November is here and ready or not, the holiday travel season is upon us, starting with Thanksgiving in just a few weeks. Since so many people travel for the holidays, I enjoy diving into our data at Hotwire to get an idea of where Americans are booking hotels.
Looking at this year’s top 10 most popular destinations, it appears Americans are headed to a mix of coastal destinations and bigger cities to enjoy their breaks. But don’t let the popularity of these destinations fool you into thinking you won’t be able to find great deals. Since Thanksgiving tends to be a day trip for many people, and overnight travelers often stay with family, hotel rooms are left empty during this time. As a result, hotels drop prices and travelers looking to get a good deal are likely to score an excellent value.
Here are the top 10 U.S. cities that Americans are visiting this Thanksgiving:
1. New York City, New York
When it comes to world-famous Thanksgiving events, it doesn’t get any bigger than the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This year, the spectacle will celebrate its 87th anniversary, and it’s always one of the reasons why New York is the most famous tourist destination for the holiday. Of course, the city has much more to offer during Thanksgiving, including delicious world-class cuisine and hundreds of shops that are sure to fulfill the needs of even the most dedicated Black Friday raiders. While New York tops our list in popularity, travelers can still find affordable hotel rooms over Thanksgiving, particularly at the last minute. In fact, those willing to wait until the week of arrival can also use mobile apps like our Hotwire app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch to find great last-minute hotel deals (up to 60 percent off). Another piece of insight to keep in mind is that last year, Hurricane Sandy caused 30 hotels to shut down, but this year they’re open for business and keeping prices low to keep occupancy high.
Sample Deal: $157 per night for a 3.5-star hotel in Downtown - SoHo - Financial District area for stays 11/27 – 11/30/13.
2. Chicago, Illinois
Chicago is the second most popular city and due to a shifted conference schedule this year, it’s experiencing big price drops for which to be thankful. Not to be outdone by New York, Chicago has its own Thanksgiving Day celebration – the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade. It brings thousands of spectators to State Street in Downtown Chicago, boasting larger-than-life floats, marching bands and enough holiday pageantry to make any Midwest trip worthwhile. Besides the parade, visitors can also make the most of the festive holiday spirit with a visit to Chicago’s Christkindlmarket, which opens Thanksgiving week and is currently the largest German Christmas outside of Europe.
Sample Deal: $73 per night for a 4-star hotel in McCormick Place – South Loop – Soldier Field area for stays 11/27 – 11/30/13.
3. Las Vegas, Nevada
Thanksgiving weekend is also one of the best times of year to see the neon lights of Las Vegas. And with shoulder season beginning in mid-November and plenty of higher-star hotels to choose from, travelers are sure to find luxurious rooms at low prices. Additionally, Las Vegas is home to world-renowned chefs and restaurants, so visitors can get a delicious, classic Thanksgiving meal—just be sure to make a reservation ahead of time.
Sample Deal: $95 per night for a 5-star hotel in The Strip - South area for stays 11/27 – 11/30/13.
4. Orlando, Florida
Like Las Vegas, Orlando might not be the first destination that comes to mind when you think of Thanksgiving, but with its countless family-friendly attractions, the city is always a popular travel spot during a school break. But Orlando has been on our radar all year for low prices and even with the regular boost from the break, it still isn’t in its peak travel months, so visitors should have no trouble finding a great deal. Thanksgiving visitors to Orlando can enjoy their long weekend at one of the many theme parks, including the Walt Disney World Resort, which begins its spectacular holiday festivities – including nightly fake snow – earlier in the month.
Sample Deal: $61 per night for a 4-star hotel in Downtown Orlando area for stays 11/27 – 11/30/13.
5. Los Angeles, California
Kicking off a three-city run of popular California destinations, Los Angeles comes in at number five and offers a wide variety of activities to fulfill autumn dreams for all kinds of travelers. In prime L.A. fashion, Pershing Square’s annual “Downtown on Ice” event gives visitors the best of all worlds: with Downtown Los Angeles as a backdrop, tourists can ice skate in the temperate California air amid festive lights and holiday music. While hotel prices are slightly up from last year, there are still deals to be had, particularly for those who can wait until the last minute to book.
Sample Deal: $74 per night for a 4-star hotel in Redondo Beach – Hermosa Beach area for stays 11/27 – 11/30/13.
6. San Diego, California
Just a couple hours’ drive from the L.A. glamor is San Diego – a lively beach destination that offers coastal beauty along with some unique Thanksgiving activities. The city is also showing lower prices during Thanksgiving to try and lure travelers from other Southern California cities like Anaheim, the home of Disneyland. Visitors who don’t need a homemade turkey dinner can enjoy a gourmet Thanksgiving feast at the famous Hotel Del Coronado. The iconic beachside hotel is as majestic as ever in November, and is the perfect place to get a robust meal with family and friends. Visitors who are in a charitable and active Thanksgiving mood can take part in Father Joe’s Thanksgiving Day 5K – a Balboa Park run/walk whose proceeds go toward provide meals for those in need.
Sample Deal: $82 per night for a 4.5-star hotel in Gaslamp Quarter North – Horton Plaza area for stays 11/27 – 11/30/13.
7. San Francisco, California
As the northernmost California city on this list, San Francisco is the chilliest of the trio, with an average November high of about 63 degrees. While this is still considered warm in comparison to many other destinations, the cool weather makes for a unique getaway, with the Bay Area fog setting up the beautiful and surreal autumn scenery. On the day after Thanksgiving, visitors can enjoy one of the city’s most spectacular lighting displays by taking part in the Macy's 24th Annual Tree Lighting event in Union Square. Like Los Angeles, prices have risen in San Francisco over the past year. However, the holidays are one of the few times conventions are not in town and you can score a great fall deal. Again, a last-minute booking strategy tends to work best in this city.
Sample Deal: $91 per night for a 3.5-star hotel in Financial District – Embarcadero area for stays 11/27 – 11/30/13.
8. London, England
Though it may seem a bit out of place for a “traditional” Thanksgiving, London comes in as the number eight most popular destination for the holiday. This is no surprise considering the great deals the city is currently offering. London also has a slew of offerings for the November traveler, including festive lights in preparation for the Christmas season and the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland for visitors who want to get a head start on the month of December. Pair those activities with lower than normal hotel prices, and travelers have a recipe for a great holiday getaway.
Sample Deal: $105 per night for a 4-star hotel in Kensington - Earls Court area for stays 11/27 – 11/30/13.
9. Miami, Florida
As yet another Florida-based—and seemingly unorthodox—Thanksgiving getaway, Miami is actually a great shoulder season destination where travelers can find affordable rooms. And with an average high of 80 degrees and lows rarely reaching far under 70, visitors can easily spend their days ocean-side. For a quintessential Miami trip, travelers should be sure to take a detour from their Thanksgiving feasts and take a dip in popular spots like Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park or the world-famous South Beach.
Sample Deal: $110 per night for a 4-star hotel in Downtown Miami area for stays 11/27 – 11/30/13.
10. Boston, Massachusetts
It may be number 10 on the list, but there are not many better places to celebrate a New England holiday than Boston. The holiday really comes alive with the city’s crisp air, clear days and rich American history. Plus, Boston is showing great hotel deals over Thanksgiving due to slower business travel in the surrounding weeks. Visitors to The Hub can pay a visit to Plimoth Plantation – the place where Thanksgiving traditions all began. This historic Pilgrim site holds its own Thanksgiving dinner event for a truly authentic holiday experience.
Sample Deal: $99 per night for a 4-star hotel in Boston Common - Theatre District area for stays 11/27 – 11/30/13.
The ten most popular Thanksgiving destinations are based on bookings made on Hotwire.com 8/28 –10/28/13, for stays 11/26 – 11/30/13. Hotel sample rates are based on searches made on Hotwire.com on 11/5/13 for stays 11/27 – 11/30/13.