Featured Photo by Visit Asheville

Best Vacation Spots For Thanksgiving River Travels

Thanksgiving is a great time to travel if you’re looking to skip family dinner this November and explore a new city’s holiday traditions and events. You can spend your vacation time enjoying the outdoors, relaxing, and even grabbing a Thanksgiving dinner that you don’t have to cook yourself! Here are some of the best places along American rivers for exploring over Thanksgiving vacation.

Charming Galena Experiences

Photo by Visit Aspen

Thanksgiving Vacation Spots: Aspen, Colorado

Best For Winter Sports
If you want to spend your Thanksgiving getting an early jump on the winter sports season, Aspen, Colorado is a perfect place to start your winter fun. Take advantage of Aspen’s prime mountain location, where the snow starts falling as early as October and doesn’t end until May. You can hit the slopes at four different world class ski resorts, Aspen Highlands, Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, and Buttermilk. You can even watch some of Aspen’s most talented skiers and snowboarders compete in an epic rail jam at Aspen’s popular Thanksgiving event, Throw Down In Low Down. After the competition, enjoy the post-Thanksgiving action at the Base Village, including kids activities, a bouncy castle, Turkey Bowling, a restaurant leftover challenge, a live DJ, and more. If you’re still looking for more relaxation after a day on the slopes be sure to check out Aspen’s Après Ski scene.

Aspen Trip Tips
Where to get a Thanksgiving Dinner: Jour De Fête Aspen, Popular Attraction: Skiing and Snowboarding, Local Tourism Guide: Aspen Chamber, Thanksgiving Event: Throw Down In Low Down

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Thanksgiving Vacation Spots: Santa Fe, New Mexico

Best For Cultural Experience
This Thanksgiving, be thankful for the wonders of Santa Fe, New Mexico with a unique, historic southwestern holiday experience. Santa Fe features beautiful scenic mountains and unique experiences and events all year round that are bound to make your Thanksgiving vacation one to remember. If a hearty Thanksgiving dinner is a must on your list, The Compound, Santacafe, and Geronimo, among other restaurants will be serving up delicious full course Thanksgiving dinners. Visitors also like to spend some time honoring the native culture in Sante Fe by taking in the unique architecture of the city and exploring native artwork and handmade goods. If the weather isn’t too cold yet, you can also take in the beauty of the Santa Fe area on an early winter hike, or on the slopes at Ski Santa Fe.
Santa Fe Trip Tips
Where to get a Thanksgiving Dinner: Santacafé, Popular Attraction: Exploring Native culture, Local Tourism Guide: Santa Fe
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Thanksgiving Vacation Spots: Walland, Tennessee

Best For Thanksgiving Destination Inn
Located just southeast of Knoxville, Walland, Tennessee is home to one of the South’s most celebrated country inns, making it a great destination for a Thanksgiving vacation. Tucked in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, Blackberry Farm is known and commended for its beautiful location, top notch service, and food made from products directly grown and harvested on the farm. The inn is especially popular around the holidays, including Thanksgiving, as guests can enjoy all of their favorite holiday traditions. Blackberry Farm serves guests delicious meals throughout the week of Thanksgiving, so it’s a great place to go out for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner in Walland. You can also enjoy the annual Turkey Trot 5k, family bingo, and their Holiday Cocktail Clinic.
Walland Trip Tips
Where to get a Thanksgiving Dinner: Blackberry Farm, Popular Attraction: the Smoky Mountains, Local Tourism Guide: Tennessee Vacation, Thanksgiving Event: Thanksgiving At Blackberry Farm
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Thanksgiving Vacation Spots: Asheville, North Carolina

Best For The Most To Do
Asheville, North Carolina is another destination for a Thanksgiving holiday getaway with plenty to do and see. If you’re looking to relax and recharge over your holiday break, Asheville has a variety of cozy mountain cabins and cottage rentals in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Two great options are Asheville Cabins of Carolina Mornings and Asheville Cabins of Willow Winds for beautiful views of the mountains, privacy, comfortable amenities, and an easy drive from downtown Asheville. First time visitors to the city should also consider exploring Biltmore, America’s largest private home built in the 1890s and Asheville’s crown jewel. You can also spend some time checking out the city’s many museums or taking in the mountain scenery and outdoor recreational activities. If you’re looking to still uphold some holiday traditions, Asheville has plenty of restaurants serving dinner on Thanksgiving Day, so you can enjoy the food part of the holiday without cooking or cleaning.

Asheville Trip Tips
Where to get a Thanksgiving Dinner: Pack’s Tavern, Popular Attraction: Biltmore, Local Tourism Guide: Explore Asheville, Thanksgiving Event: South Asheville Turkey Trot

Content Writer and Social Media Coordinator. I paint, listen to music, and play with my dogs a lot. When I’m not doing all that, I love to read and try new things.

Maeve Miller

Writer, River Travel Magazine