As Thanksgiving fast approaches, many people will be planning trips to see friends and relatives both close to home and across the country. If you're thinking about going somewhere different or even starting a new Turkey Day tradition, there are a variety of fantastic places, from San Francisco to Negril, Jamaica, which offer attractions, history, events, and even traditional Thanksgiving fare for the whole family. Here are our 10 favorite spots to consider spending Turkey Day this year. --Erin Gifford
Spend Thanksgiving the way the pilgrims did so many years ago in Plymouth, just 45 minutes south of Boston. Be entertained by costumed players on the Mayflower II, a full-scale replica of the original Mayflower, then explore Plimoth Plantation to learn how the early colonists lived in the 17th-Century English Village. Get into town early to enjoy the annual three-day celebration of the history of Thanksgiving, complete with parades, concerts and waterfront activities (Nov. 22-24).
Few know that before the pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock they spent eleven years in Holland. Enjoy the annual Thanksgiving Day service at the renowned Pieterskerk church in Leiden. Following the service, explore the Leiden American Pilgrim Museum to learn about the pilgrims that fled from England to Holland. Drive or take the train to nearby Amsterdam for a Thanksgiving buffet at The Kitchen or go to Seasons Restaurant for holiday fare served for lunch or dinner.
Dana Point, California
Lace up your running shoes for the annual Dana Point Turkey Trot, an event that draws 10,000 runners who come to take in the scenic route along the coast. Head to Dana Point Harbor for a day of sailing, fishing, or whale watching. Or, take the kids to the Ocean Institute for interactive marine science activities. Cap off the day with a Thanksgiving feast at Stonehill Tavern or the Chart House.
Head to State Street for marching bands, balloon floats, and baton twirling in the annual McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade (a good spot to camp out is at State and Washington). The annual open-air German holiday market, Christkindlmarket Chicago, is also not to be missed. Sip Glühwein, enjoy bratwurst and potato pancakes, and pick up handmade Bavarian ornaments. For a treat after-dark, take the kids to ZooLights at the Lincoln Park Zoo starting the day after Thanksgiving.
From glass blowing to wine tasting, there's a lot to do in Grapevine, and over the holidays, there's so much more in the "Christmas Capital of Texas." Take in the nightly Light Show Spectacular from the Town Square Gazebo or ride along the vintage railroad on the North Pole Express. Thanksgiving weekend also kicks off Snowland at Great Wolf Lodge and Christmas on Main, a town celebration complete with Victorian-style buildings all dressed up for the holidays.
Enjoy the sunshine, snorkeling and beachcombing, as well as off-season discounts, in Negril over the Thanksgiving holiday. Climb the steps of the Negril Point Lighthouse, go hiking to visit Mayfield Falls and Mineral Springs, or swim with dolphins at Dolphin Cove. Stay at Beaches in Negril and enjoy a Thanksgiving party right on the beach complete with a parade of Sesame Street characters, a bonfire, dancing, and traditional holiday fare as well as Caribbean-inspired dishes, like Jerk Turkey.
The official arrival of the turkeys pardoned by the president at Mount Vernon is a must for anyone coming to Washington, DC over Thanksgiving weekend. Enjoy fewer crowds as you explore the museums and monuments (assuming the government shutdown is over), or head to the privately-owned Phillips Collection to take in the new Van Gogh exhibit, which opens Oct. 12. For a traditional turkey dinner, look to Old Ebbitt Grill or Georgia Browns.
For many, Thanksgiving kicks off ski season. At Keystone, kids ski free all season long and there are plenty of activities for both skiers and non-skiers, like Kidtopia, the annual family festival featuring parades, ice skating, and snow-tubing. Then, strap on your skis to enjoy the new Family Ski Trail and grab some hot chocolate at the Tree Lighting Celebration on Nov. 30. Try the wagon ride dinner for an adventurous twist on your Turkey Day meal.
San Francisco, California
Take a ride on a trolley, visit with sea lions at Pier 39, or enjoy the shopping and views at Fisherman's Wharf. For classic Thanksgiving fare, try Burritt Tavern or One Market. Or, come together as a family for a holiday cooking class at Cavallo Point Lodge in nearby Sausalito. Got a passion for cars? Head downtown to the Moscone Center for the annual Auto Show, which opens on Thanksgiving Day.
Walt Disney World
You may need more than a long weekend to enjoy all that Walt Disney World has to offer for Thanksgiving. Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party kicks off in November at the Magic Kingdom while Disney's Hollywood Studios welcomes the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. Kids will enjoy holiday-themed parades at each of the parks. Look for a traditional turkey dinner at many on-property sit-down restaurants, as well as turkey and stuffing at a number of the buffets.
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