Thankful for Travel | 5 Thanksgiving-Inspired Destinations

Paddington Bear floats down Chicago's State Street. Image courtesy Chicago Festival Association.

Paddington Bear floats down Chicago’s State Street. Image courtesy Chicago Festival Association.

Thanksgiving is synonymous with travel. Whether you’re heading home to visit your parents or extended family is coming your way to spend the holiday with you, someone you know will be driving or flying to spend time with loved ones. If your family is considering starting a new holiday tradition by going on vacation together, check out these Thanksgiving-inspired destinations.

1. Parades
Everyone loves a parade! The 87th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade® features more than 8,000 balloons and floats against a backdrop of more than 3.5 million spectators and 50 million viewers nationwide. The parade’s giant balloons, floats of fantasy, performers and Santa Claus himself mark the official start of the holiday season. If you want to head to the Midwest, check out Chicago’s McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade. You and 425,000 of your closest friends could be on-hand as the parade marches down historic State Street in the heart of the city. Also in the Midwest, the 2013 America’s Thanksgiving Parade® in Detroit is one of the country’s oldest and most celebrated parades. Broadcast to more than 140 cities nationwide, the parade features 60 balloons and floats, award-winning marching bands, 500 clowns, specialty acts, celebrities, and the Distinguished Clown Corps celebrating its 30th year in 2013.

Jamestown Settlement. Image courtesy Flickr user Jeremy Mikkola.

Jamestown Settlement. Image courtesy Flickr user Jeremy Mikkola.

2. Jamestown Settlement
America’s first permanent English colony, founded in 1607 – 13 years before the Pilgrims landed in Massachusetts – comes to life through film, gallery exhibits and outdoor living history at Jamestown Settlement. Though it was not officially called Thanksgiving, the first documented harvest-related feasts were held by Spaniards in the area in the 16th century. Colonists adopted the tradition as early as 1607. Visit Jamestown and you’ll find replicas of the three ships that sailed from England to Virginia, life-size re-creations of the colonists’ fort, and a Powhatan village.

Berkeley Plantation. Image courtesy Flickr user lori05871.

Image courtesy Flickr user lori05871.

3. America’s First Official Thanksgiving
Berkeley Plantation, located in Charles City, Virginia, on the banks of the James River, is the ancestral home of two American presidents. William Henry Harrison and his grandson Benjamin Harrison were both born and raised at Berkeley Plantation. Yet years before the home was even built, a group of English settlers arrived to the area, then called Berkeley Hundred, and celebrated their arrival as a “day of thanksgiving” in 1619. Today visitors to Berkeley Plantation can tour the Georgian estate, said to be the oldest three-story brick home in Virginia.

Plymouth Rock. Image courtesy Flickr user Victor Solanoy.

Plymouth Rock. Image courtesy Flickr user Victor Solanoy.

4. Plymouth Rock
Nearly one million people a year come from all over the world to visit Plymouth Rock – the rock itself and the town where in 1620 Europeans first made a home in New England – 40 miles south of Boston. The rock is housed in a Classical Revival structure designed by architects McKim, Mead and White in 1921 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ landing at Plymouth. A landscaped waterfront park provides scenic views of Plymouth Harbor where The Mayflower II, a replica of the ship that brought the first Pilgrims to Massachusetts, is anchored. From re-creations of historic villages to architectural lectures to lantern ghost tours, Plymouth immerses guests in the past any time of the year, and even more so at Thanksgiving.

Wisconsin cranberry festival. Image courtesy Flickr user Rochelle Hartman.

Wisconsin cranberry festival. Image courtesy Flickr user Rochelle Hartman.

5. Cranberry Highway
Do you know which state is the largest producer of cranberries? It’s Wisconsin! The state’s 50-mile Cranberry Highway will take you from Glacial Lake Cranberries, a 140-year old sustainable cranberry marsh in Wisconsin Rapids that offers tours each Fall, to Burnstad’s Market in Tomah, for cranberry crunch pie, cream cheese and cranberry filling in a homemade pie shell, baked and then topped with cranberry crunch topping. Along the way, stop at the Wisconsin Cranberry Discovery Center and Museum in Warrens, featuring interactive information on the cranberry industry and history of Wisconsin’s number one fruit crop.

What are your travel plans this holiday season? Leave us a comment!

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