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Four Destinations for Thanksgiving Vacation 2018

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Stuff the turkey. Bake the pies. Put the casserole in the oven. You know what? Here’s a better idea: road trip!

Thanksgiving is a time to be with family, prep the traditional meal with the familiar turkey as the main course and eat to the heart’s content. But not everyone wants to get up early and spend hours cooking for all their relatives. Wouldn’t it be great go somewhere and let someone else take care of everything? Of course!

The holidays are not just about family, but also about having a good time with the family; and sometimes that involves travel. So, get those bags ready, pack the car, book a flight and check out some of these great destinations to go for Thanksgiving this year.

Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

Getting back to nature can be a great Thanksgiving experience. Located in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of America’s most visited parks and has a multitude of things to do, such as scenic drives and hiking, fishing, horseback riding and viewing the park’s 11 waterfalls.

Visitors can also check out some of the historic locations within the park, such as Cades Cove, where the first Europeans settled sometime between 1818 to 1821. Circled by an 11-mile, one-way road, the cove is a great place to go biking, camping and view a variety of wildlife such as white-tailed deer, black bears, coyotes and turkeys.

For those who don’t feel like setting up on a campground, there are lodges in the many towns surrounding the park, which are sure to have delightful Thanksgiving dinners after a long day in the cool, autumn atmosphere of the mountains.

Miami Beach, Florida

Not everyone feels like bundling up. Instead, break out your favorite swimsuit and have some pie while watching the waves come rolling in. Once you’ve gotten a nice tan, check out what there is to do on the Boardwalk. With its shopping outlets, restaurants, art galleries and boat tours, Miami Beach will provide visitors with a lively, tropical Thanksgiving.

Sports fans can catch a game while in town, like the Miami Hurricanes vs. Pittsburg Panthers on November 24th at the Hard Rock Stadium. More artistic vacationers can head up to Fort Lauderdale and watch Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I beginning on November 20th at the Au-Rene Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. If neither of those suit your fancy, take a day trip to the Bahamas to enjoy the beautiful beaches, participate in water activities such as jet skiing or snorkeling and have some fun in the sun.

Afterwards, visitors can head back to Miami and have a delicious dinner at one of the many restaurants lined up along the beach. Those not up for the cold can enjoy the sights, sounds and warmth of a Thanksgiving in sunny Florida.

Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

Those in the mood for a more historic Thanksgiving can travel to the place where it all began: Berkeley Plantation. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost four centuries since the first Thanksgiving back in 1619; and do the people of Williamsburg know how to celebrate!

A major occasion is the Food and Feasts of Colonial Virginia, a three-day event November 22nd to the 24th 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Jamestown Settlement. Taking place inside a re-created version of the original fort, visitors will have the opportunity to see how food was prepared by early settlers and Native Americans as well as having an original Thanksgiving feast. Also, in place of a football game, the entertainment will be early European military drills.

After stuffing their bellies, visitors can work off those calories by taking a walking tour of Williamsburg and learn about its history. In addition, individuals can also get their Black Friday shopping done at Williamsburg Premium Outlets. There is also the Christmas Town at Busch Gardens, opening on November 17th, where visitors can check out various Christmas traditions from around the world, view the largest light display in North America with eight million lights and drink all the hot chocolate they can handle.

Chicago, Illinois

Those interested in a more urban-based Thanksgiving should head to the Windy City. Pack warm clothes because it’s going to be chilly, but don’t let the cold put a damper on the experience. The people of Chicago really adore the holiday season.

To get their vacation off on the right foot, visitors should check out the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival beginning on November 16th at 4 p.m. and again November 17th at 11 a.m. More than a million lights decorate 200 trees in the Magnificent Mile shopping district with family-friendly activities such as live music performances, visits from Santa Claus and special offers from restaurants , retailers and attractions within the area. Visitors can also hit the ice at the Millennium Park, a free ice rink that draws more than 100,000 skaters every year.

Of course, Thanksgiving in Chicago wouldn’t be complete without their annual parade. From 8 a.m.-11 a.m., attendees can enjoy the ever present cartoon balloons, equestrian teams, dance performances and fandom as well as cultural communities marching on State St. from Congress to Randolph. While not as big of a parade as New York’s, it’s still an event sure to ignite the holiday spirit.

Regardless, no matter what you choose to do for this traditional holiday, whether it be packing your bags and seeing what a new place has to offer or staying in your own Jamestown fort, Thanksgiving is a time to spend with your loved ones and make memories that will last forever.

Jessica Baker

Jessica Baker is a Journalism and Emerging Media major at KSU and an intern at Hers Magazine as well as AllWrite Publishing.

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