Top 10 USA Destinations for Thanksgiving Travel in 2021

Travel is creeping back as more people are craving a return to normal. It’s showing in their current booking choices for Thanksgiving Travel for 2021.

The lessor known places and natural escapes are being replaced by urban explorations.

Griffith Park, LA
Griffith Park, LA

We’ve decided to keep with our theme of nature escapes for our family holiday travel. We have booked a cabin in Boone, in the North Carolina Mountains. It will be the first time the girls have been to this area.

Craig and I briefly explored Boone way back in 2005, so please leave a comment below with any of your tips for this region? We can’t wait to share our content with you.

Allianz Travel Insurance recently shared with me their Top 10 Thanksgiving Destination Index compiled using data from more than two million travel itineraries booked through Allianz Travel partners around the Thanksgiving holiday for round-trip flights departing from USA airports from Saturday, November 20 to Thursday, November 25, and returning Friday, November 26 to Tuesday, November 30.

Since we have a lot of useful content on most of these destinations, we thought we’d share these hottest domestic USA travel destinations for Thanksgiving 2021.

Before you go, read up on our Holiday Travel Tips and understand travel is different now and you need to do thorough research so you know what current conditions and requirements are.

New York City, NY

Christmas in New York
New York City dreaming

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is obviously stirring up wanderlust in people’s heart!

Good news is that Thanksgiving travel in New York City will also probably give you glimpses of the magic of Christmas in New York as the decorations and good tidings slowly start to appear.

New York City is an exciting destination for any kind of traveler, with an energy unlike any other city in the USA. It deserves hours spent lingering in cafes, neighborhood communities, museums and star attractions.

NYC is full of iconic attractions – most of which are unique, involve gorgeous views, and so worth doing. Plus, it has those more local experiences you love as well. There is no city like it in the world.

For most people 3 days in New York is all they can afford or have time for, which makes a Thanksgiving break the perfect choice. As we’re still coming out of the pandemic, you can expect to have less crowds than before 2020 travel.

NYC travel tips:

TOP TIP: The New York Sightseeing Pass is phenomenal value and will save you money on many top attractions and local experiences. We’ve used it several times and love it.

New York City Videos

Press play to see videos of our travels to New York for extra inspiration. You can subscribe to our YouTube channel here.

Seattle, WA

Things to do in Seattle with kids
We love Seattle

Starbucks. Amazon. Microsoft. Costco. Boeing. Pearl Jam. Nirvana. Just a few things Seattle, Washington is famous for producing.

How can one city produce so many great things? Because Seattle is cool. Uniquely cool.

After spending four days exploring the city in-depth, Seattle is now one of our favorite USA cities, and one of our top places to visit in Washington State.

You’ll find some of the best art, culture, music, coffee and spectacular views in the country. Plus it is surrounded by many extraordinary places of natural beauty like Mount Rainier, Olympic National Park, and North Cascades National Park.

READ OUR Ultimate Guide of Cool Things to Do in Seattle with Kids and our Seattle Itinerary for 2, 3, or 4 days.

TOP TIP: The Seattle City Pass is worth getting if you want to visit Seattle’s top attractions. It will save you money.

Boston, MA

Boston Common
Strolling Boston Common

Another city high on the list of our favorite cities in the USA is Boston, Massachusetts, a city of firsts and superlatives!

On the list of firsts in America: public park, public school, printing press, newspaper, post office, police force, subway, first full face transplant, chocolate factory, anti-public smoking law, UFO sighting, and brothel.

Travelers for Thanksgiving this year agree. Don’t let the slightly colder temps deter you from exploring the incredible history, culture and uniquely European feel of Boston.

Our top tips for you

TOP TIP: Another city pass that has helped us save money on our travel is the Boston City Pass helping you save 47% on the top 4 Boston attractions.

Boston travel videos

Check out our videos from our Boston trip!

Atlanta, GA

Atlanta travel 2021 thanksgiving
The skyline of Atlanta, Georgia | Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

It’s been years since we’ve visited Atlanta, Georgia, and it was before we had kids. I’m interested to explore and see just why it’s the only US city on this years Lonely Planets list for 2022 travel.

It made the list in part for it’s sustainability efforts with lush green spaces found across the city, its inclusivity, and invigorated arts, music and food scene.

Historical Atlanta is worth visiting to get a greater understanding of eras such as the civil war and the Civil rights movement. Outside of the city we loved Stone Mountain Park and a little further out Amicalola Falls makes an incredible day trip and is one of our favorite waterfalls in the US.

If you live in the Southeast, I suggest you take a road trip to Atlanta rather than deal with one of the USA’s biggest airports during the Thanksgiving holidays!

READ MORE: places to visit on a Southeast USA road trip.

Dallas- Fort Wort, TX

dallas skyline
That famous Dallas Skyline | Credit: Deposit Photos

We all know everything is bigger in Texas, and Dallas sticks with those bigger than experiences.

Melt-in-your-mouth Brisket, big league sports, bustling art scene, cultural vibrancy, outdoor fun, interesting history and affordability make Dallas and nearby Fort Worth a worthy destination to check out.

It’s not a destination we’ve spent a lot of time in, choosing instead to drive on out of the city hustle to nearby regions to explore. That might be something you’re interested in doing as well.

Our following posts will help:

Los Angeles, CA

Tips on things to do in Los Angeles with kids
Manhattan Beach

While it’s not our favorite city in the US, Los Angeles California does have a lot of hidden secrets and cool experiences once you dig a little deeper.

Los Angeles County is the most populous county in the USA and the third largest metropolitan economy in the world. It has 88 incorporated cities and each city in LA has its own culture, experiences and local flavors to experience.

We suggest for your Thanksgiving vacation to LA that you swap Santa Monica for Manhattan Beach, Hollywood for Downtown LA, and explore the magic of Malibu State Park and Griffith Park.

You’ll appreciate soaking up those blue skies and warmer temperatures with places of such natural beauty.

These posts will help you plan a memorable trip to Los Angeles:

TOP TIP: The Los Angeles City pass is a fun one. Not only does it save you money, but you’ll find cool LA experiences like our Melrose Ave selfie tour – one of our favorites yet. We have the best family photos from that tour!

Los Angeles Videos

We discovered so many cool things to do in Los Angeles with our kids. Press play to see them all!

Phoenix, AZ

phoenix arizona
Phoenix Arizona | Credit: Deposit Photos

Phoenix’s warm, dry climate is the perfect Thanksgiving break to escape those encroaching cooler temperatures – or to extend those summer ones for just a little longer.

The city offers abundant arts and cultural attractions, historic neighborhoods, as well as shopping, golf, dining, and an outstanding selection of resorts and hotels.

There’s also a local Phoenix Turkey Trot that features a costume contest.

Phoenix Arizona is also a great Thanksgiving destination for its proximity to the stunning regions of Tucson and Sedona. We tend to drive through Phoenix to go straight to the national parks, hikes and stunning vistas you can find there!

Posts to help you plan your getaways from Phoenix:

Orlando, FL

Universal Studios Orlando Tips - drink ALL the Butterbeer
Fun at Harry Potter World!

Of course, the Mouse is back in the House, so who wouldn’t want to go to Orlando for Thanksgiving?

The theme parks will definitely be putting on that holiday cheer you need after a long, painful pandemic. I’ll take one of every kind of butter beer offering thanks!

As we start to climb out of the pandemic, there probably isn’t a better time to visit the theme parks. Travel still has not returned to crazy busy levels, so you should encounter a quieter park experience. I did say SHOULD.

We love the buzzy, vacation spirit in Orlando that is full of lakes, gardens, fun attractions and a thriving food scene. It’s location makes it quite central to many other great places in Florida to visit.

Orlando travel tips:

Video: Top 5 Tips for Universal Orlando Resort

SAVE MONEY AND TIME with these tips

Chicago, IL

wills tower chicago
Willis Tower Chicago

Another great USA destination for Thanksgiving is Chicago, Illinois.

Craig and I actually visited for Thanksgiving in 2004 – our first ever. We had a blast exploring the major Chicago attractions, museums, sky tower views, eating Chicago pizza to stay warm, Thanksgiving parades and the lighting of their tree.

It was however possibly the coldest I have ever been with that wind blowing off Lake Michigan. You will need to pack your bags!

Chicago is a fantastic destination for arts and culture so soak it up. At times, I feel I like it better than New York. Kalyra and I visited on a mother daughter trip during St Patrick’s Day – it was fantastic! (USA Bucket List check!)

Chicago tips:

CHICAGO CITY PASS will help you save 50% at the Top 5 Chicago attractions. Kalyra and I used this pass and loved it!

Video: Chicago Getaway

Check out the fun we had on our getaway to Chicago.

Detroit, MI

detroit michigan
Detroit Skyline | Credit Deposit Photos

We all know the Motor City dwindled down to a put put not so long ago, but its engines are revving again. New cultural experiences and revitalized neighborhoods are helping to bring tourists back.

Detroit is Michigan’s largest city and sits on the Detroit River, which connects Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair.

It’s vibrating with a growing raveable food scene, exciting music and arts culture giving Motown its groove back.

You’ll appreciate how the hipsters have taken over the city, transforming its abandoned buildings into distilleries, bike shops and galleries.

Of all the Thanksgiving destinations on this list, Detroit will be that lessor known experience you crave.

What about International Destinations for Thanksgiving?

London travel
London | Credit: Deposit Photos

Not surprising, the hottest destination for international travel for Thanksgiving 2021 includes multiple beach destinations in Mexico:

  • Cancun
  • San Jose Del Cabo
  • Puerto Vallarta

and the Caribbean:

  • Montego Bay, Jamaica
  • Oranjestad, Aruba
  • Nassau, Bahamas
  • Punta Cana
  • Dominican Republic
  • Providenciales, Turks and Caicos.

AND, Poking its head up in 4th place is London, and in 8th place is Paris showing that people are ready to set their sights further afield.

I so hope we can see both of those European cities in summer 2022. We’re just not ready to deal with the hassle of international travel just yet.

And if you want to escape the Thanksgiving holiday crowds, now you know where NOT to go!

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Comment: What are your Thanksgiving plans? Are you doing any holiday travel? Why and where?

2 thoughts on “Top 10 USA Destinations for Thanksgiving Travel in 2021”

  1. We’re traveling the opposite direction from your trip – from San Diego to Morrisville, NC (our daughter and granddaughters live there, not far from the RDU airport).

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