Craving a Thanksgiving getaway with your best friend? These picturesque towns across America are offering a seat at the table to visitors on two legs and four. Each is big on holiday charm but small on crowds. Stroll along an idyllic Main Street for holiday shopping, let Fido walk off the big meal in a historic park, or go tropical this year in the Florida Keys. Choose the destination that suits your whole family, and discover a cozy pet-friendly home away from home for the holidays!
Posted by Jessica Roberts
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Take your little gobbler to where it all began this Thanksgiving with a trip to "America's Hometown." Start your historic tour with a visit to Plymouth Rock at Pilgrim Memorial State Park, a featured attraction in the 2021 edition of our Ruff Guide to the United States. The landing site where America’s first European settlers disembarked the Mayflower over 400 years ago is well worth exploring with your pooch. Take a self-guided tour of the monuments and memorials, view the replica Mayflower II, and listen to one of the historical talks offered throughout the day. Afterwards, experience the area’s natural beauty on a hike along one of the five dog-friendly trails at nearby Myles Standish State Forest. If you’re staying near Plymouth, be sure to join other dog owners for a turkey trot on the annual post-Thanksgiving dog walk at White Eagle property of Sippican Lands Trust the day after Thanksgiving. If that’s not quite enough granite for your holiday, you’ll need to check out the 81-foot tall National Monument to the Forefathers, thought to be the largest granite statue in the world.
At the end of a long day of sightseeing, make your way to the Hampton Inn & Suites Plymouth for a well-deserved snooze. When it’s time for dinner, head to the Lobster Hut, where you can sample some fresh New England seafood. Pups are allowed to join you at the waterfront eatery’s covered outdoor seating area.
2. Colonial Williamsburg
A Thanksgiving spent in Colonial Williamsburg is an opportunity to dive into the fascinating origins of the holiday alongside your mashed potatoes and apple pie. With more than four centuries and 300 acres worth of history to explore, the living museum is a must-see destination at any time of the year. On Thanksgiving, you and Fido can expect to see villagers in period costume roaming the grounds and giving demonstrations of traditional military maneuvers, weaving, carpentry and other craftsmen practices. Stop and listen to stories of American Indian life and culture, ghostly sightings, musical performances, and so much more. Well-behaved pups are welcome in the Historic Area, on Colonial Williamsburg’s shuttle buses, and in the Visitor Center.
Both the Williamsburg Inn and Williamsburg Lodge permit pets and are serving up an expansive feast for Thanksgiving. While pups cannot join you in the dining rooms, they are allowed to stay in your room unattended if crated.
Just 90 minutes from Austin, Fredericksburg is known for Texas-sized hospitality, charm and holiday spirit. Founded in 1846, the town boasts German heritage, which is proadly showcased at many of the shops, art galleries, historic buildings, restaurants, breweries, and distilleries along Main Street. The Jagerschnitzel and Käsewurst at Auslander are so good you might be convinced to deviate from poultry this Thanksgiving. On the day after, the town kicks off the holiday season with the official lighting ceremony for the German pyramid and community Christmas tree in the town’s Main Street Marktplatz. Walk off the meal at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, where you will see one of the largest batholiths in the U.S., along with native Texas wildlife like turkey vultures, armadillos, rock and fox squirrels, deer, and more.
For outdoor enthusiasts or anyone who wants epic fall foliage views during the holidays, visiting Gatlinburg at Thanksgiving will certainly not disappoint. November is peak leaf season here in the Smoky Mountains, and you can experience breathtaking sites with Fido on the sky bridge and the chair lifts at Gatlinburg Skylift Park, or on one of the area's many hiking trails. For those who want to get a jump on holiday shopping, The Village Shops have 27 unique stores with something for everyone on your list. And don't forget to visit The Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum, one of our favorite weird museums that welcomes dogs.
Enjoy a homestyle Thanksgiving meal with no cooking involved at Howard's Steakhouse. The much-loved restaurant is offering up a menu full of traditional Turkey Day treats that can be enjoyed on the expansive patio that overlooks a creek.
After filling up on all the pecan pie you can handle, you won’t have far to go to cozy up in the Bear-ly Made It cabin to hibernate.
5. Key West
How does exploring a tropical paradise for Thanksgiving sound? Take a tip from the snowbirds and head south -- way, way south -- to Key West for a vacation on island time. If you want to spend your holiday adventuring, there are plenty of options here in “Cayo Hueso.” Take Fido on a private boat ride to spot some finned friends with Captain Sheri's Wild About Dolphins eco-charter tours, get acquainted with fish and feathers at the Key West Aquarium, or even visit the historic home of one of America’s greatest literary treasures at the Ernest Hemmingway Home and Museum. If oysters on the half shell and margaritas sound more appealing than cranberry sauce and stuffing, you’re in luck! Schooner Wharf Bar will be open and serving on Thanksgiving. Your four-legged parrot-head will love the live music and laid back atmosphere, and barking at the gulls in the marina.
After all that sunshine and fun (and tequila), you’ll need a good place to relax. Rent one of the pet-friendly rooms at the Ambrosia Key West bed and breakfast, which is close to all the island has to offer.
If you’re a bit more of a Thanksgiving traditionalist, head to the heartland of America to Galena, a quaint little town with a whole lot on offer for visitors. Almost 85 percent of the Midwestern hamlet is designated as a historic district, a fact that will be easy to believe when you see the town’s pristinely preserved 19th-century brick buildings. A stroll down Helluva Half Mile, a stretch of Main Street that's home to 125 independently-owned stores, will certainly help you check off items on your holiday shopping list. And while it won’t be open on Thanksgiving day, Miss Kitty's The Grape Escape is a definite must-visit for some post-turkey day libations and light fare during the weekend.
Rent this four-bedroom, pet-friendly vacation home in Galena with room to host the whole family, including Fido.
Natchez is a small town along the Mississippi River where the “river is wide and the history runs deep.” Named for the tribe of Native Americans who lived here for centuries prior to European settlement, Natchez is the oldest town in the state. With 13 National Historic Landmarks and over 1,000 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, this small southern town is an ideal Thanksgiving destination for history buffs on two legs and four. When your meal is done, you can walk the streets of downtown, where you’ll pass horse-drawn carriages and numerous art galleries and museums, see historic antebellum architecture at Natchez National Historical Park, or enjoy the beautiful scenery along the riverbank at Homochitto National Forest. If you’re not still full to bursting on Saturday, stop by the Downtown Natchez Farmer’s Market for locally grown produce, or have a bite on the porch at The Camp Restaurant.
This charming vacation rental home features a dining table for four and just the right ambiance for a “pawtriotic” Thanksgiving meal. It is the perfect place for your pooch to put his paws up and absorb all the history he’s learned (and turkey he consumed).
While the Seacoast Region is better known as a summertime destination, the stretch along New Hampshire’s coast that extends north to Kittery, Maine, is exceptionally beautiful in late fall, too. The weather in November is still comparatively mild (certainly warm enough for those with fur), and the off-season means you won't have to wait in line for another cup of chowder. We suggest trying The District, which has the largest heated patio in downtown Portsmouth, one of New England’s most charming coastal cities. Portsmouth is also home to the South Mill Pond Dog Park, which features a fenced in, double-gated enclosure where dogs of all sizes can celebrate their blessings with a leash-free romp. For those who don’t mind the chill and prefer a beachfront stroll, there is Fort Foster Park just across the Gulf in Kittery. Although the park is closed to vehicular traffic after Labor Day, pedestrians and canines are still permitted inside the park from sunrise to sunset, and parking is allowed outside the gatehouse.
Grill up the sides to go with your turkey on the farmer’s porch, then take a walk downtown from this coastal cottage.
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