As one of the original 13 colonies of the United States, the state of Maryland has a long history of Thanksgiving dating back centuries. Boasting some major cities in proximity to Washington, D.C., Maryland offers exciting Thanksgiving activities ranging from a 5K turkey trot to historic tours of districts, houses, and other structures. Book a stay at a Maryland vacation rental in one of these great Thanksgiving getaway locations.

1. Baltimore

Thanksgiving is closely associated with history, so don’t leave Baltimore without visiting some of those historical sites that have made the state great. The Ft. McHenry Visitor Center and Historic Shrine might be one of the country’s most famous military installations, as it was the inspiration for the national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Get to know that star-spangled banner by participating in a flag demonstrations while keeping the kids occupied with the Junior Ranger program. Stop at the Maryland Historical Society for more information on the War of 1812, and then go to the B&O Railroad Museum where the kids can ride some trains. Speaking of history, you can explore it and tour Baltimore aboard a pirate ship at Urban Pirate Cruises. Start off Thanksgiving Day right with some vigorous exercise with the Y Turkey Trot 5K, which supports charities.

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2. Annapolis

Annapolis is also filled with Thanksgiving activities starting with Bear Gives Thanks at the William Paca House and Garden. Your kids can learn the basics of the holiday while enjoying themed snacks and doing crafts. The Annapolis Library also offers a Thanksgiving-themed event that’s perfect for little children. If you’re new to the area, see the entire downtown area while running the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot. Great Thanksgiving costumes can earn a prize, so don’t be afraid to dress up. Partake of the after-race refreshments before heading home for the main course. Finish out your Thanksgiving holiday and usher in Christmas with the Lights on the Bay show at Sandy Point State Park.

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3. Bethesda

Bethesda’s just a few miles north of Washington, D.C., making an ideal vacation destination for some intense Thanksgiving fun. First, be thankful for the United States by exploring its history from the Lincoln Memorial and National Mall to the Old Stone House dating back to the 18th century. Next, attend the Presidential Turkey Pardon, and see the lucky fowl to escape the Thanksgiving table. Take part in one, or many, turkey trots in the Washington, D.C. area. The Turkey Chase Bethesda is the closest, and it supports a good cause, but there are others such as the Thanksgiving Day Trot for Hunter and Cranberry Craw. Be ready the next day for some intense Black Friday shopping in downtown D.C. Before heading home, catch the Nutcracker Ballet, and watch a tree-lighting ceremony.

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4. Lothian

Lothian, a small community just off the Chesapeake Bay, is all about the outdoors. Be thankful for nature, and get out on the Post Turkey Trail 5K on the Glendening Nature Preserve where you can walk (or jog) the Swarth Boardwalk, stand in awe of the largest tree, and revel in the beauty of the Earth. Lothian also boasts the Jug Bay Post Turkey Trail 5K at the Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary. The off-road trail adds a little adventure to your morning and works up a healthy Thanksgiving dinner appetite.

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5. Pasadena

New York City doesn’t have the only Thanksgiving Parade worth seeing. Pasadena has its own version with a twist: the parade collects food donations, giving back to the hungry on this day of thanks. Cheer for your favorite floats; prizes are given to the top floats in seven categories. Enjoy the live music and entertainment before diving into your Thanksgiving feast. You can even visit some of the historic sites like Hancock’s Resolution, a family farm that’s been around for hundreds of years.

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6. Monkton

Monkton offers unique, memorable Thanksgiving activities like the nature walk at Ladew Gardens, where the guides tell the kids all about Thanksgiving with stories, songs, and crafts. If horses are your thing, go to Blessings of the Hounds, a Maryland tradition where you give thanks in a different way.

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7. National Harbor

National Harbor is the perfect place to celebrate both Thanksgiving and usher in Christmas with its tree-lighting ceremony in November. Watch a holiday movie while doing crafts with the kids, and take pictures of Santa. Then treat them to Ice, a festival featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer that includes the North Pole, ice slides, a toy parade, and shopping.

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8. St. Mary’s City

Delve into the spirit of the holiday at St. Mary’s City, a colonial town on St. Mary’s River that takes its history seriously. At Hearth and Home in Early Maryland in the historic district, you can explore the life of the pilgrims in the 17th century, learning how to grow food and how to store and prepare it before refrigeration and stoves. Tour an old plantation, one of the tall ships that once brought settlers to this wild land, a Native American hamlet, or a colonial chapel.

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9. Davidsonville

Get into autumn before the season ends at the Homestead Gardens Fall Fest. There’s enough hayride riding, corn-maze wandering, and underground sliding for everyone. Ride the cow train, because even adults need some fun, and get into some crafts. If you time it right, you can then go to Holidays at Homestead Gardens and see the farm transformed into a holiday wonderland with lights, greenery, holiday music, and Santa.

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