This Thanksgiving, push aside fears of winding airport-security lines and stop-and-go traffic, and focus instead on your destination: a relaxing and luxurious locale for the holiday. The long weekend is ripe for a last-minute November getaway that includes a turkey meal, as classic or as creative as you’d like, while upending any stale holiday traditions. Throw in a bit of skiing, sun or sightseeing, and you have a full-fledged Thanksgiving vacation.
Our Forbes Travel Guide editors have scouted 10 of the year’s best turkey dinners for those who will be on the road or travelers looking for an impromptu escape, kitchen cleanup not included. Each of these meals pairs a decadent menu with a stunning locale, from a New York tower overlooking the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to a sunny San Diego hilltop, that will remind you just how far from stressful Turkey Day can be.
Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas
Go glam this Thanksgiving and celebrate on the Las Vegas Strip. Thanks to the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel’s Extra Fun Day Away package, when you reserve two consecutive nights, you get a third night gratis. And if that’s not reason enough to be thankful, the peaceful Asian-inspired retreat offers a traditional three-course Thanksgiving dinner at Five-Star Twist by Pierre Gagnaire. Start with butternut squash soup before diving into a slow-cooked turkey breast that comes with a foie-gras-stuffed leg, porcini mushrooms, porchetta and turkey leg confit—all glazed with a maple syrup and five-spice jus. End the evening with a decadent white chocolate and cognac bread pudding dessert.
Meadowood Napa Valley
Escape the cold and celebrate Thanksgiving in warm Napa. Meadowood, a rustic retreat, should be your base. After a Vintners Room feast (lobster with salsify, Meyer lemon and caviar; turkey two ways, either a brined, roasted breast or crispy leg confit), work off the meal and take in the sun from the seven tennis courts or the Four-Star hotel’s beautiful croquet lawn. If you’re not a croquet player, a pro offers lessons—just bring your regulation whites. Then recuperate with a massage in the spa. Meadowood’s Great Thanksgiving Escape package will give you all of this (dinner, unlimited croquet/tennis play, a $150 spa credit) along with a bottle of sparkling wine and a breakfast for two.
The Inn at Little Washington
A historic town near Northern Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, scenic Washington is an idyllic fall getaway (only 70 miles from D.C., it’s an easy trip). But The Inn at Little Washington’s excellent Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star restaurant makes it a delicious destination for Thanksgiving. Chef Patrick O’Connell entices you with a playful holiday menu of dishes like “A Shot of Liquid Autumn,” blistered Brussels sprouts, honey crisp apple, spiced pecans and Madeira-soaked raisins; “A Tin of Sin,” a caviar tin with layers of peekytoe crab salad, cucumber rillettes and decadent American osetra caviar; and a quartet of Rappahannock River oyster “slurpees.” But you’ll also find elevated staples, like organic spruce-brined turkey with cornbread-apple-sausage-pecan stuffing, corn pudding, peas and pearls with oyster cream, and sweet potato puree.
The Grand Del Mar
At San Diego’s Mediterranean-style Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star resort, more is more. The palatial 249-room hotel boasts the grandest of sun-dappled (even in November) grounds, a huge array of activities, a Five-Star spa, Five-Star Addison restaurant and, instead of one Thanksgiving meal, three Turkey Day dinners. Addison’s seven-course, French-inspired tasting menu includes plates such as chestnut raviolini with Brussels sprouts, sweet onion, bacon and optional white truffle. At Amaya, the resort’s more relaxed dining room, Thanksgiving is a three-course affair with a selection of appetizers and entrées, and one showstopping dessert: a trio of chocolate pumpkin tart, spiced apple galette and vanilla bean panna cotta with pomegranate gelée. Or head to seaside La Jolla where Bijou French Bistro, The Grand Del Mar’s newest culinary addition, serves its first Thanksgiving with a lineup of salt-roasted turkey and other classics.
Topping Rose House
Manhattanites flee the Hamptons at summer’s end, but those in the know head there in the autumn to peruse the quaint boutiques, go apple or pumpkin picking at the farms, and do tastings at the wineries. There’s another reason to visit this season: Thanksgiving dinner at Tom Colicchio’s Topping Rose House Restaurant. Reserve a seat at one of the white-clothed tables inside the historic Bridgehampton mansion for the Top Chef judge’s tempting menu of scallops with celery root and black truffles, squash risotto with Parmigiano-Reggiano and crispy sage, and of course, an organic turkey. Then top it off with a sweet taste of the season: gingerbread cake with pear mousse. Afterward, retire to one of the chic, contemporary guest rooms at the boutique hotel.
St Julien Hotel & Spa
With its close proximity to the Rocky Mountains, it’s easy to understand why nature lovers flock to this Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star gem. There’s also a rotating art exhibition in the hotel’s lobby that creative types can’t get enough of. Once the hiking boots and watercolors are put away, though, there’s a romantic side to the hotel that’s waiting to come out. St Julien feels that there’s no better time to show its amorous ways than on Thanksgiving. Jill’s Restaurant at St Julien Hotel & Spa, the property’s Four-Star eatery, will celebrate the day with brunch and a candlelight dinner. The latter includes your typical holiday fare (turkey breast, roasted fall vegetables, red skin potatoes) as well as some festive dishes (ahi tuna, mountain-cured charcuterie) that almost beg to be shared. And to think, while you’re feeding poached tiger shrimp to your significant other, you’ll be able to sip on bottomless sparkling wine as well.
Mandarin Oriental, New York
Don’t watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on your flat-screen. Instead, head to New York City and catch the excitement at this Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel. Its “I Love a Parade” offer allows you to catch the parade action from the ballroom. While watching the floats travel through Columbus Circle, nosh on pastries and fruits. Later that evening, give thanks at the hotel’s Four-Star Asiate over chestnut velouté (Maine lobster, La Quercia ham, apples) and turkey roulade (cranberry jam, seven-grain stuffing). Once the tryptophan sets in, visit the spa for an aromatic Oriental Essence massage.
Hotel du Pont
This 100-year-old Wilmington, Delaware, institution is in a celebratory mood most of the year. (Oh, maybe you haven’t seen the place light up around Independence Day.) This November 27 will be no different as the Forbes Travel Guide Recommended hotel’s signature restaurant, Four-Star Green Room, is stuffed to the rafters with traditional hues, fall décor and the aroma of slow-roasted turkey. On Thanksgiving, famished guests will have two options throughout the day—one being a buffet with your standard favorites (turkey breast, green bean almondine, glazed baked yams) and the other a more adventurous prix-fixe menu (duck confit, stuffed Maine lobster, salmon) that will have to tide you over until Hotel du Pont’s annual holiday Sunday brunch buffet kicks off on December 7.
The Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta
Head South this Thanksgiving and let the chefs at the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel take care of things for you. Atlanta Grill executive chef Andy Litherland and chef de cuisine Michael Treanor will offer ginger-scented pumpkin soup, roasted turkey with potato puree and cranberry quince compote, and sides such as braised Swiss chard with smoked bacon and sweet onions. “Our goal is to evoke diners’ favorite memories of Thanksgiving so they can create new memories with us,” Treanor says. “This year, I’m especially proud to include one of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes, my mom’s sweet potato casserole, on the menu. It’s these little touches that add unique personality to our holiday offerings to create an elevated experience.”
M Resort Spa Casino
Las Vegas has worked tirelessly to better its image as a family-friendly destination. With kid-approved shows and Ferris wheels around the Strip, the city appears to be going all in with its efforts. More hotels are getting in on the action, too. Where the Four-Star M Resort could have played it safely by merely promoting another poker tournament in late November, it’s electing to serve a double helping of Thanksgiving fun. Anthony’s Gourmet Burgers & Brews, which typically follows a strict adults-only policy for lunch and dinner, will open its doors to everyone (through 4 p.m.) with a dinner highlighted by all the usual fixings—roasted turkey, mashed potatoes and herb stuffing. Additionally, Studio B, the resort’s go-to buffet that regularly has more than 200 items, will provide a holiday-themed spread with everything from roasted leg of lamb to bamboo mahimahi all weekend, giving families numerous chances to break bread (and crab legs) with each other.