For many of us, the Thanksgiving holiday conjures memories of sitting around a large table with your extended family at home — or at a nearby relative's house — to eat a delicious meal, watch football or a cozy Thanksgiving movie, and reflect on what you're most thankful for. But it can also be a great holiday to travel and experience something new with your family while making memories that will last a lifetime.
If you and your family are willing to brave the notoriously crowded airports, you'll be richly rewarded with a Thanksgiving to remember, visiting the sights and celebrations across the country. Whether you want to see the beautiful fall colors from changing leaves, learn about the history of the holiday, experience one of the country's iconic Thanksgiving parades in person, or even get a head start on the Christmas shopping and celebration, there are plenty of destinations across the United States perfect for celebrating Thanksgiving.
This roundup is here to inspire you to consider a new Thanksgiving tradition or indulge in a once-in-a-lifetime experience — such as seeing the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, perusing one of the country's top Christmas markets in Leavenworth, Washington, or skiing the slopes of Aspen Colorado.
Arkansas' Ozark National Forest has more than 1 million acres of beautiful fall foliage to get you in the fall spirit for Thanksgiving. Whether you want to take a family stroll along the short Spy Rock Overlook trail, or you prefer to drive along Route 71, there's no shortage of breathtaking scenery.
St. Louis, Missouri
The annual Ameren Thanks-for-Giving Parade has been a St. Louis staple for nearly four decades, drawing thousands of locals to enjoy its procession of musical floats, dance groups, drum lines and marching bands.
Manhattan, New York
New York City is always a special destination, but it's especially magical each Thanksgiving when the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is taking place, featuring dozens of giant balloons and floats, thousands of performers and a crowd of millions. The festive spectacle dates back to 1924 and is one of the best-loved Thanksgiving traditions.
If you're looking for a slightly less crowded — but still impressive — Thanksgiving parade, look no further than the Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade, which has more than 100 floats and performances. During your stay, you can also get in the holiday spirit by visiting the Christkindlmarket or seeing the city of Chicago Christmas tree at Millennium Park.
Known as "Fall's Color Capital," there are few places better for seeing the changing color of the leaves than Stowe, Vermont. While the temperatures might be a bit chilly — and you might miss the height of the leaves' bright colors — it's still a spectacular fall destination with plenty of cozy inns and spacious vacation rentals perfect for a Thanksgiving getaway with the whole family.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Fall leaves aren't just on the East Coast — you can see stunning autumn colors in the Southwest, too, especially in the Santa Fe National Forest. Plus, if you're lucky, you might see the changed trees covered with enough snow around to ski the Santa Fe Ski Basin. Each year, Santa Fe also hosts its Winter Indian Market shortly after Thanksgiving, with over 200 artists and other Native American celebrations.
For a holiday to remember, enjoy a winter wonderland Thanksgiving at one of the country's top ski destinations. While it's a must-visit for skiers and snowboarders, Aspen can also be a relaxing family getaway with its high-end resorts, luxury shopping and great restaurants.
If you're not able to make it to a European Christmas market this year, you can kick off the holiday season with a similar feel at this Bavarian-themed town, which is the ultimate Christmas destination. It's known for its Village of Lights, Christmas market, gingerbread factory, reindeer farm and sleigh rides — all of which kick off right after Thanksgiving!
For a fun, family-focused Thanksgiving, traveling to Orlando to visit Disney World is a great way to bond while riding the rides, seeing the magical Disney Christmas décor and enjoying all of the festive treats. Also, restaurants within the park serve a traditional Thanksgiving meal, so you won't miss out on your annual feast!
Immerse yourself in Thanksgiving history by taking a trip to where the holiday got its start back in the 1600s. Each year, the town boasts the country's only historically accurate parade — known as America's Hometown Thanksgiving Parade — as well as a Thanksgiving dinner at Plimoth Patuxet Museums.
If you like your Thanksgiving meal with family and friends but love Black Friday shopping, Mall of America might be your destination so you can celebrate your most exciting holiday shopping kickoff yet in the country's largest mall, which boasts more than 500 stores.
The home of the Liberty Bell is also home to Thanksgiving's oldest parade. The three-hour-long parade features floats and performances by choirs, dancers and marching bands, with the grand finale featuring the appearance of Santa Claus to officially begin the holiday season.
Whether you love or hate the idea of kicking off your turkey day with a run, turkey trots have become a well-known — yet polarizing — Thanksgiving tradition. And Detroit is known for hosting one of the biggest events in the country, making it the perfect destination for fitness lovers. Participants can go for the full 10K, a 5K, or take it easy with the 1-mile event before heading to America's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Not only are the Smoky Mountains beautiful in the fall, Gatlinburg has become well known for its annual Great Smoky Thanksgiving Arts & Crafts Show, a multi-day event that takes place over the Thanksgiving holiday. Attendees can peruse the show to find quilts, pottery, handmade jewelry and more.
Take a step back in time with a trip to Colonial Williamsburg, known as the world's largest history museum. It's known for being especially festive for the Thanksgiving holiday with seasonal décor and Thanksgiving-themed events including historic re-enactments and a traditional Thanksgiving meal.
Daly City, California
Daly City is home to The Great Dickens Christmas Fair — another fantastic event for those who are eager to enjoy Thanksgiving and quickly move onto Christmas. This one-of-a-kind fair transports visitors into Victorian London to experience the world created by Charles Dickens through A Christmas Carol.
Nestled in the Midwest is a city known for its Dutch heritage — evoking the feel of the Netherlands, from its windmill to its tulips. However, it becomes truly special in November and December with its holiday events such as the Parade of Lights in late November and its Christmas market, which opens in mid-November.
New Orleans, Louisiana
If traveling prevents you from having a home-cooked meal for Thanksgiving, Arnaud's is the next best thing. The restaurant is known for being as festive as it is delicious. So not only can you delight in the vibrancy of New Orleans during the holidays, but you can also enjoy what's sure to be one of your best Thanksgiving meals yet.
If cold weather isn't for you, Miami is the perfect beach vacation destination for the holidays, with a holiday market just steps from the water. Urbanspace, a well-known New York market, opened its second location last year as the Lincoln Road Holiday Market with dining destinations, apparel shops and toy retailers.
The H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade is another can't-miss holiday parade with a long history of Thanksgiving traditions. This year's parade will be the 74th event, featuring floats, inflatables, marching bands and an appearance by Santa. Last year's event was star-studded with appearances by 50 Cent, who served as the grand marshal, and rapper Bun B, who performed.
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