12 Exciting Thanksgiving Destinations to Mix Up Your Family Tradition
Tired of the same old turkey day traditions? Hit the road with these options that will give you even more reasons to be grateful.
Celebrate in New York City
Surely the Big Apple is a leading destination for your Thanksgiving vacation, and with good reason. If you’ve never seen the big parade in person, it’s time. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is full of giant balloons of your favorite cartoon characters, high-kicking Rockettes, celebrity appearances, and so much more will get you in the holiday spirit. Another great option if you’re in NYC is to take part in Feeding NYC. Two days before Thanksgiving, the charity volunteer program delivers holiday feasts to more than 35,000 New York City families in need. Then check out the popular Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden, which features 150 of the city’s most famous landmarks recreated in leaves and bark. Here are 16 insider secrets to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade you’ll want to read.
Wine and dine in Santa Barbara
If you want that laid-back beach vibe but with elevated cuisine, this is the city to go for your Thanksgiving vacation. The Kimpton Canary, steps away from the city’s beaches, bistros, and world-class shopping, is the perfect place to take in the view while dipping in the rooftop pool. Downtown Santa Barbara takes advantage of nearby wine country with various wineries and tasting rooms that, together, form the Urban Wine Trail. Start your day at the Funk Zone’s Santa Barbara Wine Collective for a generous wine pour during your tasting. Then get on the trail and taste to your heart’s desire. All that sipping will surely work up an appetite, so make sure to grab a late lunch at Lucky Penny for a low-key atmosphere that’s equal parts pizzeria and coffeehouse. Sit on the patio if weather permits—which in Santa Barbara it always does! Maybe all that activity has you exhausted on Thanksgiving Day, in which case, simply head to Kimpton Canary’s spectacular restaurant Finch & Fork for a three-course Thanksgiving dinner. If you want to get back out and enjoy this beautiful beach city, rent a bike from Wheel Fun Rentals to work up an appetite, then head to the Wine Cask—a local favorite featuring a sensational Thanksgiving menu. If you stay through the weekend, you have to go to the Salt Cave. It’s the largest underground crystal salt cave in North America. Take a yoga class, book a massage, and while you’re at it, get a facial. It’s vacation after all. Need a brunch option? Sit on the patio at Scarlett Begonia and order up some lemon ricotta pancakes. Here are 6 more fall vacation destinations.
Get off the couch and go to the game…
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…an NFL football game that is! This year will be another NFL triple header on Thanksgiving Day, giving football fans a whole lot of game time to yell at the TV screen. But if this is something you do every year, why not make 2018 super special by actually hitting the stadium? The three games of the day will feature the Chicago Bears versus the Detroit Lions, the Washington Redskins versus the Dallas Cowboys, and the Atlanta Falcons versus the New Orleans Saints. Take a look at the full breakdown of the NFL games on Thanksgiving.
Kick off ski season in the Rocky Mountains
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If the colder weather has you itching for some snow-filled fun, grab the entire family and take your Thanksgiving spirit to the Rocky Mountains. All mountains may not open for your Thanksgiving vacation, but the Keystone Resort in Colorado sure is, and kids get to ski for free! When you’re not speeding down the mountain, go ice skating on Keystone Lake. Feeling romantic? How about adventurous? Take the resort’s gondola up 12,000 feet for a fine dining experience at the Alpenglow Stube. Perched at the top of Keystone Resort is Adventure Point, where you and the kids can enjoy multi-lane tubing during the day or under the lights. Here are the best and worst airports for holiday travel.
Head to coastal North Carolina
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On the coast of North Carolina, in Wrightsville Beach, the holidays are taken very seriously, and Thanksgiving is no exception. On Thanksgiving Day, the Blockade Runner Beach Resort hosts a gala and Thanksgiving Day feast. If being on the water is calling your name, Cape Fear Naturalist Captain Joe Abbate offers sunset cruises for the family. Once you sleep off your food coma and Friday arrives, take the entire family to the Flotilla Experience at Wrightsville Beach. It is the Southern coastal version of a holiday parade, but this one is on water, and at night! If you really want a getaway, check out Hatteras Island off the coast of North Carolina. It’s one of the Outer Banks’ least populated regions, with just seven small villages scattered about. It’s become a desirable location for those seeking a quiet vacation destination. Don’t miss these 10 holiday travel tips to save your sanity.
Pack a picnic lunch and visit a local state park
Maybe all you want to do is keep it as simple and low cost as possible for your Thanksgiving vacation. One easy way? Take advantage of the great outdoors. Make yourself a savory turkey sandwich, strap on your sneakers, and head to a local state park for some sweet solitude. If you’re in Minnesota, Lake of the Ozarks State Park is a must. It offers more than 17,000 acres of woodlands, glades, caves, and bluffs eroded by the Grand Glaize Creek. Here are 7 reasons fall is the cheapest time to travel.
Get tropical in Tahiti
Perhaps what you want this Thanksgiving vacation is to do something totally out of the ordinary, like book a trip out of the country where absolutely no one is wishing you a happy turkey day. In that case, fly off to Tahiti’s Motu Teta. This private island is located in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean on the Rangiroa atoll. Here, you can do absolutely nothing, take part in a midnight lobster hunt, or plop down on the beach and read that book you’ve had no time to get to! Want to keep it stateside? These island vacations are your best bet.
Visit the Gratitude Museum
One of the reasons many people enjoy Thanksgiving is the holiday’s symbolism of gratitude. In Dallas, this is a big deal. Here, you’ll find the Thanks-Giving Square—a chapel, museum, and park in downtown Dallas. The square promotes the importance of expressing gratitude year-round, and it makes sure Thanksgiving is not neglected. History buffs, rejoice. At the museum, you’ll find the first Thanksgiving proclamation, penned in 1777 by Samuel Adams, while the chapel features the “Glory Window,” which is one of the biggest stained-glass works in the world.
Visit Plymouth Rock
What better way to get back-to-the-basics than heading to the town that symbolizes our national tradition of giving thanks? At Plymouth’s Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts you’ll have the opportunity to really get in the historical spirit as you enjoy role-playing pilgrims reenacting Thanksgiving as it were in the 17th-century. At the plantation, you can celebrate the holiday with the popular America’s Thanksgiving Dinner or the memorable Thanksgiving Day Buffet. While you dine, you will be entertained with centuries-old psalms and songs. If you’re planning on flying there for your Thanksgiving holiday, you should know that this is the cheapest time to book your airline ticket.
Eat turducken in New Orleans
Celebrate Thanksgiving Cajun-style with a trip to Louisiana’s most famous city. Don your best fancy hat and head to the Fair Grounds Race Course on Thanksgiving Day for horse racing, cocktails, and a big holiday buffet. Looking for something more traditional on your Thanksgiving vacation? Don’t miss the epic Bayou Classic events. Featuring some of the best marching bands in the country, the parade starts in the French Market and proceeds to the Superdome for the annual football matchup between Grambling State and Southern University. And of course, New Orleans is also known for its food, so make sure you sample some turducken or deep-fried turkey while you’re there. And here are 10 fun ideas for fall weekend getaways for families.
Celebrate Native American culture in Santa Fe
Embrace a different tradition for your Thanksgiving vacation with a trip to Santa Fe. Early Native Americans called what we now know as Santa Fe the “Dancing Ground of the Sun.” It’s easy to see why. Set against the breathtaking Sangre de Christo mountains, this city in New Mexico is a mix of Anglo, Spanish, and Native American cultures. Visit the Indian pueblos north of the city while you’re in town, check out the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, and wander through art galleries and markets filled with handicrafts from local artisans.
Enjoy the Smoky Mountains
Looking for something rustic for your Thanksgiving vacation? Head to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, rent a cabin, and experience some Appalachian culture. Make a reservation for a classic Thanksgiving dinner at the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant. Next, work off your Thanksgiving dinner on the 800 miles of hiking in the Smoky Mountains. Then get a jump on the holiday season with a visit to Dollywood, where you can enjoy more than 20 rides, take in the Parade of Many Colors, and the more than four million twinkling lights of the Smoky Mountain Christmas show. Next, don’t miss the best weekend getaways in every state.