By Lindsay Ball
Traditionally, Thanksgiving break is spent at home eating turkey and watching football, but taking a trip away over the break can be a great way to start a new tradition. Whether home is too far to go over the break, or you just want to change things up this holiday season, here are five southern options for your next Thanksgiving break trip.
- Nashville, Tennessee
Music City is a great spot to visit, especially during Thanksgiving break. Nashville offers a wide array of attractions, so you’ll be able to find something for every member of your group. While many people assume all there is to Nashville is country music, the city has so much more.
“Nashville is such a growing city,” said Nashville-native and UA student, Shaoey Chapman. “I think people don’t realize that we’ve grown out of the cowboy boots and have become a center of creative independence.”
Outdoor lovers can visit Cheekwood Estate and Gardens, which features botanical gardens, an art museum and special events for the holidays. For those who would rather stay indoors, local hockey team the Nashville Predators will host the St. Louis Blues and the Anaheim Ducks over Thanksgiving break. Of course, it wouldn’t be Music City without a concert, so guests can attend the limited time show, Opry at the Ryman.
- Savannah, GA
The historic city of Savannah is a beautiful place to visit. Take a stroll through the streets and encounter stunning architecture and monuments. After, explore Savannah’s wide variety of shops and restaurants, or visit Tybee Island’s sandy beaches to find an abundance of aquatic animals.
The city of Savannah offers multiple shows over the holiday weekend. The South Carolina Ballet will be performing a production of “The Nutcracker,” and “A Christmas Tradition” will be shown at the Savannah Theatre. The show features singers, dancers, and Christmas favorites like Santa and Frosty the Snowman. Not in the holiday spirit? Try the On the Spot Murder Mystery Dinner Show, a murder mystery show completely improvised by the actors.
- Gulf Shores, AL
For those looking to take a beach trip over Thanksgiving break, Gulf Shores’ white sand beaches and clear blue water are sure to entice. Gulf Shores offers not only its gorgeous beaches, but also biking and nature trails for people of all levels, filled with an abundance of wildlife for hikers to view.
For those who want to take a break from the outdoors, Gulf Shores has shopping centers, museums, trampoline parks and much more. The coastal city also has many fantastic restaurants, including University of Alabama freshman Kat Brinkley’s favorite, Tacky Jack’s.
“It’s a good place to go if you want some great seafood with a nice view,” Brinkley said, before recommending the fish tacos and shrimp and grits for those who want a dish with some spice.
This colorful venue holds special events and live music certain days of the year, and they have a gift shop with Tacky Jack’s merchandise, as well as pieces from local artists.
- Gatlinburg, TN
In the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains sits the town of Gatlinburg. A perfect vacation spot for nature lovers, it is home to the most visited national park, and features many attractions for those of us not willing to brave the cold mountain air. Visitors can explore the Great Smoky Mountain National Park for hiking, camping, horseback riding and more. There are hiking trails for everyone from beginners to experienced hikers, and the national park is completely free to enter.
Gatlinburg also hosts a large arts and crafts community that has many shops for tourists to visit. These have everything from homemade ceramics to woven baskets. There are many shops throughout the city, and downtown Gatlinburg offers a walkable option for those looking for food, shops, attractions and more.
For visitors looking for a bit more excitement, Dollywood is a great option. Country music star Dolly Parton’s hometown amusement park serves as one of the most visited attractions in the area. Over Thanksgiving break, the park will transform into a holiday wonderland during its annual Smoky Mountain Christmas event. The event features over 4 million lights, multiple Christmas themed shows, and an area for guests to meet Rudolph and friends.
- New Orleans, LA
As New Orleans begins to close out its tricentennial, it is the perfect place for a thrifty and adventurous Thanksgiving. This 300-year-old city is full of amazing attractions, restaurants, and shows. Thanksgiving break is a great time to visit New Orleans because the city has special deals on hotels, food, shopping and more thanks to the tricentennial celebration. Sports fans can watch the New Orleans Saints take on the Atlanta Falcons in Mercedes Benz Superdome on Thanksgiving Day. For those less interested in football, New Orleans has outdoor activities, music venues, and historic landmarks available to visit. The city offers a wide variety of tours, including haunted tours, plantation tours, and Mardi Gras tours.
Whether you’re looking for a mountain getaway or sightseeing in the city, there is a perfect vacation for you. Even though you are leaving the turkey behind, a Thanksgiving trip is something your whole crew will be grateful for.