In 2015 we did our first destination Thanksgiving. We loved it so much that we’ve now done it four more times! I’m answering all your questions about it today.
All about our destination Thanksgiving trips
In 2015, we did our first ever destination Thanksgiving. I was pregnant with Sanny and we spent the week in San Francisco.
Three years later in 2018 we did a destination Thanksgiving to Seattle, Washington. Last year in 2020 we drove down to the Texas gulf and rented a beach house for Thanksgiving. We loved it so much that we’re doing the same thing this year for Thanksgiving.
Every time I post about it, I get a ton of questions about why we do it, how we do it and what Thanksgiving traditions we still follow while away from home.
So today I’m answering all your questions about it!
Thanksgiving in San Francisco, 2015
This was our 2015 Thanksgiving in San Francisco. I was about six months pregnant with Sanny at the time, and had the best time.
We did a lot of kid friendly things since our boys were little, and we went to a nice restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner.
We also took these family photos with a professional photographer and it was the best decision! I love having these nice photos in the city.
Thanksgiving in Seattle, 2018
This was our Thanksgiving in Seattle in 2018.
It was beautiful, crisp weather and we squeezed all the best Seattle things into our trip. I wrote all about it in this post!
Also we hired a professional photographer to take our family pictures for this trip too and I was so glad to have beautiful photos of our family with the Seattle skyline and the gorgeous fall leaves. The rest of the photos were taken with my iPhone.
Thanksgiving at the Texas Gulf
This was our Thanksgiving in 2020. We went down to the Texas gulf, around Galveston.
We found a cute little beach house down the coast that has ocean front views and a hot tub, and it was the perfect place to relax and unwind for the weekend.
We played in the water, we went out to a seafood restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner, played games, and just had a great time as a family. Also it was nice to have a kitchen so we could make breakfasts and lunches, and even dinners! We ordered pizza in one night and went out to eat for Thanksgiving dinner, but we cooked everything besides that. It was perfect.
A Destination Thanksgiving Q&A
Does your family get offended by you not being there?
- This was the number one question I got from you guys. We have had zero issues with offended family members, but also we don’t have a set schedule of trading between my family and Philip’s family, so no one’s “year” was skipped on these trips.
- I think it’s so fun to visit family during the holidays, but also this is time when my kids are out of school and my husband is off of work and I want to spend it how I want with my family. We do plenty of trips to see them during other parts of the year, we love having them come to visit us, we have family reunions, and we make a big effort to visit them as often as we can. So missing a holiday every few years is not a big deal for us. It may be different for you and your family and that’s totally fine! You get to choose how to spend your time off and your money, and this is how we choose to spend some of ours.
- Also we don’t do these destination Thanksgiving trips every year, so there are plenty of other opportunities to visit family during Thanksgiving on other years!
Do you still cook and eat a traditional meal? Or something else?
- We do not cook or eat a traditional meal when we’re on the trip. We’ve always eaten a restaurant with food that’s specific to that area. This year at the gulf we’re going to a seafood restaurant and eating fish and shellfish! But I still love Thanksgiving dinner, so every time that we’ve done a destination Thanksgiving, we make Thanksgiving after we get home for a Sunday dinner.
Is everything closed on Thanksgiving?
- It depends where you are! We’ve looked ahead and planned our days accordingly so we could do public or outdoor things that wouldn’t be affected by the holiday. But many restaurants are still open on Thanksgiving, so we’ve never had trouble. Also make a reservation in advance and double check they’ll be open!
Do you do it every year?
- No, we’ve only it done it three times since 2015. We still like to visit family or have family visit for Thanksgiving some years!
How do you pick where to go? And what age of kids is the best time to start?
- We love traveling to big cities, and going to a big city in the fall is always just magical. We chose San Francisco the first time cause it was a quick flight from Orange County (where we lived at the time) and a fun big city that would be chilly and beautiful. We’d been there before several times, but it was fun to experience it with kids too…we’d never taken them.
- I’d never been to Seattle, so we chose that for our next city Thanksgiving. There was lots to do, the weather was magical, and the kids loved it too.
- Our next city option was Chicago, but with COVID we decided to stay local(ish) and just road trip down to the gulf instead. It was quiet and relaxing and that turned out to be just as great, just in a different way.
- I still want to do Chicago and New York City for Thanksgiving! Those are next on our list.
- As far as the ages of kids, I don’t think there’s a right age to start. Just do it when you can, no matter the age. Start making memories as early as you can, and take lots of pictures cause they won’t remember everything.
Are airline tickets outrageous?
- Yes, they’re definitely more expensive. But we use credit card points to buy them, and also get them early so they’re not too crazy.
Did you go with extended family? Or just your little family?
- Just our family! We’ve done lots of trips with other members of our extended family and I love it! But also it’s harder for me to spend time with my kids when we have lots of other family members around and they’re off playing with cousins or we’re hanging out with the adults. So I love these trips when it’s just uninterrupted family time.
How did you get these cute destination pictures?
- We hired a photographer in the location! It was honestly the best decision ever. I asked on Instagram for recommendations and found both my photographers that way, but also you can look at hashtags, like #seattlephotographer or #seattlefamilyphotographer and find people that way.
- Both times, we just did a shoot for about one hour on one of the evenings, so it wasn’t a huge time commitment during our trip. I asked the photographers for location ideas, telling them I wanted a place that showed off the city in some way. They both recommended great locations! Also I recommend eating dinner before so everyone is full and happy, and then promise a treat after photos.
Which destination was your favorite?
- Probably Seattle! Honestly they were all great, but that city was just so fun, tons of stuff to do, the weather was perfect and chilly (just the way I like it in the fall), and the boys were old enough to enjoy and appreciate it. It was just a magical trip.