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The 5 US cities most popular with international travelers right now

Nov. 23, 2021
6 min read
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The U.S. lifted its international travel ban on Nov. 8 after almost two years of closure. Now, fully vaccinated travelers from a number of countries can once again visit the United States — and U.K. travelers are among the most eager to hop on a plane and visit, Bloomberg reported earlier this month.

Data from Travelport shows that after President Joe Biden announced in September that U.S. borders would reopen in November, flight searches and bookings from the U.K. were higher than all other European countries combined.

Travelers reunite with family after the U.S. reopens. (Photo by ED JONES / Colaborador / Getty)

Related: What it was like on the first British Airways flight to the US on reopening day

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Brits, in particular, seem to have Disney on the brain, but in addition to Orlando, New York City, Miami, San Francisco and Los Angeles also made the list, according to Bloomberg.

As the cooler weather rolls in and Atlantic hurricane season comes to an end, it's not surprising to see travelers are itching for a warm winter escape, with Florida and California dominating the list.

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Orlando, Florida

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

The obvious reasons to visit Orlando, Florida, are Disney World and Universal Orlando. And this year, visitors can \ join in on the fun for Disney World's 50th Anniversary celebration, which lasts for 18 months.

Some of the Disney novelties available now include special 50th-anniversary food items, dining experiences such as Space 220, new lighting effects, events, shows, rides and more.

Others, such as the Star Wars immersive hotel experience Galactic Starcruiser and the renovated Disney's Grand Floridian Hotel will launch in 2022.

New York City, New York

(Photo by Busakorn Pongparnit/Getty Images)

The clarion call of the city is undeniable, despite its cold winters, thanks to its diverse culture and cuisine. Almost all indoor activities are back up and running, but keep in mind you'll have to be fully vaccinated (and be able to show proof of your vaccination) to enjoy them time indoors in New York City this winter, including Broadway shows.

Although there are endless hotel options, especially for travelers who have a stockpile of points, the newly opened Pendry Manhattan West offers a California-meets-New York City hotel experience in the heart of the Manhattan West area.

Visitors should check out the brand-new One Vanderbilt Summit glass rooftop deck, featuring two glass ledges suspended over 1,000 feet above the ground, all-glass elevators on the exterior of the building and immersive mirrored spaces. There's also Little Island on the Hudson River, an immersive art and nature experience, if you're visiting on a mild day.

Related: I was one of the first European tourists to visit New York City after border restrictions were relaxed

Miami, Florida

South Beach during Art Basel. (Photo by JC Ruiz/Getty Images)

With Atlantic hurricane season coming to a close, who wouldn't want to winter in Miami?

If the mild temperatures and warm sunshine aren't enough, events like Art Basel (Dec. 2 to 4) and South Beach Food and Wine Festival (Feb. 24 to 27, 2022) are sure to draw both domestic and international travelers to the Sunshine State's most glamorous city.

Check out new hotels like the Moxy South Beach, which has an outdoor screening room, an indoor and outdoor gym and, in typical Florida fashion, a gorgeous pool deck with cabanas. The hotel is a Category 5 Marriott Bonvoy property, so an award night will cost 30,000 points on off-peak dates, 35,000 for a standard night and 40,000 for a peak night until Marriott moves to dynamic award pricing in March of 2022.

Los Angeles, California

The pool at the Thompson Hollywood. (Photo by Eric Rosen/The Points Guy)

Travelers should head to Los Angeles if only to stay at the brand-new Thompson Hollywood. TPG director of content Eric Rosen compared the illustrious rooftop pool to a "sun-splashed David Hockney painting come to life," as well as noting the staff was as warm as the weather.

The best part? If you have Hyatt points, a stay here will only cost 25,000 points per night. And speaking of warmth, Los Angeles maintains temperatures in the 70s almost all winter long.

For travelers who want to really visit Los Angeles in style, consider flying through a secret VIP terminal, PS at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Each private suite provides a luxury pre-or-post travel experience with chic, comfortable furniture, access to communal outdoor space, top-of-the-line cuisine, fancy booze, elite spa services and tarmac transfers. Just expect to fork over $4,500 for an annual membership.

San Francisco, California

(Photo by Can Balcioglu/Getty Images)

It’s not hard to see how quickly travel to (and from) San Francisco is rebounding: Vietnam Airlines will make SFO its first scheduled destination in the U.S. starting Nov. 28. And United is poised to restart its incredible San Francisco to Singapore (SIN) route on Jan. 5.

But no matter where you're coming from or how you're getting here, travelers visiting San Francisco for the first time in a while should consider checking into the Kimpton Alton, a relatively new entry to the hotel scene in the City by the Bay.

Or, venture to nearby wine country and book a stay at the Alila Napa Valley (a Category 7 World of Hyatt) or the Four Seasons Napa Valley, the latter of which is located on a functioning winery. After all, there's no better way to celebrate the rebound of travel with a glass of fine California wine.

(Feature image by Alexander Spatari/Getty)

Featured image by New York City aerial helicopter view, NY, USA (Feature image by Alexander Spatari/Getty)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases