While the Jersey Shore is a popular vacation destination for summer travelers and spring breakers, you may not be quick to consider the Garden State among the possible locations for your Thanksgiving getaway. Think again. Cities and towns throughout the state celebrate Turkey Day with fun, festive events. Consider one of these nine locations for a New Jersey vacation rental and Thanksgiving getaway.
1. Red Bank, New Jersey
If you want to cook your own Thanksgiving dinner at your vacation rental, plan to arrive in Red Bank the weekend before the holiday. Hit the Galleria Red Bank Farmers Market on Sunday to stock up on the freshest locally grown produce, and start your Christmas shopping early when you browse the crafts available from a number of vendors. The day after Thanksgiving, Santa arrives at the Red Bank train station to kick off the parade. When the parade reaches Broad Street, stick around for the Holiday Express Concert and watch the town’s holiday decorations light the streets.
2. Farmingdale, New Jersey
Located in Farmingdale, New Jersey, The Historic Village at Allaire gives you a glimpse into what life was like in the 1800s in this iron-producing town. The village features a bakery, general store, blacksmith shop, and more, and admission is free. Show up for the Early 19th Century Thanksgiving the weekend before the holiday, when reenactors show you what Thanksgiving was like two centuries ago, and visitors are invited to a special program at the village’s charming chapel. For a delicious Turkey Day dinner, take the family to Harvest Restaurant. For dessert, skip the pumpkin pie; try the restaurant’s Harvest Napoleon, stacked apple slices layered with cinnamon, pecans, and mascarpone cheese and drizzled with honey.
3. Cape May, New Jersey
Cape May isn’t just for the summer months. This quaint and historic seaside community also knows how to do Thanksgiving the right way. Congress Hall offers two tempting options to fill your belly. Have a three-course dinner with turkey and all the sides as you sit by the fire in the Blue Pig Tavern, or head over to the Grand Ballroom for a buffet-style meal. The day after Thanksgiving, start your Christmas shopping at Cape May’s Holiday Crafts Fair at the Convention Hall. Take the kids to the Carol House Gallery to see the Old-Fashioned Christmas Exhibit, which features old toys, model trains, and other popular holiday items from years past.
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4. Mullica Hill, New Jersey
Get everything you need to serve up a delectable Thanksgiving dinner when you visit the Amish Farmers Market in Mullica Hill on Thursday, Friday or Saturday. Be sure to stick around after the holiday for Lights on Main, when the town’s Christmas tree illuminates Old Town Hall for the first time this year. Food vendors line the streets, Santa Claus poses for pictures with the kids, and even pets are welcome. Take a carriage ride, or browse in some of the shops that stay open late for the event.
5. Sea Isle City, New Jersey
Celebrate your Thanksgiving by the beach with a getaway to Sea Isle City. The city’s Holiday Extravaganza falls over the two days after Thanksgiving, starting with a festive parade and also featuring a tree-lighting ceremony, caroling, ice skating, and visits with Santa for the kids in Excursion Park. Run, or walk, off those extra Thanksgiving pounds when you participate in the city’s Holiday Dash. The 1-mile event, hosted by the Cape May County Chiefs of Police, benefits the area’s toy and food drive, so bring along an item to donate.
6. West Orange, New Jersey
Delight the kids with a trip to the Turtle Back Zoo for the Holiday Lights Spectacular. Prepare to be dazzled as you roam the zoo and take in the animal- and winter-themed light displays. The event, which begins the weekend before Thanksgiving and is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, offers free admission for all, but consider bringing a new toy or non-perishable food item to donate. For a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, try The Manor or Essex Grand Buffet.
7. Princeton, New Jersey
Book a vacation rental in this upscale college town to soak in the charm of the community. You can’t go wrong with a traditional turkey dinner at Seasons 52. Enjoy your meal with a glass of wine or signature cocktail. On Friday evening, head downtown for the tree-lighting ceremony. See the town’s 65-foot tree illuminated with more than 32,000 lights, listen to the high school choir sing, and let the kids visit Santa. A special reading of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” makes the enchanted evening feel complete.
8. Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey
Make Storybook Land a part of your family’s Thanksgiving tradition. This 20-acre amusement park opened in 1955, offering a magical experience for kids and adults alike. Beginning in mid-November, the park gets dressed up for the holiday season, donning more than one million twinkling lights. Visit Santa’s house, ride a roller coaster, or grab some delicious snacks. For Thanksgiving dinner, try the buffet at Legacy Restaurant.
9. Stockton, New Jersey
Whether you’re a lover of all things art or you’re just looking to pick up some unique holiday gifts, stay in Stockton. Along with fellow Hunterdon County towns Sergeantsville and Lambertville, Stockton hosts the Covered Bridge Artisans Annual Studio. Embark on a self-guided tour through six studios while you meet the artists and peruse their work. From blown glass to hand-woven baskets, this tour that takes place Thanksgiving weekend has something for everyone.
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