5 Destinations Celebrating the History of Thanksgiving (Slideshow)

Take your family back in time to experience the true heritage of Thanksgiving and the origins of its iconic foods

Historic Thanksgiving in Plymouth, Mass.

The Destination: Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Mass. A 100-acre living history museum with costumed interpreters performing the activities of the English settlers and the Wampanoag tribe. Plimoth Plantation doesn’t offer overnight accommodations, so consider the family-friendly Pilgrim Sands nearby.

Unique Activities: The property features a 17th-century settlement where the Pilgrims chat with visitors and render demonstrations and food samples as they perform daily activities inside timber framed houses. Wampanoag tribe members provide historic and present-day accounts of their people and culture. Artisans construct historically accurate cookware, clothing, and building materials in the Craft Center.

Thanksgiving Dinner: The American Thanksgiving Dinner, served by staff in period attire, is a modern-day translation of original the feast, including roast native turkey with giblet gravy, wood-pressed apple cider, pumpkin pie, and Indian pudding.   

Native American Thanksgiving

The Destination: Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort, Chandler, Ariz.  A luxury resort on the ancient tribal lands of the Gila River Indian Community. Pima and Maricopa tribal culture pervades throughout the resort, in its design, architecture, activities, and cuisine.

Unique Activities:  Wander the 2.5-mile Interpretive Trail through the Sonoran Desert to view native wildlife, including 1,500 protected wild horses. The ancient indigenous foliage is cultivated into recipes for the resort’s restaurants and as ingredients for the spa’s organic treatment line. In the evening, Phoenix Planetarium scientists and Native Americans combine science with legend during telescopic tours of the night sky, and Native Americans tell stories and sing songs. Aji Spa boasts the only Native American spa treatment menu in existence, with homemade products. Award-winning restaurant Kai serves modern translations of tribal Indian dishes, like grilled tenderloin of tribal buffalo.

Thanksgiving Dinner: The Thanksgiving Harvest Feast at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, world-renowned for American Indian arts and culture, includes traditional Native American dishes like bison roast and posole, prepared with indigenous ingredients. 

18th Century Thanksgiving

The Destination: Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum, Wethersfield, Conn.  This town has more than 300 historic homes, many dating to before the Revolutionary War. There is no lodging on the property; many families opt for the nearby Sheraton Hartford South.

Unique Activities: Historians lead lively tours through the museum’s four magnificently restored, authentically furnished 18th-century homes, sharing captivating stories and performing reenactments of Thanksgiving rituals in the 18th and 19th century.

Thanksgiving Dinner: Stories of a molasses shortage that delayed Thanksgiving are but one tidbit of tasty table talk at the 18th-century Thanksgiving dinner here (served on Nov. 17), which also includes fascinating facts about the foods, recipes, and table manners of the day. Waitstaff and food historians dressed in colonial attire serve holiday dishes like venison pie, roasted goose and turkey, puddings, pottages and Puritan desserts. Dinner is followed by Colonial music and guided tours of the property. 

Foods and Feasts of Jamestown

The Destination: Jamestown Settlement. In 1607, Jamestown Settlement was established as America’s first permanent English colony. Today it is a living history replicating daily life in the colony, in the midst of Virginia’s Powhatan chiefdom.

Unique Activities:  Food and Feasts, a three-day interactive event beginning Thanksgiving Day, demonstrates how food was gathered on land and sea, then preserved and prepared by the English colonists and Powhatan Indians. In the Powhatan Indian Village, venison and turkey roast over an open fire, while side dishes of corn, beans, and squash cook in clay pots. In the fort, costumed interpreters bake bread, demonstrate open-hearth cooking of puddings and pies, and process a pig into bacon and ham. Craftsmen demonstrate making utensils. Nearby at Yorktown Victory Center are demonstrations of the Continental Army’s daily meal rations, homemade remedies for indigestion, and heirloom vegetation and meat procured by farmers and prepared on the 1780s farm. 

Thanksgiving Dinner:  King's Arms Tavern, a recreation of Mrs. Vobe’s (18th-century) Tavern, has waitstaff dressed in colonial garb, serving original recipes like game pie with venison, rabbit, duck, and bacon Lardoons.

An Adobe Thanksgiving

The Destination: Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort, Bernalillo, N.M. An adobe-style deluxe resort on the Pueblo of Santa Ana in Rio Grande Valley. Owned by the residents of the pueblo, Tamaya’s décor, food, and entertainment reflect the culture of the Tamayame people.   

Unique Activities: Tamaya’s Pueblo-Style Thanksgiving immerses guests into the historic and present-day culture of the native Indians, who have lived on the Pueblo for 800 years. Tamayame teach guests tribal music, dancing, baking Pueblo Oven Bread in the outdoor Huruna (ovens), adobe brickmaking, Pueblo pottery and other art classes, and guide horseback rides through their ancient lands.   

Thanksgiving Dinner: Tamaya’s traditional American Thanksgiving buffet, featured throughout the day and hosted in the resort’s Corn Maiden restaurant, includes Native American breads, local antelope stew, and modern translations of indigenous dishes.