Fall is in full swing in Michigan during Thanksgiving weekend, creating a holiday overflowing with autumn colors and cool breezes. From the windswept Lake Superior shores of Marquette to the energetic Detroit downtown, each city in Michigan offers its own special twist on the holiday. As you decide where to go for a fun-filled family gathering, check out incredible Michigan vacation rentals and Thanksgiving activities in these cities.

1. Detroit

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When it comes to family-friendly activities, Detroit is one of the most exciting Thanksgiving vacation destinations in Michigan. The state’s largest city goes all out with America’s Thanksgiving Parade, one of the largest in the country. From your spot on historic Woodward Avenue, check out a thrilling lineup of festive floats, enormous balloons, and Michigan’s best marching bands. Join thousands of local families in the Strategic Staffing Solutions Turkey Trot, which includes 10K, 5K, and 1-mile events. Thanksgiving weekend also marks the opening of the outdoor ice rink at Campus Martius Park. If you’re into football, don’t miss the Detroit Lions in the Thanksgiving Day Classic game.

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2. Ann Arbor

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Pack a holiday-themed costume for the Ann Arbor Turkey Trot, a 1K/5K race that offers prizes for the best costumes and ugliest sweaters. Vacation rentals downtown sit within walking distance of the race, which starts near the University of Michigan. If you want a homey Thanksgiving dinner without the effort, order a delicious takeout meal from Zingerman’s Roadhouse or dine at Weber’s Restaurant, the stunning Gandy Dancer, or Quarter Bistro and Tavern. Work off the calories with a day of marathon Black Friday shopping at Twelve Oaks Mall, Briarwood Mall, or the upscale Somerset Mall.

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3. Lansing

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Lansing, the home of Michigan State University and the Michigan State Capitol Building, is quiet and peaceful during the Thanksgiving holiday. If you’re in town the preceding week, don’t miss the parade and city-lighting during Silver Bells in the City. On Thanksgiving morning, run past the state Christmas tree during the Lansing Turkey Trot, a family-friendly 5K race that benefits the Michigan Running Foundation. For the best Black Friday shopping, wake up early to beat the crowds at the Meridian Mall.

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4. Marquette

Old Ore Dock
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Get away from it all for Thanksgiving in Marquette, a small town on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Start off the day with the annual Marquette Turkey Trot, which brings out local runners and families in a 10K and 5K race. Enjoy a stress-free dinner at Harley’s Restaurant, or enjoy an upscale meal at The Vierling. Get into the community spirit on Thanksgiving weekend by attending downtown’s Small Business Saturday, which features holiday treats and special sales, and stock your vacation rental with locally produced vegetables and baked goods at the Downtown Marquette Farmers Market.

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5. Traverse City

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Traverse City residents come out in huge numbers for the Traverse City Turkey Trot, a favorite among local families. Go easy with a 5K walk/run, or prepare for dinner with the 5-mile run. For an extra twist, join the locals by wearing a turkey costume or a holiday-themed outfit. Dine with a view of Grand Traverse Bay at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa’s Aerie Restaurant, known for its spectacular turkey dinner buffet. The resort also offers Thanksgiving Day activities, including ornament-making stations for the kids.

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6. Petoskey

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Community spirit overflows in Petoskey each Thanksgiving as locals prepare to ring in the holidays. On Thanksgiving Day, the YMCA of Northern Michigan hosts a Turkey Trot along the downtown brick buildings. Check out the Holiday Shop and Drop at the Crooked Tree Arts Center on Black Friday, and enjoy the festive vibe along Lake Street as local business unveil their festive window decorations. The city hosts the Downtown Petoskey Holiday Parade on Thanksgiving weekend, and nearby Harbor Springs celebrates with a Christmas tree-lighting festival.

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7. Grand Rapids

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More than 3,000 runners turn out each year for the Grand Rapids Turkey Trot, a beloved local Thanksgiving tradition. Your children can run in the Mini Trot. After the race, head over to the six.one.six restaurant at the JW Marriott Grand Rapids for a Thanksgiving brunch featuring local cheeses, roasted turkey, and miniature pecan pies. Thanksgiving also heralds the start of the Byron Center Master Arts Theatre’s holiday production. Check out the holiday sales at the Byron Center shops or the Woodland Mall before the performance.

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8. Ludington

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Ludington booms on Thanksgiving weekend, as visitors flock to the Lake Michigan shore for one last autumn hurrah. Two days after Thanksgiving, the shops on Ludington Avenue and James Street Small brim with special sales and festive cheer on Small Business Saturday. Head over to the Ludington Arts Center Holiday Craft Show, and stay into the evening to see the glimmering floats in the Aglow on the Avenue Parade, which ends with the celebrated arrival of Santa Claus.

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9. Kalamazoo

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Thanksgiving gets off to an early start in Kalamazoo with the Annual WMU Turkey Trot 5K, which is scheduled a few days before the holiday. Treat yourself to a grand turkey dinner at the Henderson Castle, which features a seven-course menu in a stunning Victorian-themed dining room. On Black Friday, Kalamazoo hosts a community tree lighting. Thanksgiving weekend brings a variety of events, including the Antique Toy Show at the Kalamazoo County Expo Center and the Holiday Walk and Market at the W.K. Kellogg Manor House.

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