Thinking of ditching the big turkey dinner with the in-laws and running away on vacation? You won't be alone. Every Thanksgiving, families flock to kid-friendly resorts nationwide, leaving the cooking and cleaning to someone else. After all, with the kids out of school, it can be a wonderful opportunity for a long weekend getaway at an affordable rate. Here are just a few of the many resorts offering activity-filled schedules over Thanksgiving weekend.
Where: Pinehurst, NC
Why: Because this hallowed golf resort is surprisingly kid-friendly (see our review), and Thanksgiving weekend offers opportunities for family fun. The weekend roster includes family movie nights, wagon rides, holiday-themed arts and crafts, a scavenger hunt, gingerbread house decorating, and "Family Fairways" golf clinics. On Saturday, a special Nutcracker-themed breakfast is scheduled with costumed characters. 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, NY
Why: Because this historic hotel is offering activities for the whole family from Nov. 24 to Nov. 28. There will be clown performances, nightly kids' movies, ghost stories, cookie decorating, and other age-appropriate festivities. There will also be family bingo sessions and horse-drawn hayrides 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, activities, two dinners, and two breakfasts for each guest.
Where: Olympic Valley, CA
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 winter-themed activities such as sleigh rides, ice skating, caroling, and visits with Santa for the little ones. The supervised Mountain Buddies kids' club offers board games, arts and crafts, outdoor fun in the snow, and more. The Magical Bed and Breakfast package starts at $179 per night and includes accommodations for four, breakfast, and most activities.
Where: Sun Valley, ID
Why: Because Thanksgiving marks the official kick-off to Sun Valley's 75th winter season and a celebration that has become a tradition among many skiing families. The event will feature ice shows, rail jam exhibitions, a Thanksgiving buffet, and more. Families can go ice skating, hiking, and snowshoeing, or stay warm inside with bowling, virtual golf, and movie showings in the resort's theater. Special weekend rates start at $282 per person and include four nights of lodging at the Sun Valley Lodge or Sun Valley Inn, a three-day lift ticket per person, and a Thanksgiving buffet. Plus, kids stay and ski for free.
Where: Sandusky, Ohio
Why: Because Thanksgiving weekend kicks off 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 swim 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, a caricature artist, and Santa will be on hand to pass out candy canes. The two-night Thanksgiving package for a family of four starts at $289 and includes Thanksgiving brunch, a carriage ride, hay ride, and breakfast on Friday. Additional nights can be added for just $79.
Where: San Antonio, TX
Why: Because this luxury resort and spa is stuffed with family fun for the holiday, including potato sack races, s'mores by the fire, a parade, family bingo, and scavenger hunts. Kids can get their faces painted, watch a magic show, and meet some visiting penguins and reindeer from the San Diego Zoo. There's also a four-acre water park with cascading falls and an adult pool. On Nov. 25, the resort serves up an impressive Thanksgiving spread. Book the " Fall Promotion" and receive a third night free. Holiday weekend rates start at $189 per night.
Where: Greenwater, WA
Why: Because this family-friendly wilderness retreat is near Mt. Rainier National Park, just below Crystal Mountain, one of the state's premier ski destinations. The holiday weekend starts off with Thanksgiving crafts, followed by some morning snowshoeing to work up an appetite for the evening feast. Afterward, families can watch the all-time classic film, "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving," or gather around the bonfire for s'more roasting. Book the four-night "Thanksgiving Eat and Stay Special" from $240 per night and receive Wednesday night for free, plus a traditional holiday buffet. Additional two- and three-night packages are also available.
Where: Gurnee, IL
Why: Because this Thanksgiving, Santa will be hanging out at this Florida Keys-themed indoor water park, complete with tube and body slides, a wave pool, and a 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. The weekend starts off with a Sunset Parade and a tree-lighting ceremony to celebrate Santa's arrival. Families that stay through Sunday can also join Santa in a special breakfast buffet. The two-night "Thanksgiving at the Cove" special starts at $400 and includes accommodations, four water park passes, and a Thanksgiving buffet.
Where: Wheeling, WV
Why: Because this picturesque golf resort and spa is a mini-city in itself, with a planetarium, glass museum, and even a 30-acre zoo. Every November, the resort unveils its famous Festival of Lights, where 70 holiday-themed LED light displays can be viewed. The three-night Thanksgiving package starts at $469 and includes a welcome reception, breakfast daily, zoo and museum admission, a vehicle pass to the festival of lights, and many activities.
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