My father-in-law’s favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. He loves everything about making the turkey, baking the pumpkin pie and setting out the seasonal decorations. Fortunately, all of the above are easy to do whether spending the holiday at home or away on vacation.
When we travel, we most often stay in vacation rentals with full kitchens, which makes it a snap to prepare dinner as a family. Two years ago, we spent Thanksgiving week in a fantastic rental in the Orlando area with my in-laws. We took the kids to the Magic Kingdom in the morning, and had a traditional Thanksgiving feast in the late-afternoon. We enjoyed the best of both worlds – being on vacation while celebrating Thanksgiving in a very similar way to how we would at home. It was perfect.
If you’re thinking about taking a family vacation over the Turkey Day holidays, but want to incorporate traditional holiday elements, take a look at the ten suggestions below. If you’re not sure where to go, you may also want to look at vacation rentals in some of the most popular travel destinations, like Gatlinburg, Tennessee, Palm Springs, California and Breckenridge, Colorado, as identified by HomeAway as holiday hotspots for November getaways.
1) Enjoy a Traditional Thanksgiving Meal: Hit the grocery store as a family, shopping list in hand, to pick up a turkey, potatoes and green beans to prepare your feast in a full kitchen in your vacation rental. Or, order the entire spread from the local supermarket or catering company. Many restaurants also offer traditional Turkey Day fare for families. Wherever you are, it’s fun and easy to enjoy a turkey and all the trimmings together as a family.
2) Create Seasonal Decorations: Have fun with your kids creating handprint turkeys, toilet paper roll pilgrims and teepee centerpieces and display them wherever you may be, whether a vacation rental on the beach or at Aunt Sally’s house. There are many fun crafts that are easy to make and don’t require a trip to the craft store. A quick search on Pinterest will help you find lots of ideas to keep your kids busy and in the spirit of Thanksgiving.
3) Go to a Parade: Just because you’re away from home in a vacation rental doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good parade complete with floats, marching bands and baton twirling. Many towns put on Thanksgiving festivities, including parades and festivals, so pick up a local paper when you get in town to see what’s going on. It’s also fun to see how other towns celebrate Thanksgiving in their own way.
4) Run or Walk in a Turkey Trot: It’s our annual family tradition to run or walk in our neighborhood Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving Day. We’ve been doing this for more than 10 years, and it’s such a great way to start the day off right as a family. Just type “turkey trot” and the name of the town where you’ll be renting a vacation home for Thanksgiving into a search engine to find nearby races.
5) Gather Around the Television: I’m not advocating a day in front of the television, but if you stay in a vacation rental over the holidays, gather up and watch football or the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as you might do at home. Many vacation rentals have generous living areas and big screen TVs, so this is a fun way to spend time as a family.
6) Throw Around a Football: While some people spend the day watching football on TV, other families like to throw around the football on Thanksgiving Day. Fortunately, many vacation rentals have sporting equipment stored away, so be on the hunt or ask the owners if they have a football to throw around in a family game.
7) Take a Walk: Once the meal is over and we’re all nice and full, we like to take a walk around the neighborhood, which is something you can easily do while staying in a vacation rental. It’s fun to explore a new community or neighborhood, while engaging each other as a family in fun conversation.
8) Play Board Games: When we stayed in a vacation home over Thanksgiving two years ago, the owners had a closet full of board games for renters. The kids had so much fun checking out all the games for different age groups before we sat down to play UNO and Monopoly. Board games are a great way to come together as a family and many rentals have board games, even video games, for everyone to play.
9) Enjoy a Nap: Who doesn’t love taking a nap after a big Turkey Day meal? Fortunately, in a vacation home you aren’t all on top of each other like you might be in a hotel room. I love that I can close the door to my room, and to my kids’ rooms, so we can all drift off into dreamland after a delicious meal. This is one of my favorite benefits of a vacation rental!
10) Get Creative with Leftovers: Have fun with the kids creating unique combinations of Thanksgiving leftovers. Since you have a kitchen in a vacation home, it’s easy to save leftovers for meals later in the week so you don’t need to eat out in restaurants. Plus, it’s fun to see what the kids come up with using the extra turkey, green beans and cranberry sauce to eat later in the week.
Do you have any favorite Thanksgiving Day activities that can easily be done whether at home or away on vacation? Let us know in the comments section below.
Erin Gifford, Kidventurous