The 15 Best Places to Visit For Thanksgiving in the USA

The 15 Best Places to Visit For Thanksgiving in the USA

For those of us in the US, November brings about a holiday that’s all about getting together with the ones you love and being grateful for life’s gifts. For some, that means traveling far and wide to visit family and friends at the places we once called home. 

But for others, it means taking advantage of the time off to travel together and see new places with the ones we love. If you fall into the latter category, this list of the best places to visit during Thanksgiving will help you plan a fun and gracious getaway this Turkey Day. Pick your favorite Thanksgiving destination from this list, and we guarantee you’ll find a lot to be thankful for!

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The 15 Best Places in the US to Go for Thanksgiving

1. New York City

Best Places to Visit during Thanksgiving: New York City

Watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade each Thanksgiving morning has been a family tradition in the US for nearly 100 years. But seeing the parade in person is a true bucket list item, making NYC one of the most iconic places to go on Thanksgiving. 

And everyone knows that the end of this parade ushers in the holiday season, with Santa himself closing out the historic tradition. You can continue celebrating the holidays by spending Thanksgiving exploring the city’s holiday markets, like the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park.


2. Plymouth, Massachusetts

Best Places to Visit during Thanksgiving: Plymouth, Massachusetts

Why not spend Thanksgiving where this beloved holiday got its start? Plymouth is where to go for Thanksgiving if you want a look back on the history of our nation. 

You’ll likely want to head to Plimoth Patuxet Museums on Thanksgiving, as this living history museum immerses you in the story of the first Thanksgiving, introducing you to the Pilgrims who settled the land and the Wampanoag people to whom they owed their survival. 

Top Thanksgiving Destinations: Plymouth, Massachusetts

This museum also hosts different Thanksgiving feasts throughout the day, one being a homestyle buffet and the other being a classic Thanksgiving dinner inspired by the menu served at the Harvard Club after President Lincoln established Thanksgiving as a national holiday. Both dining options do sell out fast, so be sure to get your tickets in advance.


3. Williamsburg, Virginia

Best Places to Go for Thanksgiving: Williamsburg, Virginia

For more immersive history, Williamsburg is one of the best places to visit during Thanksgiving. This historic town has a litany of festive events each Thanksgiving, which not only celebrate the holiday but also American Indian Heritage Month, which falls each November.

Although Plymouth is the first official location of a Thanksgiving feast, many would argue that title belongs to Jamestown, the first permanent English colony. You can learn more about the colony at Williamsburg’s Jamestown Settlement, a living history museum that’s open on Thanksgiving.

You can also visit the Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area on Thanksgiving Day, followed by having a feast in one of several restaurants serving up both traditional and untraditional meals in Colonial Williamsburg.


4. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Best Places to Visit during Thanksgiving: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

If you’re looking for Thanksgiving destinations bursting with American history, Philadelphia is a great choice. Despite the fame of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Philly’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is actually the nation’s first. Plus, it features everyone’s favorite mascot, Gritty, which we think makes Philly’s parade superior to all others.

Following the parade, you can enjoy ringing in the holiday season with the German-inspired Christmas Village, where you’ll find everything from mulled wine to carnival rides. 


5. Arlington, Texas

Top Thanksgiving Destinations: Arlington, Texas

For many Americans, Thanksgiving is synonymous with football. It’s been a longstanding tradition for the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys to host big games on Thanksgiving Day, but we’d argue that AT&T Stadium is where to be as the Cowboys get the evening game.

Even if you can’t score these coveted tickets, you can still join in on the amazing tailgating scene, which is filled with good times, good food, and good friends. 

Best Places to Go for Thanksgiving: Arlington, Texas

6. Leavenworth, Washington

Top Thanksgiving Destinations: Leavenworth

The Bavarian-style Leavenworth is one of the most unique places to go for Thanksgiving. Usually, the holiday lights are already covering the town by Thanksgiving, making it all the more beautiful.

Come Thanksgiving weekend, you can take part in the Village of Lights, which lasts until Christmas Eve. Here, you’ll find holiday characters, live entertainment, crafts for little ones, and tons of incredible decor. 

Best Places to Visit during Thanksgiving: Leavenworth

7. Palm Springs, California

Best Places to Go for Thanksgiving: Palm Springs, California

Wondering where to go for Thanksgiving? The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway offers one of the most unique things to do on Thanksgiving. 

Grab your tickets to Ride ‘n’ Dine, which allows you to take in incredible views on the largest rotating aerial tramway in the world. You’ll also get dinner at Pines Café included in the cost of your ticket, which is located at the top and gives you more opportunities to take in the sights.

Best Places to Visit during Thanksgiving: Palm Springs, California

8. Burlington, Vermont

Top Thanksgiving Destinations: Burlington, Vermont

On the shores of Lake Champlain, you’ll find Burlington, one of the most beautiful places to go on Thanksgiving.

Enjoy the start of the holiday season Thanksgiving weekend with the city’s annual Santa Claus Parade, where kids are invited to follow Ol’ Saint Nick into Burlington Town Center for meet and greets, followed by the annual tree lighting at Church Street Marketplace.

Best Places to Go for Thanksgiving: Burlington, Vermont

9. St. Augustine, Florida

Best Places to Visit during Thanksgiving: St. Augustine, Florida

As the US’s oldest city, St. Augustine is one of the best places to spend Thanksgiving for those who enjoy historic architecture and stunning sights. One of the best parts of this time of year is the Night of Lights Festival, which runs from mid-November through the end of January. 

Top Thanksgiving Destinations: St. Augustine, Florida

Many of the tour companies in the city offer you a chance to explore the cobblestone streets of St. Augustine, which will be lined with more than three million lights, only enhancing the beauty that already exists in the city. 


10. Savannah, Georgia

Best Places to Go for Thanksgiving: Savannah, Georgia

Savannah is one of the top Thanksgiving destinations, thanks to its fall beauty and ample amount of things to do. Spend your Turkey Day on the water with Savannah Riverboat Cruises, where you’ll enjoy a traditional Southern buffet as you dance the night away while you cruise up and down the Savannah River.

Best Places to Visit during Thanksgiving: Savannah, Georgia

Come Thanksgiving weekend, there’s even more to do as this charming city gears up for the holiday season. Take a festive trolley tour, enjoy the beautiful light displays at the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens, and much more. 


11. New Orleans, Louisiana

Best Places to Go for Thanksgiving: New Orleans, Louisiana

From the Thanksgiving Classic, a nearly 100-year-old derby at the Fair Grounds, to the Bayou Classic Thanksgiving Day Parade, New Orleans is filled with fun things to do on Thanksgiving. Stick around all weekend long to see an epic college football rivalry battle it out in the Bayou Classic on Saturday, with their marching bands going head-to-head the day before. 

Top Thanksgiving Destinations: New Orleans, Louisiana

Plus, you just can’t go to New Orleans and not indulge in your sweet tooth, savory tooth, and just about every type of tooth. Luckily, plenty of the city’s famous restaurants are open on Thanksgiving Day, provided you snag a reservation. 


12. San Luis Obispo, California 

Best Places to Visit during Thanksgiving: San Luis Obispo, California

Looking for off-the-beaten-path places to go on Thanksgiving? Check out the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo. This iconic hotel is truly a one-of-a-kind location known for its over-the-top decor and theming. 

Equally over the top is their pink-boothed, flower-covered dining room, which hosts a yearly Thanksgiving feast. Grab a reservation soon, as this popular event tends to sell out. 


13. Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Top Thanksgiving Destinations: Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Gatlinburg is filled with activities for the whole family come Thanksgiving. This top Thanksgiving destination features the Gatlinburg Thanksgiving Arts and Craft Show, a massive craft show that runs throughout the week of Thanksgiving, and the Festival of Trees, a fundraising event that showcases beautifully decorated trees, kid-friendly crafts, and play spaces for little ones.

Although nearby Dollywood is closed for Thanksgiving, you can visit the week of the holiday to check out their Smoky Mountain Christmas celebration, which features award-winning entertainment under the canopy of more than six million twinkling lights.


14. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Best Places to Go for Thanksgiving: Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

November is the off-season for the breathtaking Hilton Head Island, though crowds do start to come back somewhat for the Thanksgiving weekend. But it still makes for one of the most laidback Thanksgiving destinations.

In celebration of the birth of loggerhead turtles each fall on Hilton Head Island, you can join in on the annual Thanksgiving Turtle Trot before you indulge in a decadent meal from one of the island’s many incredible restaurants. Be sure to make a reservation, as these feasts are tremendously popular. 

The day after Thanksgiving, you’ll want to stop by Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina if you have little ones, as Santa makes a special stop to kick off the holiday season.


15. Monterey, California

Top Thanksgiving Destinations: Monterey, California

November happens to be prime time for whale and dolphin watching in Monterey, especially if you want to see orcas, making this seaside destination one of the best places to go for Thanksgiving. The Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the best aquariums in the world, is also open for Thanksgiving and warrants a visit. 

Once you’re done exploring the oceanic life of the Monterey area, visit one of the many restaurants offering Thanksgiving feasts, like the beautiful Estéban Restaurant at the Casa Munras Garden Hotel & Spa in Monterey. Be sure to make reservations in advance!

There you have it! The 15 best places to go for Thanksgiving. What are your favorites? Let us know in the comments!


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Author

  • Jacqueline Gualtieri

    Jacqueline is a writer and editor pursuing the freelance life to explore the world. Born and raised in New Jersey, she spent her college years in Boston before settling down with her partner and puppy in Monterey, California.

    When she’s not writing, you can often find her planning her next trip. Road trips are her favorite, whether it’s driving across the country or simply exploring a new city in her own backyard. She loves uncovering the history of every new place she goes.

    Jacqueline has a restless passion for learning and makes it a goal to pick up a new skill every year. She’s picked up embroidery, crocheting, knitting, and cross-stitching, but she’s hoping to master more languages to help her in her travels. She’s also a published author, with short stories and poetry appearing in several anthologies.

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1 thought on “The 15 Best Places to Visit For Thanksgiving in the USA”

  1. This is a great list and I’m fortunate to have recently visited St. Augustine with my husband. One of my favorite holiday destinations is Branson, MO. Ozark Mountain Christmas officially begins Nov. 1 each year, with all sorts of beautiful lighting displays that complement the natural beauty of the Ozarks. In November, Veterans Week and Thanksgiving Week are extremely popular! Shopping, golf, live theater and music shows, numerous attractions and dining options make Branson, MO a perfect place for a romantic getaway, a girls’ weekend, a guys’ get-together, a multi-generational family-friendly option or for starting new traditions!

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