Now that we’re a couple of months away from Thanksgiving, now is the time to book travel before rates and fares get outrageously expensive. If you still aren’t sure where to go for your long holiday weekend, here are a few of our favorite autumn destinations that we think you should check out this Thanksgiving.
In the autumn, eastern Tennessee becomes a wonderland full of vibrant fall foliage, but up in the Appalachian mountains, late November starts to look like winter. If you’re looking for a not-too-hot but not-too-cold destination, Gatlinburg is ideal.
Based along the foot of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg remains fairly warm in November, while providing the option to drive up into the mountains for some possible ice or snow at the summit.
During Thanksgiving weekend, the main stretch in Gatlinburg starts to light up with Christmas decorations and holiday spirit. Speaking of spirits, don’t forget to stop in for a free moonshine tasting at one of Gatlinburg’s many shineries, like Ole Smoky, Doc Collier, or Sugarlands.
If you get tired of the bustling downtown, escape into the mountains and cross the Tennessee-North Carolina border to explore the town of Cherokee. It will be low season there, but it’s a good chance to learn about Cherokee nation and its deep roots in the Smoky Mountains.
» Learn more: Save your family big bucks with an un-Thanksgiving
If you’re searching for an East Coast colonial Thanksgiving vibe, Boston is a great home base. Aside from the fact that Boston Logan International Airport is one of the most easily accessible airports in the U.S. and that there will be plenty of accommodations to choose from, Boston has lots of Thanksgiving events scheduled this year.
Catch a show at the Boston Symphony Orchestra during Thanksgiving week, or bundle up and line up along Newbury Street for some serious Black Friday shopping. Whether you are searching for traditional Thanksgiving fare or opt for Little Italy instead, Boston is brimming with delicious Thanksgiving dinner options. We recommend that you make a reservation as early as possible.
If you’re headed toward Boston but don’t want to stay in the city, there are heaps of Massachusetts options that are ideal for Thanksgiving and significantly less metropolitan. The story of Plymouth dates back to the early colonization of the eastern U.S., and Plimoth Plantation hosts an early traditional New England Thanksgiving Dinner for guests.
Choose between the classic Thanksgiving Buffet or the famed “Story of Thanksgiving” dinner, complete with Pilgrim role players and indigenous interpreters. Note that you must purchase tickets in advance for this event.
If you’re going to miss Salem during Halloween, we think it’s still worth a visit during Thanksgiving. Home of the infamous Salem Witch Trials, Salem still carries a sinister legacy that is best experienced during the autumn months.
Pay a visit to the 1692 Salem Witch Museum to learn about how mass hysteria spread through Salem in the late 1600s and how we still contribute to modern-day witch hunting today.
If the baseline vibes aren’t enough for you, sign up for a Salem walking tour. There are daytime and nighttime options, so it’s up to you to decide how you’d like to experience one of America’s most storied little towns.
» Learn more: How and when to shop for travel after Thanksgiving
Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville is one of our favorite destinations because it’s relatively small but surprisingly diverse. With its roots in old money but its present-day streets dotted with microbreweries, cafes, tattoo parlors and craft shops, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in Asheville.
Travelers searching for a luxury Thanksgiving experience should consider the Biltmore Estate. Owned by the Vanderbilt family, the Biltmore Estate has several visitation and accommodation options, including a Thanksgiving stay at the on-site inn. Enjoy luxury Thanksgiving dining, admission to Candlelight Christmas Evenings at Biltmore House, and a daily breakfast buffet.
Thanksgiving is historically an East Coast holiday that moved West as settlers did. If you aren’t looking for a traditional experience and don’t want to let go of summer weather, head to the Southwest. Even though it isn’t a traditional choice, Tucson still has a Thanksgiving schedule this year, which includes the Thanksgiving Cross-Country Classic 5k race at Reid Park the week before.
If you aren’t keen on proactively running off your Thanksgiving calories, there are a lot of low-impact outdoor events that are ideal for November. Check out the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum to learn about Tucson’s vibrant desert ecosystem, or head to the Sabino Canyon and hike the Seven Falls Trail. Being so close to Mexico, finding a good meal won’t be an issue in Tucson, and November is a perfect time to hike through Sonoran canyons.
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Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
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