As the leaves change color and the air smells like roasted turkey, it’s time to celebrate Thanksgiving! While many of us cherish the comforting traditions of home, why not consider venturing beyond your front door this year?
Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or simply seeking a change of scenery, a Thanksgiving getaway offers an opportunity to get to know new cultures, discover unique traditions, and create lasting memories.
In the next section of this guide, we’ll share some of the best Thanksgiving destinations. From iconic national treasures to incredible international locations, there’s something for everyone!
From bustling cities to serene countryside retreats, the United States offers a range of activities for a truly unforgettable Thanksgiving getaway.
Experience the true spirit of Thanksgiving in the United States! From the classic turkey dinner to the Macy’s Day Parade, there’s something for everyone in this diverse country. A domestic Thanksgiving getaway is the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in American culture, bond with loved ones, and enjoy a convenient and stress-free holiday.
New York City
A Thanksgiving getaway to New York City offers a captivating blend of the city’s vibrant energy and the holiday spirit. Start your day by watching the iconic Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with its giant balloons, marching bands, and dazzling floats. Afterward, explore the city’s iconic landmarks, such as Times Square, Central Park, and the Empire State Building, all adorned with festive decorations. For a cultural touch, catch a Broadway show or visit world-class museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art.
If you’re seeking a respite from the city’s hustle and bustle, take a delightful car trip to the picturesque Hudson Valley, home to charming towns like Sleepy Hollow, known for its historic sites and enchanting atmosphere. Head east to explore the Hamptons, a collection of exclusive beachside communities, and enjoy a relaxing day by the ocean. Another option is to venture to the Catskill Mountains for scenic hikes and outdoor adventures. To the south, explore the Jersey Shore for a dose of coastal charm or embark on a wine tour in the Finger Lakes region upstate.
Spending Thanksgiving in Washington is a great way to experience the city’s rich history with the warmth of the holiday season. You can see the annual parade and explore the National Mall, home to iconic monuments like the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, all beautifully illuminated for the holidays. Visiting the Smithsonian museums is also a must, as many offer special exhibitions and events during Thanksgiving!
Within a short drive north from D.C., you can explore the colonial charm of Annapolis, Maryland, known for its picturesque waterfront, historic streets, and the United States Naval Academy. To the west, visit Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where you can explore the Gettysburg National Military Park and immerse yourself in Civil War history. Venture south to the beautiful Shenandoah National Park, which offers stunning mountain views, hiking trails, and opportunities for wildlife spotting. Alternatively, drive east to reach the Chesapeake Bay, where you can enjoy serene waterside towns, seafood dining, and outdoor activities.
During Thanksgiving, Boston’s historical charm blends perfectly with the holiday energy. Once there, you must watch the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade, featuring colorful floats, live entertainment, and marching bands. After the parade, explore the Freedom Trail, a historic path leading to 16 significant sites, including the Massachusetts State House and the Old North Church.
Don’t forget to visit Faneuil Hall Marketplace, beautifully decorated for the holiday season, where you can shop for unique gifts and savor some delicious New England clam chowder!
There are several fascinating destinations only a car drive away from Boston. Head north to explore the coastal beauty of Cape Cod, known for its charming villages, scenic beaches, and fresh seafood. To the west, visit the historic town of Concord, Massachusetts, where you can delve into the American Revolutionary War history by exploring sites like the Old North Bridge. Venture south to Newport, Rhode Island, a city renowned for its opulent Gilded Age mansions and stunning coastal views. Alternatively, drive to the beautiful White Mountains in New Hampshire for hiking, skiing, and enjoying nature.
Chicago is a delightful Thanksgiving destination, offering a rich cultural heritage, festive spirit, and many activities to enjoy – such as the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade, a cherished Chicago tradition. After the parade, explore Millennium Park, where you can marvel at the iconic Cloud Gate sculpture (known as “The Bean”), ice skate at McCormick Tribune Ice Rink, or appreciate the beautiful fall foliage in Lurie Garden.
If you’re interested in car trips from Chicago, you can head north to explore the charming town of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, known for its breweries, museums, and the stunning Milwaukee Art Museum. To the west, you can visit the picturesque city of Galena, Illinois, which boasts historic architecture, boutique shops, and scenic river views. Venture south to Starved Rock State Park, which features breathtaking canyons and waterfalls. Alternatively, drive east to enjoy a scenic road trip along the shores of Lake Michigan or explore the beautiful Indiana Dunes National Park.
Denver is a charming Thanksgiving destination, offering a mix of outdoor adventure and cultural exploration. Besides the Parade of Lights, you can explore the historic Larimer Square, adorned with holiday lights and boutique shops, making it an ideal place for seasonal shopping.
For those who enjoy outdoor activities, Denver’s proximity to the Rocky Mountains provides opportunities for hiking, skiing, or simply enjoying the scenic beauty of the region. Visit Breckenridge, Aspen, or Vail, picturesque mountain towns offering skiing, snowboarding, and cozy alpine village charm.
Spend a cozy Thanksgiving in Seattle, the Pacific Northwest’s largest city. Begin your morning with a visit to Pike Place Market, where you can explore the bustling stalls, grab a cup of coffee from the original Starbucks, and enjoy stunning waterfront views. Afterward, stroll around the charming neighborhoods of Ballard or Fremont to soak up the city’s distinctive character.
Don’t miss the chance to visit the Space Needle to enjoy panoramic views of the city and its surrounding natural beauty. For some adventure, take a ferry to nearby islands like Bainbridge or Vashon for a scenic day trip, enjoying the crisp autumn air and idyllic landscapes.
If you’re in the mood for a scenic drive, Seattle provides an excellent gateway to stunning road trip options. Head east towards the Cascade Mountains, where you can see the beauty of snow-covered peaks, hike through picturesque forests, and visit charming mountain towns like Leavenworth. To the north, explore the San Juan Islands, a Pacific Northwest gem known for its pristine landscapes and outdoor activities. On the Olympic Peninsula, you can visit Olympic National Park, known for its rugged coastline, lush rainforests, and diverse wildlife.
Los Angeles is a fantastic destination for a Thanksgiving getaway, offering a vibrant mix of holiday festivities, cultural attractions, and natural beauty. You can stroll along the Venice Beach Boardwalk to soak up the California sun, enjoy the lively street performers, shop for unique souvenirs, and explore the historic Santa Monica Pier, with its amusement park rides, games, and stunning ocean views.
You can also take a scenic drive along the Pacific Coast Highway, offering breathtaking ocean vistas, picturesque seaside towns, and opportunities for hiking or picnicking. Head inland to Joshua Tree National Park, known for its unique desert landscapes, striking rock formations, and stargazing opportunities. Alternatively, drive to the beautiful Santa Barbara wine country to explore vineyards, indulge in wine tastings, and appreciate the stunning vineyard views.
San Francisco offers a blend of holiday charm and the city’s iconic cultural experiences for Thanksgiving. Besides watching the traditional Thanksgiving Day Parade, you can explore Fisherman’s Wharf, a waterfront district with fresh seafood, sea lions, and stunning views.
Head to Alcatraz Island and ride the famous cable cars for a different perspective of the city – and don’t forget to explore the iconic landmarks, such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, and the vibrant neighborhoods of the Mission District and Haight-Ashbury.
The region offers numerous exciting options for road trips! Drive north to explore California’s wine country in Napa and Sonoma, where you can indulge in wine tastings and savor gourmet cuisine while enjoying scenic vineyard views. Alternatively, head to the majestic redwoods of Muir Woods National Monument, a tranquil escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. To the south, take a scenic drive along Highway 1 to enjoy the stunning coastal beauty of Big Sur, complete with rugged cliffs and breathtaking vistas.
Thanksgiving in San Diego is a feast for the senses, with its coastal beauty, festive celebrations, and diverse culinary scene. Watch the Annual Holiday Bowl Parade and explore Balboa Park, home to world-renowned museums, gardens, and the San Diego Zoo. Otherwise, San Diego’s mild climate is ideal for a seaside Thanksgiving picnic or a stroll along the shoreline.
To an adventure beyond the city limits, drive north to explore La Jolla and Del Mar, known for their stunning beaches, or head east to visit Julian, famous for its apple pies and historic charm.
Las Vegas offers a one-of-a-kind Thanksgiving experience, combining the city’s glitz and glamour with the spirit of gratitude. Start your day with the annual America’s Thanksgiving Parade in Downtown Las Vegas, or head to the world-famous Las Vegas Strip to marvel at the captivating holiday decorations and themed displays at various resorts. Many of the city’s renowned restaurants offer special Thanksgiving menus, allowing you to enjoy a sumptuous feast with all the traditional fixings. After your meal, consider catching a live performance, such as a thrilling Cirque du Soleil show or a headlining concert by a top artist.
Just a short drive away from the city, you’ll find the stunning natural wonders of the American Southwest. Take a day trip to the Grand Canyon, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and witness the awe-inspiring vistas of this geological marvel. Alternatively, head to the Valley of Fire State Park, known for its vivid red sandstone formations and ancient petroglyphs. You can also venture to the serene shores of Lake Mead for water activities or visit the charming town of Boulder City.
A Thanksgiving trip to Phoenix provides a warm desert escape with holiday festivities. To enjoy the mild climate, explore the Desert Botanical Garden and Camelback Mountain, offering hiking trails and panoramic city views.
If you’re seeking day trips, there are captivating destinations within driving distance. Head north to Sedona, known for its red rock formations, spiritual energy, and outdoor activities. To the south, explore Tucson, home to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Saguaro National Park, and a vibrant arts and culture scene. East of Phoenix, the Superstition Mountains offer hiking trails and the famous Lost Dutchman State Park, filled with desert mysteries and history. Alternatively, head west to visit the Grand Canyon, one of the world’s most iconic natural wonders.
Thanksgiving in Dallas is very lively, with diverse activities and attractions. You can watch the Dallas Holiday Parade or explore the city’s historical roots at Dealey Plaza and the Sixth Floor Museum, as well as the Bishop Arts District, a charming neighborhood with boutiques, art galleries, and cozy cafes.
From Dallas, you can drive to the charming town of Tyler, known for its rose gardens, scenic lakes, and East Texas charm. For a taste of the Old West, drive to Fort Worth, where you can explore the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District, attend a rodeo, and visit the celebrated Kimbell Art Museum. Alternatively, drive south to experience the enchanting beauty of Waco, Texas, home to the Magnolia Market and the Dr. Pepper Museum.
Thanksgiving in Nashville is delightful, with vibrant music everywhere and the well-known Southern hospitality. Begin your day with the Boulevard Bolt charity run and walk, followed by the Macy’s Great Tree Lighting at the Opryland Hotel. Explore downtown Nashville, where you can immerse yourself in live music at the honky-tonks on Broadway, shop for unique gifts at local boutiques, and savor Southern comfort food.
For more of Tennessee, drive west to the picturesque towns of Franklin, Clarksville, or Cumberland Plateau, where you can enjoy hiking, waterfalls, and outdoor adventures.
A Thanksgiving getaway to Miami is a promise of a vibrant and sun-soaked holiday! Explore the stunning Art Deco architecture and vibrant street art in Miami’s famous South Beach, relax on the beautiful sandy shores, and stroll along the Ocean Drive promenade. Don’t forget to visit Little Havana, where you can immerse yourself in Cuban culture, enjoy live music, and savor delicious Cuban food and coffee.
From Miami, you can head south to explore the scenic Florida Keys, where you can drive the iconic Overseas Highway, visit Key West, and enjoy water sports, snorkeling, and the unique island atmosphere. To the north, the Everglades National Park offers the opportunity to experience the beauty of the Florida wetlands and witness the region’s diverse wildlife. Drive west to Naples and Marco Island, known for their pristine beaches, shopping, and outdoor activities. Additionally, you can head to the Gulf Coast to explore Fort Myers and Sanibel Island, home to beautiful beaches and wildlife sanctuaries.
From exploring vibrant new cultures to discovering unique traditions, an international Thanksgiving is an unforgettable experience. Don’t stick to the same old routine and embark on an adventure to a new and exciting destination.
By celebrating Thanksgiving abroad, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for diverse cultures, traditions, and how people from different backgrounds express gratitude and come together. And, of course, you’ll create lasting memories that will be cherished for a lifetime!
London’s rich history and vibrant present create a magical atmosphere for celebrating the holiday season. You can start your day with a visit to Westminster Abbey, one of the most iconic landmarks in London, and stroll along the River Thames, enjoying picturesque views of the city skyline.
For a Thanksgiving feast, London’s diverse culinary scene offers something for everyone. Many restaurants offer special Thanksgiving menus, blending traditional American fare with British influences. Alternatively, visit a charming local pub for a cozy and festive meal with loved ones.
In the evening, catch a West End show or visit Hyde Park, where the Winter Wonderland festival begins in late November. This festive event features ice skating, a Christmas market, and dazzling lights that will put you in the holiday spirit.
Visiting Paris for Thanksgiving is a magical experience that combines the City of Lights’ timeless charm with the warmth of the holiday season. Go up the Eiffel Tower, stroll along the picturesque Seine River, and relax at the Luxembourg Gardens.
For a Thanksgiving meal, Paris boasts a wide range of charming bistros and Michelin-starred restaurants that offer both traditional and contemporary interpretations of the holiday feast – and don’t forget to indulge in delectable pastries and desserts from renowned patisseries like Pierre Hermé.
If you wish to explore the beautiful French countryside, Paris offers an excellent starting point for captivating day trips. Head northwest to the region of Normandy, famous for its charming villages and historic D-Day landing sites. To the south, visit Loire Valley, the home to some of France’s most magnificent châteaux, including Château de Chambord and Château de Chenonceau.
Rome offers a captivating journey through history, culture, and culinary delights, even if it’s not traditional for Thanksgiving. Explore the awe-inspiring Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill, where ancient history comes to life. Stroll through the charming cobblestone streets, savor traditional Roman dishes, and indulge in a sumptuous Italian feast at one of the city’s renowned trattorias.
If you’re eager to explore further, Rome offers numerous day trips that allow you to immerse yourself in the Italian countryside and culture. Discover the opulent Villa d’Este with its magnificent Renaissance gardens and the historical Hadrian’s Villa in the charming town of Tivoli, just 30 kilometers from Rome. Alternatively, drive through the picturesque hills of Umbria to visit Assisi, known for its stunning Basilica of St. Francis and medieval ambiance.
Amsterdam offers a unique and vibrant Thanksgiving experience, blending the charm of the city with the warmth of the holiday season. Stroll along the iconic canals, taking in the quaint architecture and the enchanting views of the city’s historic bridges, and xplore the world-renowned Rijksmuseum or Van Gogh Museum, where you can immerse yourself in art and culture.
For your Thanksgiving meal, indulge in hearty Dutch cuisine at one of the city’s cozy restaurants, and don’t forget to try traditional Dutch pastries like stroopwafels and poffertjes. Amsterdam’s vibrant nightlife ensures you can wrap up your Thanksgiving celebration with a canal cruise or a visit to a lively local pub, where you can mingle with locals and fellow travelers.
Barcelona for Thanksgiving is a great pick, as the city blends historic charm with contemporary energy. Visit the awe-inspiring Sagrada Família, meander through the Gothic Quarter, savor delicious Catalan cuisine, stroll down La Rambla, and enjoy the city’s vibrant nightlife.
To explore more of the region, drive to the picturesque Montserrat mountains, home to the stunning Montserrat Monastery, offering breathtaking views and hiking opportunities. Alternatively, head north to Costa Brava, a beautiful coastal region known for its pristine beaches, charming fishing villages, and Salvador Dalí’s fascinating museum in Figueres.
Cancun is the perfect Thanksgiving escape to a tropical paradise, combining the holiday spirit with the allure of Mexico’s stunning beaches and vibrant culture. Spend your days basking in the sun on the pristine white-sand beaches, or explore the underwater wonders of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. In the evenings, enjoy the lively atmosphere of Cancun’s nightlife, including beachside bars and dance clubs.
If you’re seeking to explore more of the Yucatán Peninsula, Cancún is an excellent starting point for exciting day trips. Venture inland to the ancient city of Chichen Itza, a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its magnificent Mayan ruins, including the iconic El Castillo pyramid. Another option is to explore the charming town of Tulum, known for its well-preserved coastal Mayan ruins and beautiful beaches.
Going to Punta Cana is a memorable way to celebrate Thanksgiving amidst the Dominican Republic’s pristine beaches and lush landscapes. While Thanksgiving isn’t observed in the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana provides a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure.
Spend your days unwinding on the postcard-worthy beaches and go snorkeling to explore the vibrant underwater world. For a Thanksgiving feast, many resorts in Punta Cana host special dinners featuring a delightful fusion of local and international cuisine, ensuring you can savor delectable seafood and tropical flavors.
From Punta Cana, you can journey to Santo Domingo, the historic capital of the country, and visit the UNESCO-listed Colonial Zone, offering centuries-old architecture and rich history to immerse yourself in. Alternatively, head to Samaná Peninsula, renowned for its dramatic waterfalls, coconut groves, and whale-watching opportunities.
While Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated in Australia, Sydney offers many experiences that will leave you grateful for your time in this captivating city. Visit the iconic Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, with the Sydney Harbour as your backdrop, stroll through the historic Rocks district, enjoy a sunset cruise on Sydney Harbour, and watch the city light up from the Taronga Zoo.
The city also offers numerous car trips to exciting destinations: head north to the picturesque Blue Mountains, known for the stunning Three Sisters rock formations; or venture south to the charming wine region of Hunter Valley, where you can tour vineyards, savor world-class wines and enjoy a relaxing picnic amid rolling hills and vine-covered valleys.
As you ponder your Thanksgiving plans, consider taking a road trip to these remarkable destinations! The freedom of the open road, the possibility of unexpected discoveries, and the joy of togetherness with friends and family await you. And there’s no better way to embark on your adventure than with Rentcars!
On the Rentcars website and app you can book a car for your Thanksgiving road trip with amazing deals and a wide selection of vehicles – that way, you can find the perfect match for your journey.
Book your car now, and set out on a holiday adventure you’ll treasure forever. Happy Thanksgiving and happy travels!
Frequently asked questions
Where do people travel most on Thanksgiving?
On Thanksgiving, people in America predominantly travel to be with their families and loved ones, often returning to their hometowns or gathering at the homes of family members. This cherished holiday tradition centers around a festive feast, expressing gratitude, and spending quality time with family, making it a peak time for domestic travel within the country. While there are no specific destinations people flock to, airports and highways are bustling as individuals journey to join in the Thanksgiving celebrations.
Is it cheap to travel during Thanksgiving?
Traveling during Thanksgiving can be more expensive than other times of the year due to increased demand and limited availability of affordable fares. It’s advisable to book your travel plans well in advance to secure the best deals or consider traveling on less popular travel days around Thanksgiving to find more budget-friendly options. However, if you’re flexible with your travel dates and plan strategically, you can still find affordable options and enjoy a memorable Thanksgiving getaway without breaking the bank!
Where is it warm for Thanksgiving?
For those seeking warm and sunny destinations for Thanksgiving, several options beckon, with popular choices including the Caribbean, Mexico, Florida, and parts of the southwestern United States. These regions typically enjoy milder temperatures and sunnier skies during Thanksgiving, making them ideal for those who want to trade in the chilly autumn weather for a more tropical or temperate escape.