Far-Flung Thanksgiving Destinations (That Aren't Mom's House)

Head to The Rockies for a ski-filled weekend.

Thanksgiving is always one of the busiest travel times of the year. But not everybody heads home to mom. Some folks go skiing, some head to Orlando or Vegas. And some far-flung families gather at a hotel instead of grandma's house.

"We literally have generations of families that come for Thanksgiving. It's our busiest weekend of the year," said Clark Albright, director of marketing at Camelback Inn in Scottsdale, Arizona, where guests get a whole bird carved at their table rather than going through a buffet.

In Massachusetts, more than 70,000 people visit Plimoth Plantation each November to learn about life among Colonial settlers and the native Wampanoags--more commonly known as Pilgrims and Indians. You'll find costumed interpreters plucking the feathers off real turkeys and chatting about a harvest celebration that took place in 1621. Plimoth also hosts a variety of Thanksgiving celebrations, including a Victorian-style dinner where President Lincoln's 1863 proclamation declaring Thanksgiving to be a national holiday is read aloud.

In New York, the balloons and floats of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade attract streets full of thousands of spectators.

Denver shows up in top 10 lists for both Orbitz and Travelocity for Thanksgiving travel bookings, and skiing is undoubtedly part of the reason. Slopes scheduled to open?on Thanksgiving?or earlier include Aspen Mountain, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Crested Butte and Snowmass.

The glitz and glam of Vegas may not remind you of hearth and home, but you'll have plenty of distractions to keep you from pining for mom's apple pie. Restaurants offering Thanksgiving meals include Top of the World at the Stratosphere; Spago at Caesars Palace; David Burke at the Venetian; the Eiffel Tower Restaurant at the Paris; and MIX at The Hotel at Mandalay Bay. The Bellagio Conservatory has a spectacular autumn-themed scene on display through November 24, complete with a 35-foot-tall cider mill, babbling brook, a bed of pumpkins and 1,000 red and green apples.

With kids off from school and families getting together, Thanksgiving is naturally a busy time at Disneyland and Florida's Walt Disney World. Among the more unusual Thanksgiving traditions at Walt Disney World Resort is a gathering of some 20 families at the park's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. For more than 30 years, they've been erecting a village of tepees there and cooking several dozen turkeys in big open pits. "Our kids look forward to it more than Christmas," said Karen Butler, who drives with her husband from Georgia to take part in the event. "It's real family time."

In San Diego, the annual Thanksgiving Dixieland Jazz Festivale, featuring two dozen Dixie Land bands, takes place Thanksgiving weekend. And wine-lovers can spend Thanksgiving Day aboard the Napa Valley wine train in Northern California, which offers lunch and dinner excursions.


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