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With the thanksgiving season approaching, many of us are deciding what to do with our days off. If you’re thinking about traveling for Thanksgiving, then you know how to do it right.
While it’s no secret that traveling over festive periods is a nightmare – delays, crowds of people, long queues at check in, it’s all to be expected when people just want to get home to their families.
However, travel doesn’t have to be a nightmare, and there are some great destinations for Thanksgiving travel that allow you to escape the crowds if that’s what you want.
Whether you want to stay in the USA or go overseas, below are the best destinations for Thanksgiving travel!
- Best Destinations for Thanksgiving in the USA
- 1. New York City, NY
- 2. Seattle, WA
- 3. Boston, MA
- 4. Atlanta, GA
- 5. Dallas- Fort Wort, TX
- 6. Los Angeles, CA
- 7. Phoenix, AZ
- 8. Orlando, FL
- 9. Chicago, IL
- 10. Detroit, MI
- 11. Williamsburg, Virginia
- 12. Boulder, Colorado
- 13. Park City, Utah
- 14. Gatlinburg, Tennessee
- 15. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- 16. Charleston, South Carolina
- Best International Destinations for Thanksgiving
- Final Thoughts
- Pin to Save on Pinterest
Best Destinations for Thanksgiving in the USA
Since we have a lot of useful content on most of these destinations, we thought we’d share these hottest domestic USA travel destinations for Thanksgiving.
1. New York City, NY
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is obviously stirring up wanderlust in people’s heart! The gigantic inflatable balloons and floats are universally famous and something everyone should add to their bucket list.
Good news is that Thanksgiving travel in New York City will also probably give you glimpses of the magic of Christmas in New York as the decorations and good tidings slowly start to appear.
New York City is an exciting destination for any kind of traveler, with an energy unlike any other city in the USA. It deserves hours spent lingering in cafes, neighborhood communities, museums and star attractions.
NYC is full of iconic attractions – most of which are unique, involve gorgeous views, and so worth doing. Plus, it has those more local experiences you love as well. There is no city like it in the world.
For most people 3 days in New York is all they can afford or have time for, which makes a Thanksgiving break the perfect choice.
- NYC 3 day itinerary to help you plan and have a stress free time.
- How to save money in New York and maximize your time
- 15 Magical Things to Do in NYC at Christmas
- 15 Exciting Things to Do in NYC with Kids (or without kids)
- INNSIDE New York NoMad Hotel – Top NYC Accommodation
- PLUS, so many more helpful posts with local insights on New York City here.
New York City Videos
Press play to see videos of our travels to New York for extra inspiration. You can subscribe to our YouTube channel here.
2. Seattle, WA
Starbucks. Amazon. Microsoft. Costco. Boeing. Pearl Jam. Nirvana. Just a few things Seattle, Washington is famous for producing.
How can one city produce so many great things? Because Seattle is cool. Uniquely cool.
After spending four days exploring the city in-depth, Seattle is now one of our favorite USA cities, and one of our top places to visit in Washington State.
You’ll find some of the best art, culture, music, coffee and spectacular views in the country. Plus it is surrounded by many extraordinary places of natural beauty like Mount Rainier, Olympic National Park, and North Cascades National Park.
3. Boston, MA
Another city high on the list of our favorite cities in the USA is Boston, Massachusetts, a city of firsts and superlatives!
On the list of firsts in America: public park, public school, Plymouth Rock, printing press, newspaper, post office, police force, subway, first full face transplant, chocolate factory, anti-public smoking law, UFO sighting, and brothel.
Travelers for Thanksgiving this year agree. Don’t let the slightly colder temps deter you from exploring the incredible history, culture and uniquely European feel of Boston.
Boston Travel Videos
Check out our videos from our Boston trip!
4. Atlanta, GA
It’s been years since we’ve visited Atlanta, Georgia, and it was before we had kids.
It made the list in part for it’s sustainability efforts with lush green spaces found across the city, its inclusivity, and invigorated arts, music and food scene.
Historical Atlanta is worth visiting to get a greater understanding of eras such as the civil war and the Civil rights movement.
If you live in the Southeast, I suggest you take a road trip to Atlanta rather than deal with one of the USA’s biggest airports during the Thanksgiving holidays!
5. Dallas- Fort Wort, TX
We all know everything is bigger in Texas, and Dallas sticks with those bigger than experiences.
Melt-in-your-mouth Brisket, big league sports, bustling art scene, cultural vibrancy, outdoor fun, interesting history and affordability make Dallas and nearby Fort Worth a worthy destination to check out.
It’s not a destination we’ve spent a lot of time in, choosing instead to drive on out of the city hustle to nearby regions to explore. That might be something you’re interested in doing as well.
6. Los Angeles, CA
While it’s not our favorite city in the US, Los Angeles in California does have a lot of hidden secrets and cool experiences once you dig a little deeper.
Los Angeles County is the most populous county in the USA and the third largest metropolitan economy in the world. It has 88 incorporated cities and each city in LA has its own culture, experiences and local flavors to experience.
You’ll appreciate soaking up those blue skies and warmer temperatures with places of such natural beauty.
These posts will help you plan a memorable trip to Los Angeles:
TOP TIP: The Los Angeles City pass is a fun one. Not only does it save you money, but you’ll find cool LA experiences like our Melrose Ave selfie tour – one of our favorites yet. We have the best family photos from that tour!
Los Angeles Videos
We discovered so many cool things to do in Los Angeles with our kids. Press play to see them all!
7. Phoenix, AZ
Phoenix’s warm, dry climate is the perfect Thanksgiving break to escape those encroaching cooler temperatures – or to extend those summer ones for just a little longer.
The city offers abundant arts and cultural attractions, historic neighborhoods, as well as shopping, golf, dining, and an outstanding selection of resorts and hotels.
There’s also a local Phoenix Turkey Trot that features a costume contest.
Phoenix Arizona is also a great Thanksgiving destination for its proximity to the stunning regions of Tucson and Sedona. We tend to drive through Phoenix to go straight to the national parks, hikes and stunning vistas you can find there!
8. Orlando, FL
Of course, the Mouse is back in the House, so who wouldn’t want to go to Orlando for Thanksgiving?
The theme parks will definitely be putting on that holiday cheer you need after a long, painful pandemic. I’ll take one of every kind of butter beer offering thanks!
As we start to climb out of the pandemic, there probably isn’t a better time to visit the theme parks. Travel still has not returned to crazy busy levels, so you should encounter a quieter park experience. I did say SHOULD.
We love the buzzy, vacation spirit in Orlando that is full of lakes, gardens, fun attractions and a thriving food scene. It’s location makes it quite central to many other great places in Florida to visit.
Video: Top 5 Tips for Universal Orlando Resort
Save money and Tips with these tips on visiting Universal Orlando Resort:
9. Chicago, IL
Another great USA destination for Thanksgiving is Chicago, Illinois.
Craig and I actually visited for a Thanksgiving weekend in 2004, and it was our first ever Turkey day!
We had a blast exploring the major Chicago attractions, museums, sky tower views, eating Chicago pizza to stay warm. The Thanksgiving parades with colorful floats were a sight to behold, and of course there’s the lighting of their tree.
It was however possibly the coldest I have ever been with that wind blowing off Lake Michigan. You will need to pack your bags!
Chicago is a fantastic destination for arts and culture so soak it up. At times, I feel I like it better than New York. Kalyra and I visited on a mother daughter trip during St Patrick’s Day – it was fantastic! (USA Bucket List check!)
Video: Chicago Getaway
Check out the fun we had on our getaway to Chicago.
10. Detroit, MI
We all know the Motor City dwindled down to a put put not so long ago, but its engines are revving again. New cultural experiences and revitalized neighborhoods are helping to bring tourists back.
Detroit is Michigan’s largest city and sits on the Detroit River, which connects Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair.
It’s vibrating with a growing raveable food scene, exciting music and arts culture giving Motown its groove back.
You’ll appreciate how the hipsters have taken over the city, transforming its abandoned buildings into distilleries, bike shops and galleries.
Of all the Thanksgiving destinations on this list, Detroit will be that lessor known experience you crave.
11. Williamsburg, Virginia
What better way to spend thanksgiving than by visiting a place with so much history and charm like Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia.
Williamsburg’s historic streets are the perfect place to stop and reflect on the things you are most thankful for.
Walk along the cobblestone streets lined with colonial buildings adorned with festive holiday decorations, or learn about our Civil War history by wandering around the living museum of Colonial Williamsburg.
Indulge in a traditional Thanksgiving feast at one of the local restaurants, such as the Williamsburg Lodge, where you can savor mouthwatering dishes prepared with seasonal ingredients.
There’s also plenty of golf courses to explore if you want something more peaceful, otherwise be sure to check out the First Responders Market or Fall Festival, that showcase the community spirit of Williamsburg.
12. Boulder, Colorado
Pack up your skis and scarves, as what better way to spend the holiday season than by hitting the slopes in Eldora Ski Resort, Boulder.
Ski season officially opens at the end of October, so it’s perfectly possible to have a snowy, ski getaway during the Thanksgiving holidays.
Admire the scenic vistas of the Rocky Mountains or take a scenic stroll through Chautauqua Park. If you want to celebrate in traditional style, indulge in a delectable Thanksgiving feast at one of Boulder’s renowned restaurants, such as the Greenbriar Inn or Hotel Boulderado.
Boulder is a captivating destination to celebrate Thanksgiving and create cherished memories. Surrounded by picturesque landscapes and an inviting atmosphere, this city offers a delightful holiday experience.
13. Park City, Utah
Escape to the enchanting beauty of Park City, Utah for a truly unforgettable holiday getaway. With its picturesque landscapes and charming small-town atmosphere, Park City offers a unique and magical setting for your holiday celebrations.
Whether you’re an avid skier hitting the slopes at Park City Mountain Resort or prefer non-skiing activities such as enjoying a hike in the Utah Olympic Park, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Don’t miss a chance to slide down the epic Park City Alpine Slide, or if you prefer to relax, hit up one of Park City’s spas, such as Align Spa, which offers therapeutic massage treatments.
14. Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Another small town worth checking out over Thanksgiving is the charming town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, also known as the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Gatlinburg offers a perfect backdrop for creating cherished memories with your loved ones, from checking out the Winterfest Lights, witness fireworks at the Titanic Museum Attraction, or taking part in the Thanksgiving Craft Show, there’s plenty to see and do in this small town.
Indulge in a mouthwatering Thanksgiving meal at one of the many open restaurants, such as Cherokee Grill or The Peddler Steakhouse.
With attractions like Anakeesta and Ripley’s Aquarium open on Thanksgiving, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
15. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Another historic city that makes for a great getaway at Thanksgiving is Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Known for its rich history and vibrant atmosphere, Philadelphia offers a plethora of activities and attractions during the holiday season.
Explore iconic landmarks such as the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, and immerse yourself in the city’s captivating history.
Don’t miss an opportunity to enjoy the festive Christmas lights that illuminate the streets and of course, the Thanksgiving Day Parade!
16. Charleston, South Carolina
Want to experience some good ol’ southern charm this Thanksgiving? Check out Charleston, South Carolina, and discover why it’s a fantastic destination for Thanksgiving.
Take a stroll through the captivating Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, adorned with mesmerizing Chinese lanterns, or explore the historic downtown, Battery, and White Point Garden, there are plenty of things to do in Charleston to keep you busy.
With mild weather averaging around 67 degrees, you can enjoy outdoor activities and savor the beauty of this coastal city without the need to wrap up in bundles of layers!
Best International Destinations for Thanksgiving
If you want to get further away than the United States, then consider visiting some of these international destinations instead…
17. Costa Rica
When you need to get away somewhere warm, but don’t want to go too far, consider Central America. Costa Rica is known for its stunning natural beauty and warm tropical climate, allowing you to have a unique and rejuvenating Thanksgiving experience.
Instead of slaving away in the kitchen, indulge in the delectable local cuisine, such as fresh seafood and exotic fruits.
Wander through the breathtaking rainforests and look out for native wildlife such as parrots, toucans and sloths, or explore magnificent national parks. If it’s beaches you’re after, there’s plenty of those here too!
Whether you’re craving adventure or tranquility, Costa Rica has it all. It may not be the most traditional destination, but since there are direct flights from many major cities in the USA, it’s an easy and quick international destination to visit.
Not surprising, the hottest destination for international travel for Thanksgiving includes multiple beach destinations in Mexico. Some of the hottest are Cancun, San Jose Del Cabo and Puerto Vallarta.
While they don’t officially celebrate Thanksgiving in Mexico, it’s such a hot destination for Americans that most hotels, restaurants and attractions will put up decorations and have events to help those travelers feel at home.
Indulge in delicious $2 tacos, relax on pristine beaches, explore ancient ruins, or immerse yourself in local festivals.
There’s a reason why Mexico is the hottest (literally) destination for the holiday season.
19. The Caribbean
Another nearby destination for those seeking sun, is the enchanting Caribbean. Known for its turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, and vibrant culture, the Caribbean offers a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure.
Like Mexico, it’s not usual to celebrate Thanksgiving in the Caribbean, but because it’s such a popular getaway destination, you’ll find many hotels and restaurants will offer thanksgiving meals.
Whether you want to dive into crystal-clear cenotes, or simply unwind under swaying palm trees, destinations such as Aruba, the Bahamas, Punta Cana, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Dominian Republic, Turks and Caicos, or any other island, the Caribbean provides an idyllic backdrop to create unforgettable Thanksgiving memories.
Don’t miss these Caribbean destinations:
Another a great place to visit for Thanksgiving is a city that knows how to do a traditional roast. That’s right, it’s England!
While they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in England, the Brits do know how to put together a fantastic roast dinner, so you can feel like your celebrating Thanksgiving at home with a bit more traditional Thanksgiving dinner flare.
Because Thanksgiving falls in late November, you’ll find that London is pretty quiet on the international travel front, as most visitors prefer to visit the city when it’s warmer.
November can be wet and cold in London, but most of the attractions are indoors anyway. Consider spending time at some of the museums, the British Museum and the Natural History Museum are two of the world’s most iconic museums and should not be skipped.
Head to Harrods for some Christmas shopping, and enjoy a cozy afternoon tea with scones with cream and jam.
On a clear day, head out to see Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace or the London Eye. There is so much to see and do in London that you’ll never be bored.
21. Paris, France
Last but not least is Paris, which may not be the first place you think of when it comes to Thanksgiving celebrations.
While Thanksgiving may not be traditionally celebrated in France, this iconic destination offers an enchanting experience during this time of year.
The weather is cold, but it’s not usual to rain, with an average of 9 days rain in November. This allows you to get out and explore iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, and Louvre Museum, or simply enjoy a cozy café experience.
Paris promises a Thanksgiving getaway filled with romance, charm, and unforgettable memories, from indulging in exquisite French cuisine, or strolling along the charming streets, adorned with festive lights, it’s certainly a memorable place to visit.
So, if you want to escape the Thanksgiving holiday crowds, now you know where to go and where not to go!
While each of these destinations offer something different and unique, they are all places where you can spend quality time with your friends and family, which after all, is what Thanksgiving is all about.
Before you go, read up on our Holiday Travel Tips so you know can plan for a less stressful Thanksgiving trip during a very busy time.
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What are your Thanksgiving plans? Are you doing any holiday travel? Why and where? Let us know in the comments!