Best Places to Go for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of America’s most beloved holidays, giving families a chance to share a meal together and reflect on all the things for which they are grateful. The first Thanksgiving dates back to Plymouth, MA in 1621, and each U.S. president declared a yearly celebration of the holiday until Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Thanksgiving into law permanently in 1941.

But even though Thanksgiving is centered on family and gratefulness, it’s still become a highly commercialized holiday. That’s apparent from the fact that the next day is Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days of the year, and a few days later is Cyber Monday, which brings scores of online deals. Last year, consumers spent a little over $300 per person during the five-day period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. Luckily, though, it doesn’t cost too much to make a Thanksgiving feast for your family – around $53 on average for 10 people.

To help Americans find the best places to go for Thanksgiving without breaking the bank, WalletHub compared the 100 largest U.S. cities based on 20 key metrics. Their data set ranges from the cost of Thanksgiving dinner and share of delayed flights to volunteer opportunities per capita and forecasted precipitation. Check out our top 5:

Gilbert, AZ
Downtown Gilbert – Istock/DenisTangneyJr

Set in Arizona’s “Valley of the Sun” just a stone’s throw from Phoenix and the rocky San Tan Mountains, Gilbert is the biggest small town you’ll ever meet. Gilbert has a vibrant dining scene and offers something for even the most discerning palate. Patios abound and locally sourced ingredients deliver a uniquely Arizona flavor. Gilbert’s diverse and eclectic mix of retail shops and stores make for great discoveries for yourself or a friend. Meet the local makers and support their craft.

There are a lot of prominent places to visit and things to do on Thanksgiving in Gilbert. If you are looking for places to eat then you should go for buffets and Thanksgiving dinners in Gilbert, they serve you a feast and make it a scrumptious celebration. Apart from dinners, you can explore some interesting and unique Thanksgiving events in Gilbert, one of the major and annual events definitely would be the Thanksgiving parade. Indulge in this mind blowing experience where there is food, fun and family. If you don’t want to go conventional then you can even opt for races, dinner cruise, yoga classes and more.

Gilbert is packed with action from sports to the theater. Mural-clad brick walls, glowing benches, a solo gopher, waterways art, and a color-changing water tower are a few creations found in the Heritage District. Experience the local Broadway theater, historical museum, and gallery to feed your cultural side.

Raleigh, NC
Downtown Raleigh – Istock/Mark Howard

When it comes to food and drinks, the Raleigh area is home to some of the best-kept secret eateries dishing out and serving up some truly awesome experiences. Downtown Raleigh restaurants are offering dine-in or carry-out Turkey Day meals and treats, so there’s no need to worry!

Raleigh, the capital city of North Carolina, is one of the South’s most vibrant, eclectic cities – where eclectic meets traditional and historic meets modern. Centrally located along the USA’s eastern coast, the city forms part of North Carolina’s famed Research Triangle, a wellspring of education, research and technical innovation. You’ll discover outstanding arts and culture (earning the city the nickname “Smithsonian of the South”), a renowned culinary landscape (including the James Beard Foundation’s 2019 Best Chef in America, Ashley Christensen) and a music scene that inspired “Rolling Stone” to call Raleigh one of the top eight emerging music cities in the USA.

If you get there early in the week (Nov 19th) be sure to check out Raleigh’s best (and biggest) annual traditions—the ABC11 Raleigh Christmas Parade! An event truly made for the whole family. The Raleigh Christmas Parade, the largest such parade between Atlanta and Washington, D.C., marches through downtown Raleigh for more than two hours, drawing nearly 80,000 visitors to the streets to see marching bands, dancers, classic cars, superheroes and Santa Claus.

Las Vegas
Courtesy Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Bureau

Las Vegas is a city that was made for entertainment, carved out of the Mojave Desert with escape in mind. Millions of people visit Las Vegas annually to relax, dine, shop, see performers, experience the nightlife and, of course, enjoy a go at the gaming tables.

November is a prime time to visit Vegas, with perfect weather, lots to see and do, and some of the best Thanksgiving dining you could ever hope for. With an impressive collection of world-class restaurants — many from highly esteemed and decorated chefs — Vegas is one of the best cities in the world for dining. Experiencing the destination’s dining scene on a holiday is even better, as special menus and seasonal items get added into the mix.

Vegas also begins to celebrate the holiday season, so you’ll have the treat of seeing the Las Vegas Strip all lit up with holiday decorations. You can also enjoy the Music/Club Scene as the crowds will be smaller but the clubs will still be open – and usually with a lower cover price.

Orlando Christmas Lights
Orlando Christmas Lights – Istock/Monisha Malli Sridharan

If you’re spending Thanksgiving in Orlando, be prepared for a cornucopia of fun things to do. Whether you want to hit the theme parks, plan out your Black Friday shopping or find an amazing foodie feast.

Thanksgiving in Orlando is an extravagant affair, with bountiful dining options around every corner. Buffets are a big thing for Thanksgiving, as are gourmet brunches, lavish lunches, and opulent dinner events. An array of restaurants at Disney World offer special menus over the Thanksgiving weekend. You’ll find turkey-inspired options at Disney Springs and across all 4 Disney parks. If you don’t fancy heading out you can stock up on fresh produce and cook a Thanksgiving dinner in the comfort of your vacation home.

There are plenty of other entertainment options too, with special events, parties, and celebrations happening all over the city. Also, many department stores open late into the evening for the start of the door-busting Black Friday sales.

You can also head over to Disney World for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party which features shows, parades, and special fireworks. Epcot’s Candlelight Processional also kicks off around Thanksgiving time. It features rousing music concerts, nightly fireworks, and a re-telling of the Christian nativity story by a line-up of celebrity narrators.

Atlanta Thanksgiving Marathon
Atlanta Thanksgiving Marathon – Courtesy of atlantatrackclub.org

Georgia has a diverse and abundant list of things to do any time of the year, but especially around the holidays. Shopping, thrills and festive light displays await you.

Start a new Thanksgiving tradition with your family this year by lacing up your running shoes or simply watch from the sidelines at this annual, festive Thanksgiving Day half marathon and 5k.

Don’t feel like cooking? Check out restaurants that serve delicious Thanksgiving dinners. After the turkey has been tackled and the food coma averted, it’s time to get out and enjoy all that Atlanta has to offer this holiday weekend. From iconic holiday events to music and more, the possibilities for fun are endless in Atlanta.

To see additional rankings and methodology click here.

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