The state of Georgia is known for its Southern hospitality and charm year-round, but the state comes alive and welcomes visitors especially during the holiday season. While there are many Georgia vacation rentals, some stand out for those looking for activities at Thanksgiving. Whether you want to hike in the mountains near the Appalachian Trail or hit the sandy beaches on the Atlantic Ocean, there are plenty of locations to choose from for a winter getaway for both individuals and families.

1. Burn off Some Calories at the Thanksgiving Day Marathon in Atlanta

As the capital of Georgia and the most populated city in the state, Atlanta offers a wealth of activities for travelers during the holidays. There are also plenty of vacation rentals throughout the city to choose from. If you enjoy running, sign up for the Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield. The event starts and ends at the Georgia State Stadium and winds its way through the downtown streets with beautiful views of the skyscrapers, and it attracts thousands of runners and walkers each year. All participants receive some swag to commemorate the run.

2. Strut Your Stuff at the Annual Turkey Trot in Savannah

Savannah is one of Georgia’s most historic cities with mild temperatures year-round. Places like Forsyth Park with its oak trees draped in Spanish moss and towering landmarks like Saint John’s Cathedral located near the Atlantic Coast make it the perfect place for a winter getaway. For Thanksgiving, sign up for the annual Turkey Trot that provides much-needed donations for the United Way. This four-mile walk/run event takes place in Daffin Park, which is close to eateries, like The Olde Pink House, which serve Thanksgiving dinner.

3. Attend the Blessing of the Hounds in Augusta

Hunters can kick off the season with the annual Blessing of the Hounds on Thanksgiving morning in Hitchcock Woods in Augusta. This long-standing tradition is the opening ceremony of the Aikens Hounds Opening Meet where mounted riders follow the pack. After the event, join locals and other guests in a covered dish community Thanksgiving dinner in downtown. Admission is free. Dine at tables that sit more than 100 at a time and enjoy the sense of community. After the meal, leftovers are donated to local shelters. Enjoy a stroll through downtown to see some of the magnificent Southern architecture or enjoy a leisurely hike along the Savannah River at the Augusta Riverwalk.

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4. Enjoy Family Time at Stone Mountain

Located approximately 20 miles Northeast of Atlanta, Stone Mountain is the perfect family-friendly place to spend Thanksgiving Break. Host to one of the Atlanta area holiday events, Stone Mountain displays more than two million twinkle lights, offers live events and performances, and you can enjoy dinner at the Stone Mountain Inn before heading out on Snow Mountain for inner tubing. The festivities continue the day after with the annual Christmas Parade and the fireworks and laser show once the sun goes down.

5. Dine on the Water at the King and Prince Thanksgiving Feast in St. Simon’s

Spend your Thanksgiving at the beach and enjoy the warm seasonal temperatures of St. Simon’s Island. The King and Prince Gold Club serves up some infamous menu items that include a crab cake station, a shrimp station, and there is even a waffle bar with French toast and all the trimmings. For those who prefer the traditional trimmings, there is smoked turkey, vegetables, and stuffing. Afterwards, celebrate the day with a slice of pumpkin pie. Work off your meal with a day on the golf course, or take a walk on the beach and collect some shells. Go for a drive at night and enjoy Christmas lights from the causeway.

6. Enjoy a Feast in Dahlonega

If washing dishes just isn’t your thing, plan a visit to Forest Hills in Dahlonega for a Thanksgiving Day Feast. The resort offers meals to both guests and the community, and they offer all of the traditional Thanksgiving menu items buffet style. Afterwards, go horseback riding along the trails, or go for a hike to see the falls at the Amicalola State Park less than four miles away.

7. Meet Santa at the Light Up Blue Ridge Event

What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving and the holiday season than with a Santa Clause parade. Nestled in the mountains of North Georgia, Blue Ridge brings Santa in by train at the Light up Blue Ridge event. Let the kids meet Santa and take pictures, then stop by the Great Tree in downtown for carols at night. Blue Ridge offers a wealth of small shops to help you get a jump on your Christmas shopping. There’s also the Chocolate Express or Three Sister’s Fudge where you can purchase all types of confections to take back to your vacation rental. For Thanksgiving dinner, sit with the locals at the annual Community Thanksgiving open table at Fannin County High School.

8. Cheer on Your Favorite SEC Team in Athens Thanksgiving Weekend

SEC fans know that Thanksgiving Day weekend is the famed match-up day for Georgia Tech and the Georgia Bulldogs. Dawgs and Jackets from surrounding states head to Athens or Atlanta to cheer on their favorite team. Start your game day celebrations early with a free Thanksgiving Meal at Five Bar or opt to make reservations at the Foundry. Stop by the Lyndon House Arts Center for the annual Deck the Halls art sale that supports local artists.

9. Shop for Deals at the Mall of Georgia in Buford

The Mall of Georgia in Buford is the largest mall in the state. With close to two million square feet of retail space, the mall comes alive on early for Black Friday deals. Many of the shops open late in the afternoon on Thanksgiving Day. Check the papers for popular stores like Macy, JC Penney, and Belk, who have some of the lowest prices of the year. Stop by one of the food court shops like Buffalo Wild Wings or P.F. Chang’s for a quick meal, and then take in a movie at the theater before heading back to your vacation rental with your deals. The mall is also a short drive to Lake Lanier Island, which offers a spectacular display of Christmas lights.

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