Thanksgiving: A Time for Family AND Travel

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plimothMayflower IIThanksgiving is about family and eating, and family vacations can fit right in. The kids have a couple of days off school – some colleges even give students the entire week off – so you can squeeze in a multi-generational trip, and not have to do the dishes.

Travel Back in Time

For Thanksgiving to even exist, there had to pilgrims. And the pilgrims had to travel by boat. You can see a full-scale reproduction of the Mayflower at Plimoth Plantation, Plymouth, MA. Climb onto the Mayflower II and learn about the 1620 voyage to the New World. Costumed interpreters bring a 17th-century English Village to life and Native Americans at the Wampanoag Homesite offer a look inside the history and culture of the Wampanoag.

You can eat at the Thanksgiving Day Buffet or “America’s Thanksgiving Dinner,” with Pilgrim role players and Native interpreters; both feature turkey with all the trimmings, homemade pies and wood pressed apple cider.


At Colonial Williamsburg, in Williamsburg, VA, eat Thanksgiving dinner in an 18th-century tavern. You can also start a new family tradition at the Play Booth Theater, where area religious leaders conduct a community interfaith service with Thanksgiving proclamations past and present.

Hancock Shaker Village, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, offers fall family Shaker Suppers.  The meals include a guided tour, reception and music program with costumed interpreters. The candlelight meal features Shaker favorites like cranberry pot roast and chicken potpie; you can order a vegetarian meal in advance. Meals are served in the 1830 Brick Dwelling; vegetables come from the village’s own gardens.

Theme Park Fun

Thanksgiving is a surprisingly crowded time at Walt Disney World, where all the parks are open and operating at close to maximum capacity. You can find a Thanksgiving meal at many on-site restaurants, including the Flying Fish at the BoardWalk Resort. There Schlitterbahn Galveston Islandis turkey with all the trimmings and a dessert with pumpkin, apple and cranberry. The Wolfgang Puck Grand Café in Downtown Disney offers a twist on traditional ingredients like sweet potatoes, pumpkin and Brussels sprouts for its Thanksgiving menu.

Water Parks

You can slide the day away at an indoor water park and still get your Thanksgiving dinner. The Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, is an indoor/outdoor water park, with an outdoor hot tub connected to the indoor park. All rooms are suites with kitchenettes so you could cook something. But if you don’t want to do the dishes, order a traditional Thanksgiving meal, with turkey, cornbread stuffing and pumpkin pie, cooked and delivered to your room.

The Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark in Galveston, Texas, lets you have Thanksgiving at home, then feast again on Saturday, November 26, with a holiday buffet. Take advantage of the wet climbing areas to work off some of your holiday overindulgence before

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About The Author

Judy Antell is the Free in 50 States editor of TravelingMom. Judy lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with her husband and three daughters. The vegetarian family loves to visit the farmer’s market for local, organic produce. They have bicycled in Europe, skied downhill and cross country across the US, and hit the beaches all over the Caribbean. They visit cities and small towns around the country, always seeking vegetarian food – and chocolate. Read her blog,

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