If you’re thinking about where to travel this November, consider relocating the turkey-powered family get-together. There are countless destinations offering a delicious counterpoint to that perennial meal, whether you’d prefer gluhwein and Sacher torte in a wintry corner of Europe or the chance for a summery day alfresco sipping some of Down Under’s best wines. Then again, you could opt for some brainfood in the Pacific Northwest closer to home.
Here are the 10 best places to travel in November.
1. Portland, Oregon
November is great for: book nerds and would-be authors both
Of course, they used to call it Wordstock. Now that culture fest is known by a more conventional moniker, the Portland Book Festival, as it’s grown in heft and popularity—more than 100 authors will participate in the day-long bash on November 4. There will be discussions, readings, and writing workshops, but plan ahead because it’s cheaper to buy a day pass in advance. Last year’s headliners included Red White & Royal Blue author Casey McQuiston, actress Selma Blair, Jess Walter of Beautiful Ruins fame, and Taylor Jenkins Reid, riding high on the adaptation of her book Daisy Jones & the Six.
Of course, Portland is famous for its literary scene year-round: Powell’s, known as the City of Books, occupies an entire city block downtown and claims to be the world’s largest independent and secondhand bookstore, with more than 1 million titles to read. It’s as much a landmark as a shop now, so allow ample time to browse its reassuringly musty shelves. If you’re in town on the third Thursday of every month, and have creative leanings of your own, road test some writings in public at Slamlandia, the Literary Arts–hosted poetry open mic.
Where to stay
The 150-room hotel combines two old buildings—the onetime Cornelius Hotel and the namesake Woodlark—into a funky, boutique property run by local specialist Provenance, which has a clutch of cool crashpads in the city. Book dinner at Bullard, run by Top Chef finalist Doug Adams.
How to get to Portland
PDX is one of the hubs for Alaska Airlines, so expect easy connections on that carrier—there are nonstops to everywhere from Boise, Idaho, to Billings, Montana.
2. Chickasaw Country, Oklahoma
November is great for: celebrating Indigenous American culture
November is Native American Heritage Month, so it’s worthwhile to pause, reflect, and learn about the culture of America long before Europeans arrived. Remember: One person’s Thanksgiving is another’s National Day of Mourning, an alternative focus on the damage done to Indigenous nations by the incoming settlers.
When Indigenous nations were forcibly relocated to what was dubbed Indian Territory, one of their last refuges was what’s now known as Oklahoma. The Southeast-based Chickasaw were forced to move to a Midwest area redubbed Chickasaw Country. Almost two centuries later, it’s an enriching place to visit and learn about Indigenous culture. The Chickasaw Cultural Center is a 109-acre complex that offers several interactive exhibits about the nation’s language, heritage, and traditions. The Chickasaw White House was home to Chickasaw Governor Douglas Henry Johnston and his family until 1971, before becoming a museum.
Beyond the cultural sights, be sure to check out the Chickasaw National Recreation Area and Lake Murray for outdoor activities like hiking and fishing.
Where to stay
Profits from the 81-room Artesian Hotel in nearby Sulphur, Oklahoma, go toward essential services for the Chickasaw Nation people.
How to get to Chickasaw Country
Allegiant flies nonstop to Oklahoma City from Los Angeles, Frontier connects it with Denver, and there’s a Dallas nonstop from American Airlines. From Oklahoma City, take a 1.5-hour drive south to get to Chickasaw Country.
3. Punta de Mita, México
November is great for: gourmet safaris and ghostly apparitions
Many people come to Mexico early in the month for a chance to experience the surreal and immersive celebrations for Dia de los Muertos. The festival is celebrated around the country and despite its worldwide fame, don’t assume it’s simply a tourist-baiting event and a chance for everyone to paint their faces. To Mexicans, November 1 is momentous and meaningful.
The particular lure to this Pacific Coast enclave this month is a chance for more earthly delights—specifically, the 28th Festival Gourmet International, a 10-day celebration of food and wine in a spectacular setting. It draws around 25,000 people to see more than 70 chefs and try vino from 20 wineries, running from November 9–19; past names have included Enrique Olvera and Hell’s Kitchen winner Kori Sutton.
Events include a so-called gourmet safari, or progressive dinner, at two or four restaurants, as well as a gourmet brunch and a picnic to close it out under the parota trees on an avocado ranch. There’s even a LGBTQ+ event, a nod to the region’s popularity with that community.
Where to stay
Book now: Naviva, Four Seasons
Go on, spoil yourself. This 15-tent glamping hideout is a hotel-within-a-hotel, sitting next to the OG Four Seasons here on its own, 48-acre oceanfront forest reserve.
How to get to Punta de Mita
Its closest airport is PVR, which has connections on all the legacy carriers to most major U.S. hubs. Sun Country operates seasonal service from Minneapolis starting this month, too.
4. Vienna, Austria
November is great for: getting a jump on holiday shopping in style
Is it Christmas yet? By the middle of November, it certainly already is in Vienna, the spiritual home of the trinket market.
Many of its squares are commandeered by stallholders—follow the smell of hot gluhwein and toasted almonds wafting around the chilly air to find the next one. City hall square is home to the Vienna Christmas World: Enter on Rathausplatz to browse 150 different booths, selling gifts, decorations, and nibbles. (Make sure to snap a photo in front of the kitschy Tree of Hearts, filled with LED heart-shaped lights.)
A more trad experience comes from Freyung’s Old Viennese Christmas Market, with its hand-blown glass ornaments and chamber music—squint slightly, and you could be at the first market held here, in the 1770s. The family-friendly Christmas Market in front of Schönbrunn Palace has a formal children’s program, including workshops, plus one of the prettiest settings.
Where to stay
Sure, the rooms are nice at this flouncy, fancy hotel that’s been a magnet for major names (think JFK and Queen Elizabeth II) since it opened in 1876. But the real reason to stay here is a chance to gorge on a slab of its namesake cake, the original Death by Chocolate.
How to get to Vienna
Austrian Airlines flies nonstop from EWR, IAD, and ORD year-round.
5. Phuket, Thailand
November is great for: a month-long series of very different celebrations
This month is a busy one on Phuket (perhaps Thailand’s best-known tropical getaway, a 222-square-mile island on the Andaman Sea). The three-day Patong Carnival, kick-started by a huge parade along Sai Kor Road, begins on November 1 this year. Last year, events included a tattoo contest, concerts, and a fashion show.
On November 19, the world’s MAMILs will gather here for the Laguna Phuket Triathlon, the longest running in Asia: The mile or so swim, 31-mile bike ride, and 7.5-mile run are scheduled to make the most of the scenery here. If you don’t fancy slipping on some Lycra, but would rather cheer the competitors from the sidelines, it’s a thrilling experience, as the main starting, finishing, and transition points are usually around the same area.
This year, the full moon night of the 12th lunar month falls on November 27–29 so that’s when Phuket foregrounds its Buddhist and Hindu roots, via the Loy Krathong celebrations. These involve releasing paper lanterns into the sky and dropping the namesake floating boats—lotus-shaped craft, filled with flowers, candles and incense, and made from banana leaves—to drift away down the river, canal, or into a lake. It’s easy to pick one up for yourself at a local market in the days leading up to the festival.
Even better, rainy season is easing by November, so the mercury stays high. The ocean remains warm and inviting, ideal for snorkeling and swimming.
Where to stay
The 19-villa, three-year-old resort on a private hillside in Ao Yon Bay is an ideal hideout from some of the chaos of Phuket. Idle in your own private pool, ask the butler to draw a bath, or book a spa treatment or two.
How to get to Thailand
Thai Airways suspended service stateside in 2015 amid financial troubles and has no plans to reup it soon, so there are no direct nonstop flights to the country from America. Opt instead to connect via Singapore, on Singapore Airlines, or transit via Tokyo on Delta—both to Bangkok. From there, it’s a 90-minute flight south to Phuket.
6. New York City
November is great for: late-season leaf peeping and an entirely different kind of tree
In recent years, NYC has been an unlikely late-stage fall foliage destination: The trees of Central Park have held their leaves until this month, creating a last-chance glimpse of fall. Download the map produced by the nonprofit Central Park Conservancy, which allows you to navigate the various zones around its more than 840 acres. Don’t miss the golden leaves of the American elms on the Mall, which remain inexplicably (and thrillingly) free of Dutch elm disease, baffling scientists.
Linger for Thanksgiving, and you can experience two classic New York institutions in less than a week. First, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the hours-long Broadway-and-balloon extravaganza that snakes through Manhattan; no word yet on 2023’s new balloons, but last year’s additions included a one-eyed Minion and Bluey.
Then on November 29, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting ceremony takes place, with Al Roker and a variety show—last year, helmed by Jimmie Allen and Andrea Bocelli—as a preamble to the switch-on of this year’s Norway spruce lights. Come see it for yourself, but wrap up warm: The lights don’t go on for the first time until just before 10 p.m.
Where to stay
A prime perch for both leaves and parade-chasing, the 587-room hotel—previously the Parker—reopened two years ago under this Hyatt flag after a major renovation. The new Upper Stories rooms, on the higher floors, offer better views, club-like access to a lounge, and upgraded amenities.
How to get to New York City
There are endless options to reach New York’s three airports, but given a choice, try to land at the new LaGuardia: Its $8 billion makeover has turned one of the country’s least appealing airports into an absolute pleasure to transit.
7. Madrid, Spain
November is great for: riffing and scatting with a Spanish twist
The Madrid Jazz Festival takes place November 7–26 across various venues, but with many of its concerts held at the Conde Duque Cultural Centre, CentroCentro, and the Fernán Gómez Theatre. Expect a deliberately eclectic program, taking the broadest definition of jazz and spotlighting both homegrown and international performers like Chilean-born New York–based Melissa Aldana, one of last year’s big draws. There were experimentalists like Matana Roberts and cellist Erik Friedlander, as well as Afro-jazz advocates like Carlos Sarduy, plus a tribute to David Bowie, whose talent was trumpeted by brass player Paolo Fresu.
This year’s lineup hasn’t yet been announced but expect more of the same. The program also includes jazz-adjacent activities, whether film screenings or roundtables; there’s also a custom program aimed at inspiring kids to embrace jazz. All that, plus Madrid has entered low season, cutting prices on flights and hotels.
Where to stay
Rosewood recently took over the grande dame hotel in Salamanca, the uptown shopping nabe, but it didn’t destroy the local-heavy vibe in the lobby. The afternoons here are a fine chance to sip a G&T with the city’s chic set.
How to get to Madrid
Spain’s national flag carrier Iberia is a close partner of American Airlines via the oneworld Alliance, which makes it particularly easy to reach nonstop from AA’s stateside hubs, including CLT, DFW, and PHL.
8. North Island, New Zealand
November is great for: sampling some of the world’s best, lesser-known wines
Raise a glass to the 30th anniversary of Toast Martinborough this year. (Call it Toast, as the regulars do.) The food and wine festival is celebrating three decades of touting the wines (and food pairings) of one of New Zealand’s lesser-known prestige regions, on the southern tip of the country’s North Island.
The region here, Wairapa, has soil that’s rich and limestoney, while the rainfall is among the sparsest anywhere in the country. This results in wines redolent of Burgundy, mostly pinot noir and chardonnay; the vineyards in the area are listed on the 236-mile Classic New Zealand Wine Trail. Palliser was one of the pioneers, and it’s also a prime venue for Toast, as is Tirohana Estate, another early winemaker; there are six other sites dotted around, including Parehua Resort. At each, expect food and drink to try, as well as live music from DJs and bands. (Don’t worry, there are shuttle buses between those sites.) GA tickets are $95.
Elsewhere in Martinborough over the same weekend, the Beyond Toast program includes special menus at local restaurants, wine walks through the vineyards, and a chance to try the upstart craft beers at Karahui Tap Room.
Where to stay
Why not stay where you can walk to your bed after a day of (responsible) drinking? The five-star property sits right among the wineries—rent a cottage for maximum privacy.
How to get to Wellington
Head to Auckland on national flag carrier Air New Zealand direct from JFK, LAX, and SFO; there’s West Coast connectivity also on United, Delta, and American. Connect down to Wellington on a regular service from there.
November is great for: borealis-chasing in the tundra
Greenland is one of the world’s best places to see the Northern Lights, and the elusive show begins this month each year. It’s not just the island’s location that makes it an ideal borealis-chasing base, but also the fact that it has minimal light pollution, meaning superb visibility. That’s in part down to the limited human impact on the land here: Although it’s the world’s largest island, with a landmass triple the size of Texas, just under 60,000 people call it home full-time. (They refer to the aurora borealis as arsarnerit, or “the ones who play with a ball,” a nod to the myths around the mysterious phenomenon.)
There are various places you can pick to try chasing these mesmerizing displays. Head to Ilulissat to hopefully spot them on the aptly named Disko Bay. The flashing lights will glimmer and swoop over the icebergs and fjords here. The former U.S. military base in Kangerlussuaq, where the sky is clear for all but a handful of days each year, is another option—you’ll likely land there anyway, as its runway is the longest in the country and best handles jets in all weathers. The microclimate here keeps clouds and storms at bay. Kulusuk is a tiny village and a chance to truly lose yourself amid the staggering countryside—take a dog sledding tour to go borealis hunting.
Where to stay: Hotel Arctic
One of the world’s most northerly hotels, it’s right on the UNESCO-endorsed Ilulissat Icefjord. Stay in one of the Scandi-modern rooms in the latest addition, the Umiaq wing (the Greenlandic word for a woman’s boat) for the best views.
How to get to Greenland
There are no direct flights from the United States to Greenland. The canniest, quickest option is flying to Iceland on Icelandair, which services multiple hubs stateside, and then fly back to Greenland from there—it has regular service from Reykjavík.
November is great for: unearthing deeper histories and new views of the Caribbean
If you make it to Belize in November, you can also experience Garifuna Settlement Day on November 19, a chance to look past the tropical-perfect scenery and laid-back vibe to the complex history of this former British colony. The Garifuna are a community that descends from escaped enslaved Africans and people Indigenous to the islands in the Caribbean, then known as Caribs; they were driven out of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, then a British holding, to Central America after losing a rebellion against the Empire. Their community coalesced in several hubs of the region, notably Belize.
Their arrival has been celebrated as a public holiday here since 1977, and the best place to immerse yourself in the experience is Dangriga on the mouth of the North Stann Creek River on the southern reaches of the country. There are week-long festivities—think torchlit parades, a Miss Garifuna contest, and a wreath-laying ceremony at the grave of Garifuna civil rights activist T. V. Ramos. There’s even a cycle race, which draws riders from around the country, named in his honor.
Where to stay
Indulge your inner Robinson Crusoe at this two-person hotel, which sits on its own private island just off Belize’s southern coast. The unique experience is the brainchild of Chris Krolow, former host of HGTV’s Island Hunters.
How to get to Belize
There’s seasonal nonstop service to Belize City from Seattle on Alaska Airlines and JFK on JetBlue. American runs a year-round service from Dallas and Miami.