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Verde Valley cracks list of top U.S. travel destinations

Phoenix-area residents have a short drive to one of the top travel destinations in America.

Verde Valley, about a 90-minute drive north, was named to Lonely Planet’s Top 10 U.S. Travel Destination List for 2013.

While some towns were on the list because of their scenery or wildlife, Casey Rooney with Cottonwood Economic Development said the Verde Valley, No. 9 on the list, is all about the wine.

“If you follow the wine industry, we’re the rapidly emerging, small, beautiful region that a lot of people haven’t been to,” he said. “Now they’re hearing about it and now they’re coming here.”

Other locales included Fairbanks, Alaska — home to the Northern Lights — and American Samoa.