For many families, Thanksgiving is the ultimate holiday. These unique and affordable destinations offer not only the chance to escape, but also to tap into historic and cultural celebrations, while still enjoying the custom of over-indulgence.
1. Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia
The first documented Thanksgiving in what is now the United States took place on December 4, 1619, at Berkeley Plantation on the banks of the James River in what is now Williamsburg, Virginia. Today, restaurants in the area recreate the first Thanksgiving dinner using local meats and crops, much of it coming from the exact same waterways and gardens that fed the first Colonists almost 400 years ago.
Money-saving tip: Guests who stay at the Kingsmill Resort get breakfast and the authentic Thanksgiving buffet included, as well as complimentary shuttles to Busch Gardens and Colonial Williamsburg.
2. Cooperstown, New York
The Farmer’s Museum, a working 19th-century farm and village in central New York, lies along the elegant lakeshore. On November 23 and 24, families can take a tour of the period-style farmhouse, ride its antique carousel, watch blacksmiths at work, and see heritage-breed turkeys. While you’re in town, stop by the nearby Baseball Hall of Fame.
Money-saving tip: Stay at the 15-room Cooper Inn for just $99 per night, a short stroll from downtown Cooperstown. Don’t miss the delicious homemade fudge.
3. Leavenworth, Washington
The charming Bavarian town of Leavenworth, Washington, is home to Tiny House Village—an enclave of 180-300-square-foot retreats—that are full of character. Rent one, and take advantage of the 200 miles of groomed snowmobile trails, cross-country skiing, and sled hills on the village campground; or head into town to participate in fun, family-friendly Thanksgiving activities.
Money-saving tip: A "Your Way, Mighway and the Highway Thanksgiving Deal" offers families a chance to get two free nights at any of the Thousand Trails campgrounds or Encore resorts if you book an RV, now through November 30, 2018.
4. Greenville, South Carolina
Greenville is the quintessential Southern city with an elegant waterfront and fall foliage. Kids will love the world-class Children’s Museum of the Upstate and Disney on Ice, or have the whole family sign up for the Turkey Day 5k. Afterward, refuel at the annual Thanksgiving Day brunch at the Westin Poinsett, which is around $40 for adults, $23 for kids 7-12, and free for children under six (details for this year’s event will be posted in the coming weeks).
5. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
From Independence Hall to the Liberty Bell to the new Museum of the American Revolution, Philadelphia is filled with American spirit. On Black Friday, visitors can experience a new museum program called Retail & Rebellion, which covers the history of shopping and consumer goods in the U.S. (free). Don’t miss the city’s Thanksgiving Day parade—it’s the oldest in the nation.
Money-saving tip: While many city restaurants serve Thanksgiving feasts, the Radnor Hotel offers a classy, inexpensive menu at $39.95 per adult and $17.50 for kids ages 5-11.
6. Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe is filled with family-friendly activities and events around the holidays, including Pueblo-pottery making and the Tree Lighting Ceremony on November 23 in city plaza. We recommend making a reservation for the Thanksgiving Day dinner at Anasazi Restaurant, and joining the festivities at Meow Wolf over Thanksgiving weekend.
Money-saving tip: Stay at the Santa Fe Sage Inn, which boasts 145 beautiful rooms decorated in southwestern colors and Native American patterns, for as low as $60 per night.
7. Ute Mountain Tribal Park, Colorado
Spend the holiday weekend in Ute Mountain Tribal Park with one of Colorado’s Native American Ute tour guides. They will show you how to interpret pictographs and teach you about the geological land formations and Ancestral Pueblo petroglyphs, artifacts, and dwellings.
Money-saving tip: Stay in nearby Mancos, a designated Colorado Creative District for its galleries along historic Main Street. The recently renovated Mancos Inn offers bunk rooms from $40 per person and private rooms from $70 per person.
8. San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio’s Riverwalk transforms during the holiday season into a light-filled wonderland with costumed float riders and music. This year, the city has a “Dickens on Main” themed event during Thanksgiving weekend that has live enactments from Charles Dickens’ famous books.
Money-saving tip: The Westin Riverwalk puts at the center of all the action, for around $150 per night.
9. Portsmouth, New Hampshire
New Hampshire has deep historical ties to Thanksgiving, when a fisherman named David Thomson sent a shipload to a pilgrim village, saving them from starvation. Today, families can visit the Strawbery Banke Museum in downtown Portsmouth and learn the stories of families who lived in the buildings from 1695 to 1955. Children can learn how to make corn-husk dolls.
Money-saving tip: Take the guided 90-minute interactive Thanksgiving walking tour, offered on weekends in November for only $15 per adult and $10 per child.
10. National Harbor, Maryland
A short drive from both Alexandria, Virginia, and Washington D.C., National Harbor has several hotels and family-friendly attractions including the Capital Wheel, street performers, and musical bands. This year, the Gaylord will unveil a spectacular “A Charlie Brown Christmas” along with a gingerbread village.
Money-saving Tip: Put a twist on the traditional Thanksgiving feast at modern Indian restaurant Rasika West End in nearby Washington, D.C. For $22 per person, you’ll have a delicious spread of Turkey Mussalam with butternut bharta, jeera green beans, cranberry pulao, and onion sage kulcha.