Thinking of ditching the big turkey dinner with the in-laws and running away on vacation? You won’t be alone. Every year, many families choose to create their Thanksgiving memories at a resort or on a cruise. After all, with the kids out of school, it can be a wonderful opportunity for a long, unstressed weekend getaway before the hectic holiday season hits full tilt. Here are just a few of the many resorts offering fun, activity-filled schedules over the long Thanksgiving weekend. Each of these getaways guarantees plenty of family time and, perhaps best of all, you can be truly thankful that there will be absolutely no cooking, cleaning, or sleeping on Aunt Sally’s air mattress.
Where: Pinehurst, N.C.
Why: Because this hallowed golf resort is surprisingly kid-friendly (see our review), and Thanksgiving weekend offers myriad opportunities for families to have fun together. The weekend roster includes flag football, family movie nights, wagon rides, arts and crafts, cookie decorating, s’more roasting, and “Family Fairways” golf clinics. The Thanksgiving package starts at $155 per person and includes overnight accommodations, a traditional Thanksgiving meal, breakfast and admission to a special Holiday Pops Concert by the North Carolina Symphony. Kids 12 and under eat, stay, and golf for free with an adult.
Where: Cooperstown, N.Y.
Why: Because this historic hotel is offering a huge roster of activities for the whole family from Nov. 25 through Nov. 29. There will be clown performances, nightly kids’ movies, ghost stories, cookie decorating and other age-appropriate activities. There will also be family bingo sessions and horse-drawn hay rides through Cooperstown, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Santa is scheduled to make a special appearance at breakfast on Saturday morning. The two-night Thanksgiving Family Weekend package starts at $575 per couple (add $120 per child 5-12 and $150 per teen) and includes lodging, two dinners and two breakfasts for each guest. Kids 4 and under stay and eat free.
Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North
Where: Scottsdale, Ariz.
Why: Because this beautiful resort, set high in the Sonoran Desert, is currently offering a third-night-free deal that extends over Thanksgiving weekend. Guests can avail themselves of an array of free family activities such as guided hikes to Pinnacle Peak, tennis and the always-complimentary Kids for All Seasons daycamp.
Sawmill Creek Resort
Where: Sandusky, Ohio
Why: Because Thanksgiving weekend is the kick-off for the Festival of Lights at this Lake Erie resort. Families can take a hay ride through the holiday lights display as they listen to Christmas classics, or they can drop in on Mrs. Claus for hot chocolate, cider and donuts. Kids can go swimming in the indoor pool, walk the trails of the nature preserve or head to the video game room. There will also be a putting competition with wine and juice pops as prizes, and Santa will be on hand passing out candy canes. The two-night Thanksgiving package for a family of four starts at $279 and includes Thanksgiving brunch, a carriage ride, hay ride, and breakfast on Friday. Additional nights can be added for just $79.
Resort at Squaw Creek
Where: Olympic Valley, Calif.
Why: Because during the long weekend, this Lake Tahoe resort will roll out its annual Magical Memories program with a tree-lighting ceremony and the unveiling of its gingerbread village. After enjoying a classic Thanksgiving buffet, families can take part in holiday-themed activities such as sleigh rides, ice skating, caroling and visits with Santa. The supervised Mountain Buddies kids’ club offers board games, arts and crafts, outdoor fun and more. The Magical Bed and Breakfast package starts at $179 a night and includes accommodations for four, breakfast and most activities.
KeyLime Cove Resort & Waterpark
Where: Gurnee, Ill.
Why: Because this Thanksgiving, Santa will be hanging out at this brand-new Florida Keys-themed indoor waterpark, complete with tube and body slides, wave pool and lazy river. On dry land, grown ups can relax in the Paradise Mist Spa while the younger crowd can win prizes in the 8,000 square-foot arcade. On Friday, there’s a Sunset Parade, tree-lighting ceremony (where “tropicool” Santa will be visiting in his swim trunks). Toukie’s Two-Night Turkey weekend special starts at $390 and includes accommodations, four waterpark passes, Thanksgiving buffet for four, and children’s activities.
Salishan Spa & Golf Resort
Where: Gleneden Beach, Ore.
Why: Because Thanksgiving is a perfect opportunity to try out this luxury lodge on the stunning Oregon coastline, which features an 18-hole golf course, spa, an indoor pool and tennis courts. Kids can head over to the game zone for all the latest entertainment including Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, or classic games like air hockey. Three-night Thanksgiving packages start at $399 and include accommodations and a Thanksgiving buffet (normally $40 per adult).
The Coeur d’Alene Resort
Where: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Why: Because this resort puts on an impressive Christmas show with a tree-lighting ceremony featuring the world’s largest Christmas tree. Thousands of lights will twinkle to the tune of Jingle Bells on the 162-foot Grand Fir that’s more than twice as tall as the tree at Rockefeller Center. Families can meet Frosty the Snowman before cruising over to the North Pole to witness dancing elves, visit Santa’s workshop and watch the sing-a-long performances by the entire Christmas crew. The two-night Lighting Ceremony package starts at $485 and includes lodging, the fireworks show, two adult cruise tickets to the North Pole (kids cruise free), a $100 dining credit for breakfast and the Thanksgiving buffet or Sunday brunch.
Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa
Where: Stowe, Vt.
Why: Because this four-diamond mountain resort offers a sled load of family-oriented activities ranging from hiking and biking to watching how cider is made. A three-night stay including daily breakfast and a traditional Thanksgiving dinner begins at $429 per person. Reserve this package before Nov. 1 and receive a fourth night free.
WeJustGotBack.com is an authoritative online guide to family trip-planning. The award-winning site features reviews of kid-friendly hotels and resorts, expert planning advice, readers' travel tips, destination insider guides, vacation deals, and more. Subscribe to our newsletter to hear about resort specials and exclusive, money-saving offers. Follow us on Twitter at @WeJustGotBack.