Alabama boasts a broad array of cities and towns ranging from the ultra-urban areas of Birmingham and Montgomery to rural towns like Moulton and Fairhope. No matter which city or village you book your Alabama vacation rental, you’re sure to come across the same Southern hospitality and relaxed pace of life. So kick back, relax with your family, and indulge in a few fun activities at these top Thanksgiving getaways.

1. Huntsville

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With all that turkey and pie eating you’re going to be doing, take advantage of Huntsville’s proximity to the Land Trust of North Alabama Monte Sano Nature Preserve, and do some hiking. The Land Trust offers free guided hikes a few days before Thanksgiving. You can also get some exercise closer to home with ice skating at Big Spring Park or the Annual Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning. Finally, usher in the Christmas season with a stroll down the Tinsel Trail to see the light displays and a stop with the kids at Santa’s Village.

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2. Gulf Shores

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Take your Thanksgiving at a slower pace by heading down to Gulf Shores for some sand and sun. Head over to Be Thankful at the Hangout for some Thanksgiving grub that you don’t have to cook, or hop the state border over to Florida for the Flora-Bama Annual Thanksgiving potluck. Just bring something to share. Give yourself a few days to digest before doing your turkey trot along the beach at the Orange Beach Sportsplex. If Black Friday shopping is your thing, stop at the Tanger Outlet Mall for some good deals.

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3. Montgomery

alabama state capitol
Source: Flickr/Jim Bowen

As the capital of Alabama and one of the biggest vacation destinations in the state, Montgomery has a lot to offer during the Thanksgiving holiday, such as Pop Up Art at Hampstead and Loving Vincent. Both focus on artists exhibitions and celebrating the artistic past. Speaking of history, go Trekking Through Past, a tour down historic Monroe Street. Then get a jump on the holidays with a performance of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” by the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and photos with Santa in his sleigh at the mall. Alabama’s a big football state, and Montgomery shows its love with the Annual Turkey Day Classic Parade and Football Game.

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4. Birmingham

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Birmingham was founded in 1871 and has plenty of historic sites to visit while in town, such as the Vulcan Park and Museum, featuring the Roman God of Fire and Forge, and the 16th Street Baptist Church, the center of a racist bombing in the 60s. After paying respects to those killed in the war for equality, walk the Civil Rights District. During the of Thanksgiving, take part in one of the running events. There’s the Thankful Run, Sam Lapidus Montclair Run, Magic City Half Marathon, and more. Finish your trip strong at the Christmas Village Festival Arts, Crafts, & Gifts Show, a taste of the holiday season to come.

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5. Fairhope

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Fairhope is all about festivals, and during Thanksgiving, it boasts a Wine Festival in the downtown area. Taste dozens of different wines, eat gourmet food, and enjoy live music. The Fairhope Tree Lighting Celebration also falls around this time, so you can join the locals in welcoming Christmas. The high school band performs, Mrs. Claus stops by with treats for the kids, and shopping abounds. If you want to get some Black Friday shopping in but want to avoid the rush of the big city, opt for Plaid Friday and Small Business Saturday, the perfect small town shopping experience.

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6. Mobile

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Once you get to Mobile, head right to the Fall Market on the Square where you can pick up seasonal vegetables for your dinner tables, fresh seafood, and local honey. Join in with the Lighting of the Trees in Bienville Square. It boasts a festival with a Merry Market, live music, and Santa’s magical appearance. Instead of running the turkey trot, watch the Lyons Park Turkey Day Tennis Classic. Before you pack up for home, take the kids on the Arctic Express, a train ride that also includes pony rides, bounce houses, and treats.

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7. Gadsden

coosa river
Source: Flickr/Preston Rhea

Become a part of Gadsden, even if it’s just for a few days, by volunteering to help with the Community Thanksgiving. Afterward, enjoy your own feast before preparing for the Black Friday shopping to come. Browse the Festival of Trees to get in the Christmas mood. The trees are donated, decorated by school children, and auctioned off for the benefit of charities. If you have kids, take the Imagination Place’s Let It Snow! exhibit where they can play in the white stuff regardless of the weather outside.

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8. Atmore

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Atmore is serious about Thanksgiving as seen in its Annual Thanksgiving Pow Wow at the Poarch Creek Indian Reservation. Learn about Native American life and culture, authentic dress, dance, and crafts. You can even join the tribe for a 5k turkey trot. Visit Wind Creek’s holiday lights and Christmas Village. The three acres has it all from Santa in Toyland to a nativity.

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9. Theodore

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Opt for a unique way to celebrate Thanksgiving with Theodore’s annual Cascading Chrysanthemums, the biggest display of mums in the country. The variety of colors from rust to rosy pink hang from baskets, border bridges, and turn the Bellingrath Gardens into a rainbow of hues. After Thanksgiving, Bellingrath transforms into a winter wonderland with lit Christmas scenes, custom-designed set pieces, and more than 3 million lights.

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