Sun Valley Ski resort; Courtesy of Sun Valley Resort
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15 Cheap Thanksgiving Vacation Ideas for Families

See recent posts by Courtney Elko

While Thanksgiving travel often means visiting relatives, it can be fun to break away from tradition. The kids will be out of school anyway, so why not use this time to plan a short (and affordable) getaway with the kids? We’ve found some cheap Thanksgiving vacation ideas to consider for your next trip.

Cape Cod; Courtesy of haveseen/Shutterstock

1. Cape Cod, MA

Celebrate Thanksgiving like the pilgrims did! Provincetown, located on the northern point of Cape Cod, is where the Mayflower arrived in 1620, and Plymouth, less than 40 minutes from Cape Cod, is where Thanksgiving originated. Visit Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown and the Forefather’s Monument in Plymouth before a fantastic turkey dinner with the family. The Bayside Resort, which is close to the Cape Cod Mall for those seeking Black Friday shopping deals, is offering a Thanksgiving vacation deal that includes a three-night stay, complimentary breakfast, late 6 p.m. check out on Sunday and free gift wrapping! You could completely finish your holiday shopping AND have everything wrapped before you head home from your Thanksgiving vacation.

Tip: Head into town early and enjoy Plymouth’s annual Thanksgiving Day Parade on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, when all of the festivities begin!

Recommended Hotel: The Bayside Resort

Nassau, Bahamas; Courtesy of Alessandro Lai/Shutterstock

2. Nassau, Bahamas

Nassau, Bahamas, which was not impacted by Hurricane Dorian, is an excellent place for families to spend a cheap Thanksgiving holiday while also giving back to the people of the Bahamas. For families with children over the age of 14, consider a stay at Breezes Resort and Spa Bahamas. This all-inclusive resort, situated along the powder-white sands of Cable Beach, features a rock climbing wall, tennis courts, beach volleyball, kayaking and three freshwater pools. Breezes is offering 45 percent off room rates with its Fall Sale for those traveling between Nov. 7 and Dec. 18, 2019.

Recommended Hotel: Breezes Resort and Spa Bahamas    

Panama Buenaventura Golf and Beach Resort; Courtesy of Buenaventura Golf and Beach Resort

3. Panama

As tourism to Central America continues to increase, spending Thanksgiving in Panama is an ideal spot for families as it links Central and South America. Families can witness the engineering wonderment of the Panama Canal in Panama City, then head a bit further south to stay at the gorgeous Buenaventura Golf and Beach Resort. This beachfront resort features eight pools, a kids’ club, kayaking, snorkeling, horseback riding and the Buenaventura Wildlife Center, where peacocks, deer, alligators and monkeys reside. The Family Experience package, which includes daily breakfast for two adults and two kids and use of all of the resort’s facilities, starts at $169 per night and is available through Dec. 23, 2019.

Recommended Hotel: Buenaventura Golf and Beach Resort

Isle of Palms, SC; Courtesy of CJ Sugg/Shutterstock

4. Isle of Palms, SC

Why not spend Thanksgiving at the beach?! Isle of Palms in South Carolina is located less than 30 minutes from Charleston and is the perfect spot for families to enjoy boating, fishing, bike riding and yes, even beach time sans crowds. Wild Dunes Resort, which offers everything from guestrooms to vacation rentals, is offering 25 percent off all of its accommodation options over the Thanksgiving holiday. If your immediate family is looking to try something new, or you want to gather the extended family for your turkey day getaway, plan a visit to the Isle of Palms.

Recommended Hotel: Wild Dunes Resort

Related: 11 Beach Vacations That Are Even Better in the Fall

Barcelona, Spain; Courtesy of ismel leal pichs /Shutterstock

5. Barcelona, Spain

Did you know you can get some great international flight deals around Thanksgiving? Flights to Barcelona from Los Angeles, as well as other major East Coast cities, are predicted to be under $400 in November, according to a search on Barcelona, one of the best international destinations for Thanksgiving, tends to see less tourists in November and has cooler temperatures in the 60s, perfect for sightseeing. Families can visit free or low-cost museums and castles, as well as Tibidabo. Tibidabo, open on the weekends in November, is a charming amusement park that dates back to the 1880s and will bring the family plenty of old-fashioned fun while visiting Europe over Thanksgiving.

Recommended Hotel: Hotel Roger de Lluria

Edinburgh; Courtesy of Ruth Peterkin /Shutterstock

6. Edinburgh, Scotland

Similar to Barcelona, Edinburgh, Scotland, is another cheap Thanksgiving vacation idea for families. On, we’ve seen flights to Scotland from Los Angeles, as well as other major East Coast cities, for under $600 in November. Winter in Edinburgh begins in November, so expect temperatures in the 30s. But also expect little to no crowds and deals on hotel accommodations. For example, kids stay and eat free at the Apex Grassmarket Hotel, which sits below and is within walking distance of Edinburgh Castle. Visit grand palaces, castles and the Royal Yacht Britannia while in Edinburgh. Have Harry Potter fans? You can also tour the city that inspired J.K. Rowling to write the series with an Interactive Harry Potter Tour.

Recommended Hotel: Apex Grassmarket Hotel

Lake Tahoe; Courtesy of Rafael Ramirez Lee /Shutterstock

7. Lake Tahoe, CA and NV    

For families who are looking to get a jump on ski season immediately following the turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie, head to Lake Tahoe in California or Nevada. The first rounds of snow are usually falling (or being made) on the mountains by late November. Beat the crowds and be the first on the slopes! Or get your pre-turkey exercise at the Wobble Before You Gobble 10K, 5K or 1K races in Reno. Families can visit Northstar California and receive 10 percent off lodging when they stay four nights or more. Or stay on the Reno side of Lake Tahoe at the Whitney Peak Hotel, where you’ll save 15 percent with a three-night stay.

Recommended Hotel: Whitney Peak Hotel

Smugglers’ Notch in Jeffersonville, VT; Courtesy of Smugglers’ Notch

8. Jeffersonville, VT

Whether or not your family likes to ski, you can enjoy a cheap Thanksgiving vacation at Smugglers’ Notch in Vermont. Stay three nights or more over Thanksgiving weekend and you’ll enjoy an additional night free! You can cook your own Thankgiving dinner in your accommodations that feature a fully equipped kitchen or, if you’d rather someone else do the cooking, make a reservation at the nearby 158 Main restaurant. Thanksgiving weekend is the start of ski season at Smugglers’ Notch (though not all of the trails and lifts may be open), and families can also enjoy hay rides, the indoor pool, guided walks, fire dancers and ice carving displays and fireworks on Saturday night.

Recommended Hotel: Smugglers’ Notch

Sun Valley; Courtesy of Sun Valley Resort

9. Sun Valley, ID

Thanksgiving Day is opening day at Sun Valley Ski Resort in Idaho, and the early-season pricing makes this an affordable Thanksgiving vacation for families. Your family can be one of the first to make snow prints on the trails before heading inside for a Thanksgiving dinner buffet at Sun Valley Lodge. Thanksgiving buffet prices are $73 per adult and $50 per child; children under 3 are free.

Lodge rates start at $335 per night. Lift tickets are $35 for a three-day pass for kids 13 and up and $59 for adults. Kids under 12 ski free! The offer is valid between Nov. 26 and Dec. 1, 2019 and a four-night minimum stay is required.

Recommended Hotel: Sun Valley Lodge

Colorado Springs, CO; Courtesy of LanaG/Shutterstock

10. Colorado Springs, CO

Located about 90 minutes from Denver, Colorado Springs is a cheap Thanksgiving vacation idea for families, with activities including Garden of the Gods (free to access), and Cave of the Winds Mountain Park, where you can explore underground ancient caves and rock formations. Bonus: The famous Broadmoor resort is offering a Thanksgiving hotel package that features 25 percent off hotel rates, plenty of family activities throughout the weekend, and discounts on adult admission to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

Recommended Hotel: The Broadmoor

Lake Powell, AZ; Courtesy of kavram/Shutterstock

11. Lake Powell, AZ

If you’re looking for adventure this Thanksgiving, visit Lake Powell, Arizona, which sits on the Utah border. Lake Powell is a large, man-made reservoir on the Colorado River and is part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Tons of water adventure activities take place on the water in Glen Canyon, including float trips. Lake Powell Resorts and Marina is offering half off a float trip package that includes two nights at Lake Powell Resort. This half-day float trip on a 32-foot river craft features stops and stories about the area along the way. It’s a scenic river trip (family-friendly for ages 4 and up) and will have you looking up at the cliffs of Horseshoe Bend while floating down the river. The offer is valid through Nov. 30, 2019.

Recommended Hotel: Lake Powell Resort

Wrightsville Beach, NC; Courtesy of Wrightsville Beach

12. Wrightsville Beach, NC

How about a Thanksgiving parade that floats down the water rather than the street?! Flotilla Weekend takes place Thanksgiving weekend in Wrighsville Beach, North Carolina. The Flotilla is a boat parade where judges score boats on lighting displays, theme, music and originality, and it ends with a fantastic fireworks display. This annual event begins on Thanksgiving Day with a seafood-filled Thanksgiving feast at Blockade Runner Beach Resort. The resort’s package includes a three-night stay, breakfast, two tickets to Friday’s Flotilla Launch Party and prime viewing of the Flotilla parade on Saturday.

Recommended Hotel: Blockade Runner Beach Resort

Barcelo Bavaro Palace in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; Courtesy of Barcelo Bavaro Palace

13. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

If you prefer gorgeous beaches and crystal-clear blue waters over fall foilage, Punta Cana is the place to go for Thanksgiving. The Barcelo Bavaro Palace, which features four pools, waterslides, a theatre, spa, casino and golf course, will offer families a traditional Thanksgiving feast that includes all of the holiday favorites, including the pumpkin pie! A discount of 63 percent on all bookings is available at the beachfront resort, making it an ideal cheap Thanksgiving vacation idea for families.

Recommended Hotel: Barcelo Bavaro Palace

Playa del Carmen; Courtesy of posztos /Shutterstock

14. Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Peak high season for American tourists in Mexico begins right around the Thanksgiving holiday, but vacation deals can still be found! Playa del Carmen, located along Mexico’s Riviera Maya, features numerous all-inclusive resorts, is surrounded by cenotes and is not far from the Mayan ruins in Tulum. The all-inclusive beachfront resort, Allegro Playacar, with its two pools and kids’ club, is offering 45 percent off all bookings over the Thanksgiving holiday, ideal for families looking for a deal.

Recommended Hotel: Allegro Playacar

JW Marriott Cancun Resort and Spa in Cancun; Courtesy of JW Marriott Cancun Resort and Spa

15. Cancun, Mexico

Visiting Cancun offers many families the convenience of direct flights when visiting Mexico and several all-inclusive resorts within a short drive of the airport. And we can’t forget the incredible beaches! The JW Marriott Cancun Resort and Spa is located just 15 minutes from the airport and features a kids’ club with fun things like sushi rolling and Spanish classes, along with other activities for kids. The beachfront resort is offering discounted rates over the Thanksgiving holiday that start at $259 per night, making it an affordable Thanksgiving getaway for families.

Recommended Hotel: JW Marriott Cancun Resort and Spa

What to Pack for Your Next Trip

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