9 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 Thanksgiving, 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. If you feel like being active, take the family on the NYC Pilgrim Pedal. It’s a 10-mile ride that covers Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, with a much-needed stop for a pancake breakfast at a Brooklyn diner. 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 to. 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 more of our favorite beach vacations in the U.S.
Get off the couch and go to the game…
Scott Taetsch CSM REX Shutterstock
…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 2017 super special by actually hitting the stadium? The three games of the day will feature the Minnesota Vikings versus the Detroit Lions, the Dallas Cowboys versus the Los Angeles Chargers, and the Washington Redskins versus the New York Giants. Take a look at the full breakdown of the NFL games on Thanksgiving. (Check to see if your favorite stadium is on our list of the top 10 football stadiums.)
Kick off ski season in the rocky mountains
Stuart Forster REX Shutterstock
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 by Thanksgiving, 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. Are you a snow addict? Check out these surprising facts you never knew about snow.
Head to coastal North Carolina
Gary C. Tognoni/shutterstock
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. Here are nine meaningful Thanksgiving traditions you’ll want to steal no matter where you’re celebrating.
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, to which it’s highly recommended you 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. Taking your dog? Here are our favorite dog-friendly national parks.
Get tropical in Tahiti
Maybe what you want this Thanksgiving 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 have the opportunity to 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, you should know that this is the cheapest time to book your airline ticket.