When Thanksgiving rolls around, so does that old tune with the words “over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go.” While visiting family is often a central theme of the holidays, it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes you can take them with you somewhere else, or spend time with other loved ones who might not be related to you.
The time around Thanksgiving is often underutilized to travel for non-holiday reasons. It’s the perfect time to get out and experience new places that are typically outside your holiday plans, with the added perk that time off is usually involved, so you can stretch your trip a little longer.
Whether you’d prefer to stay in North America or use your holiday time to get your passport stamped, there are vacations perfect for travel during that season. Go it solo or bring the whole family with you— these Thanksgiving getaways are too good to pass up.
While summer is traditionally a busy time to visit Europe, the time around Thanksgiving is usually a little lighter, making it an ideal time to take in the famous baths and ornate architecture in Budapest, Hungary. While you’re there be sure to try some hearty Hungarian fare, like beef goulash, which is perfect for the cooler months. November also marks the start of Christmas markets, so even if you ditch your family for Thanksgiving, you can make it up to them with a one-of-a-kind Christmas present.
If you’re sticking around the American South, consider a family Thanksgiving getaway road trip to Memphis, Tennessee. While you’re there, sample the city’s famous barbecue and take in some blues music. It might not be turkey, but it’s probably tastier and a little more memorable.
Quebec City, Canada
While the tickets to Europe in November might be a fraction of the costs of the summer, it can still be difficult to get there because of the distance. If you’re a francophile, consider visiting Quebec City. While you visit, you can dine on French cuisine in a European-inspired city. It’s probably a little more charming than your average Thanksgiving feast, and since it’s not too far from the northeastern U.S., the trip can easily be turned into a family Thanksgiving getaway.
Thanksgiving in Phoenix is ideal if you want to take in the beauty of the high desert without triple-digit temperatures. If you’re traveling from a snowy environment, it could feel warm enough to swim in one of the area hotel’s picturesque palm tree-lined swimming pools or splurge on a spa day. Even if it’s cold, Phoenix has a growing art scene and ample architectural points of interest, so you can pack in a little culture, too.
There’s no getting around it—Florence is a cultural mecca. While it’s usually flooded with tourists in the summer, visiting at the end of November will give you a little more elbow room to see Michelangelo’s David or spend time at the Uffizi Gallery. Another perk—the cooler temps will make eating hearty Italian fare all-the-more appropriate.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
While Thanksgiving typically marks a transition from the warm colors of fall to the dreariness of winter, a trip to Lisbon, Portugal, will add a little color—especially through the city’s signature mosaic sidewalks. Stay at one of the city’s affordable boutique hotels and dine on cod and other seafood dishes. Finish it all off with a custardy pasteis de nata pastry and you’ll find you’ve forgotten about what’s going on back home.
If you’re ready to get away from fall and hit the slopes, Whistler’s hills will be ready. Since Thanksgiving is celebrated in October in Canada, you won’t have to worry as much about crowds taking advantage of the holiday in November. Even if you aren’t especially into winter sports, Whistler boasts a charming mountain town full of shops and places to take in the scenery while sipping something warm.
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