From enjoying days on the beach soaking up the sun to experiencing fine dining, gorgeous holiday displays, and the best of urban nightlife, there’s a variety of exciting ways to spend your Thanksgiving vacation, especially in California. When it comes to accommodations, you can stay in small towns with beautiful Victorian architecture, secluded areas with great skiing and hiking opportunities, or cities right on the beach. Take a look at the most unforgettable areas to book a vacation rental in California for a spectacular Thanksgiving weekend.
1. Yosemite Valley
Enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday amidst the splendor of the mountains with a getaway in Yosemite Valley. For a feast equal to the majestic beauty of the area, make reservations for Thanksgiving dinner at The Majestic Yosemite Hotel, with table-side service plus a scrumptious dessert buffet, or opt for more casual fare with the Thanksgiving buffet at Big Trees Lodge. On Friday, head to Half Dome Village Ice Rink for family skating followed by relaxing around the rink’s fire pit. Aim to be there at around sunset for gorgeous views of the sun sinking behind the mountaintops. Spend the rest of the weekend enjoying all your favorite outdoor activities including skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing or hiking.
2. Napa Valley
Wine lovers are sure to enjoy a Thanksgiving getaway in Napa Valley. Make reservations for a Thanksgiving excursion on the Napa Valley Wine Train to experience the wonderful scenery of the wine-growing region plus enjoy a delectable lunch or dinner in the train’s luxurious Vista Dome cars. If you prefer a stationary meal, the Meadowood offers romantic Thanksgiving meals for couples in their Vintners Room, complete with a bottle of Napa Valley sparkling wine, and La Toque offers a four-course dinner with wine pairings for every course. Be sure to take a wine tour while in the region. Castello di Amorosa offers tours of their authentic Tuscan castle setting plus tastings everyday including Thanksgiving and plenty of holiday sales in their shop over Thanksgiving weekend.
3. Mammoth Lakes
If you’re looking for a true getaway, consider a Thanksgiving vacation in Mammoth Lakes. This small town offers a welcoming community with the beautiful back drop of Mono Lake and the Sierra Nevada mountains. Start your holiday early with the Mammoth Lakes Turkey Trot. This annual mile-long fun run is perfect for whetting your appetite, and hot chocolate is available at the finish line. On Friday, take your family to The Village at Mammoth for live musical entertainment and great Black Friday shopping in the area’s boutiques followed by a Christmas tree lighting and Santa’s arrival. Saturday is the perfect time to seek out more sales at the shops in Mammoth Luxury Outlets, the mountain-style mall in the heart of Mammoth Lakes.
Thanksgiving is a great time to head to Anaheim and enjoy the holiday alongside traditional family favorites, such as Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park. A vacation rental provides a cozy retreat away from the hustle and bustle of amusement park hopping, perfect for mixing things up with relaxing family evenings of board games and hot chocolate. Savor your family togetherness with a family-style Thanksgiving dinner at Buca di Beppo, or picks up your dinner to-go from Zov’s Anaheim, and sit down for a nice meal in the dining room at your vacation home. Either way, be sure to make reservations early.
5. Redondo Beach
For a fantastic Thanksgiving feast featuring all your family’s favorites, head to Kincaid’s American Dining on Fisherman’s Wharf. In addition to classics including tender, juicy turkey and homemade pumpkin pie, Kincaid’s offers house specialties, such as lobster bisque and rock salt roasted prime rib, to move your feast to the next level. Over Thanksgiving weekend, Redondo Beach makes it easy to soak in the holiday spirit without leaving the sunny beach. Watch for Santa riding his sleigh through the streets of town making stops to visit with children, including a lengthy visit at the Redondo Pier. After your visit with Santa, be sure to take a walk down the Redondo Beach Walkway for a fabulous sunset view.
Make Downieville your vacation destination for a rural Thanksgiving serenaded by the sounds of the Yuba and Downie rivers. Known for its picturesque bridges and welcoming community, Downieville offers an old-fashioned feeling perfect for a relaxing holiday. Experience the ambiance of an old-timey general store with a stop at Downieville Grocery or the Sierra Country Store to gather the ingredients for a home-cooked feast in your vacation home. Then take a scenic drive on Friday to explore the area’s six historic bridges and gorgeous river scenery. In the evening, check out the holiday shows at the historic Yuba Theatre. If you’re looking to get a start on your holiday shopping, browse the quaint shops in downtown Downieville on Small Business Saturday. From Vintage Gal Antiques and Fine Things with a charming selection of both old and new vintage-look items to 49 Wines’ huge selection of fine wines and craft beers, shoppers have opportunities to find bargains and soak up the local culture.
Food lovers are sure to enjoy the wide variety of options available for Thanksgiving dinner in Pasadena. Maison Akira offers a Thanksgiving menu full of great fusion dishes pairing traditional favorites with French and Japanese touches. Head to Beckham Grill for Thanksgiving favorites served in the style of an Old English inn, or opt for Il Fornaio for Italian favorites including homemade lasagna and home-baked bread plus roast turkey with all the trimmings. Check out the sales while enjoying free samples and entertainment in Old Pasadena and the Playhouse District on Small Shop Saturday, and save an evening for roaming the Illuminated Forest display with over a mile of gorgeous light effects highlighting the each of the beautiful areas at Descanso Gardens.
8. Santa Clarita
If you’re looking for something a little different this Thanksgiving season, make Santa Clarita your vacation destination, and reserve a spot for Thanksgiving dinner at the Gentle Barn animal sanctuary. Visitors are encouraged to come early and spend some time cuddling the animal residents before enjoying a delicious vegan feast prepared by a local chef. The evening includes a Native American drum circle, and other entertainment and activities. Over the weekend take in the scenic views with a hike at Haskell Canyon Open Space, and look for great deals and unique finds on Main Street in Old Town Newhall on Small Business Saturday.
9. Santa Cruz
Book a vacation rental in Santa Cruz for an fabulous Thanksgiving getaway near the beach. Get your crew up early on Thanksgiving day, and head to Delaware Street for the annual Santa Cruz Turkey Trot. With 10k and 5k options for serious runners plus a 1k fun run, this event runs right along the ocean near Natural Bridges State Park for great views to accompany your morning exercise. After your jog, satisfy your post-race hunger with Thanksgiving brunch at the Crow’s Nest. For a special dinner, check out the Thanksgiving buffet at the Bittersweet Bistro or Casablanca Inn and Bistro. Dharma’s offers a Thanksgiving feast perfect for vegetarians with breaded tofu with wild-rice stuffing as its centerpiece. Over the weekend, get in the holiday spirit at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk with a ride on the Holiday Lights Train. This excursion includes hot spiced cider and live entertainment plus a visit by Santa for your little ones. The boardwalk also offers amusement rides, laser tag, miniature golf, and ice skating to help keep your crew entertained.
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