Thanksgiving is a time for gathering with loved ones, reflecting on what we're grateful for, and indulging in delicious food. But if you're looking to spice up your Turkey Day routine this year, why not venture to a new destination? From charming small towns to exciting big cities, these are America's top 35 Thanksgiving travel spots.
Escape to Serene Countryside Retreats
If you crave a peaceful countryside setting far from Black Friday crowds, these tranquil towns and remote lodges are ideal for a cozy and relaxing holiday getaway.
Soak in Scenic Vistas and Local Charm in Charlottesville, Virginia
Nestled amid the rolling hills of central Virginia, Charlottesville exudes old-world charm combined with modern energy. Meander along Downtown Mall lined with boutiques, restaurants, and historic landmarks like the Paramount Theater. Tour Thomas Jefferson’s famous estate Monticello or one of the area's numerous wineries and cideries. Relish mouthwatering Southern fare at upscale eateries like Keswick Hall or The Quirk.
Charlottesville offers gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountain scenery without the tourist crowds, making it a top choice for a serene Thanksgiving escape.
Immerse Yourself in Small Town Ambiance in Hermann, Missouri
Dubbed the Missouri Rhineland, Hermann charms visitors with its German heritage and quaint river town appeal. Climb to the top of Hermann Farm winery for panoramic Missouri River views. Explore historic downtown on foot or by bike along the Katy State Park Trail, taking in the area's German-style architecture.
Indulge in schnitzel, bratwurst and German beers at eateries like Tin Mill Brewing Co. Afterwards, retreat to charming lodgings like Inn at Hermannhof outfitted in antique furnishings. With its slower pace and old world allure, Hermann is ideal for a peaceful Thanksgiving getaway.
Take in Picturesque Waterfront Scenes in Lambertville, New Jersey
Situated along the banks of the Delaware River, Lambertville wows visitors with its natural beauty, historic Victorian charm, and thriving local art scene. Meander along the riverfront and over charming 19th century bridges. Browse the antique shops and art galleries that fill restored brick factory buildings. See an indie flick in a former supermarket at the Acme Screening Room.
Nearby, Black Shed Garden Center sprawls over 28 acres with landscaped gardens, chicken coops, and a lively bar and bistro. With this unique blend of culture, nature and small town appeal, Lambertville makes for an idyllic Thanksgiving escape.
Revel in Wintry Adventure in Lake Placid, New York
Best known for hosting the Winter Olympics in both 1932 and 1980, Lake Placid offers an abundance of cold weather activities amid spectacular mountain scenery. Ice skate on the frozen lake, ski or snowboard down Olympic slopes, take an exhilarating bobsled ride, or explore the Lake Placid Olympic Museum.
Of course, hearty Thanksgiving feasts abound at area lodges and eateries. For an unforgettable wintry holiday, Lake Placid can't be beat.
Cozy Up in Charming New England Villages
Quintessential New England towns like Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Canterbury, New Hampshire exude historic small town charm with their cobblestone streets, antique shops, and town squares. Meander through downtowns decorated for the holidays, go apple or pumpkin picking at nearby orchards and farms, indulge in delicious regional fare like fresh lobster and cider donuts. Then retreat to historic inns and B&Bs with crackling fireplaces, fluffy quilts, and views of fall foliage. For old fashioned Thanksgiving hospitality, head to these storybook New England villages.
Revel in Festive Small Town Celebrations
These charming destinations kick their holiday spirit into high gear for Thanksgiving, making them top picks for families seeking crowds, entertainment, and yummy seasonal eats.
Join Bavarian-Style Festivities in Leavenworth, Washington
Known for transforming into a traditional Bavarian village come the holidays, Leavenworth springs to life Thanksgiving weekend with the lively Christkindlmarkt Christmas market. Shop for handcrafted gifts and ornaments at the outdoor stalls, sip hot mulled wine, watch ice sculpting demos. Enjoy traditional German snacks like bratwurst and potato pancakes.
Of course, the town's Bavarian architecture and mountain views entice visitors year-round. For an extra festive and family-friendly Thanksgiving celebration, visit Leavenworth.
Experience Small Town Charm in Hawley, Pennsylvania
Nestled amid the Pocono Mountains, Hawley charms with its historic buildings, vibrant arts scene, and abundance of outdoor recreation. Come Thanksgiving, guests flock to the area's popular all-inclusive resorts like Woodloch and Silver Birches for special holiday activities and entertainment.
Enjoy horseback riding, magic shows, bonfires with s'mores, and visits from Santa at these lively lodges. Then work off the big meal on scenic hiking trails past waterfalls and colorful fall foliage.
Take in Elite Ski Town Ambiance in Park City, Utah
Not just a premier ski destination, Park City also shines over Thanksgiving with its mix of natural splendor, small town charm, and vacation amenities. Take a thrilling ride down the bobsled track, go for a scenic nature hike, or spend the afternoon browsing Main Street's shops and galleries.
At night, cozy up in front of a glowing fireplace at one of the area's luxury mountain resorts and lodges, like Deer Valley or Stein Eriksen Lodge. For an activity-packed Thanksgiving celebration with serious mountain town style, Park City is hard to top.
Behold Dazzling Fall Foliage
From the Poconos to the Rockies, these destinations showcase some of the most brilliant fall colors in the country. Time your visit for late November to take in the full fall foliage splendor.
Marvel at Blazing Fall Hues in Killington, Vermont
Famed for its vibrant leaf peeping scene, Killington attracts legions of fall foliage enthusiasts eager to soak in the dazzling autumnal display. Drive the backroads to experience mother nature's palette of bright crimsons, sunny yellows and rich oranges at their peak. Local outfitters like Killington Outdoors even offer guided fall foliage viewing tours.
Fuel up on hearty maple-inspired fare then burn off the calories on scenic hiking trails past cascading waterfalls. Come Thanksgiving, few places can match Killington's spectacular fall vistas.
Behold Golden Aspen Groves in Guanella Pass, Colorado
For post-Thanksgiving hikes through truly magical autumn scenery, head to Guanella Pass located just an hour from Denver. The scenic mountain byway climbs through the Mt. Evans Wilderness passing groves of shimmering golden aspens contrasted against dark green pines.
Stop at the summit for stunning vistas of Mt. Bierstadt and Mt. Evans, then continue the drive down to the old mining town of Georgetown to complete this stunning fall foliage road trip.
Wander Tree-Lined Streets in Winterset, Iowa
Winterset showcases the brilliance of Midwestern fall foliage with its abundance of maple, oak and cottonwood trees. For the full technicolor experience, head to covered bridge-filled Madison County in late November when the leaves are at their picturesque peak.
Visit John Wayne birthplace museum, browse the quaint shops downtown, and tour the Iowa Quilt Museum. Stay at a local B&B, relax on the porch with hot cider, and soak up those vibrant autumn hues.
Take In Iconic Events and Sights
Some Thanksgiving traditions just can't be beat. From the big parade to the original Pilgrim settlement, experience these iconic Turkey Day happenings.
Watch the Macy's Parade in New York City
For an over-the-top Thanksgiving spectacular, you can't miss New York's world-famous Macy's Day Parade. Find a prime sidewalk spot or book a hotel with views along the parade route to marvel at the colorful floats, giant balloons, music and mayhem. Afterwards, indulge in a delicious Thanksgiving feast at one of NYC's thousands of acclaimed eateries.
Journey Back in Time at Plimoth Plantation, Massachusetts
Just an hour from Boston, Plimoth Plantation authentically recreates the 17th century English colony. Costumed interpreters portray life in the Wampanoag Homesite and Pilgrim Village. See heritage breed farm animals, chat with colonists and native people, and tour the Mayflower II replica. The "living museum" provides fascinating insight into the lives of those first Thanksgiving celebrants.
Soak Up Seaside Serenity
For a true getaway from the holiday hustle, unwind at these laidback coastal retreats where beach strolls replace Black Friday crowds.
Relax in Style in Santa Barbara, California
Nicknamed the American Riviera, Santa Barbara serves up Spanish-style architecture, lush gardens, outdoor adventures, and miles of pristine beaches - along with a famously relaxed vibe. Sink your toes in the sand, unwind at a luxurious oceanfront resort, then indulge in a farm-to-table Thanksgiving feast showcasing fresh regional ingredients.
With its Mediterranean beauty and endless sunshine, a Santa Barbara escape promises pure Thanksgiving bliss.
Enjoy Ocean Views and Breezes in Long Beach, California
Long Beach offers big city amenities like an aquarium, Queen Mary ocean liner, and abundant eateries alongside chilled-out SoCal attitude. Spend Thanksgiving morning at the energetic Turkey Trot charity race where costumed participants and live bands provide entertainment.
Work up an appetite walking along the waterfront, then dine at one of the area's ocean-view restaurants. For an easygoing seaside Thanksgiving minus the crowds, Long Beach beckons.
Have a Very Merry Time
These towns embellish their streets, homes and shops with over-the-top holiday decor sure to infuse you with festive cheer.
Wander Twinkling Light Displays in Grapevine, Texas
Dubbed the "Christmas Capital of Texas," Grapevine really lights up for the winter holidays. Along Main Street, illuminated shop displays and seasonal music create a magical scene. At the free nightly Light Show Spectacular, over one million dazzling bulbs synchronized to holiday tunes delight spectators.
Nearby Great Wolf Lodge also hosts special Thanksgiving events like turkey bowling, crafts and story time with the Great Wolf Kids characters. An illuminating trip to Grapevine will get you in a festive holiday mood.
Admire Elegant Holiday Splendor in Savannah, Georgia
With its peaceful parks and elegant antebellum architecture, the pedestrians-only historic district provides a magical backdrop for Savannah's holiday finery. Strolling beneath moss-draped oaks lit with white lights, you'll feel like you've walked into a Charles Dickens novel. Stop to admire elaborate light displays and window decorations along Broughton Street.
Enjoy seasonal activities like ice skating, holiday tours, and festive meals out before warming up under the covers at a charming historic inn. If holiday charm is what you seek, Savannah hits all the marks.
From charming villages to exciting metropolises, America abounds with festive destinations sure to spice up your Thanksgiving routine. Take advantage of the long holiday weekend to experience familiar comforts and create unforgettable memories in a brand new place. Whether you crave peaceful countryside vistas, holiday hoopla for the whole family, or seaside relaxation, this list offers 35 top Thanksgiving travel ideas to ignite your holiday spirit.