5 Thanksgiving Traditions in 5 Cities

Thanksgiving pumpkins

Written by Alexia Dellner

Thanksgiving – a time for family, honouring American forefathers, and giving thanks.

Oh, who are we kidding? This is really that time of year where we stuff our faces with turkey and pumpkin pie, collapse onto the couch in a food induced coma to watch parades and football, and prepare ourselves for some serious next day retail therapy.

And don’t forget the drinking of course (how else would you survive an entire day surrounded by family?).

This year Thanksgiving will be celebrated on Thursday, November 28th. But if you’re travelling this holiday season, with no family to celebrate with or no home to celebrate in, then have no fear. Here we show you five of the best places to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving while on the road.

1. Eat Turkey in Washington DC

Every year in the lead up to Thanksgiving, the President of the United States pardons a turkey in the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation. The turkey is consequently saved from ending up on the dinner table and free to live out the rest of its life roaming happily on a farm.

Last year, President Obama spared the life of a 20 kg turkey named Cobbler and a back up bird, Gobbler.

Of course, not all turkeys are so lucky…

Thanksgiving Turkey

The presidential pardon tradition has been around since 2002, but White House turkey receiving ceremonies date back to President Truman’s day in the 1940’s.

For more turkey trivia, visit the National Turkey Federation.

But remember, just because Obama is saving two turkeys this year, that doesn’t mean that you can’t gobble up a nice juicy piece of poultry with a side of stuffing this Thanksgiving! Local watering hole, Clyde’s of Georgetown, in Washington’s popular historical district has a great Thanksgiving menu for under $30 with all the trimmings.

Or for an overview of the city’s gastro scene, check out our DC Eating and Drinking guide.

Need a place to stay? Take a look at our hostels in Washington DC

2. Parade in New York City

Before you loosen your belt a couple of notches to get your turkey on, don’t miss out on the annual Thanksgiving Day Parades.

Most major American cities will feature a festive parade, but the biggest and best is undoubtedly the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

For the last 86 years, this parade has been delighting audiences young and old with giant balloons, weird floats, lively performances, uniformed marching bands and of course, Santa Claus.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade Santa

You’ve all seen Miracle on 34th Street right? Well remember when Santa’s too drunk to be in the parade and Kris Kringle (aka Richard Attenborough) steps in and saves the day?

We can’t guarantee that you’ll see Mr. Kringle himself, but we can guarantee a jolly good time.

Watching the parade is free and starts at 9:30am Thanksgiving day on 77th Street and Central Park West. For best views though, head on down a little further to 5th Avenue and wait for Kermit the frog and Spiderman balloons to come by around 11:00am. For more information visit the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade website.

Need a place to stay? Check out our Where to Stay in New York Guide, or take a look at our hostels in New York City.

3. Watch Football in Boston

After stuffing your face with turkey, passing out on the couch to watch the big game is as American as pumpkin pie.

This year, the most exciting game is sure to be the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens.

The game will be played Thursday evening and the Steelers will be defending their Superbowl title again their long time rivals.

New England Patriots

New England is after all the birthplace of this American holiday (Pilgrims landed here in 1620, a year later an autumn harvest was shared with Native Americans, and now we give thanks – click here for a more detailed historical account), so what better place to get into the Thanksgiving/football spirit?

If you’re able to move after all that food, you could even try to throw the ball around yourself on Boston Common. Or, just head to the nearest sports bar to watch the game. We like The Fours by TD Garden sports arena, home to the Boston Bruins and the Boston Celtics. With 42 television screens, sports memorabilia covering the walls and a knock out clam chowder, this is THE place to catch the game.

Need a place to stay? Take a look at our hostels in Boston.

4. Go Drinking in Chicago

Traditionally, Thanksgiving Eve is one of the biggest drinking nights of the year.

Why? Well maybe it’s the fact that there’s a day off tomorrow, or just the need to swallow some liquid courage before facing all that food/family/football the next day.

We don’t really know and we don’t care – who needs an excuse to knock back a couple of cocktails?

Chicago by night

Last year, Chicago was voted the sixth drunkest US city by DailyBeast (Boston took the top spot), so why not head to the Windy City and sample some of the beers, cocktails and boozy beverages on offer?

We recommend friendly uptown tavern, Hopleaf, known for its laid back atmosphere and extensive beer selection (over 40 beers on tap).

Or for an overview of the city’s gastro scene, check out our Chicago Eating and Drinking guide.

Need a place to stay? Take a look at our hostels in Chicago.

5. Shop Till You Drop in Los Angeles

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is officially the busiest shopping day of the year.

Major retailers open their doors in the early hours (bargain hunters often camp outside of stores the night before) and offer great deals and promotions – perfect for picking up some discount Christmas gifts for the folks back home!

Rodeo Drive LA

Sadly, LA’s chic Rodeo Drive will not be offering any discount deals so if you were hoping to scoop up that Chanel bag for $5, no such luck. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some great deals to be had elsewhere.

But, shopaholics be warned – Black Friday isn’t for the fainthearted. Roll up your sleeves and prepare to get your hands dirty because this day is all about competitive shopping.

Last year, a Los Angeles shopper in Walmart injured 20 fellow customers with pepper spray, all for an Xbox video game console!

But don’t let that put you off. Black Friday will see lots of great shopping opportunities around Los Angeles, from retail giants in Downtown LA to more quirky and independent shops in Santa Monica.

Need a place to stay? Take a look at our hostels in LA.

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Thanks to John-Morgan, cletch, tweber1, kke227, wilhelmja and Frankenmedia for the images from Flickr. Please note, all images were used under the Creative Commons License at the time of posting.

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