Gas Up, Airfare Down for Labor Day Travel

Thirty-three million people will travel at least 50 miles from home this Labor Day weekend, a 2.9 percent increase from last year, according to AAA. The vast majority -- 85 percent-- will go by automobile, a 3.1 percent increase compared with last year.

The increase in automobile travel comes despite rising gas prices, up 16 cents per gallon as of Tuesday from a year ago.

Decreased airfare may play a part in the rising number of air travelers this holiday weekend, expected to rise 3.7 percent. AAA reports average domestic airfare is down 4 percent from last year.

That decrease in airfare is even deeper to some of the nation's most popular vacation destinations. Orbitz flight booking data found airfare was flat or down to most of its top 10 Labor Day destinations. Airfare to Anaheim, Calif., saw the most dramatic drop at 11 percent. Las Vegas airfare decreased 9 percent and airfare to Atlanta, 6 percent.

The vast majority of holiday weekend travelers are opting to stay stateside, turning the three-day weekend into an all-American holiday. That's according to online booking giant Priceline, who compiled the top 50 Labor Day destinations based on bookings. Some 47 of the top 50 destinations are domestic; Niagara Falls, Montreal and Toronto are the only international spots on the list.

"It appears that the Olympics hype and favorable exchange rates didn't do enough to offset high international airfares for the holiday," said Brian Ek, Priceline spokesperson, said in a news release. "Major U.S. cities, however, are going to be crowded over the long weekend, as visitors get in their back-to-school and fall shopping, and enjoy the restaurants, theaters and museums."

New York, Seattle and Las Vegas appear four times each on the top 50 list, while Chicago, San Francisco and Boston make three appearances each. Philadelphia, with four spots on the list, and Hawaii, with two spots, failed to make the top 50 list in 2011.

Top 50 Labor Day Travel Destinations:

Chicago, North Michigan Avenue/River North Area

New York City, Midtown West

Las Vegas, Strip North Area

San Francisco, Fisherman's Wharf

New York City, Upper East Side

Seattle, Downtown/Pike Place

Chicago, Millennium Park/Loop & Grant Park

Seattle, Seattle Center/Space Needle

New York City, Times Square/Theater District

Las Vegas, Strip Vicinity South

Niagara Falls, St. Catharines

New Orleans, French Quarter

Oahu, Waikiki Beach Area

Chicago, Greater Chicago Area

Atlantic City, Atlantic City/Cape May

Boston, Waterfront, Convention Center

New York City, Midtown East

Niagara Falls, Buffalo

Montreal, City Centre

Seattle, Airport Area

Atlanta, Buckhead Area

Portland, Downtown

Philadelphia, Rittenhouse Square/Business District

Atlanta, Downtown

Austin, Downtown

San Diego, Coronado

San Francisco, Union Square East

Las Vegas, Fremont Square Vicinity

St. Louis, Downtown

Boston, Harbor Front/Aquarium

Boston, Copley Square/Back Bay

San Francisco, SOMA/Moscone Center

Virginia Beach

Savannah, Historic Savannah & Riverfront

Orange County, Disneyland & Anaheim North

Philadelphia, Convention Center/Mid Center City

Philadelphia, Museum District

Seattle, Lake Union

Providence, Downtown

Toronto, Downtown North

Santa Barbara


Monterey, Marina/Seaside

New York City, Central Park South

Maui, Ka'anapali/Lahaina

Los Angeles, Downtown

Las Vegas, Boulder Strip

Philadelphia, University Area

Cleveland, Downtown

Atlanta, Perimeter