2018 Labor Day Travel Trends

Labor Day weekend marks the last big vacation before the kids return to school, the end of summer fun, and the leaves start to change. This year, vacationers plan to seize the last gasp of summer by hitting the beaches and visiting major cities across the country, unlike last year when they ventured to the mountains to cool off.

In 2017, TurnKey Vacation Rentals found the Rocky Mountains and Shenandoah Valley to be the top Labor Day weekend destinations; this year, folks across the country plan to visit major metropolitan areas, such as Chicago—which topped this year’s list—and coastal hotspots such as San Diego and Myrtle Beach.

Here are the top 10 Labor Day weekend destinations of 2018:

Top 10 Labor Day Weekend Destinations

1. Chicago, IL
2. San Diego, CA
3. Myrtle Beach, SC
4. Los Angeles, CA
5. Miami, FL
6. Denver, CO
7. Maui, HI
8. Maine
9. Yosemite, CA
10. Hilton Head, SC

  

Along with the most popular vacation destinations nationwide, TurnKey also identified where travelers from each state will be headed (see chart below). While national statistics show people traveling to far away locations, such as Hawaii and Yosemite, individual state data suggests that many plan to make shorter treks for the long weekend.

While some states, such as Tennessee, South Dakota, and Hawaii, are more likely to stay in-state for Labor Day weekend, other states plan to be more adventurous. People in Idaho, for example, searched most for Hawaiian islands in August. In fact, Hawaii was one of the most searched for states across the country, despite being the fourth smallest state. States including Arizona, Connecticut, Kentucky, and Nebraska didn’t have any in-state destinations within their top three search trends. No other state planned to visit Alaska and only one state, Wyoming, included a Texas city in their top three searches, despite the two states being the largest in the country.

  

State By State Labor Day Weekend Travel Destinations

State 1 2 3
Alabama Las Vegas, NV Maui, HI Hilton Head, SC
Alaska Juneau, AK Maui, HI Portland, OR
Arizona Chicago, IL Palm Springs, CA Nashville, TN
Arkansas Chicago, IL Yosemite, CA Biloxi, MI
California Maui, HI Santa Barbara, CA Orlando, FL
Colorado Denver, CO Aspen, CO Kauai, HI
Connecticut Myrtle Beach, SC Cape Cod, MA Chicago, IL
Delaware Bethany Beach, DE Lewes, DE Wilmington, NC
Florida Fort Lauderdale, FL San Diego, CA Yosemite, CA
Georgia Gatlinburg, TN Asheville, NC Yosemite, CA
Hawaii Oahu, HI Kauai, HI Oahu, HI
Idaho Denver, CO Kauai, HI Oahu, HI
Illinois Chicago, IL Maui, HI Seattle, WA
Indiana Maine Kauai, HI Portland, OR
Iowa Des Moines, IA Denver, CO New York City, NY
Kansas Chicago, IL Denver, CO Savannah, GA
Kentucky Gatlinburg, TN Denver, CO Yosemite, CA
Louisiana Atlanta, GA Gatlinburg, TN Nashville, TN
Maine Portland, ME Bar Harbor, ME Portland, OR
Maryland New York City, NY Rehoboth, DE Orange County, CA
Massachusetts Martha’s Vineyard, MA Myrtle Beach, SC Yosemite, CA
Michigan Grand Rapids, MI Denver, CO San Diego, CA
Minnesota Duluth, MN Chicago, IL San Diego, CA
Mississippi Atlanta, GA San Diego, CA Chattanooga, TN
Missouri Kansas City, MO Seattle, WA Nashville, TN
Montana Bozeman, TN Portland, OR New York City, NY
Nebraska Branson, MO Maui, HI Maine
Nevada Yosemite, CA Seattle, WA Salt Lake City, UT
New Hampshire Portsmouth, NH Orlando, FL White Mountain, NH
New Jersey New York City, NY Atlantic City, Chicago, IL
New Mexico Albuquerque, NM Taos, NM Oahu, HI
New York Yosemite, CA Cape Cod, MA Hilton Head, SC
North Carolina Asheville, NC Pigeon Forge, TN Austin, TX
North Dakota Minneapolis, MN Chicago, IL Duluth, MN
Ohio Gatlinburg, TN Denver, CO Yosemite, CA
Oklahoma Tulsa, OK Gatlinburg, TN Portland, OR
Oregon Portland, OR Bend, OR Cannon Beach, OR
Pennsylvania Maine Cape May, NJ Poconos Mountains, PA
Rhode Island Block Island, RI Narragansett, RI Cape Cod, MA
South Carolina Myrtle Beach, SC Isle of Palms, SC Maui, HI
South Dakota Rapid City, SD Sioux Falls, SD Deadwood, SD
Tennessee Nashville, TN Gatlinburg, TN Chattanooga, TN
Texas Houston, TX Las Vegas, NV Seattle, WA
Utah Yosemite, CA Los Angeles, CA Orlando, FL
Vermont Stowe, VT Cape Cod, MA Los Angeles, CA
Virginia Rehoboth, DE Yosemite, CA Asheville, NC
Washington Seattle, WA Maui, HI Cannon Beach, OR
West Virginia Nashville, TN Los Angeles, CA Tybee Island, GA
Wisconsin Milwaukee, WI New York City, NY San Diego, CA
Wyoming Bozeman, MT Yosemite, CA Austin, TX

Research Methodology

To find the top 10 national Labor Day destinations, we compared how each destination performed on Google Trends from July 29 to August 9 in the United States. People should begin to book their plans for Labor Day at least two weeks before the holiday.

To find the top Labor Day destination per state, we analyzed Google Search Data from Aug. 9, 2017 to Aug. 9, 2018 to find average search values for each destination over the time period. We made a list of destinations whose peak search times fell within the first two weeks of August 2018. Then we compared those destinations’ search popularity between July 29, 2018 and Aug. 9, 2018 to rank the three most relatively popular destinations per state. We also compared our top destinations with last year’s to see which destinations from last year were still top performers.

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