Rockland has been selected as one of a dozen “distinctive destinations” by a national preservation organization.

The public will decide later this month which community out of the 12 will be the “fan favorite.”

“With great pride in its maritime past and present, Rockland blends tradition with an innovative spirit,” said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Visitors will discover an authentic snapshot of coastal living.”

Rockland will participate in the first-ever public online voting contest for the fan favorite.

The preservation organization, based in Washington, D.C., has been operating since 1949.

Rockland was nominated by Rockland Main Street Inc. A news release from the national preservation group stated that Rockland was selected for its “authentic preservation of a rich history and its wide range of unique attractions, including a picturesque working waterfront that packs alluring cultural heritage with prized fresh seafood and world famous festivals.”

For 10 years the National Trust for Historic Preservation has selected communities across America “that offer cultural and recreational experiences different from those found at the typical vacation destination.”

The organization stated that lobster is king in Rockland from the dock to the world-famous Maine Lobster Festival. The organization also cited other summer events including the North Atlantic Blues Festival in July and the Maine Boats, Homes and Harbors Show in August.

“Locals and visitors can shop and enjoy a bounty of local cuisines in a setting one block from the harbor on Rockland’s historic Main Street,” the news release said.

Attractions cited by the organization include the Maine Lighthouse Museum, the Rockland Breakwater, the Strand Theatre and the Farnsworth Art Museum.

For the first time, the public will determine which of the 12 destinations will be the fan favorite. From Wednesday, Feb. 3 to Sunday, Feb. 28, any legal resident of the United States, 18 years or older, can vote as often as they like for their favorite city or town on this year’s list. The winner of the popular vote will be announced on March 1.  Voters will be automatically entered to win a complimentary two-night stay at any Historic Hotel of America.

The other distinctive destinations for 2010 are:

* Cedar Falls, Iowa – “With recreational activities ranging from kayaking on the Cedar River to shopping on its acclaimed Main Street, Cedar Falls delightfully connects a dynamic downtown with its natural surroundings.”

* St. Louis, Mo. – “Destination highlights are nestled among the historic brick buildings that line St. Louis’ cobblestone streets, proving the city lives up to its iconic status as the gateway to the west.”

* Marquette, Mich. – “Named one of the 100 best art towns in America, cosmopolitan Marquette offers wonderful views of the Lake Superior waterfront and an equally enchanting downtown.”

* Fort Collins, Colo. – “The great Rocky Mountains overlook the thriving businesses of Fort Collins’ Old Town Square – a vibrant area that so epitomizes the ideal of a bustling American main street that it was actually used as a model for Main Street, USA at Disneyland.”

* Provincetown, Mass. – “This New England seaport town, site of the 1620 signing of the Mayflower Compact, positions fabulous galleries and restaurants next to National Seashore dunes and beaches.”

* Simsbury, Conn. – “This quintessential small town appeals to the heritage traveler with its top-rated restaurants, historic sites and parks, and real working farms that produce everything from wine to sweet corn to homemade ice cream.”

* Chestnut Hill, Pa. – “Enjoying a unique combination of colonial and modern history, Chestnut Hill features historic homes ranging from Federal to Modernist, a boutique shopping district, and recreational opportunities at nearby Wissahickon Valley Park.”

* Huntsville, Ala. – “Still preserving the largest collection of antebellum homes in Alabama, Huntsville has grown from its deep southern roots to become America’s space capital.”

* The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail, Va. – “The Crooked Road celebrates the region’s rich Appalachian heritage, weaving together quaint historic districts that share a past steeped in a uniquely American music culture.”

* Bastrop, Texas – “Only 30 minutes from downtown Austin, Bastrop takes visitors back in time with traditional Texas charm and historic buildings set along the banks of the Colorado River.”

* Sitka, Alaska – “Sitka prides itself on its diverse cultural heritage and offers a glimpse of a unique chapter of American history, while the extraordinary wilderness in its backyard beckons visitors to explore the largest temperate rainforest in the world.”

There are 132 distinctive destinations located in 46 states throughout the country. To see a complete list and to vote for the 2010 fan favorite destination, visit www.PreservationNation.org/ddd