Las Vegas Ranked Third-Most Popular Thanksgiving Destination After Disney, AAA Says

Posted on: November 18, 2022, 02:22h. 

Last updated on: November 21, 2022, 12:19h.

Las Vegas is one of the most popular US destinations for Thanksgiving holiday travel, the AAA recently reported. It only ranks after Disneyworld and Disneyland.

A traditional Thanksgiving meal
A traditional Thanksgiving meal, pictured above. Las Vegas is ranked third as a US travel destination for the upcoming holiday. (Image: The Venetian)

Orlando, Flo., ranks as the top destination. Disneyland’s Anaheim, Calif., ranked second. New York City came in fourth.

Overall, close to 55 million travelers are expected in the US during the Thanksgiving vacation period, according to AAA. That increase of 1.5% over 2021 represents 98% of pre-pandemic travel levels. The travel period runs from Wednesday, Nov. 23, to Sunday, Nov. 27.

About 4.5 million people are predicted to fly over the period. That is a nearly 8% increase over 2021. And nearly 49 million people are expected to travel by car.

Average nightly holiday prices for Las Vegas hotels are about half of those for Orlando or Anaheim. The AAA estimated prices for Las Vegas hotels at $319 per night.

Busy Airports, Highways Predicted

But the upcoming holidays could be busy for spots like Vegas, and that more travel could mean longer lines at airports and congested roads.

“The upcoming holiday is projected to be one of the busiest for travel in the past two decades,” Brian Ng, senior vice president of membership and travel marketing for AAA Nevada, said in a statement. “Planning ahead will go a long way toward alleviating holiday travel stress.”

The projections are welcome news for Lori Nelson-Kraft, senior vice president of communications of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA).

Las Vegas offers an unparalleled entertainment experience that can’t be replicated anywhere else. We see holidays as another opportunity to host visitors as we not only continue to offer 24/7 non-stop fun, but our resorts also infuse the holiday spirit in all they do,” she told

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Las Vegas fully recovered its leisure visitation and has recovered a significant portion of its business visitation, with all conventions and meetings convening again, she said.

“We’ve also seen a good return of our international visitation, with all of the international flights from our key markets restored,” Nelson-Kraft said.

Stephen M. Miller, director of research at the UNLV Center for Business and Economic Research, notes that Las Vegas relies heavily on travel and tourism to support economic activity.

Visitor volume, gross gaming revenue, occupancy rates, and Harry Reid airport passenger volume fell to nearly zero during the COVID-19 pandemic, Miller noted.

Vegas Travel Continues to Rebound

The climb back from the shutdown, however, occurred in starts and stops of several months’ duration, Miller said.

He notes that a new player in the local tourism economy is “sports entertainment.”

The Las Vegas Golden Knights and the Las Vegas Raiders provide pro sports, as does the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The Formula 1 race in 2023 and the Super Bowl in 2024 are upcoming.

But Miller points out that visitor volume, gross gaming revenue, occupancy rates, and Harry Reid International Airport passenger volume have been falling for the past four or five months.

“Whether this will precede a downturn or is only a temporary pause in economic activity, time will tell,” Miller added.

The Rev. Richard McGowan, a finance professor at Boston College who closely follows gambling trends, said the AAA projections confirm Las Vegas’ strategy of providing every sort of entertainment.

It makes Vegas a place where the entire family can come,” McGowan told “Clearly, this is a real boost to the Vegas economy when families will come over a holiday period.”

Thanksgiving and Christmas are normally very slow days for casinos, according to McGowan.