If you’re looking for Thanksgiving getaways for families, here are eight resorts across the country to consider for your holiday gatherings. These resorts include different sleeping options to accommodate various family sizes and plenty of activities for hosting your multi-generational family holiday. Find the perfect one to keep everyone in your party happy.
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8 Best Thanksgiving Getaways for Families
1. Alisal Guest Ranch, Santa Barbara, CA
2. Sea Island, Sea Island, GA
3. Paws Up Resort, Greenough, MT
4. Sanderling Resort, Outer Banks, NC
5. The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, WI
6. Sunriver Resort, Sunriver, OR
7. Kingsmill Resort, Williamsburg, VA
8. Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, Farmington, PA
Thanksgiving weekend is the most traveled long weekend of the year in the USA. But I have a confession. With the rush and difficulty of actually getting there and/or getting the house ready for family, I lose some of my steam when it comes to cooking dinner on Turkey Day. To make life simpler, my extended family (15-20 people) is trying something slightly different and considering a Thanksgiving getaway that can host us all.
Plan Perfect Thanksgiving Getaways
Knowing all the different members of my family, here are the most important things I’m looking for in a resort to host my family:
- Activities that appeal multi-generationally. With ages ranging from my baby boomer parents to toddler niece, as a family we have almost every decade covered.
- Different options for sleeping rooms. Each individual family has their own needs for space and the amenities they require. My parents need less space than my brother with his family of five.
- Unique holiday experiences. It is a long weekend getaway but it is also a Thanksgiving family getaway, and we want to have plenty of fall activities for families with some traditional Thanksgiving aspects, like a full-service Thanksgiving Dinner. It wouldn’t hurt to have a day after tree lighting and ice skating party either.
- Easily accessible by airplane. Because my family lives everywhere from Florida to California, I didn’t limit the location. But I did rule out locations that would require difficult travel, such as commuter planes or long car rides from an airport.
Where to Go for Thanksgiving
With the criteria set, the challenge for me now is where to go celebrate Thanksgiving? Using my friends’ travel experiences as a starting point for our family vacation ideas, here are a few of the resorts that I felt would be a good fit for making our Thanksgiving family getaway the best family vacation.
Good news is that if we don’t make it this holiday, we can make plans for the future since these resorts are great year-round.
1. Alisal Guest Ranch, Santa Barbara, CA
The Alisal Guest Ranch And Resort in California’s Santa Ynez Valley, right outside of Santa Barbara, is a Thanksgiving tradition for lots of families. The 10,500-acre ranch offers more than 73 cottages, over 50 miles of horseback riding trails, two golf courses, and a 100-acre spring-fed lake.
Why it works: The cottages range from studios sleeping 3 up to 2 bedrooms sleeping 5, and they can be combined for larger groups. There are plenty of unique outdoor adventures waiting. Some of the highlights of a visit include egg gathering, horseback riding, family bingo, talent shows, and the Breakfast Ride.
2. Sea Island, Sea Island, GA
Sea Island is right off the coast of Georgia, between Savannah, GA and Jacksonville, FL and the resort hearkens back to an era of formal elegance. The close proximity to both cities means that we’ll have plenty of travel options and additional areas to explore. Accommodations range from rooms at the Inn at Sea Island through seven-bedroom homes for rental.
Why It Works: Sea Island’s holiday traditions include a fireside historical chat on Wednesday and a formal Thanksgiving meal. Both are before the grand Christmas tree lighting on Friday evening. And for fitness enthusiasts, they host both an Oceans Edges Thanksgiving Day walk and a Friday morning turkey trot – “Burn Off that Turkey 5K.” Children will even have their own fun in Camp Cloister with the Turkey Tie-Dye experience and kids’ night out program.
3. Paws Up Resort – Greenough, MT
Last year, a friend shared her family adventure in Montana and it gave me a new perspective as a place to visit. A highlight would be going to visit Yellowstone Park since we’d be in the area. The Resort at Paws Up seems like a great choice because it offers a luxury ranch-resort travel in a vacation home with a private butler and chef services.
Why It Works: This Thanksgiving family getaway offers dedicated children’s programming and everything that you’d expect from a luxury ranch vacation. A sample of the activities includes horseback riding, ATV rides, fireside s’mores and pro football watching. While it’s a ranch, I’m pretty sure that you’ll be able to catch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from New York too. That’s one of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions.
During the holiday weekend, they’ll be hosting a special Thanksgiving buffet prepared by their Executive Chef and a special guest, BBQ legend Sam Huff.
4. Sanderling Resort – Outer Banks, NC
The Sanderling Resort in the Outer Banks of North Carolina is the only full-service resort in the Outer Banks providing luxury options ranging from vacation house rentals to single rooms in their Inn. Renting a home is a smart option. Guests will still be able to access all the resort amenities, including the pools, restaurants, fire pits and beach butlers.
Why It Works: Unlike most other places, there is no minimum rental period, so we could spend Thanksgiving Day and then head to Disney World for the rest of the long weekend. Activities range from indulging in spa services, horseback riding on the beach, guided kayak tours, and even a vineyard tasting tour. Because the Outer Banks area is the home of the first flight, they have a number of activities that allow families to explore the air.
During the week of Thanksgiving, they will host a special Thanksgiving dinner as well as evenings around the fire-pit with their dedicated s’mores cart.
5. The Osthoff Resort – Elkhart Lake WI
Why It Works: The Osthoff has condos of up to 3 bedrooms available. The Osthoff has a variety of lakefront activities, including fishing, canoeing and guided cruises that showcase the natural beauty of fall in the area. Their spa is one of the Top 100 Spas by Spas of America and the L’ecole de la Maison Cooking School offers special classes for amateur chefs.
For their Thanksgiving brunch, part of the bounty will come from their onsite 2-acre organic garden; an opportunity to explain farm-to-table for my children.
6. Sunriver Resort – Sunriver OR
During the holiday season, Sunriver Resort hosts their annual Traditions Celebration with more than 150 different activities and events beginning Thanksgiving weekend. They start by hosting the Grand Illumination Parade with a tree lighting and fireworks. There is a classic Thanksgiving dinner and the morning after, they host a Turkey Trot 5K Fun Run/Walk.
Why It Works: Thanksgiving weekend, they also lead into the Christmas season full force. That weekend Santa’s Workshop opens, where guests can create their own holiday keepsakes. Elf tuck-ins also begin. At an elf tuck-in, Santa’s helpers come and read children a Christmas story with a pre-Christmas goodie bag and warm wishes from Santa.
7. Kingsmill Resort – Williamsburg VA
Kingsmill Resort was the location of the first Thanksgiving in 1619 and would make a great choice this year as well. It’s not Plymouth Rock, but the Williamsburg, Virginia area resort is steeped in traditions and history.
Why It Works: The activities for families include tennis, fishing in the James River, hiking, and a full-service spa. Kingsmill has a kids program and dedicated Kids Night Out programming. Shuttles are provided to the nearby Busch Garden’s theme park and Colonial Williamsburg to explore more of the area.
8. Nemacolin Woodlands Resort – Farmington PA
The Nemacolin Woodlands Resorts is just an hour and a half outside of Pittsburgh and offers a true resort over 2,000 acres. A wide range of accommodations includes three different hotels, townhouses and private luxury houses that can sleep up to 22 people.
Why It Works: Guests can choose from over 70 different activities ranging from the serene to the extreme. The serene includes touring the art collection of more than 1,000 pieces. While on the other hand, the extreme seekers should consider hitting the slopes at nearby Mystic Mountain. Other unique activities on-site are ziplining the resort’s Fatbird Super Flyer Zipline, wine tastings, and Wildlife Habitat. Or how about a little pampering for mom and dad at the Woodlands Spa while the kids create their own masterpiece at the resort’s new Art Studio?
For Thanksgiving, they will host a Thanksgiving Brunch at Lautrec’s, one of only 27 Forbes Five-Star, AAA Five-Diamond restaurants in the world.
Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving family getaway? Have you been to any of the resorts on the list? If so, what do you think? Are they worth the trip? Please let me know where we should go in the comments below.