Though Thanksgiving is usually thought of as a cold-weather holiday, you don’t have to freeze this November! Perhaps you've already been considering spending Thanksgiving in the Florida sunshine. Many places throughout the southwestern United States are sunny well into this winter month, allowing you to celebrate gratitude with a cold drink in hand. We’ll explore 11 of the best places for a warm Thanksgiving vacation here to give you some great ideas for your getaway!
11 Best Thanksgiving Destinations In The Southwest
Santa Barbara enjoys a mild, coastal climate all year round, making it a perfect winter destination. Visit State Street, Santa Barbara’s quaint downtown area, for shopping and restaurants. There are many beautiful beaches to enjoy, including Butterfly Beach and Thousand Steps Beach.
Las Vegas is a hotbed of activity, both with and without kids. Explore the Strip, Las Vegas’ downtown area, to find world-class casinos, restaurants, and entertainment. Many casinos have arcades for younger visitors. For those who are seeking a quieter vacation, escape to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Only 15 minutes from downtown Las Vegas, this beautiful natural landscape has numerous opportunities for outdoor exploration.
Known as “The Best Run City in the World,” Scottsdale has something for every traveler. Visit the Civic Center Park in Old Town and relax at one of many coffee shops. Hikers will love the McDowell Mountains, which offer a break from the city. Scottsdale’s 300 days of sunshine per year practically guarantee that you’ll have a warm Thanksgiving.
With an average November temperature of 70 degrees, San Diego is the ideal California destination for winter travel. The San Diego Dixieland Jazz Society hosts a special event every Thanksgiving called the Dixieland Jazz Fest. If Jazz isn’t your thing, there are several “Turkey Trot” runs throughout San Diego, which are family friendly fun runs. Complete your San Diego vacation with a trip to Balboa Park!
Nicknamed “The Sunshine Capital of New Mexico,” Albuquerque boasts an average 278 days of sunshine per year. This multicultural city is full of museums and festivals celebrating its Spanish cultural heritage. Kick off the beginning of holiday season at Winterfest in the Civic Center, which features an ice skating rink, live performances, and local vendors! Want some more ideas for things to do here? Check out our 48-hour guide to the city!
6. Oahu, Hawaii
Take advantage of cheaper, off-season airfare and indulge in a Hawaiian Thanksgiving! Oahu, known for its world-class surfing on the North Shore, welcomes experienced surfers at the beginning of November. If you’re not comfortable on the big winter swells, you can still enjoy watching the professionals. The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing takes place from November to December, so you can pack a picnic and watch daredevils ride skyscraper-sized waves.
Though some parts of Utah are known for their snowy winters, Zion enjoys daytime temperatures above 60 degrees and little rainfall. Take a break from the crowds of tourists by visiting this spectacular National Park in the offseason. There are hikes for all skill levels here, but even the easiest hikes offer stunning views of the red rock formations. If you’re not interested in roughing it, don’t worry! Tripping.com has vacation rentals inside Zion. Work up an appetite for turkey with a long day of exploring this iconic National Park!
This mountain town features many opportunities for outdoor exploring during its mild, sunny Novembers. In addition to discovering its many National Monuments and Forests, visitors to Flagstaff can enjoy its festive holiday spirit. The Grand Canyon Railway is decorated to emulate the children’s book The Polar Express, and travelers can take a ride! Thanksgiving may be the perfect time to escape to the Grand Canyon and experience this breathtaking National Park without drones of tourists
Santa Fe is known for its vibrant array of festivals during fall and early winter. This artistic city is made even more pleasant by its warm and sunny November weather. Visit the Georgia O’ Keeffe museum, just not on Thanksgiving Day, for an insight into this infamous artists’ home and American Modernism as a genre. The day after Thanksgiving, go to the historic Santa Fe Plaza and witness the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony!
10. Big Bend, Texas
This region of Texas is home to the Rio Grande River. Remote and serene, Big Bend is a prime location for nature lovers to enjoy a quiet Thanksgiving. Big Bend is home to both a National and State Park, offering many opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, bird watching, and more. Several distinct communities make up Big Bend, each providing travelers with different restaurants and recreation.
Enjoy a relaxing Thanksgiving at this New Mexican spa town. Named after a game show, Truth or Consequences is known for its hot springs. There are several restaurants that offer an array of Thanksgiving dinners. Tripping.com offers dozens of vacation rentals, each with a unique southwestern charm. Your Thanksgiving vacation is sure to be filled with hot springs and hiking in this unique destination.
This article was written by Missy Fackler.