A sprawling feast may traditionally be the highlight of any Thanksgiving celebration, but some hotels around the country are beginning to expand the variety of events offered to guests beyond just buffets and formal dinners. While some hotels are introducing activities tangentially related to dining, like a table-decorating class, others are going in an entirely different direction with performances and group adventure activities. Whether travelers are watching their diets, tired of doing the same thing every year or looking for other ways to show their gratitude, hotels around the country are stepping up to the plate to offer non-traditional events and programming to celebrate the holiday.


The Fontaine Hotel, Kansas City, Missouri:

Thanksgiving tablescaping class

For guests who love hosting but perhaps aren’t as excited about cooking, the Fontaine Hotel is offering a class on creating Thanksgiving-themed floral centerpieces. They’re hosting the course in partnership with Alice’s Table, a local organization that teaches classes on life skills and community building for women. According to Associate Director of Sales and Marketing Jenna Phillips, the resort decided on a tablescaping class as a way to help add to guests’ Thanksgiving experiences. “We thought it would be a great opportunity to join with our community by offering a class to help make Thanksgiving dinner tables shine. It’s also a fun way to work with Alice’s Table since we’re very passionate about helping tell the stories of our partners here in Kansas City.” The tablescaping class will take place on the weekend before Thanksgiving and includes light snacks and drinks. .


Tides Inn, Irvington, Virginia:

Waterfront fun runs and football watch parties

Travelers who feel the need to burn some calories before sitting down at the table should head to the Tides Inn. The hotel dates from the 1940s and is hosting two opportunities for guests to break a sweat on November 28 with a two- or five-mile run. The route will meander along Carter’s Creek, which feeds into the Chesapeake Bay. Guests who prefer a more low-key day may want to swing by the hotels’ NFL watch party, which includes lounge seating and plenty of food and drink as Thanksgiving Day football games are shown on a big screen.


The Diplomat Beach Resort, Hollywood, Florida:

Thanksgiving sandsculpting contests

Celebrate in the sun at Florida’s Diplomat Resort, where guests can spend Thanksgiving weekend on the beach – literally. Guests can join in on a seashell painting class on Thanksgiving Day. Later that weekend, the hotel will be hosting three sand sculpting contest where guests can learn the basics of sand sculpting before trying their luck at making the perfect holiday sculpture. On the off-chance the weather isn’t ideal on the beach, the resort’s spa will also be offering hot-chocolate-peppermint massages and facials in the spa beginning Thanksgiving weekend.


Hotel Albuquerque, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Thanksgiving artisan market

Hotel Albuquerque wants to help travelers get a jump on their holiday shopping while also supporting local artisans and crafters from across New Mexico. Held November 29 to 31, the Thanksgiving craft market will exhibit works from more than 150 vendors from more than 40 communities across the state. Handmade products cover a range of categories spanning from jewelry and clothing to housewares and specialty food and bath and body products, so it should be pretty easy to find a gift for everyone on your holiday list. All items are sold directly from the artists themselves, making the market an easy way to ensure your money directly benefits New Mexico’s economy. General admission tickets are available for $15 or $40 will get you a V.I.P. three-day ticket with a swag bag and complimentary cocktail.


Terranea Resort, Rancho Verdes, California:

Turkey Day seaside hike

Hit the trails before settling in for a meal at Terranea Resort in Southern California. Hiking and outdoor recreation are available year-round owing to the region’s warm climate, and the guides at the massive resort will be taking advantage of their cliffside location to lead guests on a turkey day hike. Walking around the resort’s 102 acres is a sure-fire way to burn off a few calories in advance of a large meal and guests are likely to see butterflies, native birds, and even the occasional whale during the two-hour group hike. Both guests and locals are invited to participate.


Red Mountain Resort, St. George, Utah:

Drum circles and Native American cultural performances

The sprawling Red Mountain Resort usually has a variety of outdoor and cultural activities taking place for guests at the wellness-focused destination, but they’ve added extra programming around Thanksgiving weekend, including a clay pot making class and birds of prey demonstration. On November 28, the resort is honoring the area’s Native American routes with dance performances, Native American crafts for kids and fireside storytelling after dinner. For a cultural experience, guests are invited to sit in on a performance of Navajo or Northern Ute flute songs from the resort’s resident flautist, performing every evening during Thanksgiving week. The musically inclined may want to attend a ‘Drumming Up Gratitude’ drum circle, which invites guests of any ability level to participate by drumming, or just sit back and enjoy the experience.



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