10 Best Places to Travel in November

Celebrate a season of togetherness with the spirit of adventure this November.

Learn about U.S. Indigenous history at the Chickasaw Cultural Center.

Learn about U.S. Indigenous history at the Chickasaw Cultural Center.

Photo by Kit Leong/Shutterstock

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 gourmet food on the Caribbean’s fanciest island or the chance to crunch a few sugared skulls in Mexico.

Here are the 10 best places to travel in November.

1. 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: Artesian Hotel

Book now: Artesian Hotel
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, while Frontier connects it with Denver, plus a Dallas nonstop from American Airlines. From Oklahoma City, take a 1.5-hour drive south to get to Chickasaw Country.

Thanks to the expanding Brightline Rail, Boca Raton is easier to reach.

Thanks to the expanding Brightline Rail, Boca Raton is easier to reach.

Photo by Noah Densmore/Shutterstock

2. Boca Raton, Florida

November is great for: ditching the drive down I-95

High-speed rail Brightline links the necklace of cities along the eastern coast of Florida’s tip. It has transformed southern Florida, making it easier than ever to zip between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Palm Beach (one-way prices start at $17). This month, Boca Raton’s station opens, adding another stop on that route, right next to the downtown library and a short walk to Mizner Park, named in honor of the architect whose fondness for an ersatz Mediterranean aesthetic helped shape the look and feel of early modern SoFla.

The new station means you can roam even more easily around all four urban hubs so take your pick of events: Lagoon Fest on November 5 in West Palm Beach, for example, is where food stalls take over downtown Flagler Drive, and families can go on kayak clean-up tours to help spruce up the 20-mile-long estuary.

Alternatively, take Brightline down to its Miami stop, where the annual Book Fair takes place for eight days from November 13; more than 300 authors of fiction and nonfiction host readings and talks centered at the fair’s HQ at Miami Dade College downtown.

Where to stay: The Boca Raton

Book now: The Boca Raton
Check into the 224-room Tower, the latest part of the Boca Raton’s $200 million makeover—the rooms are handily configured in flexible layouts, making it ideal for families who want to book connecting rooms.

How to get to Boca Raton

The closest, well-served commercial airport is Fort Lauderdale (FLL) 20 miles away, which has service to most major hubs stateside. Budget carriers Allegiant and Spirit have noteworthy presences there.

Baja is the ideal spot for those who appreciate films and Mexican tradition.

Baja is the ideal spot for those who appreciate films and Mexican tradition.

Photo by Frederick Millett/Shutterstock

3. Baja Peninsula, Mexico

November is great for: spooky stuff of all kinds

Outside Mexico, the Day of the Dead may be little more than a fun chance for grown-ups to indulge in a little face painting, but within the country’s borders, this ancestor-honoring tradition is celebrated with far more gusto and ceremony. La Catrina—we’d call her Death—is honored with ghoulish, delicious sugar sculptures in the shapes of skulls, while families will often head to local cemeteries with music and tequila to fete their missing loved ones. Visitors are welcome to join in the parades and festivities, which energize any Mexican town or city on November 1.

Oaxaca is the spiritual home of this festival, but consider heading to the Baja Peninsula instead: not just for its 70-mile-long stretch of beaches (landlocked Oaxaca can’t compete with that) but also for the Los Cabos Film Festival, which takes place this year November 11–19. It usually brings 15,000 or more visitors—including the likes of Reese Witherspoon and Ewan McGregor—to the program, which features workshops, screenings, and panels; Afterdark celebrates inventive approaches to horror and sci-fi genre films from new filmmakers in Mexico and beyond.

Where to stay: One&Only Palmilla

Book now: One&Only Palmilla
The 173-room One&Only Palmilla is an ultra-luxe hideaway right on the ocean, its casitas featuring whitewashed walls and retro decorative touches intended to nod to the Spanish colonial era.

How to get to Baja

Los Cabos (SJD) airport is well served from countless U.S. gateways via all three legacy airlines, including flights from San Francisco, Dallas, and Los Angeles.

The journey is part of the fun in going to Saint Helena.

The journey is part of the fun in going to St. Helena.

Photo by Umomos/Shutterstock

4. St. Helena Island

November is great for: reaching one of the world’s hardest-to-visit islands

This remote volcanic island more than 1,200 miles off the coast of southern Africa remains a British possession today, having pinballed between colonial powers since the Portuguese first commandeered the rock in 1502. Indeed, its isolation was one reason for dispatching Napoleon Bonaparte to live out his final days here after he was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo; his home on the island is now a museum.

This holiday season is the perfect occasion to use those vacation days to make the journey to the island. Explore its historic colonial-era capital Jamestown and the subtropical landscape of the 46-square-mile landmass. The best views across the countryside are from Diana’s Peak, an approximately 2.5-hour hike to hit the summit at 2,700 feet. The waters off St. Helena teem with life: Go whale-watching to see humpbacks, which arrive during this time of year to give birth; head along James Bay and Lemon Valley for super snorkeling among fish-filled waters; or go wreck-diving if you’re already scuba certified.

Where to stay: Mantis St. Helena
Book now: Mantis St. Helena
The onetime barracks of Britain’s East India Company, built in 1774, now are part of the 30-room hotel operated the Mantis group; ask for one of the eight rooms in the restored wing of the building.

How to get to St. Helena

Ah, the journey is part of this island’s appeal. It takes almost 20 hours to get to Johannesburg from JFK, via London, but that’s just the start. The five-hour flight to this ultra-remote island is sporadic, at best: These flights have only been running once every two weeks, on alternate Saturdays, but they’re upping frequency in October to weekly. Once you do come close to landing, brace yourself: The airport is perched on the edge of a cliff and so is only accessible to pilots with special training.

Come to Dubai for fashion, food, and fun on the water.

Come to Dubai for fashion, food, and fun on the water.

Photo by ZQ Lee/Unsplash

5. Dubai, UAE

November is great for: design-hunting and food-crawling

Whenever a city sees a boom in luxury real estate, design stores—and aficionados—follow, aiming to help those wealthy homeowners fill their new crash pads with stylish stuff (see also: Miami and Design Miami). Dubai’s entrant is Downtown Design, which takes place November 9–12 this year, a 20-country showcase of the best furniture and fripperies to kit out your home. Combine some shopping with some sailing with the two-day Sail Grand Prix (November 12–13), which will bring some of the world’s best sailors to the Gulf waters here.

Remember, though, Dubai isn’t just a 1 percenter’s paradise. The construction boom of recent years brought laborers from around the world to build those skyscrapers; their presence birthed a globe-trotting food scene downtown with restaurants opening to offer them a taste of home. Sign up for a tour with Frying Pan Adventures, run by two Dubai-born Indian bloggers, to explore this lesser-known side of the city-state.

Where to stay: Atlantis, the Palm
Book now: Atlantis, the Palm
Embrace the gaudy glitz of this too-much-is-never-enough destination at the five-star Atlantis, the Palm hotel, a 1,500-room complex on a sprawling, 114-acre site.

How to get to Dubai

Etihad, the UAE’s national airline, operates flights to 12 U.S. airports, including Orlando, Houston, and San Francisco.

Hiking path in Santo Antao, Cape Verde

November is the perfect time to see Cape Verde’s lush landscapes without the trouble of rain.

Photo by Lukas Bischoff Photograph/Shutterstock

6. Cape Verde

November is great for: a breezy, balmy island getaway

The weather in this island nation, barely 300 miles off the coast of West Africa, hits a balmy 82 degree high in November. Even better, the rainy season has just concluded, leaving the landscapes as lush as possible—the best time to explore and trek, or go bird-watching on land or along the coast for seabirds.

The winds pick up this month, too, so you can easily kite surf, windsurf, or sail: Ponta Preta on Sal is the most popular spot, though Monte Leão is impressive and close to the airport, which offers shelter from strong winds.

Otherwise, the barely year-old Mansa Floating Hub, which opened last summer, is a must-see: The floating music center on the north coast of the island of São Vicente is an almost 8,500-square-foot platform for live performers, intended to bring together both African musicians and those from the diaspora.

Where to stay: Aboard a Hurtigruten ship

Book now: Hurtigruten
The best way to see these islands is via a trip with expedition cruise expert Hurtigruten, which has redoubled efforts to push beyond conventional cruising locales and audiences (see its recent creation of a Black Traveler Advisory Board). Cape Verde is part of a 14-day voyage on MS Spitsbergen starting from Dakar in Senegal, with double cabins from $7,914 per person.

How to get to Cape Verde

It’s about an eight-hour, nonstop flight to Dakar where that cruise begins, traveling on Delta from New York–JFK.

Palm Springs sign by the side of the highway on approach to the city.

Head to the desert oasis of Palm Springs for its Pride festival this November.

Photo by Elizabeth Iris/Shutterstock

7. Palm Springs, California

November is great for: rainbow revelries

Exact tallies vary, but most estimates suggest that around 50 percent of the resident population of this desert oasis identifies as LGBTQ+. It’s long been associated with the community, ever since Greta Garbo first drew attention by vacationing there in the 1930s with Mercedes de Acosta, a woman rumored to be her lover. No wonder, then, that its Pride Festival, which runs during the first week of November, is one of the country’s most enjoyable and all-inclusive. Head to a block party on Arenas Road, the main drag of gay bars here, a parade on Sunday November 6, and plenty of concerts.

If you need a break from partying, plan a trip to the brand new Modernism Museum, slated to open at the end of October: a passion project of real-estate developer Jerry Turco and his wife Tracy, a designer, who oversaw its interiors. It is a celebration of all things midcentury, allowing visitors an interactive time warp back to that era via installations like a classic RV and tract house.

Where to stay: Rowan Palm Springs
Book now: Rowan Palm Springs
The funky, retro-accented, Kimpton-operated Rowan Palm Springs is a 153-room hotel downtown and has a major plus for lazy days: the city’s only rooftop pool.

How to get to Palm Springs

As of November 6, you can hop the new Southwest direct flight here from San Jose, California, although there are already ample other options on that carrier as well as on Alaska and Delta, including Reno, Nevada, and Denver.

Get a different flavor of Thanksgiving dinner in St Barts.

Get a different flavor of Thanksgiving dinner in St Bart’s.

Photo by NAPA/Shutterstock

8. St. Bart’s

November is great for: hungry and thirsty jet-setters

The culinary bona fides of the island has been bolstered since 2013 by the annual Gourmet Festival, which runs November 8–13 this year. This shindig imports a slew of haute cuisine superstars from around the world to bring their Michelin-endorsed expertise to a series of multicourse tasting menus. Last year’s 11-strong roster included fusion champion Pierre Gagnaire and French traditionalist Eric Fréchon.

Come early and the F&B focus is a little more local. More specifically, it’s on one of the Caribbean’s top exports: rum. The first week of November (this year, November 1–6) is when St. Bart’s hosts the Caribbean Rum Awards, the fifth year celebrating what happens to sugarcane when it grows up. The boisterous, party-like atmosphere is a strong contrast to the refined foodie fest that follows—think rum cocktail competitions, rum-cigar pairings, and of course, an expo where visitors can sample a snifter or two of tipples from across the islands.

Where to stay: Le Barthélemy Hotel & Spa

Book now: Le Barthélemy Hotel & Spa
Le Barthélemy Hotel & Spa on the northeast coast, at the end of the shallow-watered Grand Cul-de-Sac beach, is refreshingly understated; the oversized rooms—expect at least 600 square feet to call your own—are a huge plus.

How to get to St. Bart’s

There are no direct flights to St. Bart’s from the United States. Most visitors choose to connect via St. Maarten on a puddle jumper operated by a local firm like Tradewinds.

Village and bungalows along Nam Song River in Vang Vieng, Laos.

Vang Vieng is one of the stops along Laos’s new railway line.

Photo by Guitar photographer/Shutterstock

9. Laos

November is great for: a brand-new Asian train network

The borders of this Southeast Asian nation only reopened to travel in May this year, so tourists have had little chance to try the 260-mile Vientiane-to-Boten railway line, which went into service at the end of last year. The Lane Xang stops at five main cities, including Vientiane, Vang Vieng, Luang Prabang, Oudomxay, and Luang Namtha. Rather than planning your own route, hop onboard with one of the new, 11-night rail-based tours operated by InsideAsia.

Before you do, though, idle at its terminus, Vientiane, the country’s capital. You can stop at the Laos Handicraft Festival in Vientiane, which usually runs from late October until early in this month. Local artisans sell everything from bamboo and rattan homeware to silver jewelry; there are also product demos and fashion shows. On November 8 in Vientiane, the Boun That Luang Festival also takes place, kicking off with a candlelight procession with elaborate wax castles festooned with flowers, money, and incense, intended as offerings to Buddha.

Where to stay: Victoria Xiengthong Palace

Book now: Victoria Xiengthong Palace
The last residence of the Laos Royal Family, who were deposed in 1975, has been rebooted as a high-end, 26-room hotel overlooking the Mekong River.

How to get to Laos

The best option is Singapore Airlines from LAX to Singapore, the region’s sleekest hub, then hopscotch over to Luang Prabang on the national carrier, Lao Airlines.

Get a head start on the winter holiday season in Finland.

Get a head start on the winter holiday season in Finland.

Photo by Roman Babakin/Shutterstock

10. Rovaniemi, Finland

November is great for: expanding Christmas by a few extra weeks

Sure, it isn’t technically Christmas yet, but a trip to the official home of Santa Claus in Finland’s Arctic is a great excuse to kick-start the festive season a little early. Santa’s Village is the ultimate Christmas market, with handmade gifts and an Elf Academy where St. Nick’s full-time helpers will share secrets of their lives and school would-be elves in what it takes to keep Christmas ticking. (Graduates receive a degree certificate.)

Rovaniemi, though, offers far more than a fun riff on all things Christmas. Come to see the Northern Lights, which are visible in Finnish Lapland for around 150 nights per year—the clearer skies in fall make it likelier to spot them now than in darkest winter. For architecture buffs, pause to admire the city itself. Ninety percent of its buildings were destroyed during World War II, so the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto was tasked with rebuilding, and reimagining, the city as a whole. It’s one of his masterpieces and is said to represent the outline of a reindeer’s head: the city roads are its antlers, and the sports stadium its eye.

Where to stay: Apukka Resort

Book now: Apukka Resort
Like wooden igloos deep in the forest, the Apukka Resort rooms are charmingly rustic. The standout is the Aurora Wagon, where you can pay extra to sleep in a caravan all alone in the wilderness as you spy the Northern Lights.

How to get to Rovaniemi

Finnair is a core partner of America Airlines in the oneworld Alliance, so head to Helsinki on a flight by either carrier from most U.S. hubs. From there, it’s about 90 minutes to Rovaniemi airport on a local flight.

Read up before you go: Searching for Santa Claus by Katherine LaGrave

British-born, New York–based Mark Ellwood has lived out of a suitcase for most of his life. He is editor-at-large for luxury bible Robb Report and columnist for Bloomberg Luxury. Recent stories have led him to hang out with China’s trendsetters in Chengdu and learn fireside raps from cowboy poets in Wyoming.
More From AFAR