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Local News

Turkey Day Getaways for the Family

Credit: iStock

Parker Wallis

Looking to get out of the house for Thanksgiving? Cities and towns across North Carolina offer a smorgasbord of fun activities to celebrate the holiday. 

Come to Charlotte on the night before Thanksgiving to take part in the Carolina Panthers Christmas Tree Lighting. The free event features live entertainment for the whole family, balloon artists, face painting, food trucks, and a visit from Santa. In Uptown Charlotte by the South Carolina border, the Carolinas Thanksgiving Parade will take place with over 100 marching bands performing for guests. 

If you’re looking to stretch your legs and be part of a yearly tradition, then register for the Charlotte SouthPark Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning, a Turkey Day ritual 25 years in the making that you and your family can share with 15,000 other participants. Registration is online or in-person at Dick’s Sporting Goods in SouthPark Mall on the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving. 

Do you have a dog at home? Do you want a celebration that your pup can enjoy too? Look no further than 3K Dog-Jog in Greensboro, where you and your pet can work on your cardio together. 

The festivities also offer a 5K Gobbler Run/Walk for those without four-legged friends. Make your plans while you can as there is no same day race registration. 

As the winter season creeps closer and closer each day, what better way to celebrate than at Piedmont Winterfest in downtown Greensboro’s LeBauer Park? Got a pair of ice skates collecting dust in the closet? Bring them over to the massive outdoor ice rink, show off your skills, or just have fun gliding across the ice. The rink also has pairs that guests can borrow. Kids are also welcome to ride down the ice slide or spend time in the snow play box. 

In Bryson City, the historical Great Smoky Mountains Railroad train is recognized across the globe, but during Thanksgiving weekend, it transforms into the magical Polar Express, a 90 minute ride complete with hot cocoa, sweets, and a live reading of the beloved book after which the train is named. Just like in the book, kids can be greeted by jolly Saint Nick himself and receive a silver sleigh bell souvenir. In addition, kids can send their letters to Santa at the Swain County Visitor Center, which provides guests with cookies and cocoa all day. 

Thanksgiving Day draws countless people to Asheville for the National Gingerbread House Competition. Hosted at the Grove Park Inn, the contest features the finalists’ creations on full display. Both viewing and self-guided tours of the grounds are free, and visitors can stop by the Folk Art Center to peruse and purchase crafts from Southern Appalachian artisans.

On the day after Thanksgiving, Fayetteville transforms into a Victorian-era town straight out of a Charles Dickens novel. Guests can ride on authentic horse-drawn carriages, sing carols, drink cider, eat gingerbread, and watch the fireworks show. 

From Charlotte to Greensboro, North Carolinians love to celebrate Thanksgiving their own way, providing something for everyone to enjoy: dog-lovers, children, and youthful spirits alike.