Why spend another Thanksgiving watching football in a food coma when you could be out exploring Munich, Miami, Mexico or Montreal? Chelsea Bengier rounds up the best places to escape the in-laws — turkey optional.
Sure, we love the crisp autumn weather, but a blissed-out beach vacation sounds even better — and rustic-chic Tulum is just that. Settle into a thatch-roofed cabana at the eco-friendly Papaya Playa Project ($205 a night), where you'll have easy access to pristine white sand, crystal clear cenotes and the cliffside Mayan Ruins. The food in this beachy bohemian paradise is on-point, too. Trade the stuffing for mouthwatering Mexican dishes at local favorite Kitchen Table. We're talking wood-fired ahi tuna, deviled avocado and pan-seared octopus. Now that's our kind of Thanksgiving.
A German feast? Yes please. Tuck into sausages, lebkuchen (gingerbread) and reiber-datschi (potato pancakes) at Munich’s famous Christmas market, where more than 80 booths are wreathed in twinkling lights and garlands. For a cup of hot, spiced gluhwein, head to the stalls on the Alexanderplatz before exploring the alleyways through the Gendarmenmarkt, an ideal place to stock up on holiday presents. Come evening, Unterfahrt has killer jazz shows and the luxe P1 club is the spot to see Munich's beautiful people in action.
Mountainous glaciers. Northern lights. Geothermal spas. Reykjavik has more than enough natural wonders to fill your four-day Thanksgiving break. Once you’re done exploring the frigid tundra on a boat tour of the Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon, a hike to the Gullfoss waterfall or a helicopter ride over Thingvellir National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), refuel with Icelandic delicacies like roasted leg of reindeer, wild goose breast and smoked eel at Perlan, a rotating glass-domed restaurant overlooking the city. JS Tip: Check out Icelandair for cheap flights from Boston, Washington D.C., New York, Seattle and Denver.
New York City
Let’s face it — there’s nowhere more iconic for the holidays than New York, with its Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Rockefeller Center ice rink and Black Friday shopping. So, go ahead and embrace it: Skip the crowds and head to the Shops at Columbus Circle to catch the parade coming down Central Park (the best views are from the second and third floors). Then strap on your skates at Bryant Park's 17,000-square-foot rink before browsing the park's holiday market, filled with 125 stalls and food stands. If you don't find what you're looking for, there's Artists & Flea in Chelsea Market, which sells vintage-inspired gifts and handmade trinkets. For the main event — dinner, of course — chow down on butternut squash ravioli in ham hock broth, or roasted turkey with apple chestnut stuffing at The Peacock, then polish it off with a slice of chocolate bourbon pecan pie at Petee's Pie Company.
San Diego, California
This SoCal haven is the perfect turkey day getaway thanks to its family-friendly vibe, mouthwatering cuisine and laid-back culture. Check in to the Hotel del Coronado, a 150-year-old dame that sits on 28 coveted beachfront acres surrounded by the 15-mile Coronado Island bike path. From November 25 to 28, the annual San Diego Jazz Fest hosts swing musicians, classic orchestras and blues bands from around the world. Just make sure you make it back in time for the hotel's Thanksgiving spread at the Crown Room: cherry glazed ham, harvest squash bisque and cinnamon citrus cranberry sauce. Work off the carbs at the waterfront ice skating rink — you won't get bay views better than this.
You can't go wrong with Paris — especially on a holiday dedicated to food. Think of all the decadent Parisian dishes you could eat in four days. Take it all in on a city food tour with American transplant Wendy Lyn. You'll visit the hottest places to eat and drink, chat with of-the-moment Parisian chefs and explore the city's best artisan cheese shops. Once your stomach is full, it's time to shop (the sites can wait). Among our favorite spots: the Marche Aux Puces flea market for vintage finds, the Haut Marais for stylish one-off furniture and clothing boutiques, and Canal Saint-Martin for up-and-coming designers and hipster labels.
Sante Fe, New Mexico
The land of adobe architecture, eye-catching art galleries and Native American culture kicks it up a notch during Thanksgiving with the three-day Winter Indian Market. Here, 200 local artists gather to sell handmade wares and put on live music shows and traditional dances (there's plenty of booze, too). For turkey dinner, you may be tempted to hit one of the city's five-star restaurants (we love Luminaria at the Inn and Spa at Loretto), but those who prefer a culinary challenge should take a class at the Santa Fe School of Cooking. You'll whip up elevated Southwestern staples like sautéed turkey scaloppini with red chile glaze and green chile spoon bread, then sit down for the feast.
Who says holiday flights have to be so damn expensive? A slew of affordable fares to Miami (with round-trip prices as low as $74) have hit the market, so jump on it, people. Once you land, book it to Il Mulino in South Beach, where you'll tuck into tasty plates like walnut and sausage stuffing, followed by a decadent pumpkin cheesecake. Come late night, put on your party clothes and hit the dance floor at Churchill's Pub's Friendsgiving party, where electronic and indie-pop tunes play until the wee hours. And don't be shy — you can recover poolside the next day.
Charleston, South Carolina
This charming Southern town tops our list for a long-weekend getaway, thanks to its near-perfect 70-degree weather and non-stop November events. Earn your weekend calorie-binge with the Turkey Day Run & Gobble Wobble, an annual run that winds around the historic district's 18th-century plantations, along the quaint riverfront and ending with a party in Marion Square. If you'd rather skip it, explore the preppy-chic boutiques along King Street, then stock up on artisanal goods (think handwoven baskets, watercolor paintings, hot pepper jams, homemade creamy grits) at City Market. Whatever you choose, an evening tour of the Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park is a must: two million twinkling lights set the park ablaze.
Make like the cool kids in Canada, and spend the holiday in Montreal. Start with breakfast at the hipster-chic Arts Café — we love the Shakshuka with cumin cardamom sauce, Swiss chard leaf, quinoa, potato toast and polenta. Then get in some early Christmas shopping at the classy emporiums and arts supplies stores along Saint-Laurent Boulevard. Don't miss Citizen Vintage for unique upcycled clothing and local handicrafts, Artemano for flawless reclaimed wood furniture, Westcott Books for rare tomes, and Freitag Concept for silver and semiprecious stone jewelry. Toast to your newly-bought treasures with a cocktail at the uber-sexy candlelit speakeasy, Big in Japan Bar. That is if you can find its secret entrance first.