Thanksgiving means taking some time to appreciate all the blessings you have in your life, so why not give yourself even more to appreciate by planning a weekend getaway? November might not seem like the best month to travel, especially if you don't like the chilly weather, but there are plenty of great places you can go. Regardless of whether you want to spend your Thanksgiving weekend skiing in the mountains or lying on a beach, there's somewhere in the United States that's perfect for you. Without further ado, here are the best Thanksgiving destinations in the country.
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One of the first artist's colonies in the United States, Taos is a small town tucked away in the high desert of New Mexico. It's hard to tear your eyes away from the dramatic scenery surrounding the town, but once you manage to do so, you'll see that the downtown streets are lined with art galleries and restaurants serving up spicy Tex-Mex. It's easy for most visitors to spend the entire long weekend shopping and eating to your heart's content, but if you'd like to do something more active, you'll pleased to know that the local ski resort is typically open by Thanksgiving.
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Encompassing lakes, valleys, and tranquil forests, the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania are one of the best outdoor playgrounds in the country. The area is better known as a summer destination, but visitors who come around Thanksgiving will have the opportunity to enjoy a side of the mountains that many people never get to see. There are plenty of things to see and do here; the whole family can cycle along the Lehigh Gorge Trail or visit one of the town's indoor waterparks, while more extreme adventure seekers can go ziplining, stock car racing, or even skydiving.
3. San Luis Obispo
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Located in the central coast of California, San Luis Obispo is the perfect choice if you're looking for a more peaceful Thanksgiving experience than the ones offered by the nearby cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco. The city is known for its laidback atmosphere, and it boasts plenty of beautiful wineries and luxurious resorts to ensure that visitors have a truly memorable stay. Special Thanksgiving dinners are held at many of the city's best restaurants, but it's also worth taking some time to check out the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art and the 18th century Spanish mission in the main plaza.
4. Thanksgiving weekend getaways: Adirondacks
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Only a few hours away from New York City, the Adirondacks are one of the most impressive mountain ranges in the country. The weather isn't quite as sunny and welcoming over Thanksgiving weekend as it is during the summer months, but if there's not much snow on the ground, it's usually still possible to hike, fish, and cycle through the mountains. However, there are plenty of things to do in the area even if the weather isn't nice enough to spend time outside, including shopping, dining, visiting museums, and enjoying the many breweries, wineries, and distilleries.
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Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, the city of Asheville boasts a colorful arts scene and stunning views of the surrounding mountains. The city is filled with excellent restaurants, wine bars, and craft breweries, and you could easily spend the entire Thanksgiving weekend shopping if that's what you feel like; the city's downtown core is home to more than 200 local boutiques, and there are plenty of fantastic art galleries as well. If you want to get out of the city, you can always escape to one of the national forests in the mountains.
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The small but charming city of Astoria is set on the banks of the Columbia River, only several miles away from the Pacific Ocean. Time seems to move more slowly here, so it's the perfect destination for anyone who wants their Thanksgiving weekend to feel as long as possible. Many visitors come here simply to relax and unwind, but there are plenty of things to see and do if you're looking for some excitement. Go kayaking down the river, learn about local history in one of the museums, or browse the shops that line the quaint streets of downtown.
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Located at the very beginning of Georgia's Antebellum Trail, Athens is a historic Civil War town known for its gorgeous antebellum architecture and its fascinating history. Notable monuments here include the Taylor Grady House and the beautiful 19th century T.R.R. Cobb House, but the city also offers plenty of modern amenities including an excellent array of trendy shops, buzzing nightclubs, and impressive local art galleries. Visitors also come here for the city's surprisingly cutting-edge cuisine, which rivals that found in many of the bigger cities in the South; reservations are strongly recommended for anyone visiting over Thanksgiving weekend.
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The state capital of Texas, Austin offers plenty of things to keep visitors entertained and is a popular destination all throughout the year. Many Thanksgiving weekend visitors will be delighted by the city's relatively warm weather, but this isn't why most people come here for the long weekend. Instead, they come to enjoy the wide range of activities that the city has to offer; live music performances take place almost every night of the week, and the many parks and lakes found throughout the city provide plenty of opportunities for hiking, biking, cycling, swimming, and even boating.
9. Fun places to go for Thanksgiving: Boston
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Founded in 1630, Boston is one of the oldest cities in the United States. It has a fascinating history that makes it a perfect choice for visiting over Thanksgiving, and visitors can learn about the past of both the city and the country by taking a walk along the Freedom Path, a 2.5-mile trail that leads to some of the city's most important historic sites. Walking through the crisp November air is likely to work up an appetite, but luckily many of best restaurants in the city serve up special Thanksgiving lunches and dinners. Reservations are recommended.
10. Places to Visit on Thanksgiving: Brown County
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Brown County might not seem very exciting at first glace, but it's full of hidden gems that make it one of the country's best Thanksgiving destinations. Beautiful forests can be found almost everywhere you look, and there are plenty of walking paths that can be used year round. The town is a haven for artists, and it's dotted with unique art galleries and workshops. Delicious Thanksgiving dinner buffets are held at many of the hotels in the area, but if you're staying in a vacation rental, you also have the option of enjoying a pleasant evening cooking a meal with your loved ones.
11. Places to Visit on Thanksgiving: Charleston
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With its cobblestone streets and pastel-painted houses, Charleston looks like a scene straight out of a painting. The city is famed for its delicious cuisine and world-class hospitality, so it's a great place to spend the weekend counting your blessings. Plenty of holiday events are held throughout the city over the long weekend, including a turkey trot with free beer, but you can also spend the day simply exploring the city by horse-drawn carriage. If you'd prefer to go for a gentle stroll, the Battery promenade and Waterfront Park are both excellent options that provide great views of the harbor.
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Denver offers natural beauty and a lively cultural scene: Two of the only things you need to have a great long weekend. There are plenty of things to see and do here; highlights include visiting the modern Denver Art Museum, admiring the 19th century buildings in Larimer Square, and exploring the more than 100 brewpubs and breweries in the area. The city is also proud to host plenty of family-friendly activities over the course of the weekend, including a free celebration at Denver Union Station and a light-up event that sees much of downtown Denver illuminated by beautiful lights.
13. Places to Visit on Thanksgiving: Durango
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Formerly a mining town, Durango is a charming small community surrounded by mountains and canyons. There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the beautiful outdoors; the local Purgatory Resort is usually open for skiing and snowboarding just in time for the long weekend, but visitors who arrive before the snow flies will still be able to hike and mountain bike. If you have enough time, another big attraction here is the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, a vintage train that will take you on a scenic 9-hour journey out to the town of Silverton and back.
14. Places to go for Thanksgiving: Galena
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Hidden away in northern Illinois, Galena is a beautiful small town that was originally established as a home for lead miners seeking their fortune. The lead mining industry is no longer a draw to the area, but today the city is known for its rich history; an impressive 85% of the town has been designated a National Historic District, and the town holds the honor of having briefly been the home of former American president Ulysses S. Grant. It's well worth taking the time to explore Galena's charming downtown core, but don't forget to venture out of town to hike, cycle, and horseback ride.
15. Jackson Hole
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Surrounded entirely by mountains, Jackson Hole provides endless opportunities to enjoy some of the best wilderness in the country. November is one of the town's quietest months; the area's famed ski resorts aren't open yet, so the crowds that flock here to ski and snowboard haven't yet arrived. However, all this means is that Thanksgiving weekend visitors have more time to enjoy the fantastic art galleries, boutique shops, and excellent restaurants that line the streets of the postcard-perfect town. Exploring the two nearby national parks is also an option, but depending on the year, you might need to rent a pair of snowshoes.
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Known as the "Horse Capital of the World," Lexington is a great Thanksgiving destination regardless of whether or not you love horses. Of course, the area surrounding the city is filled with world-class horse farms that can be visited, but there are also opportunities to explore historical monuments, watch the popular UK Wildcats play basketball or football, and enjoy gourmet cuisine. The city is also a perfect base for anyone interested in exploring the famous Kentucky bourbon trail; three bourbon distilleries can be found within the town itself, and there are at least five more within a 25-mile radius.
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17. Mackinac Island
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Sitting in Lake Huron, Mackinac Island is a tiny island with plenty of charm. Many people find it too cold to participate in watersports over the Thanksgiving weekend, but you can still explore Fort Mackinac, admire the artwork at the local art museum, and visit the island's fudge factory. There are no cars on the island, but you can easily get around by foot, by bicycle, or even by electric scooter. Another popular option is to take a tour of the island in a horse-drawn carriage; led by knowledgeable guides, these tours provide a unique insight into the island's culture and history.
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Home of barbecued ribs and blues music, Memphis has a special charm that draws foodies and music lovers alike. Beale Street is the place to be if you want to hear some live music, but the city is also full of historical music landmarks, including Elvis Presley’s Graceland mansion and the Blues Hall of Fame. No matter what you choose to have for Thanksgiving dinner, you can't leave the city without indulging in its famous barbecue at least once. After a satisfying meal, head outside to stroll alongside the Mississippi River and enjoy the crisp autumn air.
19. Best places to go for Thanksgiving: Myrtle Beach
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Set in the heart of the Atlantic's Grand Strand, Myrtle Beach is the perfect place to base yourself if you'd like to spend the long weekend exploring the 60 miles of beaches found along the Strand. If you're looking for something a little more relaxing than a typical beach vacation, the city also offers world-class golfing, plenty of excellent museums, and a boardwalk lined with appealing shops and restaurants. The city also offers lively nightlife, but if you're visiting with your family, you can spend time at the aquarium or at one of the seaside amusement parks.
20. Places to Visit on Thanksgiving: Ogunquit
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Tucked between the Atlantic Ocean and the Ogunquit River, the town of Ogunquit is the perfect place to get away from it all. The town isn't nearly as busy over Thanksgiving weekend as it is during the summer months, so if you're willing to brave the cold, it shouldn't be hard to get a spot to yourself on one of the area's beautiful beaches. If you'd like more of a bird's eye view, go for a walk along the clifftop path known as Marginal Way. Of course, you can also visit the independent art galleries and quaint shops that line the downtown streets.
21. Places to Visit on Thanksgiving: Pella
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Originally settled by Dutch immigrants in 1847, Pella has a colorful heritage unlike anywhere else in the United States. The city holds the honor of being home to the biggest operational grain windmill in America, and the architecture here will make visitors feel like they've been transported straight to the streets of Holland. There are several interesting museums you can visit if you'd like to learn about the area's culture and history, and Pella is also a wonderful place to base yourself if you'd like to spend some time at the largest lake in the state, Lake Red Rock.
22. Places to Visit on Thanksgiving: Philadelphia
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As the famed location of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, Philadelphia is certainly a fitting Thanksgiving weekend destination. Countless museums and historical sites can be found throughout the city; some of the most notable include Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and the many museums found along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Of course, most visitors make time to enjoy some of the city's incredible cuisine as well – a visit to Philadelphia almost isn't complete without chowing down on a Philly cheesesteak or paying a visit to the food stalls at the Reading Terminal Market.
23. Places to Visit on Thanksgiving: Plymouth
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If you'd like to spend Thanksgiving as close to its origins as possible, look no further than the city of Plymouth, the national symbol of where the holiday began. It should come as no surprise that the city takes Thanksgiving quite seriously; festive brunches, lunches, and dinners are held at restaurants and hotels all throughout Plymouth, and tickets to these events often sell out completely. However, there are plenty of other things to keep visitors entertained as well, including Plymouth Rock, Pilgrim Memorial State Park, and the National Monument to the Forefathers.
24. Places to Visit on Thanksgiving: Sperryville
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One of America's true hidden gems, the tiny town of Sperryville was founded in 1820 and still has plenty of its original charm. One of the best things to do here is rent a remote cabin with a few of your closest friends or family members and simply spend the weekend enjoying each other's company; the town doesn't have much of a nightlife scene, but this is exactly why visitors come here. The town also provides convenient access to nearby Shenandoah National Park, which provides plenty of recreational opportunities, even at the end of November.
25. Places to Visit on Thanksgiving: Stillwater
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Set on the picturesque St. Croix River, Stillwater is one of the oldest towns in Minnesota. Despite the town's small size, it offers an abundance of excellent spas, shops, and art galleries, many of which are open for at least part of the Thanksgiving long weekend. Rooftop patios are especially popular with the restaurants and bars here, and live music performances are often held at the town's various brewpubs and wine bars. However, many visitors come here to simply kick back, relax, and enjoy the beauty of the river and the bluffs found around the town.
What are the 25 Best Places to Visit on Thanksgiving?
The 25 Best Places to Visit on Thanksgiving according to local experts are: