The cool, refreshing weather and crisp fall feeling of Thanksgiving makes Maine vacation rentals feel that much cozier. This New England state’s residents celebrate the holiday with merriment, welcoming the holiday season with a Maine twist. On Thanksgiving weekend, this quaint state features everything from holiday ocean cruises in Portland to decorated lighthouses in York. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly turkey trot or a visit with Santa, these nine vacation destinations are a great place to start.

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1. Portland

The cobblestone streets of historic Portland buzz with activity on Thanksgiving. Join more than 1,000 local runners as they race through downtown in the annual Portland Thanksgiving 4-Miler. Vacation rentals in South Portland are also convenient to The Savage Family Turkey Trot 5K, which is particularly family-friendly. Later in the day, get into the community spirit at the annual Portland-Deering football game, a local tradition for more than 100 years. On Thanksgiving weekend, sing Christmas carols with thousands of locals at the Christmas tree lighting ceremony. The weekend also features the opening of Christmas at Victoria Mansion, Cinnamon Bear Holiday Cruises, and the Maine State Ballet’s highly anticipated performance of The Nutcracker.

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2. Rockland

Enjoy your holiday with a view of Penobscot Bay and the beautiful Owls Head Lighthouse in Rockport. The day after Thanksgiving, the Penobscot YMCA hosts the Turkey Trot 5K. After the race, refuel at the pancake breakfast, which supports the Rockland Sailfish swim team. Thanksgiving weekend is the traditional beginning of the city’s Festival of Lights, where you can see the world’s largest Christmas tree made from lobster traps. On Friday, watch Santa arrive by boat; Saturday brings the popular Festival of Lights parade and gingerbread house displays on Main Street. The festival also features Christmas caroling, hot cocoa, and free carriage rides.

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3. Kennebunkport

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Thanksgiving dinner gets a classic Maine twist in Kennebunkport, where local restaurants such as Ocean Restaurant, On The Marsh Restaurant, and the White Barn Inn feature seafood-laden holiday menus. Thanksgiving weekend rings in the extravagant Christmas Prelude celebration, which turns downtown into a fantasy North Pole village. The fun starts with the tree lighting ceremony in Dock Square, and continues with the Annual Hat Parade, the Christmas Stroll, and candlelight caroling at the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in St. Anthony’s Monastery.

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4. Bath

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Thanksgiving in Bath begins with the annual Turkey Trot, a laid-back 5K race with same-day registration and a family-friendly atmosphere. The weekend after Thanksgiving, the city gears up for the holidays with the annual Old Fashioned Christmas event. Head downtown on Saturday for children’s stories and activities, and watch Santa light the Children’s Tree in the Library Park gazebo. The celebrations continue with caroling, hot cocoa, and visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

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5. Bethel

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Tucked into the hills of Maine, Bethel makes a beautiful, relaxed Thanksgiving getaway. Get your vacation off to a great start at the Wobble and Gobble 5K Run/Walk, and continue with the extravagant and family-friendly Grand Thanksgiving Buffet at The Bethel Inn Resort. Bethel’s fun-filled Country Christmas starts on the weekend with the Local Craft and Wares Fair, where you can shop for everything from handmade soap to Christmas wreaths. Bundle up for a wagon ride around the village, and stick around to meet Santa and tour the town’s beautiful Christmas light displays.

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6. Saco

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Relax into a small-town Thanksgiving in Saco, a lovely village on Maine’s southern coast. The city’s favorite Thanksgiving tradition is the Turkey Trot, which features an event for everyone in your family: opt for the Tot Trot, 5K run, 5K walk, or 10K run. Race organizers offer prizes for the best costume, so bring your most imaginative running gear. The day after Thanksgiving, walk through a whimsical forest of decorated Christmas trees during the Festival of Trees at the Dyer Library and the Saco Museum, and stick around for raffles, kids’ activities, and holiday vignettes.

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7. York

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Thanksgiving in York begins with the community Turkey Trot. The beautiful 5K course takes you on a tour of the historic downtown and harbor area, providing close-up views of the Hartley Mason Reservation, Old Parish Cemetery, and more. Later in the afternoon, head to the York Harbor Inn for a casual Pub Thanksgiving in the cozy Ships Cellar Pub or a lavish buffet with an ocean view in the 1637 Dining Room. On Saturday, locals head to Cape Neddick for the Lighting of the Nubble, a historic lighthouse overlooking the water. The same evening, visit Sohier Park to listen to live Christmas music and visit with Santa.

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8. Waterville

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The festive vibe is palpable in Waterville during the Thanksgiving holidays, creating a fun, lively environment for families and couples. Work off a few pre-dinner calories with the Thanksgiving Turkey Run; choose from the 5K or 10K routes. The next day, Main Street glows with the Parade of Lights, the official kick-off for the town’s annual Kringleville celebration. The tree-lighting follows in Castonguay Square, presided over by Santa and Mrs. Claus; each child who stops for a visit gets a free storybook as a souvenir.

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9. Bar Harbor

The Thanksgiving festivities begin a week early in Bar Harbor with the MDI Hospital Auxiliary Fall Fair and Luncheon, where you can get a head start on Christmas shopping. On Thanksgiving morning, check out the Cadillac Mountain Sport Race Series Turkey Trot, a 5K race that provides free commemorative hats to participants. If you’re still in town the following weekend, visit the Island Arts Association’s annual Holiday Craft Fair, and check out the Village Holidays and Midnight Madness Sale to go caroling with Santa and find great late-night shopping deals.

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