The 10 Best Places to Travel for Thanksgiving
The 10 Best Places to Travel for Thanksgiving
Looking for a break from the Thanksgiving doldrums? Yes, we’re talking about having to endure your eccentric uncle’s endless political rant at the Thanksgiving dinner table, sprawling on the couch watching lousy football games all day, braving the swarming crowds on Black Friday and feasting on rancid leftovers the entire weekend. Why not mix it up this year and opt for an amazing Thanksgiving weekend vacation getaway that you will remember forever? Whether you are seeking Thanksgiving holiday beach getaways, Thanksgiving ski weekends or big city Thanksgiving destinations, you will find something to satisfy your family’s needs from the below list of Thanksgiving travel ideas. Discover the 10 best places to travel for Thanksgiving in the United States and learn why these traditional and not-so-traditional holiday travel destinations will give you a reason to give thanks!
1 | Orlando, Florida | Known as the undisputed “Vacation Capital of the World,” Orlando provides the ideal destination for a Thanksgiving weekend Orlando getaway with its beautiful weather, world-famous theme parks, family-friendly dining (many of which offer Turkey Day specials such as Drafts Sports Bar & Grill), championship golf courses and abundance of family-friendly festive celebrations. Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Orlando are all decked out for Thanksgiving (well, mostly Christmas to be specific!) and each Orlando theme park offers special holiday festivities. And if you discover that you just can’t possibly entertain the idea of not taking advantage of Black Friday deals, you can always check out popular Orlando outlet malls such as Orlando International Premium Outlets, Orlando Outlet Marketplace and Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets. College hoops fans will want to catch all the high-flying basketball action at the AdvoCare Invitational, which takes place November 22, 23 and 25, 2018, at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and features Villanova, FSU, Charleston, LSU, Memphis, UAB, Canisius and Oklahoma State.
2 | Gatlinburg, Tennessee | Known as the “Gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains,” Gatlinburg comes alive during the Thanksgiving holiday as the city hosts a variety of seasonal festivities such as the Great Smoky Thanksgiving Arts & Crafts Show (November 20-25, 2018) and Smoky Mountain Christmas (now through January 5, 2019) at Dollywood theme park – all surrounded by the spectacular beauty of the majestic Smokies! Highlights of Thanksgiving in Gatlinburg include tons of family-friendly attractions and outdoor recreational opportunities, as well as abundant holiday shopping opportunities and just the perfect dose of crisp fall weather. Don’t miss the chance to enjoy the scenic majesty of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (check for alerts concerning any road closures due to weather conditions before you go), splash around at Wild Bear Falls Water Park and explore all the colorful sights and sounds of downtown Gatlinburg, home to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, Gatlinburg Space Needle, Ober Gatlinburg (snow tubing opens here on November 17, 2018), Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Odditorium, Gatlinburg SkyLift and other attractions.
3 | New York City, New York | Nothing says Thanksgiving in the Big Apple more than bundling up and heading out to the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade! It’s simply one of the best NYC events of the entire winter holiday season. After the parade, savor a Thanksgiving feast in Manhattan at one of the critically acclaimed eateries (be sure to make reservations well in advance!) and shop Black Friday deals along Fifth Avenue. There’s plenty to do in “The City That Never Sleeps” with limitless NYC points of interest, whether you choose to stroll through Central Park and check out such attractions as Strawberry Fields (John Lennon memorial) and the Belvedere Castle, enjoy the sights from the Top of the Rock, view the Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry, take a selfie at Times Square, catch the Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall or experience a critically acclaimed Broadway Show.
4 | Park City, Utah | Nothing beats spending Thanksgiving in Park City – “Winter’s Favorite Town!” With Park City ski season set to open on November 21, 2018 (the day before Thanksgiving!), now is the perfect opportunity to book your Thanksgiving ski weekend in this charming ski town nestled within the scenic Wasatch Mountains. With world-class ski resorts abounding, Park City boasts more than 9,500 skiable acres and over 400 ski runs, Park City boasts some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the world! Explore Park City’s Historic Main Street with its quaint specialty shops, fine dining and bars, antique stores and art galleries. Experience one of the approximately 150 restaurants in Park City such as the award-winning Edge Steakhouse and Drafts Burger Bar. Traditional holiday events held during Thanksgiving weekend in Park City include the Electric Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony, both of which take place on Saturday, November 25, 2018.
5 | Las Vegas, Nevada | An ideal choice for a Thanksgiving weekend escape, Las Vegas lives up to its name as “The Entertainment Capital of the World” with lively casinos that offer nonstop gaming action, world-class dining, fabulous live entertainment, relaxing health spas, trendy nightclubs, abundant shopping opportunities, championship golf courses and unique attractions along the world-famous Las Vegas Strip. Best of all, Thanksgiving weekend in Las Vegas is typically less crowded than during other holiday weekends throughout the year. Take a break from the casinos during your four-day Thanksgiving weekend and visit some of the eclectic attractions in Las Vegas such as The Mob Museum, Neon Museum, Pinball Hall of Fame, Las Vegas Natural History Museum and National Atomic Testing Museum.
6 | Miami, Florida | A favorite Thanksgiving destination, Miami Beach encompasses 12 miles of endless recreational and entertainment opportunities that include sunbathing on white-sand beaches, swimming, sightseeing, boating, fishing, golfing and tennis, world-class dining, shopping and nonstop nightlife. Escape to warmer climes in beautiful Miami for Thanksgiving and make sure to visit such immensely popular nearby attractions as Bayside Marketplace, Art Deco District, Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, Cape Florida Lighthouse and Jungle Island. Seeking excitement? Head to South Beach, the southernmost 3-mile stretch of Miami Beach, which boasts a wealth of trendy restaurants, lively nightclubs and Miami Beach hotels. In addition, sports fans can catch home games from both the Miami Hurricanes at Hard Rock Stadium and Florida Panthers at BB&T Center during Thanksgiving weekend.
7 | Williamsburg, Virginia | Imagine strolling through Colonial Williamsburg on Thanksgiving weekend and experiencing all the wonders of the restored 18th-century capital of colonial Virginia completely decked out for the holidays. Each of Colonial Williamsburg’s four taverns – Chowning’s Tavern, Christiana Campbell Tavern, The King’s Arms Tavern and Shields Tavern – will feature a special Thanksgiving Day dinner. The nearby Jamestown Settlement hosts the enlightening festival, Foods and Feasts of Colonial Virginia, November 22-24, 2018. Take a short road trip from Williamsburg to visit Berkeley Plantation, which is known as “Virginia’s Most Historic Plantation” and served as the site of America’s first Thanksgiving in 1619. Get a jumpstart on your Christmas shopping on Black Friday at Williamsburg Premium Outlets, which features 135 outlet stores. Check out the Busch Gardens Williamsburg holiday festival, Christmas Town at Busch Gardens, which starts on November 17, 2018.
8 | Cocoa Beach, Florida | A bustling beach town, Cocoa Beach offers something for everyone during Thanksgiving weekend – from balmy weather and white-sand beaches to historic fishing piers, seafood restaurants and plenty of outdoor recreational activities to keep everyone in your crew busy. Make sure to make your first stop at the world-famous Cocoa Beach Pier (home to the laid-back Rikki Tiki Tavern, arguably the best bar in Cocoa Beach overlooking the water). Learn about the incredible history of space flight at the nearby Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and knock out some holiday shopping at Historic Cocoa Village. Special Thanksgiving-related events in Cocoa Beach for 2018 include the Space Coast Turkey Trot 5k & 10K (Thanksgiving Day) and the Cocoa Beach Art Show & Music Fest (November 24-25).
9 | Branson, Missouri | Ideally located in the heart of the beautiful Ozark Mountains, Branson has evolved into one of the country’s most popular family vacation destinations. Thanksgiving in Branson features plenty of family-friendly activities such as eclectic attractions, outlet shopping and spectacular live shows – ranging from country music, rock ‘n’ roll, swing, jazz, gospel and blues to magic, comedy, acrobatics and Broadway-style musicals. Many of the live shows perform on Thanksgiving Day itself such as Legends in Concert, Christmas at Dixie Stampede and Amazing Acrobats of Shanghai, among others. Don’t forget to visit the bustling Branson Landing shopping, dining and entertainment complex, as well as Silver Dollar City theme park, which promises live shows, thrilling rides and attractions, holiday buffets and An Old Time Christmas, a lively holiday festival running from now until December 30, 2018!
10 | River Ranch, Florida | Seeking a totally original Thanksgiving celebration this year? Look no farther than Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo, where you and your family can hit the trails and return to the days of “Old Florida” when the Sunshine State was home to cowboys and cattle ranchers. Ideally located just one hour south of Orlando, Westgate River Ranch offers something for everyone on Thanksgiving weekend such as horseback riding, thrilling airboat and swamp buggy rides, a full-service marina, trap & skeet range, nine-hole golf course and a Championship Rodeo on Saturday night (incidentally the closest rodeo near Orlando), as well as an Adventure Park with zip line, mechanical bull, rock climbing wall, bungee jumper and miniature golf course. So, grab your spurs and high tail it down to Westgate River Ranch for an incredible Thanksgiving adventure at an authentic Florida dude ranch!
All in all, Thanksgiving is a time to gather together with family and friends, enjoy a much needed break, and give thanks for the journey so far. It's been said that life is a journey, but also that life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. At Westgate Resorts, we're always thankful for the opportunity to share in your travel adventures, whether it's a weekend vacation to Orlando, or a day trip to Midtown East Manhattan,... whatever your resort destination, when you check in at Westgate, there's a lot to check out. The gate's open. Come on in!