Thanksgiving Travel Destinations

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If you are like me, Thanksgiving has flown in so fast this month I realize now that I must begin making plans for the great event that is soon to occur.

Traditionally, the week of the holiday begins a travel frenzy of crowded flights, airline personnel on the edge of a breakdown, and often poor weather conditions.

Many Americans celebrate Thanksgiving with relatives we don’t see but once a year around the dinner table. This is often at Grandma’s, Aunt Lucie’s or Mom and Pop. But, there are a number of people who don’t care to get involved with the relatives and wish to do something different over the four-day holiday.

I don’t know yet how crowded the flights are going to be with the deep downturn in our economy. The fact is, airlines have withdrawn some 3,000 fewer flights as compared with this time last year.

NEW YORK

You want to travel? Let’s talk about the biggies first. How about flying to New York to attend Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? It begins on 77th Street and Central Park West and ends at 7th Avenue and 34th Street and begins at 9 a.m. The weather will be cool, so wear warm clothes. It lasts about 1-1/2 hours.

Now, while you’re in New York, stay in mid-Manhattan so you will be close to everything you’ll want to see and do. First, arrange for a half-day tour of the city to get acquainted. Have your tour desk book a couple of Broadway shows. Popular now are “13,” “The 39 Steps,” “Avenue Q,” “Boeing-Boeing,” “Chicago,” “Hairspray” and “Phantom of the Opera.”

CALIFORNIA

Don’t want the East Coast? How about California? Always popular are Disneyland, Universal Studios, Knott’s Berry Farm, etc. Or, perhaps a cruise from Los Angeles to Mexico for three, four or seven days and get away from the whole holiday scene. Your travel professional can assist you with suggestions and reservations.

Also in California, try booking the Embassy Suites hotel Mandalay Beach resort in Oxnard, about 65 miles north of Los Angeles on the coast. It will feel like you are in the heart of Mexico. Here is an area where people can enjoy fine sprawling beaches, wide-open spaces and plenty of Mexican beer and margaritas. The resort is an attractive early California Spanish design, and is a large complex of several buildings that include 248 suites in all. Tropical plants, giant palm trees, a series of waterfalls and you will feel like you are in Puerto Vallarta. There are bike paths, an inviting pool, and a courtyard where the resort’s restaurant and bar areas are near. There are pedal-cars and bicycles for rent, and the entire resort is family oriented. Off in the distance you’ll view the Channel Islands.

The suites at the Mandalay are spacious and comfortable. Some open out to the beach.

You can take a trip out to the Channel Islands National Park — either half- or full-day excursions are offered. At the harbor some 2,600 boat slips are in place.

Not far from Oxnard, Ventura and Santa Barbara are great day trips by car. Or, you may wish to visit the Reagan Library which is particularly interesting.

For reservations at the Mandalay Resort, call 1-805-984-2500.

COLORADO

Colorado? Not far away and hosts a plethora of fantastic scenery with unlimited skiing possibilities and the great outdoors! Great values should be available with today’s economy at some incredible resorts.

Consider East West Resorts at Beaver Creek. Buy three nights of lodging and the fourth night is free. Enjoy luxury condominiums in ski-in/ski-out locations for a great value. This special value is valid from Nov. 20 through Dec. 25.

The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park is one beautiful place where you can take a walk across the “sky” at the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park. It’s a quarter-mile journey through the clouds that must be experienced to be believed. More than 360 acres of scenery.

Or, the beautiful Broadmoor Hotel Resort in Colorado Springs. This five-star, five-diamond property has been a favorite with travelers for many decades.

You might enjoy the Grand Timber Lodge/Gold Point Resort where they are offering four days and nights of skiing from $85 per person/per night between Peaks 8 and 9 of the Breckenridge Ski area that have indoor/outdoor pools and hot tubs. Hot Toddy anyone?

HAWAII

If you have the bucks, Hawaii? Always good anytime of the year. My favorites in this part of the world are Kauai and Maui. There are direct flights to both Islands now.

Kauai has population of 62,800 and enjoys an average climate of 75 to 85 degrees. What could be nicer? Much to see and enjoy here among which is the NaPali Coast with its sea cliffs and numerous waterfalls, caves and beaches. Piopu Beach Park is popular and fun as is a stretch of Polihale State Park. Hanalie is great for snorkeling with its shallow waters and also offer great swimming.

Waimea Canyon: the Grand Canyon of the Pacific is 12 miles long and more than 3,500 feet deep. When on the isle you’ll have a rented car and be able to drive all over to view and experience the tropic beauty. Wonderful hotels are available on Kauai and you can look them over on the Web or consult your travel professional.

Maui is more populated, but also offers great attractions, beaches, towns and villages. Again, you’ll need to rent a car to fully enjoy all that is available.

I checked one tour operator for prices and found that Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays, a very reputable company, shows a three-night rate package from $599 at the Ludhiana Shores. The Royal Ludhiana Resort has three nights available form $699, and the Kannapolis Beach Club is offering three nights from $795. You can get more information about Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays by calling 1-800-742-9244.

A Hawaiian cruise? NCL America sails its “Pride of America” on seven-day cruises between the islands from Honolulu calling at Maui, Hilo, Kona and Kauai. Sailings depart Nov. 21 and 29. Fares range from $1,349 for an inside room, $1,549 for ocean view and a balcony room from $1,949. These fares do not include airfare, taxes and fuel supplement. However, on the ship, all meals and entertainment are included.

ARIZONA

Closer to home, try the historic Grand Canyon West Ranch. This is a unique alternative to the typical Grand Canyon hotels. You’ll stay in authentic Indian tipis at the West rim of the canyon. This is a 106,000-acre working cattle ranch you can stay in with your own private pine cabin or authentic Indian tipi. Overnight lodging starts at only $109 per person including meals. Featured are cowboy entertainment, tours that depart for the ranch, natural springs, cattle branding and Indian ghost dances. Maybe they’ll even serve wild turkey for Thanksgiving! Check this out at www.grandcanyonranch.com.

Bed and breakfast facilities are becoming more and more popular these days. You might investigate a few in Tucson. Try Casa Luna or Natural Bed and Breakfast retreat for instance.

I hope this gives you a few ideas that may be out of the ordinary for this time of the year. Wherever your big turkey day is enjoyed, overeat, have two pieces of pie and some good wine. Thanksgiving only happens once a year!

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