Thanksgiving, the official start to the holiday season, is traditionally a nightmare for traveling. However, with some savvy planning and know-how, you can skip cooking the bird at home and enjoy a relaxing and luxurious long weekend away.
Most of us know that if you travel on Tuesday and Saturday instead of Wednesday and Sunday, you’re in for less stress. But if you’re still racking your brain trying to figure out where to even go on the big day (November 23), feast on these eight exceptional destinations.
Water sports, horseback riding on the beach, private golf lessons and soothing body wraps are all on the menu at Half Moon Jamaica. Stay for a minimum of four nights and you’ll have plenty of time to experience all of that plus a side of epicurean extravagance.
On Thanksgiving, dine at one of the resort’s chic restaurants, Seagrape Terrace or The Sugar Mill, where classic Turkey Day dishes will be available.
Why not visit the land where Thanksgiving as we’ve come to know it originated? We’re talking about New England. Our choice is Castle Hill Inn, a Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel whose holiday package includes extra perks like gourmet breakfast and afternoon tea daily. A cheese plate and bottle of cabernet will be waiting when you arrive in your room.
For the main meal, chef Lou Rossi is cooking up dishes like shrimp cocktail, quinoa salad with local squash, carving stations with herb-roasted turkey served with sage gravy and roasted Black Angus strip loin with horseradish cream. A buffet of sides and desserts will ensure you won’t leave hungry.
For a late-November getaway with an artistic flair, book a holiday getaway at Four-Star The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans. This luxe address in the heart of the city is home to a $3 million art collection that features a hodgepodge of interesting pieces, including a French walnut piano and vintage Mardi Gras invitations.
The property’s colorful Thanksgiving fete lasts all day (from noon to 8 p.m.) in the Four-Star M Bistro. Delight in an enhanced four-course menu and unlimited champagne, a seafood buffet (complete with a chef-attended oyster pan roast station) and an assortment of sweets.
Of course, this is New Orleans, so there will be a fantastic band playing live music as well.
Park City, Utah
Four-Star Waldorf Astoria Park City provides the perfect escape for those who want to work off that coma-inducing meal with a few days of skiing on the area’s top slopes. If you don’t envision a lot of exertion to begin with, rest easy knowing that an onsite gondola can easily transport you from the hotel to the Canyons Village at the Park City Mountain Resort skiing area.
On Thanksgiving, food will be served from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Powder, the Waldorf Astoria’s signature Forbes Travel Guide Recommended restaurant. Expect traditional dishes to receive a contemporary twist — like butternut squash apple bisque, mushroom farmhouse stuffing and Utah apple crumble — at this family-style feast.
Miramar Beach, Florida
If you prefer to spend your Thanksgiving in warmer pastures, head south to Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa for a holiday spread with a side of sunshine. This oceanfront property offers a host of activities, such as swimming, spa-ing and, with the nearby Silver Sands Premium Outlets, lots of shopping.
Sandestin’s Eat, Shop and Be Thankful promotion includes a welcome goody bag with discount offerings at the shops, daily breakfast at Sandcastles Restaurant, a $100 outlet gift card and complimentary shuttle to the nearby stores. It’s just the package to prepare you for Black Friday shopping.
New York City
If you’ve always wanted to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade live, but don’t want to brave the cold weather, now’s your chance. Five-Star The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park provides a prime viewing spot for the parade as it turns from Central Park South onto Six Avenue — and it’s all visible from select rooms and suites at the property. Simply order breakfast from room service, then sit back, relax and take in the high-flying festivities.
A good, old-fashioned home-style meal can be had in the seaside ballroom on November 23. Partake in a family-friendly Thanksgiving buffet from 11 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. that will consist of all the traditional dishes, including roasted turkey, creamy mashed potatoes and stuffing.
For those looking for a more elegant affair, book your holiday meal at the Rhode Island hotel’s Five-Star Coast restaurant. Chef Jennifer Backman is preparing an unforgettable four-course feast (complete with wine pairings) that will feature items like Hudson Valley foie gras with native apples, Baffoni’s farm cranberry-bourbon turkey and a brown butter pumpkin tart with pecan ice cream.
Highlands, North Carolina
Enjoy the cool crispness of the great outdoors at Half-Mile Farm in the North Carolina Mountains. This Old Edwards Inn and Spa sister property sits on 14 acres of forests, lakes, fields and streams — all explorable by hiking and walking trails.
Start your day with a run by the water or a hike through the woods before a soak in the heated outdoor mineral pool.
Afterward, a Thanksgiving Day feast paired with champagne will take place from 1 to 2 p.m. Choose from roasted turkey, house-brined pork, beef tenderloin or pan-seared trout as your entrée. Sides — haricots verts, butternut squash, mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese — are served family style.
Later in the evening, unwind with live music and a light buffet. The next day, don’t miss the bloody mary and mimosa bar.