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Unique Places to Experience Thanksgiving in the USA

Posted on 10-Aug-2017

A cornerstone of American culture and one of the most eagerly anticipated events in the USA's annual calendar, Thanksgiving is a time of feasting and family celebration. For travellers, it presents an opportunity to see one of the country's most colourful and cosy events, marked as it is with a mixture of family-centred meals and grand parades.

Your experience of Thanksgiving will be different depending on whereabouts you are, as each destination boasts its own traditions - some grand, such as New York's world-famous Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and others small but heartwarming, such as San Juan Island's annual community dinner.

Here are a few examples of how you could spend Thanksgiving on your travels:


San Juan Island Community Thanksgiving Dinner

This free event offers a true taste of the spirit of Thanksgiving. Serving up traditional Thanksgiving food, the San Juan Island Senior Center will open its doors from midday until 5pm to anyone and everyone. If you're exploring the islands during this time, this is a fantastic event in which to experience Thanksgiving like a local, away from the tourist crowds.

San Juan Islands

Photo credit: iStock

It is also worth noting that there are plenty of other special events taking place across Thanksgiving weekend, including artisan marketplaces and art shows - ideal for a little seasonal browsing or a spot of shopping.


Bellagio Thanksgiving display


Photo credit: iStock

From a cosy local affair to a grand display, Las Vegas is, as you would expect, a place to see some of the more exuberant Thanksgiving Day celebrations. While these often take the form of lavish dinners or concerts, perhaps one of the best for tourists is the Bellagio Conservatory Seasonal Display. Not only does this offer you the chance to view this most famous of Vegas hotels, but it also offers a beautiful display of harvest bounty, with fine floral arrangements, plants, lights and more.


Thanksgiving Day cruise

In San Francisco, among the best ways to experience Thanksgiving as a visitor is with a special Thanksgiving Day cruise. There are several kinds available, but these typically provide a mixture of food and music, as well as the chance to admire the city from the water - something that is really worthwhile in its own right.

Golden Gate Bridge

Photo credit: iStock

What's more, as these cruises last an average of 3 hours, they are easy to slot in around other travel plans. Choose from a buffet cruise, which offers a mix of a gourmet buffet, live music and beautiful bay views, a seated dinner cruise or a twilight cruise, which provides a selection of delicate appetisers rather than a full meal. No matter which you choose, it is best to book in advance.


Zion National Park Thanksgiving Buffet


Photo credit: iStock

While most national parks shut their doors on Thanksgiving, Zion opens them wide and welcomes visitors for a mixture of delicious seasonal food and walking in the spectacular surroundings of the park. This pairing is a perfect medley of Thanksgiving food and traditional sightseeing - and also helps you walk off all those large meals!


Traditional food

Rounding off our list is not a specific event, but rather something you can take pleasure in no matter where in the USA you are spending Thanksgiving. As you will have already noticed, food plays an integral role in the celebrations, and as such, tasting traditional dishes is a must. However, what exactly is considered traditional varies from one place to the next, so make sure that wherever you are, you taste a regional speciality.

Thanksgiving dinner

Photo credit: iStock

For example, in the east, your turkey is likely to be stuffed with sausage, while oyster stuffing is common in New England. Along the west coast, sourdough and apple stuffing is popular, while in the south, locals enjoy a cornbread dressing. For dessert, meanwhile, you're likely to tuck into pumpkin or pecan pie as a dessert, unless you're in the south, in which case you're far more likely to end your meal with a slice or two of sweet potato pie.


Find out more about USA holidays


Topics: USA, General