Thanksgiving parades and festivals across the U.S.A.

Make more of your days off this year, and go on a holiday adventure. Explore historic sites, family favorite theme parks, sunny spots, or city specialties at these seasonal events all around the country.

Across the US, there are many great cities and towns that offer special Thanksgiving events, parades and celebrations this year. These are just a few of many diverse destinations across the country that can help create brand new, insightful (and possibly educational) Thanksgiving memories for you and your family:

Philadelphia, PA

photo by Richard Roche
The City of Brotherly Love hosts a major annual Thanksgiving Day parade, with plenty of marching bands, massive helium balloons and a steady stream of entertainment  – with many viewing opportunities along the route.
Afterwards, take in Philadelphia’s wonderful restaurant scene, as the city boasts numerous dining opportunities throughout the town. For a historical experience, families can enjoy a traditional dinner at the cozy City Tavern in the Old City section for an 18th century-themed Thanksgiving meal. The tasty family-style menu is served in a colonial-style building that harkens back to the 1700’s features friendly waiters wearing authentically designed period costumes.
Over the weekend, this town offers plenty of exciting activities and world-class museums that are sure to help burn off those calories, too, such as the legendary Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the Barnes Foundation museum. Other must-see stops include the Philadelphia Art Museum, (with the adjacent Rocky Steps, of course); the Franklin Institute; the “Please Touch” museum, which is a favorite for kids, and outdoor ice-skating rinks, too.
Philly residents always bring the kids to the atrium in the in the downtown Macy’s building to watch the iconic light display and listen to a pipe organ concert – with festive characters like floating reindeer, snowflakes and ballerinas created from 100,000 sparkling, yet eco-friendly, LED lights. For more info visit

Orlando, FL

photo by Jonathon
Thinking of spending Thanksgiving with Mickey Mouse and the gang? Walt Disney World does not disappoint when it comes to holiday festivities. All parks are decked out with autumn decorations and twinkling holiday lights and host many special events for children and adults alike.
Most notably, the famed Cinderella castle is transformed into a glistening ice palace while Epcot offers a “holidays around the world” extravaganza. On Thanksgiving, all restaurants are open, so families don’t need to leave to leave the parks in search of a great holiday meal. In fact, most of the onsite restaurants offer special Thanksgiving family-style dinner menus -- so visitors wishing to enjoy dinner in the park are encouraged to choose their restaurant in advance and make a reservation.
Families will be thrilled to learn that there’s an added bonus to visiting Disney World in the autumn...this time period is known as the off-season, and the week following Thanksgiving attracts the lowest number of visitors in the entire year.   

Plymouth, MA

Mayflower II
Celebrate Thanksgiving New England style! Each year, Plymouth, Massachusetts honors the heritage of the Mayflower pilgrims who founded the town of Plymouth in 1620, as the first permanent European settlement north of Virginia. To properly celebrate, Plymouth hosts “America’s Hometown” Thanksgiving events each year, with parades, a harvest market, an autumn food festival with local specialties, kids’ activities and an array of historical villages and reenactments.
For a unique mealtime experience, visitors can participate in Harvest dinners with the “pilgrims” on selected evenings throughout the month. Also, the city boasts a wide assortment of Thanksgiving-focused activities that will keep any family busy of the weekend, such as the Pilgrim Hall museum and the Mayflower II, a full-scale reproduction of the legendary ship that was built in England and sailed to the US in 1957. Visitors can board the ship and learn firsthand about the pilgrims’ bold adventures at sea while sailing to the new world.

Nashville, TN


from property #991814


Music fans flock to Nashville over the holidays for their “Holiday Harmony” celebrations. This November, the famed Grand Ole Opry show is taking place at the historic Ryman Auditorium; while the Radio City Christmas Spectacular (featuring the famous Rockettes) kicks off annually at the Grand Ole Opry House. Also beginning at Thanksgiving, Music City features holiday light tours via the “Holly Trolley;” along with Nashville’s Nutcracker; and the dancing lights at Jellystone Park, a seasonal display that gets more elaborate every year.


For a memorable Thanksgiving dinner, Nashville has great buffet as well as full dinner options around the city. A few favorites include Merchant’s, which features traditional fare on each floor of this multi-level eatery in the center of town; and Sperry’s in Belle Meade, offering a bountiful buffet in a charming setting.


Over the weekend, visitors and families can check out the city’s other popular music themed attractions, such as the Country Music Hall of Fame’s “Deck the hall” program and The Johnny Cash museum. Go to for more info.

San Diego, CA

photo by Bisayan lady
A southern California Thanksgiving is a definite change of pace for many folks, and San Diego does it up big! Guests can soak in the warm sunshine and the casual vibe while watching the city’s famed Mother Goose Parade, which happens to be the largest of its type west of the Mississippi. Attracting thousands of visitors to the streets of El Cajon, the parade features over 100 colorful floats from across the US, as well as marching bands, massive helium balloons, clowns, equestrians, special characters, performing artists and special celebrity guests – including the biggest superstar of all -- Santa Claus.
During this time of year, the city is lit up brightly, and it’s a perfect time to hit the less crowded world-famous San Diego Zoo, as well as Old Town San Diego, and Sea World. For nature lovers, it’s an ideal opportunity to experience the area’s many picturesque beaches and hiking trails, which are far more tranquil, but just as stunning, as the summer months. A festive weekend, indeed!

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