Thanksgiving is about being thankful for what we have, and this year we're thankful for these eight great destinations across America!
Get a taste of the great outdoors this Thanksgiving with a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains! America's most visited National Park surely will not disappoint. In late November, expect to find an abundance of crunchy autumn-colored leaves and a lack of crowds. This makes it a great time for hiking, and with over 150 official trails in the Park, fitness and nature enthusiasts are sure to find something to match their skill level. And after an exhausting trek through the wilderness, be sure to head on over to the local Applewood Farmhouse for a full Thanksgiving spread complete with turkey, mashed potatoes, and delicious apple fritters!
Winter is coming, and fortunately, November in Miami Beach hardly lives up to the name of 'winter'. It's sure to be a non-traditional Thanksgiving, as temperatures rarely go below 70 degrees and snowfall is next to unheard of. So grab your most flattering bathing suit and head to the beach for a trip to remember.
Miami's restaurant scene really lights up during this season, and foodies are sure to delight as they celebrate at some of the best restaurants in the country. But if Miami Beach is known for its food, that's nothing compared to the shopping. Beat the crowds on Black Friday as you bargain your way through the boutiques and retail chains lining the boardwalk of Miami Beach.
Though the weather is pretty chilly this time of year, Chicago makes up for it with a vast array of holiday-worthy attractions. From high-end shopping along the Magnificent Mile to the charming Lurie Gardens, there's something for everyone in Chi-Town. For those who don't want to endure the crowds of New York's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Chicago hosts a parade of its own. And though it is a bit smaller, it still includes marching bands, elaborately decorated floats, and (everyone's favorite) enormous helium balloons. There's also the Chriskindlmarket, a market that takes place from mid-November through Christmas, where you can find delicious German food, beer, and the perfect holiday gifts for your loved ones!
Maybe it slipped your mind since seventh-grade history class, but Cape Cod was actually the official landing point of the Mayflower in 1620. And should you choose to visit this Thanksgiving, be sure to visit the 255-foot monument that proves it. Every year, on the night before Thanksgiving, there's a celebration at the monument commemorating the pilgrims' first landing in the New World. To round out the Thanksgiving experience, hop aboard the 3-hour Thanksgiving Day train ride where they serve a five-course, gourmet meal while you soak in the lazy pleasures of the craggy coastline.
Though Aspen is spectacular year-round, there's something about the fresh powdery snow that coats the ground sometime in late November that makes a visit to Aspen even more rewarding. And though most major Colorado resorts kick off their ski season during Thanksgiving, oftentimes the slopes are refreshingly crowd-free. This means more time on the bunny hill, less time waiting in line for the ski lift. And since things are still quiet, many hotels and restaurants offer specials and discounts for those who choose to spend their holiday season in Aspen. What's cozier than being curled up with a hot toddy in front of a crackling fireplace?
Sometimes referred to as "The Gathering Place," Hawaii's third-largest island is a beautiful contrast between ancient and modern-day culture. In November, when the island is in the off-season, take advantage of discounted airfare and hotels. And if simply lazing in the sweet Hawaiian sun isn't enough, you can choose from any number of activities that Oahu has to offer. Take a trip to Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve to visit the sea turtles and tropical fish, pay tribute to America's fallen soldiers at Pearl Harbor, or explore the numerous art and history museums on the island. Simply put, if you want to spend your Thanksgiving in shorts and an Aloha shirt, book your trip to Oahu and soak up the sun.
Wine lovers, listen up. There's a town just about 90 miles north of Los Angeles where over 50 different varieties of grapes are grown and fermented into high-quality vintages. This town, known by the name of Santa Barbara, is also touted for its idyllic beaches, charming Spanish architecture, and fair weather year round. It's the perfect Thanksgiving destination for those looking to spend their break enjoying great food, wine, and conversation against the backdrop of the Santa Ynez mountains. On turkey day, many of the restaurants and wineries in the region offer up a special Thanksgiving feast. Afterward, be sure to join in the fun at the Santa Barbara Zoo for the annual pumpkin smashing!
What better place to spend Thanksgiving than at Berkeley Plantation, the site of America's first Thanksgiving in 1619? Take a step (or twenty) back in time to 18th-century Virginia as you spend your day celebrating the friendship of the pilgrims and the Indians at a traditional dinner on the plantation. The day begins with an array of horse-drawn carriages, followed by magicians and re-enactments along the plantation grounds. Take a break from the excitement and visit any number of vendors who set up their shops teeming with various arts, crafts, and food.
Whether you choose Hawaii or Virgini, can't go wrong spending your Thanksgiving with friends and loved ones. Gobble gobble.