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20 Exciting Thanksgiving Destinations to Mix Up Your Family Tradition

If the thought of cooking and doing dishes doesn't excite you, maybe it's time to start a new Turkey Day tradition. We've got the perfect ideas to switch things up this year!

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Autumn nature hiker girl walking in national park in Quebec with backpack. Woman tourist going camping in forest. Canada travel hiking tourism at Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Riviere-Malbaie National Park.Maridav/Shutterstock

Do something different this Thanksgiving

Is your Thanksgiving tradition feeling a little formulaic? Do you want to try something other than stuffing yourself with turkey (and stuffing and pie and everything else) and watching football on the couch? This year, take a trip instead! We guarantee that you'll make some new memories and, potentially, some cherished new traditions. And don't worry—it's not too late to get an affordable flight. Here are some smart ways you can still save on Thanksgiving flights.

cancun thanksgiving destinationCourtesy Grand Residences Riviera Cancun

Chill out at an all-inclusive resort in Cancun

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Nothing says relaxing quite like a Mexican beach vacation, and the Grand Residences Riviera Cancun Resort is about as relaxing as it gets. Enjoy a tequila tasting at the resort's own Heaven Beach Bar or a fresh seafood dinner at El Faro Grill, or just lay out on the beach and enjoy the personalized beachfront bar service. If you're feeling adventurous, go for a sailing and snorkeling trip in the National Reef Park of Puerto Morelos. And in the morning, get coffee and chilaquiles at Lola y Moya, a casual Mexican café with excellent food just steps away from the beach. When you get home, try out these easy Mexican appetizer recipes in your own kitchen.

vermont thanksgiving destinationCourtesy The Woodstock Inn & Resort

Enjoy a farm-to-table feast in Vermont

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For an unforgettable Thanksgiving dinner in a stunning setting, head to Woodstock Inn & Resort in Woodstock, Vermont. The quaint property includes the Billings Farm & Museum just a short stroll away from the guest lodgings, where you can visit the Jersey dairy cows that provide the milk and cheese for the inn's restaurants. This year, Woodstock's award-winning restaurant, the Red Rooster, will serve a special Thanksgiving Day dinner as well as a Thanksgiving buffet, all with ingredients sourced from the farm and from Kelly Way Gardens, its six-acre garden that specializes in heirloom vegetables. After dinner, cozy up by the fire with a glass of brandy at the tavern. After the holiday, head into town to visit King Arthur Flour for an artisan bread tasting and to take a baking class. While you're in Vermont, you should also check out Stowe, one of the mountain towns that are a storybook paradise in winter.

Donate food to hungry people, Concept of poverty and hungeraddkm/Shutterstock

Volunteer at a food bank

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In addition to being the season to give thanks, it's also the season to give. Why not make your Thanksgiving holiday a charitable one by volunteering with a local food bank or charity? Feeding America has partner food banks all over the country that are always accepting volunteers, and Habitat for Humanity has many ongoing home-building projects that you could join as well. Keep in mind that many charities are overwhelmed on holidays, so consider volunteering a few days before or after Thanksgiving Day. You can even make a road trip out of it by traveling to a neighboring city or state to volunteer! If you do, book a cozy condo or a chic bungalow for your stay. And to help others all year long, here are some creative ways to volunteer and really make a difference.

Outdoorsy Campervan Rentals Thanksgiving destinationsCourtesy Robin Babb/

Hit the road in a stylish camper

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Besides the feasting and football, Thanksgiving is also a great time of year for fall foliage. Why not hit the road this Thanksgiving in a rented campervan or RV to peep some leaves and get a feel for van life? No matter where you are in the country, you can find a fifth wheel, RV, camper, or trailer to rent by the night through Outdoorsy. Perhaps it's this renovated 1985 Airstream Sovereign or a 2003 Volkswagen Westfalia with a pop-up roof. Take your rolling mansion and go to some of the national parks you've been meaning to visit. And if you're feeling particularly ambitious, you can cook a whole Thanksgiving meal out of your campsite! Not sure where to go? Pick one of these 20 best places to spot fall foliage in America.

Hawaii volcano hikers people walking hiking on mountains in Haleakala volcanic background landscape. Two young tourists couple on trek hike outdoors.Maridav/Shutterstock

Tour a volcano in Hawaii

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Want to do something really different this Thanksgiving? Head to Hawaii for a special Thanksgiving Volcano Tour and Dinner with KapohoKine Adventures. You'll hike through the dramatically changed Volcanoes National Park to see Keanakāko'i Crater, Steaming Bluff, Volcano House, and more. Afterward, enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at the one-of-a-kind Volcano Winery, just steps away from the National Park, where you'll be treated to a wine tasting and a vineyard tour to learn about how the volcanic soil affects the flavors of the wine from this region. Stay the night at the Hilton Waikoloa Village, where you'll be treated to ocean views and the Kohala Spa, where you can get a massage or facial to really relax into your no-cook Thanksgiving. And while you're there, don't forget to put some of the best beaches in Hawaii on your holiday itinerary.

ranch thanksgiving destinationCourtesy C Lazy U Ranch

Kick back at a luxury dude ranch in Colorado

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For the outdoorsy family, it can't get better than spending Thanksgiving weekend at a dude ranch in Granby, Colorado. At C Lazy U, you can stay in one of the many luxury private cabins with a hot tub and fireplace, all just a short walk away from the Main Lodge and several dining options. For their Thanksgiving weekend special, you'll have the option to participate in a guided snowshoe trek, go trap shooting, or practice your archery skills at the indoor range. You'll also be treated to a gourmet Thanksgiving feast on Turkey Day, as well as a family movie night, acoustic guitar by the campfire, and cocktails in the lodge. For more travel inspiration, here are some cheap trips you can squeeze in before Christmas.

friendsgivingCourtesy Tribute Portfolio

Celebrate Friendsgiving with fellow travelers in San Diego

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Young couples or singles who don't have families to celebrate Thanksgiving with are likely familiar with the idea of Friendsgiving. This alternative to the traditional holiday feast brings together friends and neighbors to share food and warmth and to celebrate chosen family. The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, a country retreat in the hills north of San Diego (as well as other Tribute Portfolio hotels), is offering a Friendsgiving special this year that brings together travelers and locals to dine and create community. On November 23, L.A.-based artist duo Describe the Fauna will host a special workshop to teach guests how to create cyanotypes, or sun prints. On Thanksgiving Day, enjoy Executive Chef Chris Haas' signature drunken lamb and a regional take on traditional Thanksgiving dishes. If you want to host your own celebration with friends, check out these tips for hosting a thoughtful Friendsgiving dinner.

the jefferson thanksgiving destinationCourtesy The Jefferson

Indulge in a Michelin Thanksgiving in D.C.

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Is there a more appropriate Thanksgiving destination than the U.S. capital? Stay at the Jefferson, an award-winning Washington, D.C., hotel with views of the National Monument. This year, the Jefferson's Michelin-starred restaurant, Plume, will host an unparalleled Thanksgiving Day dinner that includes burgundy truffle potato vichyssoise and a carrot pineapple baked Alaska. A full vegetarian dinner is also being offered. Seating times are 11 a.m. through 7 p.m., and tickets are $108 per adult and $48 per child (12 and under). After Thanksgiving, take a day trip out to Mount Vernon, the historic home of George and Martha Washington. On your trip, regale friends and family with these wacky facts you never knew about Washington, D.C.

new york cityScott Cornell/shutterstock

Celebrate in New York City

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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 to 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 re-created in leaves and bark. Before you go, make sure to read these 16 insider secrets about the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

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