbean is one of the top 10 most popular travel wish destinations.

Sarah in Caribbean

Sarah, 15
life-threatening blood disorder
I wish to go to Grand Cayman Island

The sea surrounding many of the Caribbean islands seems to stun wish kids by the clarity of the water. "It was the bluest water I've ever seen," said one wish kid who also exclaimed he could see underwater forever. Some kids from northern latitudes are fascinated by the palm trees; still others love fresh coconut water straight from the shell. But most, like wish kid Sarah, just relish the chance to relax with their family and soak up the sun on the white sand of world-renowned beaches on a trip where everything amazed her.

Los Angeles/Orange County is one of the top 10 most popular travel wish destinations.

Cayden in LA - Photo by Lincoln Journal Star

Cayden, 11
brain tumor
I wish to be a pop star

People from across the world come to Los Angeles seeking to make their hopes and dreams come true. There are a multitude of reasons wish kids visit the City of Angels: to enjoy the sun and surf, to record in a music studio, to visit Disneyland®, to have a dream shopping spree, or to meet a favorite celebrity or musician. These are just a few of the reasons Los Angeles comes in Number 3 on our wish destination Top 10 list. Cayden came to LA from his home in Lincoln, Neb., for a pop star wish experience where he has a photo shoot, meets a famous musician and even appears on national TV.

Hawaii is one of the top 10 most popular travel wish destinations.

Ryan in Hawaii

Ryan, 6
I wish to go surfing in Hawaii

Say "Aloha!" to Hawaii, the second most-popular wish destination and a hit with wish kids and their families alike. Ryan traveled from Georgia to the Pacific’s most prestigious islands. Ryan was looking for adventure and Hawaii was just the place to find it. Known for its rich culture, history, sea life and surf Hawaii, was the perfect retreat for fun in the sun and sand. Ryan’s trip becomes complete when he surfs in the blue waters off the coast of one of Hawaii’s many laidback cities.

Orlando is one of the top 10 most popular travel wish destinations.

Kamaile in Orlando

Kamaile, 7
immunodeficiency disorder
I wish to go to the Walt Disney World® Resort

Think of Orlando as one giant playground for wish kids. And for most of them it all revolves around Disney – with four Disney theme parks to explore, how could a wish kid not want to visit Orlando? Add in Universal Studios, Sea World®, LegoLAND® and countless other attractions, and you have a destination perfect for wish kids to escape their everyday lives of hospital visits and treatments for a carefree, life-changing experience. Kamaile flew to Orlando with the hope of meeting her favorite magical fairy, but ended up leaving with so much more.

*based on Fiscal Year 2013 wish data