5 Best Family-Friendly Thanksgiving Weekend Getaways

5 Best Family-Friendly Thanksgiving Weekend Getaways
| 6 min read

Thanksgiving has always been the time to come together as a family and spend some time together. However, instead of having a traditional Thanksgiving and travelling home to meet up with your family, how about considering travelling to a fun location as a family? From theme parks to tranquil lakesides, there’s something on this list for anyone in the family. So hold onto your hats and read on to find out our 5 favourite locations for a Thanksgiving weekend getaway in the United States.

1. Austin, Texas: awesome family adventures

1.1. Feel like Tiger Woods at Peter Pan Mini-Golf

Zilker Peter Pan Mini-Golf
Source: Photo by Flickr user NabeWise used under CC BY 2.0

Mini golf is always a popular and fun family activity, because who doesn’t love a bit of friendly competition? Peter Pan Mini Golf has been an iconic Austin attraction since its opening in 1948 and is now such a popular location for families and friends to hang out and have fun. It consists of two 18-hole miniature golf courses and many fun and wacky statues are scattered around the area.

So if you wish to have a fun-filled time during Thanksgiving, you could head on down to Peter Pan Mini Golf. And if you’ve never played mini golf before, it’s a game that’s easy to pick up and everyone is sure to have a blast just smacking balls around and being surrounded by the fun statues.

Peter Pan Mini Golf

Address: 1207 Barton Springs Road, Austin, TX 78704

Price: from 7 USD (one course), 11 USD (both courses) *Prices are 2 USD less for children who are 5 years old and younger

Opening Hours: 9am - 12am (Monday to Thursday), 9am - 1am (Friday to Saturday), 9am - 11pm (Sunday)

Website: Peter Pan Mini Golf

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1.2. Chow down on some street food at The Midway Food Park

Isn’t it frustrating to have family members who are either picky eaters or who have a wildly different taste from you? A good solution to that problem is visiting one of Austin’s many food-truck parks. But we would recommend the Midway Food Park!

Encourage your family members to get different foods from the different food trucks, that way you can eat your way through the entire food park, and taste-test each other’s food of choice.

There’s even dessert at the food park! Treat yourself to one of these adorable, bite-size cheesecakes, it’ll be the perfect end to an already delicious meal. And as the adults rest at the dining area, the kids can run wild and free in the playground just beside the food park. Let them burn off some energy before heading back to your accommodation for some well-deserved rest.

The Midway Food Park

Address: 1905 S. Capital of Texas Hwy, Austin, Texas 78746

Price: Depends on the vendors

Opening Hours: 11am - 9pm (may vary depending on individual trailer’s hours)

Website: The Midway Food Park

For other fun, family-friendly activities in Austin, Texas, click here to read more!

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2. Chicago: family-friendly outdoor activities

2.1. Have a relaxing stroll through Millennium Park

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Owenusa used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Millennium Park is the heart of Chicago and is also a premier green space, with stunning landscapes, beautiful architecture, and plenty of public art. It’s the perfect place to hit up for some family-friendly activities to do.

Cloud Gate, also affectionately known as The Bean, is an iconic attraction within the park for both locals and tourists. It always reflects the beautiful Chicago skyline, so you can take an amazing picture. Or you could attempt to take a crazy reflected selfie. It’s a definite must-visit if you’re in Chicago!

Millennium Park

Address: 201 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60602, USA

Price: Depends on the event.

Opening Hours: 8am - 11pm. Hours might vary during public holidays.

Website: Millennium Park

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2.2. Prowl around the Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo -entrance-10May2005
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user chascarper used under CC BY 2.0

Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the United States and has aged like a fine wine. It has adapted well into the modern times and current houses 1200 animals from about 230 different species. There are plenty of different exhibits and it even has a children’s zoo that is sure to entertain the little ones.

Spending a day in the Lincoln Park Zoo makes for a fun family-bonding experience so anyone who visits Chicago should check it out. So consider coming up-close and personal with the zoo animals. And to top it all off, admission to the zoo is free so you can spend all the time you want over a number of days just exploring the different areas of the zoo.

Lincoln Park Zoo

Address: D2001 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60614

Price: Entry is free-of-charge.

Opening Hours: 10am - 4.30pm

Website: Lincoln Park Zoo

For more awesome activities to do as a family in Chicago, click here to read more!

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3. New York City: loud and brash family fun

3.1. Be in awe of the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade

2010 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Source: Photo by user Angela Zhao used under CC BY-SA 2.0

2016 marks the 90th Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and it’s an annual parade that happens during Thanksgiving, and is also televised to the entire nation. However, instead of huddling around the TV and being envious of people on site, head on down to Manhattan to have a first person’s view of the entire parade.

It’s a large-scale event with plenty of performers, from clowns to celebrities, making it a vibrant and energetic event. And the signature of the event are the floats and the humongous character balloons, the balloon lineup for this year features iconic characters like Hello Kitty and Pikachu, which would definitely keep the kids entertained.

So if you’re in town, wake up at the crack of dawn, keep yourself caffeinated and find the ideal spot to watch the parade without any interference!

Macy's Thanksgiving Parade

Address: 77th Street & Central Park West (start), 34th Street and Seventh Avenue (end).

Price: Free-of-charge

Opening Hours: 24th November 2016, 9am - 12pm.

Website: Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade

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3.2. Experience TV like never before at the NBC Studio Tour

NBC Studios Rockefeller Center
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Steven Lek used under CC BY-SA 4.0

For families who enjoy watching TV together, the NBC Studio Tour is perfect because you’ll have a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the nation’s most popular TV shows. The tour runs for 70 minutes and you’ll learn about the TV production process from the writing of scripts to the actual production of the show. The tour also takes you to some of the studios of familiar and popular shows like The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Saturday Night Live. It’s definitely a tour that’s not to be missed as it’s both entertaining and educational!

The Tour at NBC Studios

Address: 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112, USA

Price: 33 USD (Adults), 29 USD (Seniors, 55 years of age and children, from ages 6-12)

Opening Hours: 8.30am - 2pm (Monday to Friday), 8.30am - 5pm (Saturday and Sunday)

Website: The Tour at NBC Studios

Interested in other activities in New York City? Click here to find out more!

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4. Orlando, Florida: theme parks for the entire family

4.1. Dreams do come true at the Magic Kingdom Park

Mickey Mouse & Minnie Mouse topiary at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, USA
Source: Photo by Flickr user traveljunction used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Orlando is where dreams come true, so definitely head down to The Magic Kingdom Park within Walt Disney World! Disney is a common household name and the movies seem to be a family favourite so treat you and your family to a wonderful time in the magical kingdom. There are plenty of attractions and an overwhelming number of thrilling rides like the Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain.

Also, as you’re exploring every nook and cranny of this beautiful place, look out for the life-sized Disney characters making their way around the park, and try to snag a photo with them for some wonderful memories. There’s plenty to do for everyone in the entire family, so give in and be transported to your own personal fairy tale.

Magic Kingdom Park

Address: 1180 Seven Seas Dr, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830, USA

Price: from 97 USD

Opening Hours: 9am - 11pm

Website: Magic Kingdom Park

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4.2. Have a ride to the movies at Universal Studios Florida

Universal Studios, Orlando (440759)
Source: Photo by Flickr user Robert Linsdell used under CC BY 2.0

Another must-visit and iconic theme park is Universal Studios, and it aims to give guests a “ride to the movies” with its focus being on the movie and television industry. As a family, you can reminisce and watch your childhood television shows come to life, and also have a behind-the-scenes look of your favourite movies.

The dining, shopping and rides all have something in common, which is that they’re all either themed by TV or movies, so drag your family along and see if you can spot your favourite TV show or movie. You can visit Springfield and experience the family-friendly Simpsons ride and grab a bite at the Krusty Burger.

Or head to Diagon Alley and visit some of the famous shops such as Ollivanders wand shop, before hopping onto The Hogwarts Express to visit Hogsmeade to have some butterbeer. Anyone who visits Universal Studios will be highly entertained and leave wanting to come back again!

Universal Studios Florida

Address: Universal Orlando Resort, 6000 Universal Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819, USA

Price: Single Park Admission - 105 USD (Adults), 100 USD (Children), Park-to-Park Admission - 155 USD (Adults), 150 USD (Children)

Opening Hours: Generally opens at 9am, but closing times differ from day-to-day.

Website: Universal Studios Florida

Want to do something else besides visiting the various theme parks in Orlando, Florida? Find out what else you can do here!

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5. Lake Tahoe, California: Quiet and tranquil family time

When you head down to Lake Tahoe during Thanksgiving, it’ll be wintertime and the area goes quiet and snow covers the surfaces. However, the California sun still shines bright, making Lake Tahoe an ideal place to spend Thanksgiving. Ski or snowboard down the mountain’s famous slopes which are known for the smooth slopes and picturesque views. Have a race with your family members or laugh when they trip, but be sure to help them up! And if you have pets, Lake Tahoe is a spectacular pet-friendly vacation spot, so you can bring all of your family with you. Many Tahoe residents have dogs and they treat them just like their children, so you can bond with the residents. Plenty of dog-friendly beaches, eateries and accommodations litter the expanse of Lake Tahoe so you and your four-legged children can have an amazing time exploring the area together! Read more about Lake Tahoe here!

Take a trip this Thanksgiving!

These locations are most likely not new to everyone, but oldies can be goodies! Travelling as a family for a Thansgiving weekend getaway can be rewarding and most importantly, extremely fun! So instead of sitting in and having a traditional Thanksgiving at home, consider packing your bags and travelling to one of the fabulous locations mentioned above. Who knows, you might develop a new Thanksgiving travelling tradition?

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Eunice, an introvert who finds solace in the pages of a book while snug in her bed, transforms into an eager adventurer at the mere mention of travel. Despite her usual penchant for solitude, the...Read more

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