Xplorie’s Favorite Destinations for a Thanksgiving Getaway

November 9, 2021

Staying safe has been a top priority for most for the past 18 months. We’ve ditched sports events, large group get-togethers, family gatherings, and vacations to keep ourselves and loved ones socially distanced and safe. Vaccination levels are rising, international border restrictions are lifted, and you no longer have to find ways to scratch your travel itch without leaving home.

Thanksgiving is the quintessential American holiday. Families and friends gather to feast on traditional family recipes, watch Thanksgiving parades and football games, express gratitude, rekindle old memories and create new ones.

Spend this Thanksgiving with your loved ones in a tranquil mountain cabin or oceanfront beach cottage with space, comfort, and amenities for the whole clan, fully-equipped, family-style kitchens for Turkey Day, inspiring views, and free access to fun attractions, activities, and tours in Xplorie’s favorite destinations for a Thanksgiving getaway.


Gatlinburg, Tennessee 

Gatlinburg is a quaint mountain town that boasts big attractions and goes all out for the festive holiday season. Millions of twinkling lights line the Parkway from Gatlinburg to Pigeon Forge, theme parks come alive with seasonal events and the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park beckons visitors for endless adventures in the great outdoors.

If your Thanksgiving vacation calls for a nature escape in the mountains or hours of family fun at the quirky family-friendly attractions and theme parks in the Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg is perfectly suited for both. Pack up the whole family for a scenic drive through the park, waterfall hikes, fly fishing and a quiet picnic by the creek, horseback ride through the mountains, savor home-style Thanksgiving feasts at a farmhouse restaurant and visit the top attractions in the Smokies where the festive season is already in full swing.

Santa and his elves make a special Thanksgiving visit to Enchanted Winter at Anakeesta where visitors are immersed in a magical mountain top experience with trails of lights, cozy fire pits, live entertainment, and a mountain of nighttime fun. Dollywood presents Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas, a heartwarming holiday show for the whole family with festive train rides, Christmas carolers, and a firework spectacular.


Enchanted Winter at Anakeesta

Enjoy an Aerial Tramway ride at Ober Gatlinburg

While skiing and snowboarding are not open for Thanksgiving, there are a plethora of mountain top adventures at Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway and Mountaintop Park, one of the top attractions in the Smokies. Ride the Aerial Tramway from downtown Gatlinburg to the mountaintop park for snow tubing, ice bumper cars, ice skating, wildlife encounters, and some of the best views in the Smoky Mountains.

Be sure to visit the Thanksgiving Arts & Craft Show at the Gatlinburg Convention Center over the Thanksgiving weekend with unique local arts and crafts for early Christmas shopping and a special souvenir of your Thanksgiving vacation in Gatlinburg.

Whether you’re looking for a cozy hot tub cabin or a majestic Smoky Mountain Lodge with incredible amenities for a large family Thanksgiving, you’ll find the ideal vacation rental in Gatlinburg with crackling fireplaces, private hot tubs, games and theater rooms, and complimentary access to the top Thanksgiving attractions and activities in the Smokies.

Sunriver, Oregon

Sunriver is a scenic resort community nestled in the Deschutes National Forest on the border of the scenic Cascade Mountains in Central Oregon. Located only 15 miles from the historic town of Bend, Sunriver is a playground for outdoor adventurers and families looking for a tranquil mountain escape for Thanksgiving and with over 300 days of sunshine a year, you’re guaranteed some sunny skies and bluebird days.


Ski Mt. Bachelor!

Take a scenic drive on the Cascade Lake Scenic Byway, fly fish at the Fall River Hatchery, burn off the extra Thanksgiving calories on the easy, family-friendly trails through pine tree forests to cascading waterfalls or rent a quadricycle and take the whole family for a leisurely cruise along the tranquil Deschutes River Trail.

There may not always be snow on the ground at Sunriver over Thanksgiving but some of the best skiing, snowboarding, and winter activities in the Pacific Northwest are only a short drive (or shuttle ride) away. Mt. Bachelor is Oregon’s premier ski resort and opens for the 2021-2022 winter season on November 26th with terrain to stoke and satisfy all abilities, fun mountain parks, scenic snowshoe and Nordic trails, and festive opening day events. Pack light and head to 4 Season Recreation Outfitters in Sunriver, your snow play headquarters for all your winter gear.

Sunriver Resort is illuminated with thousands of lights over the festive season with a nightly Holiday Light Show with dancing lights, Thanksgiving dinners (dine-in or to go!), football brunch and brews, and wholesome family fun at The Village at Sunriver, an open-air shopping center nestled in the pines. Aside from awesome eateries and local stores for Black Friday Shopping, The Village features an outdoor ice-skating, winter tubing hill, alpine express train, and seasonal holiday events for the whole family.

A day trip to the historic town of Bend is a must on your Thanksgiving vacation in Sunriver. Be sure to stop en-route for interactive wildlife encounters and loads of hands-on fun for the kids at the High Desert Museum, rated the #1 thing to do in Bend.


Totally Tube-ular!

From classic Sunriver condos on the golf course to spacious vacation rentals with bunk rooms for the kids, outdoor firepits and hot tubs, and gourmet kitchens for a family-style Thanksgiving feast prepared in the comfort of home, look no further! Cascara Vacation Rentals and iTrip Sunriver have the perfect Sunriver retreat to gather with friends and family, give thanks and enjoy free fun, every day!

Santa Barbara, California

Exchange snowy adventures and crisp mountain air for white sands and warm breezes on the central coast of California this Thanksgiving. Santa Barbara is a coastal paradise nestled between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean with a Mediterranean climate, beautiful beaches, palm-lined streets, a laid-back coastal vibe, and a hive of beach-style restaurants, bars, and activities.

Start your Thanksgiving Day with a 4-mile run through the neighborhoods of Santa Barbara followed by the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Paddle along the coastline before tucking into your traditional Thanksgiving Dinner. From casual eateries and farm-to-table dining to Michelin-starred dining experiences, Santa Barbara offers a diverse and tempting selection of restaurants for a Thanksgiving brunch or dinner.

Take a Santa Barbara Trolley Tour or electric bike tour of the top sights of Santa Barbara, rent a cruiser for a scenic ride along the boardwalk, or book a fun winter surf lesson for the whole family. The Santa Barbara Sailing Center is your one-stop shop for on-the-water fun with boat charters and rentals, kayak and SUP rentals, and scenic sunset cruises, and whale watching cruises.


Turkey trot for Turkey day!

Unlimited wine tasting in Santa Barbara!

The Santa Ynez Valley is one of the top wine-growing regions with beautiful vineyards, wineries, tasting rooms, and world-class dining on vineyard patios. Head out on a scenic drive inland through the mountains and valleys on Highway 154 or up along the Pacific Coast Highway then inland to the charming towns of Solvang, Santa Ynez, and Los Olivos. Santa Barbara County boasts over 200 wineries so if you’re on a romantic weekend or traveling with friends on an annual “friendsgiving”, a wine tour of the Santa Ynez Valley is a winner!

From charming Creekside or seaside cottages for a romantic escape to quintessential California homes with unobstructed ocean views, Paradise Retreats offers world-class vacation rentals and fun, free activities for an oceanfront escape in Santa Barbara this Thanksgiving weekend.

Explore Icon