Thanksgiving is still a couple of months away, but if you want to take a trip over the holiday, now’s the time to book—especially if you want to travel as a family. While Thanksgiving is traditionally spent at home or with relatives in other parts of the country, it’s also a fantastic time to hit the road and do some exploring. Beaches, colonial festivities, the Northern Lights—these and more await you on our list of top Thanksgiving destinations for 2014. Of course, these destinations also have plenty of great restaurants for traditional (and not-so traditional) turkey dinners. Turducken, anyone?
By Erin Gifford
Make holiday dinner plans at Bluegrass Tavern for smoked turkey, crispy Brussels sprouts, and sweet-potato cornbread, but save room for bratwurst and gluhwein at the Christmas Village in Baltimore. More than 60 booths will have traditional foods, ornaments, and crafts for sale at this German-style Christmas market. You’ll also want to take a drive or a stroll down 34th Street in the Hampden neighborhood where you’ll find two blocks of festive holiday decorations and twinkle lights carefully festooned across every row house.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Baltimore Travel Guide
Turducken (a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey) is on the menu in New Orleans and there’s no better place to have it than K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen, which serves up this dish with eggplant-sweet-potato gravy on Thanksgiving Eve. Meanwhile, the Thanksgiving Po-Boy at Parkway Tavern is a post-Turkey Day must-have. On Thanksgiving Day, camp out on Decatur Street near Café du Monde and Jackson Square. It’s among the best spots for getting beads as you watch the marching bands and decorative floats pass in the Bayou Classic Thanksgiving Parade.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's New Orleans Travel Guide
It's an easy hop over to Reykjavik, particularly for those on the east coast, and the locals are even getting into turkey on this American holiday (try the turkey buffet at Hotel Cabin). Explore the geysers, waterfalls and volcanic craters of the Golden Circle. Make a stop at Thingvellir National Park for numerous hiking trails, even horse trails, as well as a short multimedia program about the park. Book a Northern Lights excursion for early in your stay, as most tour operators will take you out a second night for free if you can’t see the Aurora Borealis on your first night.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Reykjavik Travel Guide
Spend the day riding horses, hiking, and honing your archery skills before settling in for a cowboy-inspired Thanksgiving feast at Triple Creek Ranch. Take in the vastness of Big Sky Country and plenty of ranch stories about the Wild West as you enjoy turkey, mashed potatoes, and Montana wine al fresco. Before the weekend is over, take a private flight to Kalispell to spend the day exploring Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park. Save time for a photo safari and one of many off-ranch hikes.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Darby Travel Guide
West End, Anguilla
Escape the cool, autumn weather and head to Anguilla for a warm-weather Caribbean vacation. Postcard-perfect beaches make this small island an ideal getaway, so grab your towel and spend the afternoon taking in the views from Maundays Bay or Shoal Bay. On Thanksgiving Day, indulge in butternut squash ravioli and cornbread-stuffed turkey breast at Viceroy Anguilla. Look for boot camp sessions with celebrity trainer Derek Degrazio at the resort or simply go kayaking, snorkeling, or windsurfing to burn off those holiday calories.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Anguilla Travel Guide
For Thanksgiving, enjoy a three-course meal in a historic tavern, such as Shields Tavern or King’s Arm Tavern, with traditional 18th-century trimmings like cranberry-orange relish and giblet pan gravy. Then, enjoy the annual three-day event Foods & Feasts of Colonial Virginia (November 27–29) at nearby Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center to learn how Powhatan Indians and English colonists prepared and cooked their foods. You may also want to explore Christmas Town at Busch Gardens or take a guided walking tour of the holiday decorations at Colonial Williamsburg.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Williamsburg Travel Guide
Ski season kicks off early in Breckenridge (November 7). Even better, lift tickets are considerably less in November than they are later in the season, making Thanksgiving a great time to hit the slopes. As a bonus, ski on Thanksgiving Day to earn the Snow Turkey pin before diving in to a traditional feast at one of several restaurants around town, like Blue River Bistro or Sevens, which offers a pumpkin crème brulee. Off the slopes, you can zip line, go underground on a gold mine tour, or take a carriage ride through the historic downtown area.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Breckenridge Travel Guide
Duck Key, Florida
Go kayaking, run in the Turkey Trot 5K, or simply relax in the resort spa before enjoying a beachfront Thanksgiving buffet at Hawks Cay Resort on Duck Key. Enjoy slow-roasted turkey, chestnut-sage stuffing, and, of course, Key lime pie for dessert. Stay on-property to splash and play in one of five swimming pools, including a pirate ship pool. Or learn more about sea life at the Turtle Hospital in nearby Marathon or the Dolphin Research Center on Grassy Key. Before heading home, take in a world-famous sunset from Mallory Square in Key West.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Florida Keys Travel Guide
Take in more than 3.8 million twinkling lights and 700 sparkling displays that make up ZooLights at the Phoenix Zoo. Or head to the Arizona International Auto Show to get a look at the 2015 models. As a bonus, go on Sunday, November 30 when kids get in for free. This may be the desert, but you can still ice skate outdoors at The Wigwam, which boasts the only outdoor seasonal rink in the West Valley. Enjoy nature walks, water slides, and golf at The Wigwam before settling in with s’mores around the fire pit.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Phoenix Travel Guide
Universal Orlando Resort has teamed up with Give Kids the World, a nonprofit that provides vacations to children with life-threatening illnesses. In doing so, families can book three-night getaways through the end of the year that include hotel, park tickets, early park admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (including the new Diagon Alley ride), and a four-hour volunteer opportunity at Give Kids the World Village. What better time to give back than during Thanksgiving?
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Universal Orlando Travel Guide