This blog post was updated on September 11, 2019.
A lot of people enjoy spending their Thanksgiving at home with friends and loved ones. While that’s all well and good, others prefer to do something a little more unconventional when they celebrate Turkey Day. Instead of the traditional options, they’d rather travel and do a little exploring on this quintessential American holiday. Luckily, there’s plenty of places that can combine your wanderlust with Thanksgiving fun. Here are some of the best places in the country to visit for a truly unforgettable Thanksgiving day.
Seattle, Washington … to Gobble Mounds of Mashed Potato
Let’s get real: Thanksgiving owes a lot of its popularity to the mountains of food we consume on this particular holiday. But even though the turkey is the star of the show, many people prefer the sides instead — particularly mashed potatoes. This year, join up with your starch-loving peers in Seattle and watch the Mashed Potato Munch-Off, a delightfully seasonal eating contest. Competitors will chow down on mountains of fluffy potatoes (after completing a Turkey Day-themed run). You can compete yourself for the hefty fee of $1, or watch the good-natured mayhem from the beer garden. Remember to bring your appetite.
Nantucket, Massachusetts … to take the Plunge for a Cause
Feel the need to immerse yourself in the history of Thanksgiving? Then there’s no better place to be than Massachusetts. You can dine at restaurants featuring local favorites (and taste some authentic Thanksgiving treats), explore historical sites, and generally relax. But be sure to save up some energy for Thanksgiving morning — that’s when people take The Plunge in Nantucket. A charity event that’s wildly popular, The Plunge is when people from all over the country come together to dive into the freezing cold ocean. Don’t worry, it’s all for a good cause: the local children’s library. Afterwards, you can warm up with hot chocolate and pastries from nearby shops. It’s a wild, wonderful, utterly unconventional way to celebrate Thanksgiving Day (and do something good at the same time).
Detroit, Michigan … to Run in a Weird Costume
While most people stuff their face on Thanksgiving (and really, who can blame them), the people of Detroit have a different way of celebrating the holiday. For 34 years people have been joining up in the Turkey Trot race. You can opt to do a 5K, 10K, or one-mile run. What makes this brisk morning event even more fun? Tons of participants dress up in their wildest costumes to get into the spirit. If a morning jog isn’t your thing, you can watch from the sidelines with a steaming cup of coffee and still be part of the festivities. There are prizes, tons of delicious food, and you can actually lose some calories on Thanksgiving Day. How many people can say that?
Plymouth, Massachusetts … to Go Back to Where it All Began
To reenact the very first Thanksgiving experience, there’s only one place you can really go this November: Plimoth Plantation, out in Plymouth Massachusetts. This is where the first Thanksgiving was celebrated. This incredible living history museum will give you the best glimpse into the world of the original settlers. You can explore the settlement, see what life was like, and do tons of fun crafts and activities with the whole family. But our favorite activity has to be the traditional Thanksgiving feast. Forget sweet potatoes with marshmallows — you’ll get to sample fare that the settlers enjoyed, from a sweet pudding of native corn to stewed pompion (pumpkin) and turkey. It’s an unforgettable experience and a downright delicious historical event.
New York City, New York … to Watch the World’s Largest Parade
No list of Thanksgiving travel spots would be truly complete without including Macy’s iconic Thanksgiving Day Parade. Not only is it the world’s largest parade, it’s one of the oldest (the first was held way back in 1927). With giant floats, amazing performances, and tons of surprises, it’s no wonder that thousands upon thousands of people head to New York City each year to be part of this incredible event.