Thanksgiving Travel: 8 Amazing Things to Do and Places to Go

Consider going big -- take your family and friends with you, or make a break for it with a private getaway -- and skip the Black Friday shopping this year in exchange for experiences with far greater returns.
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Thanksgiving's eating, drinking and merrymaking tend to come with an element of stress over meal planning, preparation and cleanup. So take a break from the usual this year: Because what better way to celebrate an extra two days off in a row than to travel elsewhere than someone's dining room? Consider going big -- take your family and friends with you, or make a break for it with a private getaway -- and skip the Black Friday shopping this year in exchange for experiences with far greater returns.

See the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC

Spiderman making his way through NYC on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Manhattan's beloved Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade has been eliciting excitement since 1924. See the annually televised event in real life this year, and marvel at the giant balloons floating above you among NYC's iconic skyscrapers. Classics such as Snoopy are combined with modern characters like Hello Kitty, Spiderman and Finn and Jake from "Adventure Time." Since more than 3.5 million tourists and locals gather to watch the parade every year, beat the crowds and treat yourself to a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Viewing Brunch. Your VIP Pass affords you a buffet, cocktails and an unobstructed, seated view on the parade route in a glass-enclosed viewing space, cozily keeping you from New York's shivery November weather.

Take a Brunch or Dinner Cruise in NYC, SF or San Diego

A view from the San Francisco Bay on a cruise.

Go carefree and cruise (literally!) through the holidays this year, shedding any meal-related obligations. Opt for a Thanksgiving lunch or dinner cruise in New York, heading down the Hudson and East rivers and enjoying a relaxing lunch buffet or four-course, seated dinner option. Or if you've got a case of California dreaming, Thanksgiving dinner bay cruises in San Francisco or San Diego are also available. In addition to a yummy, traditional holiday meal featuring turkey and gravy, of course, you'll also be treated to gorgeous views of the respective cities, encompassing iconic landmarks from the Statue of Liberty and Manhanttan skyline in New York to the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz in San Francisco to the Coronado Bay Bridge in San Diego.

Enjoy New England's Fall Foliage

Fall foliage in the Hudson River Valley.

Autumn in New England is an enchanting time of year, with its deciduous trees and distinct seasonal shifts combining to create a visual feast, as trees are overcome by yellows, oranges, purples and reds. Since DIY planning can be daunting, (tourists descend upon New England en masse during the season) arrange a tour for you and yours in advance to explore this seasonal spectacle without stress. Idyllic locales such as the Hudson Valley and Cape Cod are sweet spots to base yourself for leaf peeping adventures, but you can also easily arrange fall foliage tours from New York City or Boston, if you'd prefer to get a dose of both city and country in one trip.

Relax in California Wine Country

Autumn in Napa Valley.

November is the off-season in Napa and Sonoma, and thus a perfect Thanksgiving getaway promising great wine to go along with great food. Exploring California's wine country during this month generally makes for more dining opportunities, less traffic and fewer people. And the trade-off for warmer weather and ripe grapes hanging off the vine is arguably greater: the chance to experience the area's renowned wineries far from the high season's clamoring crowds. Sometimes a glass of wine is nicer accompanied by a little serenity. The wineries will be closed on Thanksgiving Day but back in business by the weekend.

Take Advantage of Off-Season Deals in Mexico and the Caribbean

Cancun is still warm in November, and costs less.

If you'd rather trade in your Thanksgiving meal for warmer climes, consider Mexico and the Caribbean this year. November is the low season in Cancun, the Bahamas, Jamaica and Puerto Rico, but it's still hot enough to lounge on the beach or at the pool -- which means you'll be able to enjoy the resort life without paying typical resort prices, as rates fall on everything from flights to hotels to tours. Plus, you'll be able to sink into relaxation a little bit more in the absence of peak tourist and party crowds.

Visit Our Neighbors to the North in Canada

A Thanksgiving getaway is right next door, in Quebec City, Canada.

Stay close to home but feel like you're in Europe by visiting Canada this year. Victoria and Vancouver, BC, give you a taste of Merry Old England, and are just a road trip or easy flight away for the West Coast. On the other side of the country, Montreal and Quebec City are easily accessible and let you experience a touch of French culture. Or just enjoy classic and charming Toronto, which'll make you feel practically at home. So go out for fish and chips, poutine or a pint from a pub -- because bonus: As close as our Canadian cousins may feel, this Thanksgiving isn't theirs, so you'll be unfettered by holiday closures.

See Europe Without the Crowds

Crowds depart and prices drop in Dubrovnik, Croatia, in the fall.

Sometimes, for all of its architectural beauty and wealth of history and culture, it's a challenge to appreciate Europe's majesty -- particularly when jostling with throngs of tourists, all vying to see the same attractions; packed full of people, even monuments as grand as the Colosseum or Prague Castle can start to feel too much like Disneyland. But November is the off-season in Europe, and a wonderful time to travel: Temperatures in many places are still mild, and the most popular places far less crowded. Partake in the abundance cities such as Vienna, Prague, Dubrovnik, Athens and Rome have to offer, and revel in the extra space so suitable to soaking up the old world atmosphere.

Celebrate Thanksgiving in the Tropics in Hawaii

Have it all: Thanksgiving and the tropics in Hawaii.

Consider the novelty of a Thanksgiving retreat in Hawaii: You can enjoy your pumpkin pie as coconut tree fronds dance in the tradewinds. It may be cold and possibly precipitating in most places on the continental U.S., but temperatures in the archipelago at this time of year remain balmy and beautiful as usual. Hawaii's Thanksgiving feasts also tend to be intriguingly diverse, like the islands themselves. If you're interested in dining out, a fair number of restaurants stay open in Honolulu, and while you can enjoy a classic roast turkey, you'll likely also be able to partake in seafood and Hawaiian, or Asian-inspired dishes. Or maybe opt to potluck at the beach, as locals often do: Despite holiday closures elsewhere, the sandy stretches stay free and open to the public.

--Viator Travel Team

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