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Orange Beach makes AP list of Labor Day holiday destinations


Summer is coming to an end, but that doesn't mean Americans are slowing down on their travel plans. New data from the American Automobile Association shows domestic bookings are up 4%, and international bookings are up 44% over the Labor Day weekend. If you plan to head out of town to a popular destination for the long holiday weekend, you must prepare for the potential for large crowds. One Alabama beach is considered an alternative.

While Orange Beach, Alabama, is the most Instagrammed location in Alabama, with over 440,000 hashtagged photos and videos, it is nowhere near as popular as the other three beaches. Alabama Tourism reported that 71.3% of the state's 28.6 million visitors in 2022 visited Baldwin County, where Orange Beach is located. When comparing those figures to Florida's 137.4 million total visitors in 2022, it's easy to see why Orange Beach is a feasible alternative.

"Orange Beach sits on the border of Alabama and Florida, providing travelers with access to a quieter corner of the Gulf Coast that's usually bypassed for busier beach towns," shares Lisa Casey, Vacasa Senior Sales Executive for the Alabama Gulf Coast. "The destination serves as the ultimate Labor Day Weekend escape for visitors who want to enjoy a quiet respite."

Top spots for travel within the U.S. include several major cities. Paula Twidale, Senior Vice President of AAA Travel, says, "Domestically, the Pacific Northwest, big cities like New York and Denver, and tourist hotspots like Orlando and Las Vegas are the most popular." However, enjoying a less crowded Labor Day vacation is possible if you are open to visiting a similar, albeit less popular, place over the holiday weekend.

Northwest Alternative to a Popular Seattle Attraction

Seattle, Washington, is home to the Space Needle, one of the most Instagrammed tourist attractions in the United States. Data compiled by reveals '#spaceneedle' has been used over 1.1 million times and receives an average of 1,800 likes. This data ranks the Space Needle as the fifth most Instagrammed location in the country.

If you want a similar experience but much less foot traffic, consider the Smith Tower instead. "I always recommend Smith Tower over the Space Needle to anyone visiting Seattle," says Bella Bucchiotti, travel writer at "Smith Tower is a true gem of Seattle's past, being the tallest building west of the Mississippi River when it was built. It is also a popular dining and drink destination, so avoid lunch and dinner hours for an even less crowded experience."

A Fantastic Theme Park That Isn't Walt Disney World

Unsurprisingly, the number one most used hashtag in Florida and across the entire United States is Walt Disney World. Families and theme park enthusiasts have been flocking to this central Florida destination since it opened in October 1971. With over 10.1 million hashtags and an average of 1,100 likes, Walt Disney World will undoubtedly be busy over Labor Day.

Families interested in a theme park vacation without the heat and crowds should turn to Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. "Wednesdays and Thursdays tend to bring fewer crowds to the park," shares Matt Heffner, owner of the travel website "Off-season is a great time to visit —you'll get to experience unique festivals and avoid the summer crowds."

Plan a True Beach Escape

Venice Beach, California, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, topped the list of most Instagrammable beach locations. With 4.3 million and 2.8 million hashtags, respectively, these two coastal towns will likely see a surge in vacationers over Labor Day. Additionally, Waikiki Beach, Hawaii, was the tenth most Instagrammed beach in the county and the most Instagrammed spot in all of Hawaii.

Enjoy the Outdoors Without All the People

Central Park in New York City is a natural escape for its citizens but is also incredibly popular with tourists. It is the sixth most popular U.S. location hashtag on Instagram and the most popular location hashtag for the state of New York.

Spending time in the great outdoors doesn't have to mean wall-to-wall people. Nearby Vermont's Lake Champlain is the state's most Instagrammed destination at over 330,000 uses. Still, it is nowhere near as popular as Central Park's 8.1 million hashtags.

Bright Lights Without the Big City

You are correct if you think everyone has been going to Las Vegas lately. Sin City has landed itself at number seven on the list of the most Instagrammed spots in America, and it's the most popular hashtag in Nevada, with 3.3 million uses and growing. However, other choices across the country offer similar experiences with a lot fewer visitors.

New Orleans, Louisiana, is a worthwhile alternative to Las Vegas. 42.6 million travelers vacationed in Louisiana as a whole in 2022, but 38.8 million travelers visited Las Vegas alone in the same year. Consider skipping the French Quarter in New Orleans to bypass the crowds. It is the most Instagrammed destination in the entire state of Louisiana and is the ninth most Instagrammed location in the U.S.

Many Americans Extend Their Vacations

Travel advisors employed by AAA were surveyed about the changing habits of travelers this year. 64% of the AAA advisors who responded to the survey reported that travelers who booked extended vacations (at least 14 nights) said having more time to explore destinations was their main reason for a more extended trip. Though many Americans may not be able to extend their Labor Day travels this year, the option to work remotely has increased vacation flexibility and caused an uptick in demand for more extended stays.

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