Miss America Outstanding Teen 2015, Olivia McMillan, waves to the crowds at Love Park as she sits in the back of a convertible that takes part in the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia's Thanksgiving Day Parade is the oldest parade in the country and is definitely worth the watch.
Photo Credit: Getty Images

5 Fun and Food-Filled Places to Spend Thanksgiving Weekend

See the Sights and Let Someone Else Do the Cooking!

Turkey, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Friends and family joining in mutual celebration (and perhaps a few good-natured disagreements!). Familiar settings and old haunts as backdrops for it all.

When Abraham Lincoln set aside the last Thursday in November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise,” he couldn’t have foreseen that Americans would honor it by consuming mass amounts of poultry and watching grown men boot a pigskin around a field.

Of course, Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be the same year after year. Want to inject more than just marinade into the holiday? Then check out these four exciting Thanksgiving weekend getaways you can enjoy.

Historic Pomp and Pageantry: Philadelphia

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City may be the country’s most famous festival of floats, marching bands and performers. But it’s not the oldest. That honor goes to Philadelphia’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which has wowed audiences since 1920.

Like its Big Apple Counterpoint, Philadelphia’s parade includes lots of choirs, marching bands and outlandishly large inflatables. Bring a thermos of coffee to ward off the chill and stake out a spot on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art or Logan Circle for an ideal view.

Once the parade has passed, wander the historic section of the City of Brotherly Love to see Elfreth’s Alley (the nation’s oldest continually inhabited residential street), the United States Mint (watch the production of your pocket change), and National Constitution Center (a highly interactive history museum).

Shopping fanatics should enjoy browsing the boutiques lining the Third Street Corridor. Visitors who prefer appetizers to antiquities might want to visit South Philly. Forget famous landmarks: here you can get a real cheese-steak and your beverage of choice.

Pubs and bars with neon lights in the French Quarter, downtown New OrleansThere are plenty of incredible eateries to choose from for your Thanksgiving dinner.Photo Credit: Getty Images

A Cajun Culinary Experience: New Orleans

Speaking of parades, you could do worse than New Orleans’ Bayou Classic Parade. But that’s not really why you’d head to The Big Easy for the holiday. Rather, you’d come for the food.

As the home of the turducken (a deliciously decadent abomination combining three types of fowl), NOLA knows great grub. Forget about cooking your own Thanksgiving dinner and tuck in at Arnaud’s, a high-end French Quarter institution that serves up genuine Creole cuisine like Gulf fish amandine and slow-roasted ham.

The Grill Room ups the ante with a four-course meal. Want a less traditional — and less pricey — option? Sylvain serves up sophisticated takes on pub favorites along with exotic in-house cocktails.

Once you’ve slept off the inevitable culinary overindulgence, head to City Park for the opening of the annual Celebration in the Oaks. There you’ll see the park’s trees swathed in over a half-million lights and watch the kids go wild on any of the numerous rides.

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Seascape, sunrise, sunset of South Carolina salt flatPartake in a plethora of outdoor activities in Bluffton, from kayaking, to paddleboarding, to shooting.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Nature and Nurture on Southern Salt Flats: Bluffton, South Carolina

For most, lowcountry luxury means Hilton Head, that incredibly expensive barrier island off of South Carolina’s southeastern coast. But that’s far from the only way to enjoy this unique slice of Southern culture. Located slightly inland, Bluffton, South Carolina, provides much of the same charm, and the nearby Montage Palmetto Bluff has all the pampering you could desire.

While no one would accuse Palmetto Bluff of being a bargain, rooms can be had at surprisingly reasonable rates in the winter months. So can a stunning Thanksgiving Day spread and 20,000 acres of gorgeous coastal marsh.

Cruise the salt flats on paddleboards or take jump in a kayak for a tour with a local guide. Bike down forested trails overhung with gnarled, moss-swathed boughs. Blast away at clay pigeons on the shooting range. And when evening rolls around, enjoy s’mores or sip single malt by the fire pit.

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