When to Leave on Your Thanksgiving Drive


Worst: Wednesday at 3 p.m. If you have to travel that day, leave by 5 a.m. to avoid the worst of it.

Return Traffic

Best: Friday at 6 a.m. Try to avoid driving around 4 p.m., when the traffic is the most congested.

Worst: Saturday at 4 p.m. If you have to travel that day, leave by 6 a.m. to avoid the worst of it.

Airport Traffic

You’ll hit less traffic before noon or after 4 p.m.

Trending Destinations

How badly do you want that $5 Blu-ray player? “Outlet mall” searches point to heavy bargain-hunting on Thursday and Friday. Searches for “animal shelter” are also high on Friday, which is great news for animals needing new homes.

Chicago

Photo

View looking east from the 41st floor of the Kemper Building in Chicago.

Credit
Michelle Litvin for The New York Times

Departure Traffic

Best: Sunday at 6 a.m. Try to avoid driving around 5 p.m., when the traffic is the most congested.

Worst: Wednesday at 5 p.m. If you have to travel that day, leave by 7 a.m. to avoid the worst of it.

Return Traffic

Best: Friday at 6 a.m. Try to avoid driving around 4 p.m., when the traffic is the most congested.

Worst: Saturday at 4 p.m. If you have to travel that day, leave by 6 a.m. to avoid the worst of it.

Airport Traffic

The only time to avoid O’Hare is if you’re coming from Milwaukee around 3 p.m. Otherwise, it should be business as usual.

Trending Destinations

Chicagoans love to party on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, with “night club” topping the list. That might explain why “Mongolian BBQ restaurant” is tops on Thanksgiving. Who feels like cooking at that point?

Cleveland

Departure Traffic

Best: Sunday at 6 a.m. Try to avoid driving around 3 p.m., when the traffic is the most congested.

Worst: Wednesday at 3 p.m. If you have to travel that day, leave by 6 a.m. to avoid the worst of it.

Return Traffic

Best: Friday at 6 a.m. Try to avoid driving around 2 p.m., when the traffic is the most congested.

Worst: Saturday at 4 p.m. If you have to travel that day, leave by 6 a.m. to avoid the worst of it.

Trending Destinations

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has free admission on Thanksgiving, which may explain why “zoo” is the top-searched destination on turkey day.

Houston

Photo

Buffalo Bayou Park, with running and bike trails, dog parks and playgrounds, leading to downtown Houston.

Credit
Michael Stravato for The New York Times

Departure Traffic

Best: Sunday at 6 a.m. Try to avoid driving around 3 p.m., when the traffic is the most congested.

Worst: Wednesday at 3 p.m. If you have to travel that day, leave by 8 a.m. to avoid the worst of it.

Return Traffic

Best: Friday at 6 a.m. Try to avoid driving around 4 p.m., when the traffic is the most congested.

Worst: Saturday at 4 p.m. If you have to travel that day, leave by 6 a.m. to avoid the worst of it.

Trending Destinations

Pies and parades rule Houston Thanksgiving week, with “pie shop” being the most searched for term on Wednesday and “city hall” on Thursday, which points to Houston’s 67th annual Thanksgiving Day Parade. This year’s marshalls are Simone Biles and Simone Manuel.

Los Angeles

Departure Traffic

Best: Sunday at 6 a.m. Try to avoid driving around 5 p.m., when the traffic is the most congested.

Worst: Wednesday at 5 p.m. If you have to travel that day, leave by 6 a.m. to avoid the worst of it.

Return Traffic

Best: Friday at 6 a.m. Try to avoid driving around 4 p.m., when the traffic is the most congested.

Worst: Saturday at 4 p.m. If you have to travel that day, leave by 6 a.m. to avoid the worst of it.

Airport Traffic

Arrive before 3 p.m. or leave after 10 p.m. to avoid the worst of it. Anyone leaving on a red-eye around 10 p.m. can expect a trip twice as long.

Trending Destinations

When I think of Los Angeles, ham shops always come to mind. No, not really, but “ham shop” is what people are looking for the most on the day before Thanksgiving. Is turkey not a thing in Los Angeles?

Miami

Photo

Casa Claridge’s Hotel in Miami Beach.

Credit
Moris Moreno for The New York Times

Departure Traffic

Best: Sunday at 6 a.m. Try to avoid driving around 3 p.m., when the traffic is the most congested.

Worst: Wednesday at 4 p.m. If you have to travel that day, leave by 6 a.m. to avoid the worst of it.

Return Traffic

Best: Friday at 6 a.m. Try to avoid driving around 2 p.m., when the traffic is the most congested.

Worst: Saturday at 4 p.m. If you have to travel that day, leave by 6 a.m. to avoid the worst of it.

Trending Destinations

Where’s the buffet? Buzzed Miamians want to know. “Buffet restaurants” and “liquor store” are the top two search terms on Thanksgiving day.

New York

Photo

View of the Manhattan skyline from Brooklyn.

Credit
Demetrius Freeman for The New York Times

Departure Traffic

Best: Sunday at 5 a.m. Try to avoid driving around 4 p.m., when the traffic is the most congested.

Worst: Wednesday at 3 p.m. If you have to travel that day, leave by 6 a.m. to avoid the worst of it.

Return Traffic

Best: Friday at 6 a.m. Try to avoid driving around 2 p.m., when the traffic is the most congested.

Worst: Saturday at 3 p.m. If you have to travel that day, leave by 6 a.m. to avoid the worst of it.

Airport Traffic

From Manhattan, arrive before 6 p.m. or the commute could be twice as long.

Trending Destinations

Many are wondering if the “natural history museum” is open on Thanksgiving, but not as many who are looking for a “pie shop,” which is the top term on Wednesday and Thursday. And, of course, that classic Thanksgiving tradition of dining at a “fondue restaurant” is represented with the second-highest search term on Thursday. I think we can all remember our first fondue-related Thanksgiving memory quite well.

Philadelphia

Departure Traffic

Best: Sunday at 6 a.m. Try to avoid driving around 3 p.m., when the traffic is the most congested.

Worst: Wednesday at 3 p.m. If you have to travel that day, leave by 7 a.m. to avoid the worst of it.

Return Traffic

Best: Friday at 6 a.m. Try to avoid driving around 4 p.m., when the traffic is the most congested.

Worst: Saturday at 4 p.m. If you have to travel that day, leave by 6 a.m. to avoid the worst of it.

Trending Destinations

Nothing out of the ordinary here, with “electronics store,” “liquor store” and “appliance store” topping the list.

Phoenix

Departure Traffic

Best: Sunday at 6 a.m. Try to avoid driving around 3 p.m., when the traffic is the most congested.

Worst: Wednesday at 2 p.m. If you have to travel that day, leave by 7 a.m. to avoid the worst of it.

Return Traffic

Best: Friday at 6 a.m. Try to avoid driving around 4 p.m., when the traffic is the most congested.

Worst: Saturday at 4 p.m. If you have to travel that day, leave by 6 a.m. to avoid the worst of it.

Trending Destinations

More folks in Phoenix are concerned about airport parking on Thanksgiving day than most of these other cities, with “airport parking lot” listed as the third most searched term.

Washington, D.C.

Photo

The Mall and the Washington Monument in Washington.

Credit
Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

Departure Traffic

Best: Sunday at 6 a.m. Try to avoid driving around 3 p.m., when the traffic is the most congested.

Worst: Wednesday at 2 p.m. If you have to travel that day, leave by 7 a.m. to avoid the worst of it.

Return Traffic

Best: Friday at 6 a.m. Try to avoid driving around 4 p.m., when the traffic is the most congested.

Worst: Saturday at 4 p.m. If you have to travel that day, leave by 6 a.m. to avoid the worst of it.

Trending Destinations

There are a lot of people shopping, but many are also checking out the historic sites, with “zoo,” “national museum” and “memorial park” rounding out the top five most searched terms on Friday.

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