Yosemite is a fun place to visit for Thanksgiving.

Where to Go for Thanksgiving Break in California

Yosemite is a fun place to visit for Thanksgiving.
Yosemite is a fun place to visit for Thanksgiving. Photo courtesy of Guy Francis.

In Southern California, Thanksgiving is usually too early for powder skiing but too late for swimming at the beach, so where does one go for a local Thanksgiving break? Of course, I aksed my very opinionated kids – Disneyland. “But it’s crowded,” I said. “We will only go on one ride,” they answered. “Ya, right,” I thought.

I love Disneyland, and I love the magic in my kids’ eyes when they go there. It is, after all, the penultimate weekend getaway for families with kids in Southern California. In fact, fall is one of my favorite times to visit Disneyland. But if Disneyland isn’t in the cards or you want to avoid crowded amusement parks, here are a few magical alternatives.

 Yosemite

While the falls might not be raging, Yosemite can still be an awesome place to visit in November. It’s ideal for families looking for smaller crowds and more isolated hiking paths. Especially if you are a California native, a weekend in Yosemite during Thanksgiving break can offer the brood a brisk adventure – and if you live in the San Fernando Valley, like me, it can offer some much-needed chillier weather. That being said, the weather is somewhat unpredictable – it could be snowy or it could be fairly dry – so be prepared for any type of adventure.

And for those who don’t plan on cooking at home, there are several options for Thanksgiving meals at The Awahnee, Yosemite Lodge and the Wawona Dining Room.

Tenaya Lodge, located just outside the park, also offers Thanksgiving dining as well as holiday activities such as gingerbread house decorating, a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony and sleigh rides, weather permitting.

www.yosemitepark.com; www.tenayalodge.com

San Luis Obispo

I love the historic charm of downtown San Luis Obispo and nothing gets me in the holiday spirit more than the cozy weather of California’s Central Coast (obviously, I must be a Cali native). So, heading to SLO for a few days to escape the L.A. smog and bask in the crisp coastal air is my idea of heaven. It also doesn’t hurt that there are some cool local events nearby to go along with the visit such as the Holiday Craft Bazaar in downtown Paso Robles on Nov. 28 as well as a tree-lighing ceremony with Mrs. Claus herself at the bandstand at 5:30 p.m.

www.visitsanluisobispocounty.com

Mammoth Mountain

With the drought in California, who knows if Thanksgiving will be a banner year an Mammoth Mountain for skiers. But it’s never a bad idea to beat the holiday heat in L.A. with a trip to the Eastern Sierra. And who knows, maybe those desperate to hit the slopes can get in some turns before Black Friday and also take advantage of early-season booking rates.

www.mammothmountain.com

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