THE_BLOG

5 Great Thanksgiving Getaways for Families

While the rest of the country endures cold weather, southwest Florida's Sanibel Island attracts beachcombers to its pristine sands, strewn with colorful seashells and sand dollars.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

Thanksgiving has evolved from merely counting one's blessings over a simple meal to a stressful all-day affair of cooking, feasting, binge football watching and holiday shopping. Still, for many families seeking some sanity away from in-laws and deal-seeking shoppers this November, Thanksgiving is an ideal time to plan a quick getaway thanks to fewer crowds and reasonable rates. Whether you want to squeeze in a relaxing beach escape or you're yearning for an affordable adventure abroad before the peak holiday travel season hits full swing, here are five fun kid-friendly places to visit this Turkey Day.

Sanibel Island

While the rest of the country endures cold weather, southwest Florida's Sanibel Island attracts beachcombers to its pristine sands, strewn with colorful seashells and sand dollars. Kids will love searching Bowman's Beach for unique shells, and parents will love the affordable hotel prices at this time of year. Among other water activities, you and the gang can try your hand at stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking and sailing. Another reason Sanibel stands out as a perennial favorite among families? The calm waves and secluded sands at neighboring Captiva Island, along with its ample opportunities for fishing and wildlife-spotting.

Toronto

Our neighbors to the north officially celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October, making November an ideal time to embrace abundant outdoor activities, colorful fall foliage and reduced room rates. Delve into this diverse and cosmopolitan city by checking out can't-miss sights like the Ontario Place and the Toronto Zoo. Breaks from exploring can include anything from hitting the trails to sitting down for indulgent meals at gastronomic hubs. And if you're a family of food lovers, you shouldn't miss out on wandering around Kensington Market, enjoying hearty dim sum dumplings circulated on trolleys at Rosewood Chinese Cuisine or savoring a leisurely coffee break in Jimmy's on Baldwin.

When you're ready to turn in for the evening, retreat to the flagship Four Seasons Hotel Toronto in vibrant Yorkville. Apart from its ideal location, this Four Seasons branch offers kid-friendly amenities and services and is central to Toronto's emerging food scene, as evidenced by Daniel Boulud's d|bar. The trendy spot serves reimagined Canadian poutine varieties, such as "Firehouse" poutine filled with jalapenos, pulled pork, gravy and cheese curds.

London

The dollar's continued strength against the pound makes a trip across the pond a convenient, and affordable fall-break locale. The flight lasts only six hours, and you'll find plenty of in-flight entertainment and cuisine choices to satisfy the pickiest of eaters on carriers like Virgin Atlantic and British Airways.

Once you arrive, take the kids to free museums and gardens like the British Museum and Hyde Park, and iconic attractions like Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, Parliament and Big Ben. If you're looking to avoid hordes of other sightseers, pop up to The Shard for epic views of London. Four restaurants (Hutong, Lang, Ting and Gong) offer unparalleled views of St. Paul's Cathedral, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf and other famous landmarks fifty-two stories in the air, as well as some of the best spots for high tea in London. Another can't-miss spot is the Harry Potter Museum, which delights the young -and young-at-heart - with its intricate sets, elaborate costumes and special effects.

Switzerland

While Switzerland is famous for many splendid things - watches and chocolate, to name a few - its spectacular alpine scenery is one of its best assets. Enjoy the mountainous terrain of this picture-perfect country at The Dolder Grand, a luxurious Zurich retreat known for its gourmet restaurants and its indulgent spa. And with easy access to the Swiss Alps and fresh powder, the whole family can bond with winter sports before savoring Swiss cuisine.

While traditional Swiss foods tend to veer towards Italian, French or German, Thanksgiving dinner in Switzerland should definitely include a tartiflette (a classic dish that contains potatoes, bacon and reblochon cheese). Decadent to the point of a heart attack, the tartiflette could trump any Thanksgiving casserole.

New York City

Autumn is a perfect time to explore the Big Apple's vibrant neighborhoods and iconic attractions. Meander through Central Park to admire red maples and oaks before venturing to Battery Park to soar up to the new One World Observatory at the former grounds of the twin towers. Or, if you're traveling with art enthusiasts, check out exhibits at the Met before making your way to SoHo to pick up a few holiday gifts. And if you and the kiddos are in the holiday spirit, you can catch the colorful Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade spectacle, with its intricate floats and massive balloons, first-hand. After soaking up the city's sights and sounds, you can bed down in a family-friendly retreat like The Peninsula New York, which offers personalized kids' amenities and experiences, ranging from welcome gifts to afternoon etiquette classes.

Trained as an attorney at The University of Texas at Austin School of Law, Sery Kim is a Washington, D.C.- and New York City-based food and travel writer. Formerly, she spent more than eight years working in politics, including time spent working for the White House, two presidential campaigns and four years in Congress. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram or on her blog Adventures in Sery.

Follow U.S. News Travel on Twitter: https://twitter.com/USNewsTravel