Alyssa has been writing about exciting travel topics for Trips to Discover since 2013. After living the big city life in Chicago, Washington, DC, and Atlanta, Alyssa sold the bulk of her possessions and became a digital nomad, living full-time in her camper and working from wherever she could find an outlet and an internet connection for her laptop.
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For the Thanksgiving holiday, many people choose to stay home or travel to a familiar place to be with family. But if you’re looking for something different to do this upcoming Turkey Day, you might consider taking a little trip to join in the local festivities and explore a new place with those extra vacation days. Fortunately, there are some great places to do exactly that in Texas.
It’s fun to visit San Antonio at any time of the year to check out the city’s top attractions, including the Alamo, Riverwalk, missions, and amazing restaurants. You can also find lots of local restaurants that serve Thanksgiving-style meals in town. Then, after the big day, make sure to head to the Riverwalk to see the holiday lights. The Ford Holiday River Parade and Lighting Ceremony draw in thousands of spectators each year on the day after Thanksgiving in the evening. Other things to do on your weekend getaway here for Thanksgiving include checking out the lights at Christmas on the Ranch hosted by Don Strange Ranch just outside of San Antonio, visiting the San Antonio Museum of Art (perhaps on a free day), and catching a performance of “The Nutcracker” ballet.
Get into the Thanksgiving spirit in Corpus Christi by enjoying a homecooked meal that you don’t have to make or handle the cleanup! Some restaurants known to be great places to eat on Thanksgiving weekend include House of Rock in the downtown area, Ol’ Steakhouse Co. in Central Corpus Christi, and Black Sheep Bistro in the Mustang/Padre Islands area. Then, to work off your big meal, you can get outside and walk along Padre Island, which is the longest undeveloped barrier island in the world and one of the best vacation destinations on the Texas coast. The Texas State Aquarium, Art Museum of South Texas, and Selena Museum are also worth checking out while you’re here for a getaway.
For a German-themed Thanksgiving right here in Texas, plan your weekend getaway to Fredericksburg. Hill Country is beautifully colorful at this time of the year, and this picturesque wine region is perfect for getting away from your normal routines. There are numerous restaurants that typically stay open on Thanksgiving Day for you to enjoy a great meal, such as August E’s, David’s Old Fashion Pit BBQ, and Andy’s Steak & Seafood Grille. Right after Thanksgiving, the Christmas season kicks off in Fredericksburg, which is a big deal. This is an opportunity to start seeing holiday lights and get into the festive spirit.
Austin is a fun and quirky city that is a favorite destination among music lovers. To get into the Thanksgiving spirit while you’re in town, you can sign up to run for a good cause in the annual ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot. 100% of the event proceeds go to a local organization dedicated to ending homelessness in Austin. Operation Turkey is an opportunity to volunteer and distribute meals to people in need. For your own Thanksgiving meal, you can enjoy brunch or dinner at local restaurants like the Moonshine Grill and Hoover’s Cooking.
Many people think of Galveston as a beach destination for summer, but it’s also fun to do a getaway here over the long Thanksgiving weekend. You can find restaurants serving Thanksgiving food while you enjoy warmer weather than in many other parts of Texas. One popular spot for Thanksgiving is the historic Hotel Galvez & Spa. There are plenty of opportunities for family fun in Galveston over Thanksgiving when you visit the Historic Strand and Texas Seaport Museum. While some attractions are closed on Thanksgiving Day, they are open the rest of the weekend. It’s also fun to hop on a boat operated by a local guide company to take a tour of the area.
You can also have a chill and delicious Thanksgiving if you spend the holiday in the border town of Del Rio. Manuel’s Steakhouse and the Malinda Restaurant are a couple of local spots to check out. This is also a place to get outdoors and active on your Thanksgiving weekend by taking a hike or going kayaking. The Rio Grande and Canyon Rim Trail System is set among wide-open landscapes and runs along the river. There are also some nice trails to go mountain biking on and paddling opportunities at the Amistad National Recreation Area. Stop by the oldest winery in Texas, the Val Verde Winery, which has been in operation since 1883. Tours and tastings are offered here for your weekend getaway.
Foodies love visiting Dallas over Thanksgiving because of all the great dining opportunities here. III Forks, Table 13, and the Second Floor Regionally Inspired Kitchen are all delicious options to consider. The elaborate decorations and lights at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden and performances of A Christmas Carol by the Dallas Theater Center will get you in the mood for the holiday season. While you’re in Dallas, you can also watch a Dallas Cowboys football game either in person or at a local sports bar. There’s a home game played right here in Dallas each year as a Thanksgiving Day tradition. In neighboring Fort Worth, you can check out the Parade of Lights that is held just before Thanksgiving to get you into the holiday spirit.
For a non-traditional Thanksgiving and an outdoorsy getaway, consider spending your holiday at Big Bend National Park. This is a popular time to visit the park, so it’s a good idea to book your campsite well in advance. There are three developed campgrounds here and also backcountry camping that requires getting a permit. This West Texas Thanksgiving destination is also a great spot for day hikes, scenic drives, and wildlife spotting. If you only have a day to spend here, don’t miss the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive for epic views, the Castolon Historic District to learn about the area’s history, and a hike along the Lost Mine Trail or Window Trail.
The Sun Bowl Parade takes place in El Paso, Texas, and is a local Thanksgiving Day tradition. The parade begins in the morning and features marching bands and floats. There are usually around 100 units in the parade, which is also aired live on local television and streamed online. The parade’s history dates back to 1935. This year, given the current situation with the pandemic, the parade will be a virtual event. El Paso restaurants that are typically open on Thanksgiving Day include Cattleman’s Steakhouse and Lucky Café.
To spend time in the outdoors over Thanksgiving with lots of different recreation options, plan your Thanksgiving getaway to the Huntsville area. Plan to camp at Huntsville State Park to be among the pine trees and have 21 trails right where you’re staying. There’s a 210-acre lake here for fishing, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, and paddle boating. This park is just a short drive north of Houston. You can find some restaurants open here on Thanksgiving Day, or you can preorder Thanksgiving dinner and dessert from Farmhouse Cafe, which serves up homemade country cooking.
Thanksgiving is a beautiful time of the year in Port Aransas, which is a fun place to rent a beachfront condo for your holiday weekend getaway. There are numerous local restaurants that are typically open on Thanksgiving Day, including Trout Street, Virginia’s on the Bay, and Miss K’s. Come here for a small beach town experience and lots of fun bars to check out. Fishing, golfing, kite flying, and boating are all popular activities to do here on your long weekend.
Houston is an awesome place to plan a Thanksgiving getaway because there’s an annual parade here that kicks off downtown. This is a morning parade with floats, bands, and lots of spectacles to take in. Its history dates back to 1949, and it is a free event to attend. Some of the local restaurants in Houston that typically stay open on Thanksgiving Day are B&B Butchers & Restaurant, Brennan’s of Houston, and Steak 48. Other festive events that take place around the Thanksgiving holiday and/or open up that weekend are the Festival of Lights at Moody Gardens, Zoo Lights at the Houston Zoo, and the Ice at Discovery Green.
Marfa is an artsy small town in Texas that’s worth considering for your Thanksgiving getaway, too. El Cosmico hosts food and drink specials. But the reasons that many people visit here are to check out the fascinating art installations and look for otherworldly activity at the Marfa Lights. The Chinati Foundation is a famous art museum in town, and if you’re craving more art, there are lots of other galleries worth exploring for your holiday weekend shopping.
You can also visit the town of Tyler, Texas, over Thanksgiving and get a great meal. Local restaurants that are usually open on Thanksgiving Day are Sweet Sue’s, Circle M. Crawfish, and Loggins. This is a town that’s famous for its rose garden. Spend some time in nature at Tyler State Park, visit the Caldwell Zoo, and taste some delicious beverages at the Kiepersol Vineyards, Winery & Distillery while you’re here.
When you take a trip to Abilene, Texas, for Thanksgiving, you can enjoy a homecooked turkey dinner at Lucy’s, Golden Corral, or Cracker Barrel. There’s also Operation Thanksgiving to participate in and volunteer to deliver food for people who are homebound. The local Salvation Army and Church on the Rock typically serve meals as well and accept volunteers. Aside from meals, Abilene is a fun place to be to check out the local zoo, Frontier Texas, Fort Phantom Hill, and historical museums.