We've got some ideas to kick-start your mini-break planning, including some deals and steals to help lure you away from the turkey.
Before the chaos of December's holiday season, school events, parties, and family gatherings, take a break on a tropical beach to just relax and enjoy some together time with the kids. Resorts in the Caribbean and Hawaii are catering to holiday travelers with special dinners to enjoy on Thanksgiving. Select an all-inclusive resort and never lift a finger the entire weekend, as the kids frolic on the beach and prune up in the ocean and swimming pool.
- Save up to 65 percent on Beaches Resorts in Jamaica and Turks and Caicos. The all-inclusive resorts are family friendly and feature an array of activities, from water sports to snorkeling to glass-bottom boat rides. The resorts also feature kids' clubs and teen activities so everyone in the family will have fun.
- Get up to 50 percent off a vacation to the Westin St. John Resort's Villas, which feature fully equipped kitchens and living and dining areas. The same package includes 25 percent off food and beverages.
- Hawaii's Outrigger Resorts have a variety of deals. Select the Third Night Free in Hawaii or Free Nights and Breakfast deals and enjoy Thanksgiving on Waikiki, Waipouli, Aina Nalu or Reef resorts.
The four-day weekend is just enough time to fully explore a city you and your family have always wanted to visit. With restaurants offering Thanksgiving dinners so you can still enjoy the feast (without the full day in the kitchen), a city getaway guarantees a variety of things to do. Spend the weekend exploring museums, take in the theater, and delve into the local history. New York City, of course, makes our list as the top city in which to spend the holiday because kids will enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime fun of taking in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade live. (And Chicago's parade makes it our runner-up.)
- Take in Baltimore's Inner Harbor history and museums galore with the family pool package at the Hampton Inn & Suites', starting at $164 per night. The indoor swimming pool offers a winter reprieve after sightseeing, and the package includes a pool fun bucket, as well as a full breakfast buffet and late checkout.
- If you're starting the holiday season off in New York, make a little girl's dreams come true with the American Girl Place package at the Marriott Marquis. Starting at $259 per night, the package includes an American Girl doll-sized travel bed to take home, as well as snacks for the family to enjoy in the room.
- The Allerton Hotel in Chicago is providing a family package with rates starting at $219 per night. The package includes four tickets to the IMAX at Navy Pier and breakfast for four, as well as overnight valet parking and a coupon book for area entertainment and activities.
VACATION AT GRANDMA'S
If you're heading over the hills and through the woods to grandmother's house for a day of turkey, enjoy a three-day weekend mini-vacation nearby. If you'll be in New England, pop into Boston or head to the mountains for a skiing in Vermont. Grandma in Florida or California? What better time to visit Disney World or Disneyland, all bedecked for Christmas? A southwestern Thanksgiving? Phoenix and Scottsdale, Houston and Santa Fe are great for exploring. And take advantage of the lighter crowds visiting the National Parks like the Grand Canyon.
- Visit Arizona's JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort for two nights with the Nickelodeon weekend and enjoy dive-in movies, activities, shows and live appearances by SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer. Kids receive a sleepover kit and the entire family will enjoy a themed family breakfast.
- In , the ultra family-friendly Village at Wild Dunes Resort is providing an easy way for families to celebrate the season: Rates starting as low as $139 per night. Stay one night, get 15 percent off. Two nights, get 20 percent. Three nights? You'll save 30 percent, and receive $25 resort credit good at the Sea Island Grill.
- If you're in the Midwest, swing by one of the nation's largest indoor water parks, the Kalahari Resort. Stay two nights at the Sandusky, Ohio, location and your family of four will receive admission into the water parks, breakfast, an in-room pizza party with a movie, token for the arcade and a $40 gift certificate to the Great Karoo Restaurant. The package starts at $400.
- Disney is offering up to 25 percent off at its select Value Resorts, such as Disney's All-Star Music Resort, and up to 30 percent off at its select Deluxe Resorts such as Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort. Or try the Magic Your Way Package that includes 20 percent off dining at Disney's Port Orleans Resort -- French QuarterM.
Use this holiday to teach the children about the origins of Thanksgiving with a visit to Plimoth Plantation or in Provincetown in or and on Cape Cod, respectively, where the Pilgrims first stepped on our shores. Plimoth Plantation even puts on an authentic Thanksgiving Day dinner, but book quick, as the multiple dinners sell out every year. The Colonial village of Williamsburg in Virginia also puts on quite a show at Thanksgiving at Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center, literally a re-enactment of the first Thanksgiving. Area restaurants feature traditional Thanksgiving dinners, which also book up quickly.
- The Williamsburg Woodsland Hotel & Suites is featuring a "Christmas Bounce" package beginning November 24, with two-nights with breakfast and tickets to Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens Christmas Town priced from $379 for a family of four.
- Chatham is centrally located between Plimoth and Provincetown, so take advantage of the Holiday Family Escape at Chatham Bars Inn. The three-night package for a family of four includes daily breakfast and 10 percent off spa treatments.
If you can squeeze in a few more days, airfare and hotel deals abroad, where the holiday doesn't exist, can be a steal! We once traveled to London for Thanksgiving for less than $300 roundtrip, per person (our flights to grandma's would have be $340 per person!) and enjoyed exploring the city when it wasn't crowded with tourists but decorated for the upcoming Christmas season. A visit to our northern neighbor may come with snow to get the kids in the holiday spirit, with Quebec's French-architecture and language providing a decidedly international flair without having to fly across an ocean.