Where to Spend Your Thanksgiving Holiday This Year
Ready to swap the wishbone for wanderlust? We’ve got you covered. From domestic hot spots to beachside bliss in the Caribbean to swing-dancing in the southern hemisphere, you’ll most definitely be grateful for our ten refreshing alternatives to the family dining table.
Charleston, South Carolina
With its moss-clad streets, antebellum mansions, and horse-drawn carriages, it’s easy to see why South Carolina’s oldest city is one of America’s most treasured getaways. From November to early January, the Holy City (a nickname Charleston has earned for its steeple-heavy skyline) has an extra sparkle thanks to the Holiday Festival of Lights, a three-mile stretch teeming with over 700 ethereal light displays, a Victorian carousel, and one especially impressive sand sculpture. For history buffs, walking Ghost Tour itineraries include the city’s oldest graveyard and The Old City Jail (among other spooky stops). If you’re still hankering for that turkey, let Magnolias, an upscale Southern bistro on the city’s up-and-coming Eastside, take care of all the trimmings. Afterwards, retire to the nearby Zero George—a boutique sleep spread across five early 19th-century buildings—to sleep off your food coma.
Quebec City, Canada
The eastern pocket of Canada becomes budget-friendly in November due to its fall-like temps, which hover around the 40s. Take advantage of seasonal savings—and stunning maple leaf canopies—by booking a stay at Hotel 71, a former National Bank turned industrial-chic retreat just steps from Quebec City’s scenic Old Port. Let the pampering continue at the Sky Spa, an all-weather destination on the 17th floor of the Complexe Julles-Dallaire, QC’s second-tallest building. If you’ve got tots in tow, devote an afternoon to the Mega Parc—a recently refurbished entertainment center with attractions like an ice rink and virtual reality ride—before getting a head start on holiday shopping at the German Christmas Market, an outdoor wonderland featuring choral singers, mulled wine, and European artisanal crafts vendors.
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Sure, November is considered the start of rainy season on Hawaii’s Garden Isle, but that shouldn’t deter you from visiting its cinematic cliffs. Applaud yourself for avoiding peak season and lodge at the dreamy Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort, a 121-room oceanfront stunner fronting Kauai’s most swimmable beach. After dropping your bags, take the 30-minute drive to the Wailea River and enlist the services of local adventure outfitter Wailua Kayak & Canoe, who offers half-day tours to secret waterfalls and Mount Waialeale, known as the wettest spot on Earth. Refuel, island-style, with an indulgent feast courtesy of Luau Kalamaku, where the lavish buffet comes with a side of hula and traditional knife fire dancing. Just don’t leave for the mainland without sampling at least one scoop of shave ice—a quintessentially Hawaiian confection drizzled with tropical flavors like guava, lychee, and tamarind—at JoJo’s, a decades-old local icon.
Brave the trans-pacific flight and you’ll be rewarded with temperate weather in this Far Eastern gem—a metropolis where the summers are usually long and stifling. This might be the best time to explore secluded Middle Island, a two-minute boat ride from the city’s main terminal that's home to a tranquil public beach with views of sails from the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club. You’ll also arrive just in time for the Great November Feast, a month-long gourmet carnival that includes everything from wine walks to street food fests. Catch your breath at The Murray, a sexy cocoon of a hotel with Victoria Peak views, then dive into local heritage with a visit to the Tai Kwun Center, a brand-new compound in the overhauled Central Police Station that's chock full of contemporary Chinese art and performance showcases.
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Though Thanksgiving isn’t an official island holiday in the Bahamas, there’s a perpetually festive vibe about Nassau. Start with a piña colada toast at John Watling’s Distillery on a lush estate downtown, where you’ll also find barrels of rum being fermented onsite. Continue the epicurean adventure at nearby Arawak Cay and choose from a cluster of hand-painted wooden stands known collectively as The Fish Fry, which hawk conch fritters and grilled grouper among other freshly caught treats. For aquatic adventures, book a daylong excursion with Exuma Water Tours, whose action-packed itineraries include grotto snorkeling, iguana feeding, and swimming with local pigs. If you’re craving the VIP treatment, you’ll find it in the 19 swish Balinese-beach-house–inspired rooms at Kamalame Cay on Andros, a 96-acre private island just a 15-minute flight from Nassau.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
From the annual Gaucho Festival, a 70-year tradition comprising local cowboys flaunting their equestrian swagger, to a spirited celebration of international jazz and the bloom of Buenos Aires’s copious jacaranda trees, Argentina's spring (our fall) is celebration season. Make Hotel Pulitzer, a centrally located boutique with a buzzy sky bar, your home base, then get a taste of the city’s innovative dining scene at Gran Dabangg, a new-ish Indo-Latin fusion spot on the outskirts of trendy Palermo where chef Mariano Ramon offers innovative mash-ups like Swiss chard pakoras and faina (a local chickpea cake) with smoked and spiced eggplant.
Warm winds blown in from the Sahara Desert keep this Gothic beauty delightfully autumnal this time of year. Super Bock Em Stock, a two-day alternative music extravaganza spread across a dozen or so venues near tree-lined Avenida de Liberdade boulevard, is an original way to explore the city’s pulsing nightlife scene. Reboot with a sweet treat and shot of bica—a larger version of an espresso—at Café a Brasileira, a 1905 Art Deco landmark in Bairro Alto where the longstanding motto is “drink this with sugar.” For the best terra-cotta rooftop views, book one of the artsy rooms at the LX Boutique Hotel, which lands you close to the shops of stylish Chiado. Though it's a little off the beaten path, be sure to duck into the National Tile Museum, an exquisite ode to the city’s signature ceramic azulejos spanning five centuries.
San Diego, California
There are a myriad reasons to be thankful in this sun-speckled coastal city. Start your tour of gratitude with a kayaking journey along Mission Bay, arguably San Diego’s prettiest outdoor playground, where you might spy a family of sea lions basking on one of the white-sand beaches. Afterwards, tuck into local bounty at Liberty Public Market, a 25,000-square-foot emporium crammed with local food trucks and produce stands. (We recommend wild-caught fish tacos at Cecilia’s capped off by a confetti cake-and-ice-cream combo from Crafted Baked Goods and its sister spot, Scooped.) Work off those calories at the city’s Jazz Fest and Swing Extravangaza—the nearly 40-year-old fall tradition brings together musicians from across the country—before resting your head at The Lafayette Hotel, a 1940s retro resort within easy reach of Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo.
Shoulder season (September through November) is the best time to explore this remnant of imperial Morocco, if only to avoid its usual triple-digit temps. For a distinctly Middle Eastern take on the cornucopia (think larger-than-life portions of beef shank tagine and cinnamon-and-almond dusted vermicelli noodles), head to Dar Zellij, a rose petal-strewn space in a 17th-century riad near the ancient walled medina. If it’s a feast for the eyes you’re after, why not retreat to a clandestine garden? As its name suggests, Le Jardin Secret, tucked behind 30-foot walls in Marrakech’s Bab Doukkala neighborhood, is a restored green expanse dotted with fruit trees whose adjacent eponymous hotel serves as an important emblem of Islamic art and architecture. Also in the neighborhood: Souk Cherifa, a relaxed and fashionable counterpart to the city’s more established (and decidedly more chaotic) markets.
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Chiang Mai, Thailand
Bordered by mountains, this section of northern Thailand always serves as a cool respite from the country’s muggier corners. Come November, Loy Krathong, a vibrant festival that honors the local water goddess with decorated boats crafted from banana tree trunks, takes over the forested city. Retreat from the crowds at the Puripunn Baby Grand Boutique Hotel, a charming 30-room hideaway on the outskirts of town. Though Chiang Mai’s hilltops are studded with countless temples, the one to visit is Wat Umong, a series of meditative tunnels lined with images of the Buddha. Even after checking that off, however, no trip to this shopping paradise is complete without picking up a few souvenirs from the legendary Night Bazaar, a lively, mile-long tangle of crafts, jewelry, clothing, and art kiosks where you can find everything from Muay Thai shorts to local antiques.
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