Donald Trump has vowed he will be "back in some form" after departing the White House for the final time as president.
He told supporters as he prepared to fly to Florida that it had been "a great honour to be your president".
He is the first president to snub his successor's inauguration since 1869 but did say: "I wish the new administration great luck and great success."
Joe Biden will take the oath of office by noon (17:00 GMT) in Washington amid heavy security.
Some 25,000 troops will guard the inauguration ceremony following a deadly riot by pro-Trump supporters at the Capitol earlier this month. The ceremony will also be missing the traditional hundreds of thousands of spectators due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Alongside Mr Biden, Kamala Harris will make history when she is sworn in as the nation's first woman vice-president.
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