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Traditional Thanksgiving gatherings at home can be fantastic family events. But if you’re the one hosting, they can also be stressful and a lot of work! Consider switching the routine by instead taking a fun family vacation this holiday season. Take a break from the preparation, cooking, and cleanup to maximize time with family and create new life-long memories. Here are twelve Thanksgiving getaways for families to consider for the holiday season. You may even start a new Thanksgiving family tradition!
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There is something to be said for enjoying the change in seasons; the sight of bright orange pumpkins and colorful leaves falling through the crisp autumn air. But there is an equally compelling argument for staying or going someplace warm for the holidays! With excellent late November weather, beautiful beaches, warm golf courses, and plenty of family-friendly activities, SoCal is a fantastic Thanksgiving destination for the whole family.
There are several magnificent holiday light shows in the greater Los Angeles area, including the internationally acclaimed Lightscape 2022 at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanical Gardens located in Arcadia, GLOW at the South Coast Botanic Gardens in Palos Verdes Hills (kids two and under are free!), and the always popular LA Zoo Lights for the entire family.
Several excellent SoCal restaurants are eager to serve your family a delicious Thanksgiving feast: Santa Monica’s iconic oceanfront restaurant 1 Pico, located within Shutters on the Beach, will serve a traditional thanksgiving meal with a 3-course menu that highlights the classics while also providing vegan options and festive cocktails, The Belvedere, located in the Peninsula Beverly Hills will serve a traditional thanksgiving dinner in four-courses through a seated family-style dinner accompanied by live music throughout the day, and the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach plans to serve an impressive buffet consisting of traditional and non-traditional Thanksgiving dishes.
A little farther south, families can enjoy the San Diego Zoo (open on Thanksgiving), and it is hard to beat a family stroll through Balboa Park on a beautiful day. Several high-quality, family-friendly restaurants in San Diego will serve Thanksgiving feasts, including Island Prime and C-Level, which will provide three-course meals accompanied by magnificent views of the San Diego skyline. The city has many family-friendly luxury hotels, such as the Manchester Grand Hyatt and the Humphreys Half Moon Inn. San Diego is really one of the best places for outdoor activities in November throughout the United States.
National Parks are open on Thanksgiving! Here are a few unique Thanksgiving options for your family.
Yosemite National Park, California
While beautiful all year round, the lack of summer crowds at Yosemite National Park makes November an excellent time for a family trip or a great place for a long weekend. The luxurious Ahwahnee Lodge, the “crown jewel of the National Park lodges,” hosts an annual Thanksgiving Day buffet dinner. The nearby Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite also hosts a full buffet or a plated menu at Jackalope’s Bar and Grill. The best way your family can work off the delicious Thanksgiving feast is by embarking on one of the many famous Yosemite hikes. They also show dive-in movies at their indoor pool.
Sequoia National Park, California
Want to show your children the largest tree in the world? Then you should consider a Thanksgiving family trip to Sequoia National Park, located in the southern Sierra Nevada just east of Visalia, California. In November, there will be fewer crowds as you take your family for a drive or a hike through the park, where children are amazed by the massive sequoia trees, including General Sherman, the largest tree on earth! On Thanksgiving Day, the nearby Montecito Sequoia Lodge hosts a Thanksgiving feast (prepared and cleaned by somebody else!) included in their all-inclusive packages.
DON’T MISS! Most Fun Things To Do In Visalia For Families
Arches National Park, Utah
Located just north of Moab and bordered by the Colorado River, Arches National Park contains more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches. The park has a variety of hikes available for all levels, many of which provide viewpoints of arches not visible from the roads. Arches is also a certified dark sky park, meaning the lack of light pollution enables families to have spectacular night sky views. The Sorrel River Ranch provides a riverside escape that is the perfect place for families exploring Arches and the nearby region. The ranch also provides an annual Thanksgiving dinner feast with a guided national park tour.
Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina
A Thanksgiving vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains can be a great way to stretch your holiday travel budget without sacrificing fun. Fewer leaves on the trees mean you will have better views along the many great hikes available for all levels. The Fontana Village Resort and Marina hosts a popular annual Thanksgiving feast. Multiple local restaurants are also open on Thanksgiving. Your family could find one to be the perfect destination to chill out and watch Thanksgiving football games.
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Known for its beautiful fall foliage, Shenandoah National Park is an easy drive from the three airports around Washington, DC. Shenandoah has several beautiful day hikes resulting in spectacular panoramic vista views. The famous Skyland Lodge will host an annual (and budget-friendly) Thanksgiving Day feast for families.
San Francisco, California
The Golden City has several Thanksgiving feasts available at some of the best restaurants in the area. Among the most notable are Ayesha Curry and Michael Mina’s International Smoke, which has a delicious Thanksgiving menu. Local favorites Third Cousin and One Market also serve popular Thanksgiving Day dinners and a mean pumpkin pie!
For such an incredible international city, San Francisco has several low-cost or free things for families to do. The Aquarium by the Bay, located at the edge of Pier 39, is open on Thanksgiving and is a top destination for families. You can visit the Twin Peaks summit for panoramic views of the city or drive to the nearby Muir Woods National Historic Monument to admire the towering iconic old-growth redwood trees. And, of course, a view of the Golden Gate Bridge should be on any visitor’s list of destinations. For a completely different Thanksgiving Day experience, an Indigenous People’s Sunrise Gathering takes place on Alcatraz Island every Thanksgiving, commemorating the 1969-1971 occupation of the island by the Indians of All Tribes. Perhaps more suitable for older children, this could be an exciting and valuable learning experience, although the early wake-up may be challenging. The ceremony is free, but ferry tickets cost around $14.
Lake Tahoe, California
For skiers and non-skiers alike, November is an excellent cold weather trip to the Lake Tahoe area. Your family will encounter fewer crowds yet still be able to enjoy the great activities the area has to offer. Drive to Emerald Bay Lookout, located within Emerald Bay State Park, for the best lake views. North Star California and Heavenly Mountain Ski Resort project a mid-November start to the 2022 winter ski season, so your family can enjoy winter sports during your Thanksgiving holiday. The 2.4-mile-long Heavenly Mountain Gondola is a popular family activity that rivals Park City with stunning panoramic lake views from the 8-person glass cabins. At the end of the ride, there are a variety of hiking trails for all levels and abilities. Reward your kids when you’re done. It’s the perfect time for some hot chocolate.
Multiple Lake Tahoe restaurants are open to serve your family delicious Thanksgiving Day meals. Notably, the luxurious Lake Tahoe Ritz Carlton hosts a large traditional Thanksgiving Day feast at their flagship restaurant, Manzanita.
The Centennial State is another excellent destination for families interested in holiday ski destinations.
The iconic Hotel Jerome, consistently voted among the best hotels in the region, has been in operation since 1889 and hosted cowboys long before it hosted families for memorable ski vacations. This year, the ski season kicks off on November 23 on the Aspen Snowmass, just in time for a Thanksgiving vacation. Hotel Jerome will host a four-course Harvest Feast on Thanksgiving Day, serving both traditional and non-traditional options.
Located in the southwest corner of Colorado, Telluride is another excellent destination for a Thanksgiving family ski vacation. Set against towering 14,000-foot Rocky Mountain peaks, Telluride’s Madeline Hotel and Residences provides another luxury thanksgiving vacation option that includes a special Thanksgiving feast. The day after the dinner, guests can take advantage of Madeline’s complimentary special wellness classes.
Looking for a memorable way to celebrate Thanksgiving? Get out of town to one of these 12 destinations for the perfect family trip!
No Thanksgiving vacation destination list is complete without New England!
Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts – Historians consider the first Thanksgiving to have taken place in the Plymouth Colony in 1621. Located less than an hour from Boston, consider taking your family to the original site of Thanksgiving in America! Every autumn, the Plimoth Paxtuxet Museum, which brings the history of Plymouth Colony and the Indigenous homeland to life, offers a Thanksgiving feast. Pilgrims and indigenous role players provide historical interpretation for guests. It probably does not get much more “Thanksgiving” than having a family feast at Plymouth Rock. Family-friendly local hotel options include Hampton Inn and Suites Plymouth and Harbourtown Suites.
Newport, Rhode Island – Located on Aquidneck Island and best known for the Gilded Age mansions that dot Bellevue Avenue, Newport is an underrated east coast destination for your family. The famous 3.5-mile cliff walk provides panoramic ocean views set against famous Gilded age mansions and museums. While it will probably not be a warm walk in November, it will not be crowded either! Families can celebrate Thanksgiving at The Vanderbilt Auberge Resorts Collection, which will host a Thanksgiving Feast featuring classic New England fare.
Kennebunk, Maine – Located in one of the oldest settlements in New England, the small town of Kennebunk’s White Barn Inn hosts a variety of immersive experiences for Thanksgiving. The Inn hosts a Gratitude Hike on Thanksgiving morning on the nearby hiking trails where guests can learn about the history of Kennebunk. The White Barn Inn hosts a three-course Thanksgiving Feast. If that is not enough delicious dining for your family, the next day, the Inn hosts a Thanksgiving Bounty Lunch, which is likely a better take on Turkey Day leftovers than you’ve experienced before!
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