America's 10 Best Small Towns for Thanksgiving

This year, we're thankful for small towns with big holiday charm.

By Taysha Murtaugh, CountryLiving
If you can't be home for the holiday, consider giving thanks in one of these sweet little cities known for great food, stunning foliage, and lots of fun.

Laurel, MS

[post_ads]What better time to experience the small-town setting of HGTV's Home Town in real life than during the holiday season? Take a stroll downtown, on charming brick streets beneath string lights, stopping at storefronts, including show hosts Erin and Ben Napier's Laurel Mercantile, for Small Business Saturday (the Saturday after Thanksgiving each year). Stay at Wisteria Bed and Breakfast or Sweet Somethings Bed and Breakfast (the Napiers themselves renovated the bakery below), and make sure to check out the couple's favorite spots to eat and hang.

Cold Spring, NY

For the best of both worlds, catch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, then escape to a quiet town upstate. Cold Spring is a quaint, historic village on the Hudson River, just 50 miles from Manhattan. Book a room at the vine-covered Pig Hill Inn, the waterfront Hudson House Inn, or the impeccably designed Troutbeck Inn in nearby Amenia. Spend the weekend enveloped in the Hudson Valley's vivid fall foliage (hiking the Breakneck Ridge Loop is a local favorite), and shop for antiques on Main Street. The sculpture park Storm King Art Center, only a 30-minute drive away, is closed on Thanksgiving Day, but you can still see the exhibits (including our personal favorite, Maya Lin's Storm King Wavefield) any other time during the weekend.

Galena, IL

With its perfectly preserved 19th-century buildings, this Midwestern hamlet looks as if it's frozen in time. Fall brings an explosion of colors to the surrounding rolling hills and valleys, and starting around Thanksgiving, the area comes alive for the holidays. Take a bus tour, visit museums, and hit the slopes. But save enough time for some apr├Ęs-ski at Blaum Bros. Distilling Co.

Leavenworth, WA

Known for its iconic holiday celebrations, this West Coast town kicks off the festivities Thanksgiving weekend with Christkindlmarkt, a Bavarian-style Christmas Markt. There's a lantern parade, entertainment, crafts, and St. Nicholas. Stay in a super-cute cabin, lodge, or B&B, and eat Thanksgiving dinner at one of a few local restaurants that will be serving feasts. You can take a winery, brewery, or distillery tour and treat yourself to a trip to the spa while you're at it. So very thankful, indeed.


Gatlinburg, TN

Situated on the border of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this small Southern destination is a picturesque place to celebrate your favorite fall holiday. Hole up in a cozy log cabin, chalet, or historic bed and breakfast. Burn off that turkey and stuffing by hiking to waterfalls, horseback-riding through wooded trails, or taking the aerial tramway to Ober Gatlinburg for ice skating, skiing, or snow tubing.

York, ME

Don't miss the annual lighting of the famous Nubble Lighthouse on the Saturday after Thanksgiving—complete with cookies, Christmas music, carolers, and of course, Santa Claus. Stay at [link href="" target="_blank" 0="data-tracking-id="recirc-text-link"" link_updater_label="external"]Cliff House Maine; book any two nights between November 19 and November 29, 2017 and receive 20 percent off the best available rates, plus $100 resort credit toward either the Thanksgiving buffet or the holiday pix fixe dinner.

Mountain View, AR

[linkhref="" link_updater_label="external" target="_blank"]CNN just ranked a restaurant in this little Arkansas town in its list of the best places to eat Thanksgiving dinner in the country. At the Ozark Folk Center State Park, The Skillet serves up a bountiful buffet of Southern fare for just $17—drinks included. But that's not the only reason to travel to "The Folk Music Capital of the World," as the town is known. Bordered by the Blue Mountain Range of the Ozark Mountains (which is how it got its name), Mountain View boasts beautiful B&Bs, live folk music, and the incredible Blanchard Springs Caverns, where you can attend the annual "Caroling in the Caverns" starting Thanksgiving weekend. The cathedral-like acoustics of the cave results in the most heavenly holiday music.


Plimoth Plantation, Plymouth, MA

OK, so Plymouth, MA isn't really a small town, but we think Plimoth Plantation, a recreation of the original 17th Century colony, counts as such (and we couldn't very well leave out the most fitting Thanksgiving destination of all, could we?). For a historical holiday, walk around the English Village, the Plimoth Grist Mill, the Wampanoag Homesite, and more. There's even a reproduction of the Pilgrims' ship, called the Mayflower II.

Kiawah Island, SC

Located just 21 miles from downtown Charleston, the Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in Kiawah Island, SC, knows how to do Thanksgiving. Choose between multiple Thanksgiving buffet offerings throughout the property (including one just for kids!), and don't miss an [link href="" target="_blank" 0="data-tracking-id="recirc-text-link"" link_updater_label="external"]array of events (Pumpkin Hockey, painting in the park, bonfire and s'mores, and the Turkey Trot to name a few). There are also live entertainment and exciting outdoor adventures fit for the whole family. The day after Thanksgiving, Kiawah Island Real Estate hosts a Party in the Park for property owners, complete with low-country food stations, games, and a performance by Darius Rucker.


Estes Park, CO

If you're thankful for nature, why not spend Thanksgiving in the heart of Colorado's Rocky Mountains? Stay at the [link href="" target="_blank" 0="data-tracking-id="recirc-text-link"" link_updater_label="external"]Ridgeline Hotel, near both the Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park. Dine on the hotel's special Thanksgiving menu, and stretch your legs on a scenic hike. If hiking's not your thing, there's also fishing, rock climbing, biking, horseback-riding, aerial tramway tours, and more.


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Travel Magazine: America's 10 Best Small Towns for Thanksgiving
America's 10 Best Small Towns for Thanksgiving
This year, we're thankful for small towns with big holiday charm.
Travel Magazine
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