With its soaring mountains, dramatic canyons, and towering cactus, Arizona is a prime vacation destination for anyone interested in outdoor activities. There’s always plenty to do in this diverse state, and Thanksgiving weekend is no exception. If you’re looking for Arizona vacation rentals close to fun holiday events, here are nine of the most appealing Thanksgiving getaways in the state.

1. Sedona

mountains
Flickr/sk

This town is famous for its towering red rocks and quirky character, which makes it a unique place to spend Thanksgiving. The day starts out with a popular 5K turkey trot through town. If you bought a turkey to cook in your vacation rental’s kitchen, you can compete in the Iron Turkey Challenge, which requires you to complete the race while carrying your Thanksgiving turkey. Later in the weekend, consider a trip to the former ghost town of Jerome, which has an annual Christmas lighting event. Get there early to ensure you have plenty of time to stroll through the many galleries and historical sites.

2. Flagstaff

flagstaff
Flickr/Martin Ely

If you’re in the mood for Christmas, Flagstaff is one of the best vacation destinations you can choose. The Grand Canyon Railway, which is located about 30 minutes outside of town, puts on a nightly Polar Express train ride during the season. Employees dress up as helpful elves and other characters, and the train even makes a stop at the North Pole, where Santa boards and hands out gifts. Flagstaff is also close to the Grand Canyon, which is a spectacular sight at any time of year. Just be sure to pack plenty of warm clothes, as temperatures can be low in late November.

3. Fountain Hills

fountain hills
Flickr/Brent Schmidt

This Phoenix suburb boasts the only Thanksgiving Day parade in the entire state. It is held in the morning, so there’s still plenty of time to make it to your Thanksgiving dinner. Each year there is a different theme, and the elaborate floats are interspersed with horses, dancers, classic cars, and more. Fountain Hills is also close to the Phoenix Zoo, which begins its Zoo Lights holiday light show during Thanksgiving weekend.

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4. Tucson

Reid Park Zoo

If you’re a cyclist, Tucson is the place to be on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. This is when the annual El Tour de Tucson event is held. It attracts more than 9,000 amateur and professional riders and offers rides ranging from 40 to 104 miles. That weekend is also when the annual Holiday Artisan Market, a free event hosted by the Tucson Museum of Art, is held. Reid Park Zoo typically has family-friendly holiday events on Thanksgiving weekend, including holiday lights and educational events.

5. Mesa

mesa grande
Flickr/fritzcat

This vibrant little suburb is known for its strong art culture and plentiful restaurants, so it’s a great place to stay if you don’t want to cook your own Thanksgiving dinner. Pick up a deep-fried turkey at Baby Kay’s Cajun Kitchen and bring it back to your vacation rental, or enjoy a meat-free version of the classic holiday meal at Green New American Vegetarian. On Friday, head over to Main Street for the start of Mesa’s Merry Main Street event. Vendors, food, and entertainers fill the street, and you can watch the tree-lighting ceremony or be one of the first to skate on the Winter Wonderland Ice Rink.

6. Winslow

route 66
Flickr/Rodrigo Paredes

This charming town was made famous by the Eagles, but there’s a lot more than just the Standing On the Corner Park to see around here. The Saturday before Thanksgiving is the annual Christmas Parade, which draws in visitors from all over northern Arizona. In addition to the parade itself, there are plenty of local artists and food vendors with booths set up. The Festival of Trees also typically begins on Thanksgiving weekend, so you can stroll along the old-fashioned buildings of downtown Winslow and admire the elaborately decorated trees and wreaths.

7. Kingman

commercial district
Flickr/Ken Lund

If Flagstaff in November is a little too cold for you, but you still want to celebrate your family Thanksgiving near the mountains, consider staying in Kingman. This friendly town tends to have daytime temperatures in the mid-60s around Thanksgiving, but it’s close to the Hualapai Mountains and Grand Canyon West if you want to get out of the city. One of the main events on Thanksgiving Day is the annual 5K Turkey Trot, which welcomes runners and walkers of all ages. After the race, stick around for refreshments, prize drawings, and other fun events.

8. Page

antelope canyon
Flickr/PiConsti

This small town is the gateway to Lake Powell and is one of the closest towns to some of the most famous natural landmarks in America, including Antelope Canyon, Rainbow Bridge, and Horseshoe Bend. Thanksgiving is a fantastic time to visit, as the temperatures are still relatively mild but the crowds tend to be small. Many restaurants in town remain open on Thanksgiving as well, including the popular Dam Bar and Grille.

9. Bisbee

historic homes
Flickr/johnwatsonphotography

With its mild weather and historic charm, Bisbee is a great place to spend a comfortable, old-fashioned Thanksgiving. The most popular event in town is the Historic Home Tour, which is held the day after Thanksgiving and lets visitors see inside multiple homes dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. There’s also an annual silent art chair auction, followed by the Festival of Lights holiday lighting celebration downtown. The Saturday after Thanksgiving features the Holiday Art Walk, where local artisans and vendors show off their wares along Main Street.

 
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