By Jim MacPherson
Thanksgiving has a special meaning in our family. Forget "Over the river and through the woods…" My wife was born on Thanksgiving Day, which means the holiday takes on added significance for us. As a result, we generally don’t travel far on this day, but many other s do.
Thanksgiving is one of the most traveled holidays, according to AAA, with over 40 million Americans typically venturing over 50 miles from home. The overwhelming majority travel by automobile, though some also fly, take the train, a bus or some other form of transportation.
Conversely, around 270 million people will stick close to home this year. Here’s a variety of destinations for Thanksgiving, all reachable by car and some less than an hour away from Hartford.
Football: Any number of area high schools play football on Thanksgiving. The trip might not be long to get to the game of your choice, but the action, spirit and camaraderie will make the day memorable.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: Granted you can watch it on television, but not even that new 60-inch high-def set does the parade justice. For that, you have to view it in person. From Connecticut, you can do this in a day trip, driving to New York in the morning and coming back after the parade is over. Or, you can spend the weekend in the city. Doing this will not only allow you to see the floats in all their full-size glory, it will also allow you to do some holiday shopping the day after.
Newport, R.I.: Enjoy Thanksgiving at home, or plan to dine at one of Newport’s exceptional restaurants, and then visit one of the fabulous mansions that will be open and decorated for Christmas the day after. The Breakers, The Elms and Marble House are participating through January 1, 2012. All will be closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas, however.
Old Sturbridge Village: Would you like to experience a true, early New England Thanksgiving dinner at Old Sturbridge Village? Unfortunately, the dinner on Thanksgiving is fully booked. But there are still many opportunities to get into the spirit of the holiday in this 19th-century New England village over the Thanksgiving weekend. There is a “Day After Thanksgiving Buffet,” along with musket-firing demonstrations (you think wild turkeys walked into the kitchen of their own free will during the 19th century?) and an early New England wedding recreation slated for that Saturday.
Bright Nights at Forest Park, Springfield: One of the best displays of Christmas lights anywhere in New England, a trip to Forest Park in Springfield after Thanksgiving dinner should do wonders in getting you into the Christmas spirit. Organizers promise over 600,000 lights on the three-mile route.
Outlet Shopping: Several malls and outlet locations, including the Clinton Crossing Premium Outlets in Connecticut, will be closed on Thanksgiving, but open at midnight. What better way to finish a day with too much eating and too much football than with a quick midnight shopping trip?
Holiday Stroll, East Lyme: If you end up eating too much on Thanksgiving, you might want to get back in balance with a healthy walk. A perfect venue is the Eighth Annual Holiday Stroll in East Lyme on November 26. Between 4:00 and 8:00 p.m. you can stroll, enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides, and take in the shops and stores that are the antithesis of big-box, strip mall merchandizing.