How about skipping that big turkey dinner with the in-laws this year? More and more families are doing it, opting instead to create Thanksgiving memories at a resort or on a cruise. After all, the kids are out of school and it can be a wonderful opportunity for a long, unstressed weekend getaway before the hectic holiday season hits full tilt. It’s not too late to find a great Thanksgiving getaway package, says Lauren Goldenberg, owner of , a travel agency specializing in family vacations.
“These experiences can best be found at traditional and family-owned resorts and lodges that offer great amenities and recreation for families,” says Goldenberg. 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 most of all, you can be thankful that there will be absolutely no cooking, cleaning, or sleeping on the lumpy mattress in Aunt Peggy’s spare bedroom.
Where: Pinehurst, N.C.
Why: Because this hallowed golf resort is surprisingly kid-friendly (see ), and Thanksgiving weekend offers myriad opportunities for families to have fun together. The holiday weekend schedule includes wagon rides, tennis clinics, lawn bowling, historic walking tours, croquet, GPS scavenger hunts, s’more roasting and storytelling, cookie decorating and kid’s craft workshops, family movie nights, and “Family Fairways” golf clinics. Rates start at $145 per adult per night, and include daily breakfast and dinner. Kids 17 and under stay and eat free. Free events include a holiday pops concert by the North Carolina Symphony, afternoon tea with live entertainment, and “poptail hours” for kids and teens.
Where: Sunriver, Ore.
Why: Because Thanksgiving kicks off the “Sugar Plum Special,” a holiday offer that includes a $50 daily credit that can be used toward any of 150 different resort activities and amenities, including spa services, meals, and lift tickets at nearby Mt. Bachelor, where kids 6 to 12 ski free from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. During the entire holiday season, guests can look forward to horse-drawn sleigh rides, a Christmas light display, visits from Santa, and an adorable teddy bear tea for the kids.
Where: Stowe, Vt.
Why: Because this mountain resort offers a sledload of family-oriented activities ranging from hiking and horseback riding to watching how cider is made. A three-night stay including daily breakfast begins at $399, and the traditional Thanksgiving dinner is free for kids 5 and under.
Where: Brainerd, Minn.
Why: Because the Thanksgiving harvest weekend is all about relaxed family time at an affordable price. On Friday and Saturday mornings, kids 4 to 12 can attend the Camp Cragun Kid’s Program and then, in the evenings, the resort hosts a kid’s party with Teen Time and karaoke. Weekend events include a family carnival featuring games, prizes, and facepainting. Later on, there’s family bingo and horse-drawn trolley rides followed by a bonfire and roasting marshmallows. A three-night Thursday-to-Sunday package starts at just $119 per night, and you can add on Wednesday for just $65 more. Up to two kids 12 and under stay for free when you book a lakeview room.
Where: Bretton Woods, N.H.
Why: Because this family-friendly New England resort pours on the tradition with an impressive schedule of indoor and outdoor activities. The weekend includes a 5K turkey trot (walk, run, or snowshoe!), family flag football games, nightly screenings of family movies in the Dartmouth Room, candle-making and tie-dye workshops, family game nights and scavenger hunts, gingerbread cookie decorating, and evening musical concerts. The resort’s annual Christmas tree lighting takes place on Friday evening, and kids can attend story hours with Santa. Rates start at $189 per person per night.