This Thursday may be Thanksgiving, but it also marks the start of the holidays, so why not kick off the season with a big-time celebration? Our Forbes Travel Guide editors recommend five festive events held around the country to get you in the holiday spirit.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
There’s hardly a more iconic image than enormous balloons floating by Manhattan’s skyscrapers. See them up close Thursday morning from 9 a.m. to noon, when visitors and locals crowd the streets leading from the Upper West Side to 34th Street. Columbus Circle is a good spot for viewing, but be sure to get there well before the parade starts to snatch a front-row spot. Afterward, head to the nearby Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Mandarin Oriental, New York, for a warm-up cocktail or — if you snagged a reservation — dinner at the Four-Star Asiate.
Thanksgiving Day NFL games
As much a part of Thanksgiving as turkey and pumpkin pie, NFL football games will once again be played on November 22. A longstanding tradition in the league, the Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Lions each host a team; this year the Washington Redskins will head to Cowboys Stadium and the Houston Texans will head to Ford Field in Detroit. The night game, which changes teams year to year, features the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium to battle the New York Jets.
Tree lighting and Santa at The Homestead
The Homestead in Hot Springs, Va., does Thanksgiving right — festivities start Wednesday evening with a 4 p.m. tree lighting ceremony, followed by a Santa appearance and a welcome reception featuring Emme St. James and Her Jazz Gentlemen. Guests who book the Thanksgiving Holiday package will have plenty to keep them busy on Turkey Day. A magic class and show will be held at 1 p.m. and 8 p.m., respectively; Tea with Santa will be at 3 p.m. in the historic hotel’s Great Hall; family bingo starts at 5 p.m.; and outdoor ice skating and hot springs swimming will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Mile High United Way’s 39th Annual Turkey Trot
More than 10,000 runners regularly participate in Denver’s turkey trot, a huge fundraiser for the United Way, held Thanksgiving morning at 8 a.m. The four-mile run (or walk) takes place in the city’s Washington Park. After you’ve torched calories, head to The Brown Palace Hotel, a Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star historic hotel, for a holiday drink or meal served in Old World, elegant surroundings.
Feasts and fireworks at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island
Grand Thanksgiving feasts are offered at three different locations throughout the day at this Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel (in the ballroom, at Café 4750 and at Salt restaurant). The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, gets an early jump on Christmas, too. On Wednesday evening, you can attend a tree lighting ceremony with holiday music and refreshments; the event ends with an appearance from Santa and a fireworks show. Immediately afterward, you can treat your kids to dinner with Santa, his elves and other Christmas characters.
Photos Courtesy of iStock GM Vozd, The Homestead, Macy’s Inc. and United Way Denver