If you’re looking for an outdoorsy Thanksgiving weekend getaway for the whole family, look no further than Alaska. Book a vacation rental in Alaska based in a bustling city like Anchorage or Fairbanks to experience great dining, shopping, and entertainment—all while surrounded by the picturesque tundra of an Alaskan November. If you’re feeling even more adventurous, head out to a more remote spot like the Aleutian Islands, and truly get away from it all this Thanksgiving. Try out delicious local fare—including world-class seafood—and bring your winter sporting equipment to fully enjoy this breathtaking wintery state.

1. Watch the Game in Anchorage

Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage is located on the western shore of the state and offers plenty of activities both indoors and out. A beloved local tradition is the Great Alaska Shootout, a basketball tournament at the University of Alaska Anchorage that begins the week of Thanksgiving and draws crowds from all over the state. If basketball isn’t your style, enjoy the Christmas tree-lighting ceremony that usually takes place on the Friday of the Thanksgiving long weekend, or get a head start on your holiday shopping at Anchorage Museum’s Crafts Weekend, a public market for handmade goods.

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2. Ski at the Tordrillo Mountain Lodge

November in Alaska means the snow is already falling. Book a vacation rental at Tordrillo Mountain Lodge to take advantage of this winter wonderland. Tordrillo Mountain is known as a hot spot for heli-skiing. Sign up for a lesson, or book a schedule with an experienced guide or pilot to test the waters of this adrenaline-packed mountain sport. If you’re feeling a little more timid, enjoy great dining opportunities at the lodge, including a well-stocked breakfast buffet and gourmet soups, sandwiches, and entrees for lunch and dinner.

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3. Get Away from It All on the Aleutian Islands

bay with volcano in the background
Source: Flickr/Paxson Woelber

The remote Aleutian Islands, a string of volcanic islands that border the Arctic Circle, are accessible only by boat or helicopter. Take a day trip from your vacation rental in Anchorage to visit the Museum of the Aleutians and learn more about the history and native peoples of the islands. Try some traditional Thanksgiving fare like octopus burgers, and take in the majestic sights of these rocky, ice-covered Islands.

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4. Hit the Slopes at Alyeska Resort

tram station with snow-capped mountains in the background
Source: Flickr/Brian

Just outside of Juneau, Alyeska is a resort that offers excellent opportunities for skiing and snowshoeing, or warmth and relaxation over the Thanksgiving long weekend. With seven ski lifts and numerous runs at all levels of expertise, Alyeska is a perfect spot for beginners and experienced skiers alike. Take a walk down one of the well-marked winter trails in the area to experience the great outdoors at a slower pace. When you get hungry, head to the Pond Cafe for their annual Thanksgiving Buffet, featuring roasted turkey and all the classic fixings.

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5. Spot the Northern Lights in Fairbanks

aurora in the sky, with pine trees in snow below
Source: Flickr/Kodachron

For a truly unique Thanksgiving experience, bring the family to Fairbanks, Alaska’s second-largest city. Book a northern lights viewing trip from a local company like Salmonberry Tours for your best chance at spotting this incredible natural phenomenon. While staying in the city, sit down to a hearty Thanksgiving dinner at one of the many restaurants, like Big Daddy’s Barbecue or Lavelle’s Bistro. For man-made lights that are no less beautiful to behold, check out the Yuletide Lights Festival in Creamer’s Field over the long weekend.

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6. Enjoy the View in Homer

boats on dock
Source: Flickr/fritzcat

Head to Homer to enjoy a laid-back Thanksgiving long weekend, complete with gorgeous views of the waters of Kachemak Bay. Take a day to stroll down the Homer Spit, a beachside strip lined with art galleries, boutiques, and local restaurants. For a memorable Thanksgiving dinner, reserve a table at Lands End Resort, which hosts an annual Thanksgiving buffet full of high-quality home-style options. After dinner, go snowshoeing along a nearby trail to burn off some of that turkey.

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7. Take the Train to Talkeetna

train in winter
Source: Flickr/fritzcat

Just over 100 miles north of Anchorage, Talkeetna is a relatively small village with a big heart. Fly to Anchorage, and take the scenic route to your vacation rental—a train that runs through the snowy wilderness takes you right to the center of Talkeetna. Be sure to visit the Talkeetna Roadhouse during your Thanksgiving weekend. This kid-friendly location is designed to foster conversation and hosts fireworks and homemade meals for Thanksgiving as well as other holiday celebrations.

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8. Experience History in Seward

snowy mountainside
Source: Flickr/Geoff Alexander

One of the oldest cities in Alaska, Seward boasts historical architecture in town, as well as proximity to incredible natural formations, like glaciers. If the weather is nice enough on your Thanksgiving weekend, head to Kenai Fjords National Park to do some serious sightseeing. Boat tours from the local harbor take you up close and personal to a glacier, weather permitting. If it’s particularly chilly, Exit Glacier is visible from the roadway—you don’t even have to get out of the car.

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9. Go Shopping in Juneau

Find a vacation rental in Juneau for a family-friendly Thanksgiving holiday with access to all the modern amenities you desire. The city of Juneau hosts a public market on the Thanksgiving long weekend—spend a day browsing for souvenirs, or get a head start on Christmas shopping. During the long weekend, also be sure to stop by the Juneau Holiday Village, a monthlong celebration that encourages charitable donations, with access to holiday-themed exhibits, gifts, food, and music.

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