12 Unique Places to Spend Thanksgiving

Whether you’re flying solo, a party of 2 or traveling with relatives in tow, Thanksgiving is about making memories. We chose 12 unique spots guaranteed to serve up a stress-free experience. 

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Christmas in Salzburg, Austria

Christmas in Salzburg, Austria

The squares and streets of Salzburg, Austria, come alive with the sound of Christmas music during the festive holiday season. In Cathedral and Residence squares, you’ll find stalls, shops and street performers. 960 1280

JTB Photo, Getty Images  

Christmas in Salzburg, Austria

Christmas in Salzburg, Austria

The musical town of Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart and setting for The Sound of Music, celebrates the Christmas season with plenty of music and carols amid the festive holiday shopping. 960 1280

JTB Photo, Getty Images  

Cologne Christmas Market

Cologne Christmas Market

With seven separate Christmas markets, the Cologne Christmas Market, nestled amid the town's landmark cathedral and Old Town Hall, attracts 2 million visitors annually. 960 1280

bernsmann, iStock  

Cologne Christmas Market

Cologne Christmas Market

The Cologne Christmas Market showcases 160 wooden stalls, helmed by merchants selling wares such as classic holiday ornaments, wooden decorations and children's toys, as well as plenty of snacks and warm, spiced wine. 960 1280

bernsmann, iStock  

Prague's Old Town Square

Prague's Old Town Square

Prague's Old Town Square is home to the city’s annual Christmas market, complete with an illuminated tree -- the centerpiece of plenty of holiday cheer that runs from late November through the first days of the New Year. 960 1280

IRYNA BERESTYUK. Adagi0, iStock  

Prague Christmas

Prague Christmas

Prague's wooden stalls bring Bohemian crystal, wooden toys and tasty food to the masses. 960 1280

gornostaj, iStock  

Dresden's Christmas Market

Dresden's Christmas Market

Dresden's Christmas market, the Striezelmarkt, has been a holiday tradition since 1434, making it Germany's oldest Christmas fair. Check out market’s centerpiece attraction -- the world's tallest Christmas candle pyramid, more than 45 feet tall. 960 1280

Juergen Sack, iStock  

You’ll find shopping galore at Dresden's Christmas market, with holiday decorations, toys and unique handicrafts in the city's historic district. 960 1280

iStock  

Nuremberg's Christkindlesmarkt

Nuremberg's Christkindlesmarkt

Nuremberg's Christkindlesmarkt takes place in the city’s Main Market Square. As one of the largest Christmas markets in Germany, the event features some 180 booths selling Christmas goods such as mulled wine, spicy gingerbread and roast sausages. 960 1280

Thomas Langer, Getty Images  

Copenhagen Christmas at Tivoli Gardens

Copenhagen Christmas at Tivoli Gardens

Copenhagen hosts a Christmas market with a twist at the city's famous Tivoli Gardens, the second oldest amusement park in the world. 960 1280

Arjan de Jager, iStock  

For a small fee, Christmas in Tivoli offers the classic market experience, combined with amusement park rides like swings and carousels, as well as live entertainment. 960 1280

Esben Theis Jensen, flickr  

10 Photos
Santa Comes to Town

Santa Comes to Town

Every year the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade ends with Santa coming to a stop in front of the department store on 6th Ave, marking the beginning of the Christmas season in the Big Apple. Come explore some of the timeless traditions of Christmas in New York City. 960 1280

Eric Liebowitz / NBC / NBC NewsWire / Getty Images  

Wollman Rink in Central Park

Wollman Rink in Central Park

Make the best of New York City's cold weather and enjoy ice skating at Wollman Rink in Central Park (on the east side between 62nd and 63rd Streets). 960 1280

Miguel Sanz / Moment Open / Getty Images  

Empire State Building

Empire State Building

At the center of the iconic NYC skyline sits the Empire State Building. During the months of November and December, the top of the building is lit up with red and green lights to celebrate christmas. The first lighting each year coincides with the opening night for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. 960 1280

Stuart Monk / iStock / Getty Images Plus  

The Rockettes

The Rockettes

Speaking of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, don’t miss out on seeing the Rockettes’ show-stopping leg kick precision chorus line 5 days a week during the holidays at Radio City Music Hall.

 

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Mike Pont / WireImage / Getty Images  

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

Started in 1933, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree has become a timeless tradition for New Yorkers and tourists alike. The tree is on average between 69 and 100 feet tall, and its lighting ceremony is accompanied with a live broadcast in early December. 960 1280

Rob Young from United Kingdom (Christmas @ Rockefeller Plaza) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

5th Avenue Holiday Window Displays

5th Avenue Holiday Window Displays

Shopping in NYC during the holidays can be a nightmare due to the tourist-packed streets. But there is definitely a redeeming quality to making the trek into the crowds: holiday window displays! Every year in mid-November, the biggest department stores in New York City create one-of-a-kind presentations of holiday-cheer in their exterior windows, usually with an original theme or throw-back to years past. (Shown here: one of Macy's Herald Square 2014 holiday window displays). 960 1280

Ben Hider / Getty Images  

Gigantic Holiday Cheer

Gigantic Holiday Cheer

Giant ornaments are displayed annually during the holidays at different locations in NYC, including Rockefeller Center (across the street from Radio City Music Hall) on 6th Avenue. 960 1280

Roff Bruderer / Blend Images / Getty Images  

Union Square Holiday Market

Union Square Holiday Market

Open yearly from mid-November to Christmas Eve, the Union Square Holiday Market is the perfect place to get unique handmade gifts for everyone on your list. 960 1280
Sledding in the City

Sledding in the City

If weather trends stay on course for New York City, you'll want to prepare yourself for some major snow this holiday season. Take advantage of the wintery weather and join the fun at any of the dozen local parks for some sledding! Prospect Park in Brooklyn (pictured here) or Central Park in Manhattan are classic locations to enjoy some slip-sliding fun. 960 1280

Spencer Platt / Getty Images  

Dyker Heights Holiday Lights

Dyker Heights Holiday Lights

For a look at what happens in the boroughs during the holidays, take a trip to Dyker Heights in Brooklyn and tour their annual holiday decorations. The residents won’t label it a competition, but it’s hard not to see it that way when each new year brings bigger and brighter displays. 960 1280
Macy's Thanksgiving Parade

Macy's Thanksgiving Parade

Giant balloon puppets like Spiderman debuted at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade back in 1927. Today, the annual event is one of the oldest Thanksgiving Day parades in the U.S. 960 1280

Michael Nagle/Getty Images  

Here Comes Santa!

Here Comes Santa!

Santa Claus rides on his sleigh down Central Park West during the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in N.Y.C. St. Nick’s arrival at the parade's grand finale signals the official season's start to Christmas in N.Y.C. 960 1280

Reuters/Gary Hershorn   

Houston's H-E-B Holiday Parade

Houston's H-E-B Holiday Parade

Participants strike a pose in Houston's annual Thanksgiving celebration, which we’ve voted among the top Thanksgiving Day parades. The parade got a makeover in 2013, with renewed focus on everything from fashion, food and heroes; to culture, sports and talent. 960 1280

Sean Boyd/Houston Holiday Parade  

McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade

McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade

Make it a long weekend in Chicago, while checking out "Chicago's Grand Holiday Tradition." You just may see Teddy Turkey strut his stuff; he's been the parade mascot since 2009. 960 1280

Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar, flickr  

America's Thanksgiving Parade

America's Thanksgiving Parade

Giant balloons float above the street during Detroit's annual America's Thanksgiving Parade, which shares the title of second-oldest Thanksgiving parade (alongside the Macy's parade). Plus, check out our own Andrew Zimmern's Detroit-inspired pumpkin pie.
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Paul Warner, Getty Images  

Carolinas' Carrousel Parade

Carolinas' Carrousel Parade

Yep, that is "Carrousel" with two r's. Founded in 1947, this parade through Charlotte, N.C., is the fourth-largest in America, with an estimated 100,000 spectators. 960 1280

Charlotte Fire Deparment, flickr   

Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade

Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade

So what is the nation’s oldest Thanksgiving parade? Head to Philadelphia to find out! The 1.4-mile 6ABC Dunkin' Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade started in 1920, sponsored by a popular department store of the day. 960 1280

Gilbert Carrasquillo, Getty Images  

America's Hometown Parade

America's Hometown Parade

Upping the ante, America’s Hometown Parade, in Plymouth, Massachusetts, bills itself as “America’s only historically accurate, chronological parade.” Inspired by the Pilgrims’ establishment of Plymouth Colony, the parade foregoes giant balloons of popular characters for parade features based on the history of the U.S., from the 1600s up to the present, with a Santa Claus float at the end. 960 1280

Michael Springer, Getty Images  

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