Americans prefer beach over mountains, but it's close

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Sea and sand beat out mountains when it comes to Americans' preferred vacation venue, but it was a close contest, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll.

Seventy-two percent expressed a favorable opinion about a beach vacation, and 66% did likeise for a mountain vacation. The swing vote is women, who were 11 percentage points more likely to like the idea of a beach vacation and 19 points more likely to “strongly” favor the beach over the mountains. Equal numbers of men would be happy either way.

Kids make a difference; 83% of parents with kids under 18 like the idea of a beach vacation, 15 points more than parents who are empty nesters. Age also makes a difference. Eighty percent of women under 50 prefer the beach.

There are regional preferences. The beach beats the mountains by a 17-point margin in the Northeast and by 10 points in the South, while the two are rated equally in the Midwest. In the West, the mountains do better than in any other region, and actually outscore the coast, 76% vs. 70%.

This being a presidential-election year, the poll broke down preferences by party. It’s a rare instance in which Republicans and Democrats agree: both have positive views of beach vacations. Among independents, however, positive views of this option slip by 10 points. Republicans and independents respond equally favorably to a mountain holiday, Democrats less so.

The ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cell phone from June 13-17, 2012, among a random national sample of 1,022 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York.

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