The train station at the entrance of Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
Falling on the last Thursday of November, Thanksgiving is the second most important holiday of the year in the United States. It is also one of the busiest travel periods. Check out this year's top 10 Thanksgiving travel destinations.
Americans are on the move, with an estimated 50.9 million people expected to travel at least 50 miles to spend their 2017 Thanksgiving weekend away from home.
While airplanes, buses, and trains will be far more crowded than usual, the overwhelming majority of American will travel by car to their Thanksgiving travel destinations.
Amusement parks – such as Walt Disney World and Disneyland- are proving the biggest draw for holiday travelers this year. The sibling theme parks came in first and second in a top 10 list prepared by the American Automobile Association (AAA).
Beach resorts accounted for fully one half of the top 10 travel hot spots on AAA's list: two are in Hawaii, one is in Florida, one is in Mexico, and one is in the Dominican Republic.
New York, New York, came in third; Las Vegas, Nevada, came in fifth; and San Francisco, California, came in eighth.
Where to Spend Thanksgiving
1. Orlando, Florida – home to Disney World and Epcot Center, Orlando, Florida, will attract the largest number of Thanksgiving travelers in 2017.
2. Anaheim, California – home to the original Disneyland, Anaheim, California, will attract the second largest number of Thanksgiving travelers in 2017.
3. New York, New York – so nice, they named it twice. With its Broadway shows, the Nutcrackers at Lincoln Center, ice-skating at Rockefeller Center, and those fabulous department stores along Fifth Avenue, the Big Apple comes in third with holiday travelers. How about taking a ride through Central Park in a horse-drawn carriage?
4. Honolulu, Hawaii – for those in search of sun, sand, and surf, you can't beat the Aloha State, and the state capital of Honolulu – with its dramatic landscape and near perfect waves – comes in fourth. Mele Kalikimaka, as the Hawaiians would say!
5. Las Vegas, Nevada – with its sprawling casinos, lavish floor shows, and sumptuous buffets, Sin City has never-ending appeal. It might be too hot in summer, with those 100 degree-plus temps, but this time of year, the weather is just right.
6. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic – with its 32 kilometres of beach, La Costa del Coco, or the Coconut Coast, offers all-inclusive resorts, zip-lining, windsurfing, kayaking, and sailing – plus a chance to practise your Spanish!
7. Cancun, Mexico – known as the Mayan Riviera, Cancun also offers sun, sand, surf – and another chance to practise your Spanish!
8. San Francisco, California – everyone has a right to love two cities, their hometown and San Francisco. Find out why with a trip to the City by the Bay!
9. Maui, Hawaii – less crowded than Oahu, Maui – with its wider beaches and more laid back ambiance – has its loyal addicts, who insist, "Maui no ka oi!"
10. Fort Lauderdale, Florida – famous for the massive influx of college students that descend on its sandy beaches during Easter Week, a.k.a. Spring Break, some kids just can't wait.
Second Most Important Holiday
Thanksgiving is the second most important holiday in the United States after Christmas. It is often thought of as the beginning of the holiday season, which culminates on New Year's Day.
Traditionally, Americans held family reunions, and sumptuous dinners – in which turkey played the leading role – were a highlight of the day. And calorific dinners were followed by yet more calorific desserts.
Thanksgiving falls on the last Thursday of November. The following day is also a holiday, giving most Americans a rare four-day weekend.
But many people think of the Friday after Thanksgiving as "Black Friday" because department stores and other retail outlets have big sales in a bid to jump-start the gift-buying season. Exchanging gifts at Christmas is yet another important American tradition.
While Americans traditionally either stayed home or traveled home to spend Thanksgiving with family or friends, it is becoming more and more popular for Americans to take advantage of the four days off school or work to visit popular travel destinations.
If they take Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday off work, they can end up with nine-day holiday for the price of three.