Top 10 Thanksgiving Celebrations Slideshow
November 16, 2011
New York City
The Big Apple hosts America's best-known and most anticipated Thanksgiving celebration — the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Combined with iconic window-shopping down Fifth Avenue and ice skating at Rockefeller Center, New York is inarguably one of the most festive cities in the country this time of year. Take in the scent of fresh roasted nuts from ever-present street carts, but resist temptation and opt for delicate sweets from Minamoto instead.
Chicago's McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade has been marching down State Street since 1934, giving New York a run for its money. Chicagoans also love local traditions like carol singers at Cloud Gate and the Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza. As the sun goes down, watch the tree-lighting ceremony while munching on Garrett’s caramel crisp popcorn.
The Houston Turkey Trot, which benefits the Sheltering Arms family center, has become a hugely popular Thanksgiving Day event. And the HEB Thanksgiving Day Parade, which draws 400,000 people together to watch floats and dancers go by, isn't far behind. Stop by the Four Seasons Hotel for a classic Thanksgiving feast with the family.
Boston kick-starts the season with a bit of history, classical music, tree lighting, and ice-skating. Spend the night after Thanksgiving with the Boston Pops, then follow the Freedom Trail, go for a spin on the Frog Pond's ice-skating rink, and watch the tree go up in the Boston Commons. Make your way to the North End to decide for yourself if Mike's Pastry or Modern Pastry has the best cannoli in town.
Detroit boasts two long-running Thanksgiving traditions: the annual America's Thanksgiving Parade, which has been held since 1924, and the 72nd annual Thanksgiving Day Detroit Lions' game, which this year will be played against the Green Bay Packers. Bundle up for the game and enjoy one of their many new hot dog creations like "The Heater" or the "Frito Pie Dog."
Charlotte's Thanksgiving Parade, which has been held since 1947, sees the Carrousel Queen, local marching bands, and fantastic floats roll down Tryon Street. Then, the Ballantyne Hotel's Gallery Restaurant hosts holiday-themed cooking schools, like the Gingerbread and Holiday Treats classes, just in time for the next big feast.
Philadelphia is home to the 6abc Dunkin' Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade, which has been filled with floats and marching bands since 1920. (That's before the Macy's Parade started!) Sit on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art for a great vantage point and go for an all-American slice of pie à la mode at the Franklin Fountain afterward.
Milwaukee's Thanksgiving and holiday traditions are family-friendly, from the Lighting of the Whale to taking a stroll down Wisconsin Avenue to look at the Holiday Lights Festival. The best way to see all the best holiday lights at once is aboard the Jingle Bus, with hot cocoa and cookies in hand.
America's hometown is, not surprisingly, one of the greatest places to celebrate Thanksgiving. While the town's annual parade is held the weekend prior, places like Plimoth Plantation are filled with kid-friendly fun and history. Find your seat at their Harvest Dinner with the Pilgrims, or at one of their traditional Thanksgiving meals held on-site.
Some say that fall is the best time to visit San Francisco, when the weather is crisp and colors are bright. They kick off the holiday season with an annual Turkey Trot at the park, hit the Great Dickens Christmas Fair, and stop by Ghirardelli Square for the tree-lighting ceremony. Then, there's a Thanksgiving Day Block Party where people get together to prepare and deliver warm meals to families in need.