Carving Thanksgiving turkey

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The Best Places for a Thanksgiving Getaway 2023

With the Thanksgiving holiday just around the corner, you might be looking for a way to get out of cooking this year. I suggest you escape for the weekend and enjoy the holiday at one of the Best Places for a Thanksgiving Getaway on this list!

Whether you are looking for an active Thanksgiving destination or one with the ultimate picture-perfect autumn scenery, this list has you covered. Organized around three primary themes: historic destinations, active trips, and food-focused, there is something for you on this list. I compiled this list with several types of people in mind: foodies, outdoor enthusiasts, shoppers, and even football fans. The long Thanksgiving weekend is the unofficial start of the holiday season. It’s the perfect time of year to escape to a place where the long weekend is packed with many activities.

Let’s start with some historic places that are perfect destinations for a Thanksgiving Getaway:

Boston

Thanksgiving in Boston offers tons of things to do. Since Boston is where it all started, that seems appropriate. Plymouth, which is less than an hour from Boston, is thought to be where the first harvest feast took place in 1621. But if you visit Boston this Thanksgiving weekend, it’s more likely to be about Black Friday bargain shopping, a Bruins game, sparkling Christmas lights at Faneuil Hall Marketplace, or ice skating on Frog Pond.

Row houses in Boston during the fall
Historic Boston Photo by Matt Collamer from Unsplash

A favorite spot for Black Friday is Newbury Street, where you’ll find everything from designer boutiques to top-end consignment stores to big-box discounters. For your dose of history, explore Plymouth (Plimouth) Plantation, an authentic re-creation of the Pilgrim’s first settlement where actors play the role of the 17th-century settlers. And if you want to work off your dinner, try hiking the 2-mile Abigail Adams Trail with summit views of the Boston skyline.

Are you looking for some dinner options? Check out Precinct Kitchen + Bar, which serves a special Thanksgiving dinner from 12 noon to 7 p.m., or Hampshire House, located in a Beacon Hill mansion upstairs from the original Cheers.

Philadelphia

Boston might be where it all started, but Philadelphia is where it all came together. Visit the birthplace of the nation for Thanksgiving. This historic city is home to the nation’s oldest Thanksgiving Day Parade, which makes its way down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Thanksgiving morning. It’s also the perfect time to take in some of the country’s first capital’s historic sites, including the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the Betsy Ross House.

Downtown Philadelphia during the fall
Philadelphia Photo by Jimmy Woo from Unsplash

Get outside at the Blue Cross Riverrink Winterfest, a fantastic outdoor ice rink with spectacular views of the Delaware River. And if shopping is your sport, Philadelphia has what you are looking for; from famous malls like King of Prussia to Fashion District Philadelphia on East Market Street to historic neighborhoods like Second and Third Street in Old City, you can shop till you drop.

Experience a culinary delight with a Thanksgiving dinner at James Beard winning Fork, or try a buffet at Bank & Bourbon located in Center City.

Another great activity while in Philadelphia is a visit to Longwood or Winterthur Gardens, check out my post A Visit To Two Amazing Gardens Near Philadelphia, Longwood and Winterthur.

New York City

Home to the mother of all parades, New York City is the perfect place to celebrate Thanksgiving. See the enormous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in person this year. Or better yet, get a peek behind the curtain. Head to the streets around the American Museum of Natural History, where the balloons are inflated, and it’s a great place to snap a few photos. But you have to get there early.

For the shopper, there is no better place than NYC. Check out the stores lining Fifth Avenue and be the first to see the spectacular holiday windows. It’s also the perfect time to check out the Union Square Holiday Market, one of the largest in the nation. Read more about it and other Christmas markets in my post 21 Best Christmas Markets in The US for 2023.

Buildings reflected in pond at Central Park in the fall
Central Park NYC Photo by Emily Kessler from Unsplash

If you want to get outside during your visit, head to Central Park. You can stroll around the park or even ice skate at Wollman Rink. Central Park has many fun things to do during your Thanksgiving getaway.

Are you looking for dinner? Reserve your table at one of Manhattan’s best Italian restaurants, Ci Siamo, or go more classic and try Tavern On The Green in Central Park.

Williamsburg, Virginia

Thanksgiving week is full of festive events for the whole family. It’s also the perfect time to kick off Christmas with charming historic holiday decorations adorning Colonial Williamsburg. Throughout the day on Thanksgiving, there are several special presentations, including a re-enactment of George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation.

Governor's Palace Colonial Williamsburg
Colonial Williamsburg Photo by Christian Alvarez from Unsplash

Even the shopper won’t feel left out in Williamsburg. Sure, they won’t get to rush the doors at a big box, but there are plenty of charming shops in Willamsburg’s Merchant Square.

Enjoy a prix fixe Thanksgiving dinner from 11:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. at Christiana Campbell’s Tavern, or sit down to a three-course menu at the historic King’s Arms Tavern.

Washington, D.C.

Late November is a great time to visit the nation’s capital. After enjoying a turkey day feast, stroll the National Mall or take in one of the fantastic Smithsonian Museums (all open on Thanksgiving Day). Want to earn your piece of pie? Sign up for America’s Trot for Hunger (Washinton’s annual turkey trot), starting in Freedom Plaza and running along the National Mall, past the U.S. Capital. It’s a great way to explore the city.

Christmas markets in Washington D.C.
Washington D.C.

Not a runner? Maybe shopping is your sport; D.C. has many great shopping areas to check out on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. Try the Georgetown neighborhood, where the streets are lined with indie specialty shops and high-end boutiques. Or head over to CityCenterDC, the downtown shopping area with a mix of shops and restaurants.

Go gourmet for Thanksgiving, and make a reservation at Gravitas, a Michelin-starred restaurant offering a holiday 4-course prix fixe menu. If you want something more casual, try Unconventional Diner, which serves a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

Next up is a list of active holiday destinations that are perfect for Thanksgiving:

Any National Park

If you are a nature lover, why not take advantage of the great outdoors at any of the country’s National Parks? One great park to visit in late November is Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park. You might even catch a last glimpse of the fall colors. The park offers some great hiking options and many great views along the park’s famed Skyline Drive. There are also several accommodations along the route, including the Sklyand Resort. You probably won’t find any doorbuster Black Friday deals along this route, but you will discover six gift shops along Skyline Drive, the perfect place to pick up some holiday gifts.

Fall foliage in Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park Photo by Akhila Katuri from Unsplash

The Pollack Dining Room of the Skyland Restaurant offers a great Thanksgiving dinner. It is one of the most popular in the National Park System—a buffet-style meal with all the traditional Thanksgiving offerings.

Before visiting a national park check out my post National Park Etiquette — Do’s And Don’t While Visiting.

Park City, UT

There are usually two reasons to celebrate in Park City in late November; the first is Thanksgiving, and the more important one is the start of ski season. Usually, the first runs down the mountain happen around Thanksgiving; it’s a time to celebrate. The official opening day for Park City Mountain is November 17, 2023. Not looking to put on the skis, there are a lot of outdoor activities from Turkey Trots to fall hikes. Or you can cozy up to the fire and take in the stunning views.

Three people skiing down the slopes in Park City Utah
Skiing Utah

Main Street’s trendy boutiques are the perfect place to spend Small Business Saturday. Several small shops are also out in Kimball Junction to keep you busy.

After a day of skiing or hiking, Montage Deer Valley’s Apex has a great holiday dinner. Or you could go a more intimate route and order a takeout meal from Saltbox.

Sedona, AZ

A Thanksgiving in Sedona is one of red rock beauty and outdoor adventures. The weather in late November is 60’s and 70’s and perfect for getting outdoors. Start your turkey day with a hike. Some of the best hikes are Boyton Canyon trail or The Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte Loop. Or, if you want to burn off the calories, head to Bear Mountain. After your hike, book a spa appointment; Sedona has many amazing day spas to choose from. If you want other non-hiking adventures, check out my post Top Things to Do In Sedona Besides Hiking.

Red Rocks along highway in Sedona
Sedona Photo by Kyle Fritz from Unsplash

For the Black Friday bargain hunter, check out The Outlets at Anthem, just north of Phoenix, with over 60 outlets. But staying closer to home, Uptown Sedona has many wonderful shops and galleries.

Why not try a southwest/Latin flair for your dinner? Make a reservation at Mariposa. The views are lovely, and the food is outstanding. Another restaurant by Mariposa Chef Lisa Dahl is Cucina Rustica.

Jackson Hole, WY

Thanksgiving in Jackson Hole can only be described as picturesque. The mountain backdrop and the start of ski season make for the perfect destination to spend Thanksgiving. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Teton Village has its grand opening on November 24; while the snow might not be epic at this time of year, there’s a good chance the skier in your group could get a few runs in. Another great outdoor activity is taking in the wildlife. Join a wildlife tour at sunrise or sunset. A number of companies offer tours and a chance to see elk, moose, and even bison. And don’t miss the arrival of Santa and the lighting of the elk antler arches in town on the day after Thanksgiving.

Antler Arch in Jackson Hole with Christmas lights
Jackson Hole, Wyoming

The town of Jackson has a great selection of small shops and boutiques that will make for a great afternoon of shopping on Friday or Saturday.

The Silver Dollar Bar and Grill in the Wort Hotel offers a buffet dinner, and you could also check out Gather-Jackson Hole for a traditional turkey dinner.

The Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

Get your hiking boots ready. Gatlinburg, TN, is a great place to spend the Thanksgiving holiday. You can still take in the fall leaves in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in late November. From November 4 through January 6, 2024, visitors of all ages will delight in Dollywood’s whimsical winter wonderland of lights, rides, and Christmas spirit.

Are you looking for some unique holiday gifts? Check out the Gatlinburg Thanksgiving Arts and Crafts Show at the Gatlinburg Convention Center from November 21st through the 26th.

Building in Gatlinburg Tennessee
Gatlinburg, TN Photo by Sean Foster from Unsplash

The Old Mill Restaurant serves delicious comfort food and a genuinely southern Thanksgiving dinner.

And finally, here is a list of foodie-inspired holiday destinations that are perfect for Thanksgiving:

Las Vegas, NV

Las Vegas may seem like an odd place to spend Thanksgiving, but it checks all the boxes: great food, sporting events, and shopping. Catch every play at Stadium Swim, where you can relax in one of six pools with a massive 40-foot tall high-definition screen. Catch a show at any one of the great venues along the strip. Almost all of them are open on Thanksgiving day. And if shopping is your preference, you have lots to choose from, including Fashion Show with over 250 shops and boutiques, or check out the Las Vegas North Premium Outlets if you’re searching for a bargain.

The Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas sign on the strip
Las Vegas Photo by Sung Shin from Unsplash

Let a celebrity chef cook your Thanksgiving dinner at Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House, or indulge in a Thanksgiving buffet at one of the many buffets on the strip.

Looking to make this a road trip, check out my post 5-Day Itinerary of Utah National Parks From Las Vegas.

Charleston, SC

Late November is the perfect time to visit Charleston, South Carolina. The weather has cooled off, and the crowds have left. It’s the ideal time to tour the historic district in Charleston; check out one of the many house tours or maybe a haunted ghost tour. Spend the day at the beach, head over to Sullivan Island or Isle of Palm for a relaxing day before you take in a gourmet southern Thanksgiving dinner.

Streets of Charleston at dusk.
Charleston, SC Photo by David Martin from Unsplash

One of the best places to enjoy a feast with a view is at The Watch Rooftop Kitchen & Spirits. But Charleston is one of the top culinary destinations in the United States, so save room to enjoy dinners at both Husk and Hall’s Chophouse.

Napa, CA

Thanksgiving dinner is only complete with pumpkin pie and a bottle of wine (or two). Head to Napa and Sonoma this holiday season. Hop on the Napa Valley Wine Train for a Thanksgiving adventure. Thanksgiving aboard the Wine Train includes a gourmet feast and a luxuriously vintage setting to enjoy Napa’s stunning fall landscape. While many wineries are closed on Thanksgiving day, you will find a few to visit, and the next day, you will find all the wineries are open for wine tasting. Napa and Sonoma are also great places to hike and burn off your dinner; head to Bothe-Napa Valley State Park in the heart of the beautiful Napa Valley wine country. The park offers over 10 miles of hiking trails.

Rows of grapes in Napa Valley
Napa Valley Photo by Daniel Salgado from Unsplash

Napa and St. Helena are filled with excellent shopping options—and even more top-notch restaurants. Reserve a table at the girl & the fig in Sonoma for a delicious Thanksgiving dinner.

Savannah, GA

Fall is the perfect time to visit Savannah, stroll the many town squares, and enjoy the fall decor. While in Savannah for Thanksgiving, start the holiday season with the Savannah Harbor Boat Parade of Lights. Or take the Savannah ghost tour; it’s a great way to see the city. River Street is lined with shops, bars, and restaurants for a pleasant stroll on Black Friday or Small Business Saturday,

Savannah street lines with pumpkins in fall
Savannah, GA

Check out The Olde Pink House for a Thanksgiving dinner experience. The legendary family-style restaurant Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room serves a traditional meal the day before or after Thanksgiving if you didn’t get enough turkey.

Santa Fe, NM

A visit to Santa Fe is terrific at any time of the year. But the weather is perfect at Thanksgiving to get outdoors and enjoy New Mexico’s wilder side. Weather permitting, Ski Santa Fe opens on Thanksgiving day and has a wonderful range of terrain, from beginner slopes to more challenging runs. After skiing or hiking, warm up and relax at one of Santa Fe’s soaking spas or hot springs. And for the shopper, Santa Fe is heaven. This small town has some of the country’s top galleries as well as gift shops where you will find unique gifts.

Nestled at the base of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, SkyFire is an excellent option for a one-of-a-kind dining experience.

Luminaries on adobe in Santa Fe
Farolitos on the Loretto Hotel
Below are links and resources to help you plan The perfect trip

Travel Resources

  • HOTELS
    Booking.com and Expedia.com are great resources for accommodations around the world. Book almost any hotel directly from these links.
  • TOURS
    The best places to book tours and activities are Viator or Get Your Guide . From great food tours to guided hiking adventures to local walking tours, you will find great experiences to add to your travels here.
  • FOOD EXPERIENCES
    EatWith is a great resource for authentic culinary experiences with passionate locals worldwide. Connecting travelers with hosts in over 130 countries, providing unique, intimate, and immersive experiences in private homes and exclusive venues.
  • TRAINS
    Trainline is Europe’s leading train and coach app. They work with over 210 rail and coach companies to help their customers travel to thousands of destinations across 45 countries. 

The links above contain product affiliate links. We may receive a commission at no additional cost to you if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links. But your support of Fork & Wander is greatly appreciated!

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