Want to Avoid Boston’s Horrific Thanksgiving Traffic? Better Read This

Avoid the headaches and follow the Google Maps data.

boston traffic

Getty Images/DenisTangneyJr

If you’d prefer to kick off your Thanksgiving weekend joyfully anticipating good food and time well spent with family rather than flipping off fellow travelers on Storrow Drive, Google Maps has the data to help. Once again, the company has crunched the numbers on travel data in major American cities and identified the best and worst times to hit the road.

The bad, and predictable, news is that if you want to avoid sharing the Pike on your way home, you’ll have to make some adjustments to your schedule. The absolute most nightmarish time to set off, according to data gleaned from travel patterns last year, is 3 p.m. on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

The best time, meanwhile, is the very unrealistic hour of 2 a.m. on Wednesday. But if you want the smoothest trip possible out to the ’burbs, that’s how to get it.

Let’s say you want to be more practical. In that case, the best time to leave during daylight hours is 6 a.m. the morning of Thanksgiving itself. That way, you can beat the mad rush that begins later in the morning and peaks at noon the day of the holiday, the data shows.

For the often hectic return trip, the best time to hit the road is bright and early on Sunday morning. The optimal daylight hour to leave is at 6 a.m., per Google, but the earlier the better, as Sunday traffic rises steadily into the late afternoon, before petering off later in the evening.

This year, Google also tallied up what people tend to do in Boston for the holiday, and identified the searches that were abnormally high for the area. Turns out the top three trending restaurants around Thanksgiving are Allston Korean barbecue spot Myung Dong 1st Ave in Allston, along with Chinatown staples Gaga Seafood and Hong Kong Eatery.

Nationwide, the top trending locations Google has identified show people around this time start “feeling festive,” Google says, citing a spike in searches for Christmas tree lightings and holiday markets. In Boston, that means a noticeable increase in searches for local holy sites: The Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Mission Hill, St. Stephens Catholic Church in the North End, and Cathedral of the Holy Cross in the South End top the list in the city.

The top trending shopping locations, meanwhile, went to the Canada Goose and Mac Cosmetics stores in the Pru, and JCrew in Copley Place.

You can find the full results, and see how other cities stacked up, here.