Explore the best places to visit for Thanksgiving in the United States, from the historic town of Plymouth, Massachusetts, to the vibrant streets of New Orleans, Louisiana. Discover the rich cultural significance and festive celebrations in these handpicked destinations, perfect for creating cherished memories and experiencing the true essence of the Thanksgiving holiday.
Ah, Thanksgiving vibes are in the air! With the leaves painting the town in fiery reds and oranges, it’s the perfect time to kick back and explore the coolest spots in the U.S. for a Thanksgiving getaway. From quaint little towns with a dash of history to big cities rocking with modern celebrations, you’re in for a treat! We’ve rounded up some of the best places that know how to throw a Thanksgiving party like no other. So, get ready to dig into some serious turkey and make memories that will have you grinning like your leftover jack o’lantern.
Whether you seek historical significance, vibrant parades, or mouthwatering feasts, these handpicked destinations are bound to elevate your Thanksgiving experience to new heights. Take a long weekend in late November or Thanksgiving weekend itself, for a great Thanksgiving getaway.
Best Places to Visit for Thanksgiving
- Plymouth, Massachusetts
- New York City, New York
- Williamsburg, Virginia
- Plymouth, Wisconsin
- Santa Fe, New Mexico
- New Orleans, Louisiana
- San Francisco, California
Before we walk through the list of perfect Thanksgiving getaways, let’s talk travel tips for this time of year. Traveling during the holidays brings its own set of things to consider!
Thanksgiving Travel Tips
1. Plan Ahead:
Given the high travel volume during Thanksgiving, it’s crucial to plan your trip well in advance. Book your flights, accommodations, and any activities you plan to partake in as early as possible to secure the best deals and avoid last-minute hassles.
2. Be Flexible:
If you can be flexible with your travel dates, consider flying a day or two before or after Thanksgiving Day. This can often result in more affordable airfare and less crowded airports, making your journey smoother and more enjoyable.
3. Pack Lightly:
To avoid hefty baggage fees and long wait times at the airport, aim to pack lightly and efficiently. Stick to essential items and versatile clothing that can be mixed and matched for various occasions, ensuring you have everything you need without the extra bulk.
4. Expect Traffic:
If you’re planning a road trip, anticipate heavy traffic on the roads, especially the day before and after Thanksgiving. Plan your journey accordingly, allowing extra time for potential delays, and consider using navigation apps that provide real-time traffic updates to help you navigate the best routes.
5. Stay Connected
Keep your loved ones informed about your travel plans, including your itinerary and any changes to your schedule. Share your contact details with them and ensure your phone is fully charged and equipped with necessary travel apps, providing you with easy access to information and assistance during your trip.
6. Pack Snacks and Entertainment
Whether you’re traveling by plane, train, or car, don’t forget to pack some snacks and entertainment to keep you fueled and entertained during your journey. Consider bringing along a good book, a playlist of your favorite tunes, or engaging activities to help pass the time and make your travel experience more enjoyable.
7. Practice Patience:
Thanksgiving travel can be hectic, so it’s important to remain patient and understanding, especially when dealing with potential delays, crowded spaces, and long queues. Keep a positive attitude, stay courteous to fellow travelers and service personnel, and approach any challenges with a calm and composed demeanor.
Ready to dive into our list of the best places to visit for Thanksgiving? Let’s go!
Best Places to Visit for Thanksgiving
1. Plymouth, Massachusetts
Plymouth, Massachusetts, holds a special place in American history as the site of the first Thanksgiving feast between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Native Americans in 1621. Visit Plimoth Plantation for a unique experience, where you can witness a reenactment of the original Thanksgiving meal and gain insights into the lives of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people. Various events, parades, and historical reenactments take place during the Thanksgiving season, offering visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the rich history of the holiday.
Explore the Mayflower II, a full-scale replica of the ship that carried the Pilgrims to the shores of Massachusetts in 1620. Engage in interactive exhibits and guided tours to gain a deeper understanding of the Pilgrims’ journey and the challenges they faced upon their arrival. Additionally, take a stroll through the picturesque waterfront area (don’t miss the fall foliage!), where charming boutiques and local eateries offer a delightful shopping and dining experience. Whale watching is one of the best Thanksgiving vacation ideas too!
Make sure to make a reservation ahead of time for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, and be sure to schedule a little time to relax and watch the football games!
2. New York City, New York
New York City is renowned for its spectacular Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, a tradition that has been enchanting spectators since 1924. Marvel at the gigantic character balloons, elaborate floats, and vibrant performances that grace the streets of Manhattan, as millions gather to witness this iconic event.
A perfect place to celebrate with the whole family! Additionally, many renowned restaurants in the city offer special Thanksgiving menus, allowing visitors to indulge in delectable holiday meals with a unique New York twist.
Take advantage of the festive atmosphere by exploring the city’s iconic landmarks, such as the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, and the Empire State Building, which offer breathtaking views and photo opportunities. There so many great things to do in New York City, you’ll never be bored! Consider booking tickets to Broadway shows or visiting the renowned museums and art galleries that contribute to the city’s vibrant cultural scene.
Don’t forget to take a leisurely walk through Central Park, adorned with the colors of autumn, and relish the tranquility amidst the urban bustle. Want to hit some of the great Black Friday sales? What better place to shop than NYC?!
3. Williamsburg, Virginia
Step into the colonial-era charm of Williamsburg, Virginia, and experience a traditional Thanksgiving celebration as it was observed in the 18th century. Colonial Williamsburg hosts special programs and events during the Thanksgiving season, providing visitors with the opportunity to partake in historical reenactments, period-specific dining experiences, and interactive activities that offer a glimpse into the life and customs of early American settlers. A great time to mix fun and a little education for all.
Delve into the intricate craftsmanship of the artisans and tradespeople in Colonial Williamsburg, where you can witness traditional crafts being practiced and learn about the techniques and skills that were essential to life in the colonial era. Consider exploring the nearby Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Battlefield to gain a comprehensive understanding of the historical events that shaped early American history. Engage with knowledgeable interpreters and guides who are passionate about bringing history to life through immersive and educational experiences.
4. Plymouth, Wisconsin
OK, so it’s not the Plymouth, but it’s still a Plymouth! If you can’t swing a trip to the east coast, how about venturing as far as the Midwest?
Plymouth, Wisconsin, celebrates Thanksgiving with a blend of traditional festivities and small town charm. The town hosts various events such as a parade, and local craft fair that showcase the warmth and hospitality of the Midwest. Embrace the spirit of community as you participate in the local celebrations and enjoy the sense of camaraderie that permeates this quaint Wisconsin town during the Thanksgiving season.
Visit the Plymouth Arts Center on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving for ornament making and cookie decorating and then stick around for the annual Plymouth Christmas parade that evening. A great place and perfect way to kick off the Christmas season!
Take a scenic drive through the surrounding countryside, adorned with rolling hills and picturesque farmlands that capture the essence of rural America. Consider visiting local farms and orchards, where you can partake in seasonal activities such as apple picking, hayrides, and corn mazes (though many close after Halloween), adding a touch of wholesome family fun to your Thanksgiving getaway. Don’t miss the opportunity to sample the region’s renowned dairy products and freshly baked goods, which embody the authentic flavors of the Midwest.
5. Santa Fe, New Mexico:
While Santa Fe, New Mexico, may not immediately come to mind for a traditional Thanksgiving celebration, the city boasts a unique blend of Native American and Hispanic cultures that offer a distinct and flavorful twist to the holiday. Explore the local art scene, immerse yourself in the vibrant fall colors of the surrounding landscapes, and savor a fusion of traditional Thanksgiving dishes infused with the rich flavors of New Mexican cuisine, such as green chile turkey and piñon stuffing.
The Santa Fe plaza is transformed the day after Thanksgiving into a holiday wonderland with gorgeous lights, food trucks, music, caroling, and so much more.
Immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant art scene by exploring the numerous galleries and art studios that showcase a diverse range of local and international works. Consider visiting the historic sites and museums that highlight the region’s rich cultural heritage, such as the Palace of the Governors and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.
Indulge in the rejuvenating experience of a traditional Southwestern spa treatment, offered at many of the luxurious resorts and wellness centers scattered throughout the city, providing a perfect blend of relaxation and cultural immersion. Hit the golf courses, check out horseback riding, visit some ski resorts, or whatever the best things are for you or your family.
6. New Orleans, Louisiana
In New Orleans, Louisiana, Thanksgiving takes on a lively and festive flair, with a blend of traditional feasts and vibrant cultural celebrations. Indulge in a mouthwatering Thanksgiving meal infused with Cajun and Creole flavors at one of the city’s renowned restaurants, and consider joining in the lively local festivities, including parades, live music performances, and cultural events that reflect the city’s unique heritage and spirit of celebration. The horse races at the fairgrounds are also a popular event on Thanksgiving day.
The next day, embark on a culinary adventure through the city’s renowned food scene, characterized by a fusion of French, African, and Caribbean influences, by joining a guided food tour that highlights the best of Creole and Cajun cuisines. Consider exploring the vibrant music scene by attending live jazz performances and soaking in the energetic atmosphere of renowned music venues. Take a leisurely stroll through the historic French Quarter, where you can admire the distinct architecture, browse local shops, and immerse yourself in the lively street performances that contribute to the city’s dynamic and vibrant culture.
7. San Francisco, California
San Francisco, California, embraces Thanksgiving with its own eclectic twist, offering a diverse array of culinary experiences, cultural events, and outdoor activities. Join in the Thanksgiving Day run, taking in breathtaking views of the city’s iconic landmarks, or savor a delectable Thanksgiving dinner at one of the city’s many renowned restaurants, featuring innovative menus that showcase the region’s fresh, local ingredients and culinary creativity. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the city’s vibrant cultural scene, from art galleries and museums to the bustling neighborhoods that exude a blend of historical charm and contemporary vibrancy.
A few attractions open on Thanksgiving day include the Aquarium of the Bay, Botanical Gardens, California Academy of Sciences, Japanese Tea Garden, Muir Woods, Twin Peaks, or take a stroll across the Golden Gate Bridge.
Discover the city’s eclectic neighborhoods, each with its own unique charm and cultural identity, by embarking on a guided walking tour that unveils the hidden gems and local treasures that define the spirit of San Francisco. Consider taking a day trip to the nearby Napa Valley or Sonoma County to indulge in a wine tasting or vineyard tour, offering a delightful escape to the picturesque countryside.
Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the iconic Golden Gate Park, home to lush gardens, scenic trails, and renowned attractions providing a perfect blend of natural beauty and cultural enrichment. Nature lovers will enjoy all the fun things to do in the city!
These destinations each offer a unique perspective on the Thanksgiving holiday, showcasing diverse traditions, historical significance, and cultural celebrations. As you head back home with a belly full of scrumptious turkey and a heart full of gratitude, don’t forget to take a moment to soak in the warmth of the holiday season.
Whether you found yourself chowing down on some mean Cajun stuffing in New Orleans or strolling through the charming streets of Plymouth, Wisconsin, let the memories of this Thanksgiving linger like the scent of pumpkin pie. After all, it’s not just about the food—it’s about the laughter, the stories, and the joy that come with sharing this special day with the ones who matter most. Here’s to the next adventure and the next plate of mashed potatoes!
Have more suggestions for the best places to visit for Thanksgiving? We’d love to hear them!