Photo by Jen Siska
Mojave Sands Motel
Does the thought of candied yams and the Detroit Lions put you in a preholiday stupor? Hide away at the Mojave Sands Motel, an eco-chic desert refuge near California’s Joshua Tree National Park, where your custom-designed suite comes with a vintage vinyl collection and the walls are insulated with recycled denim. Each of the five rooms features original artwork (some by owner-sculptor-photographer Blake Simpson) plus a private patio, perfect for taking your morning Stumptown espresso. From $160; http://www.mojavesandsatjoshuatree.com.
Photo courtesy of W Scottsdale Hotel
W Scottsdale Hotel
Having an awesome tan in November is something to be thankful for. But unsupervised sunbathing in UV-abundant Arizona can turn the golden complexion of your dreams into toasted tomato. Hide from the beams in 1 of 13 luxurious poolside cabanas, equipped with flat-screen TV’s and your own personal attendant. Pool free for guests; rooms $230; wscottsdalehotel.com.
Fairmont Grand Del Mar
We know, there were no horses at the first Thanksgiving, but don’t let that keep you from saddling up at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar’s equestrian center this holiday weekend. The smell of fresh hay wafts over eight stalls and tack and feed rooms, where riders of all levels can learn the ropes, enroll in a beginner’s day camp, or take in the rocky landscape on a trail ride through the 4,100 breathtaking acres of Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve. Feeling saddle sore? Treat yourself to a stay at the luxe San Diego resort, complete with pillow-top beds, Pratesi linens, and deep soaking tubs. From $510; http://www.fairmont.com/san-diego/.
Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Online
At Disney’s Aulani resort on Oahu’s quieter leeward coast, Mickey, Donald Duck and company ditch the park for the beach. The two-towered Hawaiian-themed property–think really big Enchanted Tiki Room–is Disney’s first hotel without an amusement park attached. But who needs rides when you can spend Thanksgiving swimming in two huge pools, snorkeling in the Rainbow Reef private lagoon, and inner-tubing the Waikolohe (“mischievous waterway”) Stream? From $644 (rooms sleep 4); disneyaulani.com.
Apologize to Aunt Betsy: You love her dining room seating chart and paper Pilgrim hats, but this year you’re taking the family to the beach. With a rental home in postcard-perfect Avalon, on SoCal’s Catalina Island, trade a premeal toss of the football for kayaking or beach volleyball while still hosting three generations around a groaning table. In November, temps are mild and the summertime hordes just a memory. It doesn’t matter if you choose a cozy cottage, rambling wood-shingled beach house, or red-tile roofed villa on a hill facing the sea, the place will fill–as Aunt Betsy’s does each year–with the smell of roasting turkey. Condos and houses from $125; most have 2-night minimum; catalinachamber.com.
Photo courtesy of Hotel Bel Air, Dorchester Collection
Hollywood legends usually keep their facelifts a secret, but after a two-year makeover, Hotel Bel-Air is ready for its close-up. The celeb hideaway has spiffed up its rooms with limestone floors and wood-beamed ceilings and beautified its 12 acres of gardens (don’t miss the rare Lonchocarpus tree). Trade the reheated drumstick and box-store death crawl for lunch at Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air before you hit the Beverly Hills boutiques, 10 minutes away. Or get pampered at the hotel’s Swiss-style spa, available for guests and visitors alike. You don’t have to be a star to live like one. Even if it’s just for the weekend. From $585; https://www.dorchestercollection.com/en/los-angeles/hotel-bel-air/.
Photo courtesy of Koloa Landing Wyndham Grand Resort
Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu
At the Koloa Landing Resort at Kauai’s Po’ipu Beach, the hotel rooms are like stylishly indulgent apartments with kitchens that just beg you to cook. Stock the fridge with local bounty: fresh mahimahi at Koloa Fish Market, island produce from the Kukui’ula farmers’ market. When the apps are prepped, push aside your living room’s wall of pocket doors to serve dinner on the breezy lanai. After dessert, slip out for a massage under the palms while everyone else loads the dishwasher. After all, you’re on vacation. From $396; koloalandingresort.com.
Rosewood San Miguel de Allende
San Miguel de Allende is the perfect Thanksgiving host, so eager to please its estadounidense visitors that it has a dozen good restaurants serving full-on turkey-cranberry-pumpkin-pie extravaganzas. But we really come to Mexico to revel in the late-autumn pleasure of this glorious colonial town–18th-century architecture, cobbled streets, cascading church bells, soft clear mountain light. Newest reason to visit: Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, with its 67 elegant rooms, spa, and 3 pools all located a quick walk from pretty Parque Juárez and a slightly longer walk from the center of town. There’s also the hotel’s 1826 restaurant-bar, whose 120 tequilas should keep you giving thanks well into the night. From $334 U.S.; rosewoodsanmiguel.com.
Photo courtesy of La Quinta Resort & Club
La Quinta Resort & Club
Maybe it’s the way the trees fan out before a mountain backdrop–like a hand beckoning–but Palm Springs has always had that vacation-on-arrival feeling. And nowhere is the vibe stonger than at La Quinta Resort & Club, a family-friendly California classic with hacienda-style rooms, two dozen tennis courts, and a candy shop that sells throwbacks like Good & Plenty and caramel apples. But you haven’t really arrived until you’ve booked a treatment for you and your dog at the revamped spa. Bliss out with the avocado lotion wrap and eucalyptus oil while your hound goes wag-happy for the hourlong canine rubdown. Sure beats turkey scraps under the table. From $315; laquintaresort.com.