Escape turkey turmoil with these Thanksgiving vacations

Work off all that turkey with a family trail ride at C Lazy U Ranch in Granby, Colo.

Tired of hours of cooking a meal devoured within minutes, washing piles of dishes crusted with green bean casserole and cranberry sauce, and the inevitable family spats that accompany your annual Thanksgiving dinner at home?

Escape defrosting the turkey and arguing with your mother-in-law this year. Choose one of these unique Thanksgiving vacations and be thankful someone else is doing the cooking and clean-up.

Ocean Lovers’ Thanksgiving

Not content to laze about in a turkey-induced haze this Thanksgiving? Pack up the kids and head to Montezuma, Costa Rica, for a week-long family surf camp with Peaks ‘n Swells instead. Your days will be filled with family yoga sessions, daily surf lessons and bonfires on the beach. With your toes in the sand, toast your travel mates with pina coladas over a Thanksgiving dinner of turkey and traditional sides. Cost is $2,450 per parent, $2,250 for surfing children under age 14, and $795 for non-surfing kids. Children under 1 year are free. Accommodations in one of three oceanfront beach houses with shared pool, surf lessons, breakfast, and yoga are included. For the Thanksgiving session, November 20-27, Peaks ‘n Swells is offering a $500 discount for one family or $750 off if two families book together.

Let the Kids do the Cooking

It’s payback time for parents! As part of the Cooks@Play culinary kitchen at the Atlantis Kids Adventures club at Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, The Bahamas, children ages 6-12 prepare a Thanksgiving feast complete with full-sized turkey, stuffing and all the trimmings. Parents are invited to feast on this meal prepared by their own little chef. The 141-acre on-site water park filled with swimming pools, waterslides and river rides will keep the family content after turkey time. The cooking program is $85 per child. Room rates start at $500 when booked in advance.

Turkey on a Train

For a Thanksgiving sure to please train lovers of all ages, climb aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train in Napa, Calif. Chug past picturesque vineyards during a four-course lunch or dinner that includes an endive apple salad, crab bisque, choice of turkey or other entrée, and dessert. Cost is $119 for adults and $75 for children under age 12.

Outdoorsy Family Holiday

At the C Lazy U Ranch in Granby, Colo., families can reconnect with each other and with nature over the Thanksgiving holiday. A popular spot for multi-generational getaways, visitors bed down in deluxe cabins and dine on three gourmet meals each day. Travelers can enjoy the great outdoors via horseback riding, swimming, hiking, fishing, cross-country skiing, ice skating, tubing, sleigh riding and more. Guests often square off during a touch football game before the Thanksgiving feast, which is served family-style in the ranch’s dining room. Each table even gets its own turkey to carve, but none of the mess to deal with. Price is $325 per adult per night and $150 per child per night including meals and activities. Buy three nights, and get the fourth night free.

Unusual Black Friday Fun

Instead of shopping till you drop the day after Thanksgiving, test your post-turkey belly’s limits with the fourth annual Western New York Black Friday Mighty Mile contest near Buffalo, N.Y. At the gun, runners must gobble up one taco before each of four quarter-mile laps. You may feel a bit queasy, but at least there are no dishes to do at the end of the race!

Colleen Lanin is the founder/editor of, a site for anyone who wants to travel with children … and stay sane! Her book, “The Travel Mamas’ Guide,” will be available March 2013.