Thanksgiving is always one of the busiest travel times of the year. But not everybody is heading home to mom. Some folks go skiing, some head to Orlando or Vegas, others cram the streets of New York and Chicago to watch parades. And some far-flung families gather at a hotel instead of grandma's house.
Here in the Bay State, more than 70,000 people visit Plimoth Plantation each November to learn about life among Colonial settlers and the native Wampanoags . Here you'll find costumed interpreters plucking the feathers off real turkeys and chatting about a harvest celebration that took place in 1621.
Plimoth also hosts a variety of Thanksgiving celebrations, including a Victorian-style dinner where President Lincoln's 1885 proclamation declaring Thanksgiving to be a national holiday is read aloud. Other holiday meals at Plimoth include a walk-in courtyard buffet ($37.95 including admission to the historic site), a more formal buffet ($58.95), "1627 Dine With the Pilgrims" ($55.95), and an "Eat Like a Pilgrim" program ($38.95, eating with fingers encouraged). The Victorian dinner ($79.95) is sold out for Thanksgiving Day but seatings were added for the day after. The Sunday after Thanksgiving is the historic site's last day of the season.
With kids off from school and families getting together, Thanksgiving is naturally a busy time at Walt Disney World. The park
serves up more than 100,000 pounds of turkey during the month of November, from elaborate Thanksgiving meals at the park's sitdown restaurants to turkey drumsticks, a popular a la carte item on Disney menus year-round.
Among the more unusual Thanksgiving traditions at Walt Disney World Resort is a gathering of some 20 families at the park's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. For more than 30 years, they've been erecting a village of tepees there and cooking several dozen turkeys in big open pits.
In New York, the balloons and floats of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade attract thousands of spectators. If you'd rather avoid the crowded streets or the weather - which can range from balmy to freezing - you can watch the spectacle from inside the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle. The building has four floors of glass windows, and some of its stores will be open Thanksgiving Day if you want a head start on Christmas shopping. Chicago has its own Thanksgiving Day parade, with 300,000 people lining State Street to watch.
Denver shows up in top 10 lists for both Orbitz and Travelocity for Thanksgiving travel bookings, and skiing is undoubtedly part of the reason. Slopes scheduled to open Nov. 22 or earlier include Aspen Mountain, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Crested Butte, Snowmass, Telluride and Vail.
In Vegas, restaurants offering Thanksgiving meals include Top of the World at the Stratosphere; Spago at Caesars Palace; David Burke at the Venetian; the Eiffel Tower Restaurant at the Paris; and MIX at THEhotel at Mandalay Bay. Tony Bennett and Wayne Newton are both in town for shows, and the Bellagio Conservatory has a spectacular autumn-themed scene on display through Nov. 24, complete with a 35-foot-tall cider mill, babbling brook, a bed of pumpkins and 1,000 red and green apples. I
You can celebrate Thanksgiving with a horse and carriage ride at the landmark Biltmore estate in Asheville, N.C., which will already by decorated for Christmas by then. For meals, you have a choice of venues - Bistro or, if you're staying at the Inn on Biltmore Estate, you can have your turkey at Deerpark, Stable Cafe, or The Dining Room. Three-night packages at the Inn start at $1,760 for two.
In California, the annual San Diego Thanksgiving Dixieland Jazz Festival, featuring two dozen Dixie Land bands, takes place Nov. 21-25. And wine-lovers can spend Thanksgiving Day aboard the Napa Valley wine train, which offers lunch and dinner excursions; details at 800-427-4124.
Finally, if for some reason you'd prefer to celebrate this most American of holidays on the other side of the Atlantic, head to Italy. Francesca Bortolotto Possati, the owner of the Bauer Hotel in Venice, lived in America for many years and holds a traditional Thanksgiving meal at the hotel each year for guests and friends. Rates begin at $2,500 for a four-night stay. (AP)