Who doesn't love Thanksgiving?
Family. Friends. Food. Football. Festive tables, bursting with juicy turkey, cranberry sauce (with small chunks of fruit inside?), stuffing, special Holiday gravy, candied yams, sparkling candles, happy conversation with loved ones, plenty of warm embraces and plenty of laughter. And, of course, to start off the happy day, one of the world's most famous parades. After all...who doesn't love Thanksgiving? And here are four of America's greatest places to celebrate it!
#4 - HOTEL ANDALUZ, ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO - In the 1930's, Albuquerque was still a quiet Southwestern town. So it was headline news when a young New Mexico entrepreneur - Conrad Hilton - opened the Hotel Andaluz in 1939, at a then-stunning cost of $700,000. At ten stories high, it was the tallest building in New Mexico, the first with air-conditioning and the first with an elevator. "Andaluz" is Spanish for Andalusia, Spain's southernmost region, just across the Strait of Gibraltar from Morocco and with definite Middle Eastern influences. And the hotel's design and furnishings give it a distinctive bi-cultural flavor. Nowhere, however, are the cultural combinations more stunning than the downstairs public spaces and lobby. You enter the building past floor-to-ceiling multi-colored glass panels, into a lobby that appears more like Casablanca than Andalusia. There are high, carved wooden ceilings, hanging chandeliers, dark-wood columns, and stucco walls with inlaid candles. Your eye goes immediately to the far wall, which contains six private alcoves in Middle Eastern motifs. These are the Lobby Casbahs, entered through rounded archways and filled with Moorish-style lamps and carpets and plush sitting spaces. Just off the lobby is a library with a fireplace. Mas is a full-service restaurant and tapas bar, while Ibiza Rooftop is a stylish lounge with great views of the city. Thanksgiving Dinner is served in Mas, with specialties like Spinach-Apple Salad and Buttermilk Fried Turkey. The Andaluz has won prestigious awards, among them AAA Four Diamond status. Perhaps its highest honor, though, was being named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.
#3 - THE COEUR D'ALENE RESORT, COEUR D'ALENE, IDAHO - Up in the Northern Idaho Panhandle is a town that seems - very happily - stuck in time. Coeur D'Alene, which means "Heart of the Awl," was the name early French traders gave to the Native Americans of this area. The town has cobblestone sidewalks and old-fashioned streetlamps and red-brick storefronts with quaint shops and galleries. It sits on Lake Coeur d'Alene, with 125 miles of forested shoreline lined with 7,000' peaks. Also right on the lake is the prestigious Coeur d'Alene Resort. The resort offers well-appointed guestrooms with beautiful views of the lake and mountains, some with fireplaces. There's a spa, infinity pool, fine shops, and kayak and boat rentals. In addition, it boasts the world's only floating (and movable!) golf green, the Famous Fourteenth - accessible only on a classic mahogany boat. The CDA Resort also offers a restaurant or lounge for every taste...ten of them. The adjacent docks have a float-plane service on which you take off and land in the lake, and cruise boats with stunning views of wildlife during the day and the Northwest stars at night. Hikers love Tubbs Hill, sticking out into the lake with trails and forests, bald eagles overhead, and every step offering more fantastic views than the last. Nearby is "The Route of the Hiawatha," a long-abandoned railroad track through a series of tunnels and 1,000-foot-high wooden trestles, now one of America's coolest mountain-bike routes. And the resort's Annual Holiday Light Show runs through January 2.
#2 - THE HOTEL ROANOKE, ROANOKE, VIRGINIA - Sitting in the aptly-named Blue Ridge Mountains, Roanoke boasts both a charming Old South feel and a remarkably revived downtown filled with cultural and culinary delights. The city's crowning jewel is The Hotel Roanoke, a red-brick, Tudor-style building constructed in 1882, still radiating Southern hospitality and listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The guestrooms are classic "Old Virginia," and there's a superb spa, an outdoor pool and a fitness center. The Regency Room restaurant features French-infused Southern cuisine. The Pine Room, formerly a writing room, an officer's club during World War II, and a Pub, reflects the woodsy feel of the surrounding mountains. In addition, there's STEAM Coffee + Eatery and the 1882 Lobby Bar. The Hotel Roanoke sits on a hill overlooking downtown, and it adjoins the stunning Taubman Museum of Art. It serves one of Virginia's finest Thanksgiving feasts. And at Holiday time, the hotel is bathed in colorful lights and decorations. The city at its feet is filled with beautifully-restored buildings now hosting atmospheric markets and restaurants, among them a legendary hamburger emporium called Texas Tavern, with red, soda-fountain-style stools. The heart of Roanoke is the revived Market Square, filled with art and food and antique markets, eclectic shops, and Center In the Square, a collection of cultural and just-plain-fun treasures...including the Roanoke Pinball Museum! In Roanoke, you're also just minutes from the Appalachian Trail and also the Blue Ridge Parkway, with stunning views of distant mountains and storybook villages, and some excellent vineyards along the way.
And now, my top choice for a great Thanksgiving getaway!
#1 - LOOKOUT POINT LAKESIDE INN, HOT SPRINGS, ARKANSAS - Lookout Point Inn has been a labor of love since its founding in 2003. As world travelers, owners Sam and Nancy knew what it takes to develop a world-class inn with both Southern hospitality and casual luxury. Named #3 Top Small Hotel in the U.S. in one poll, and by "Good Morning, America" to "Ten Best Lakeside Hotels in the United States," this Bed & Breakfast on Lake Hamilton prides itself on providing a peaceful sanctuary with plenty of pampering. And the "breakfast" part is a gourmet's delight. (And the Thanksgiving feast is spectacular!)The on-site Lakeview Bistro attracts not only the guests, but also folks from all over the region. Guestrooms feature beautiful wood furniture and large windows with bright, airy views. There's a great view of Lake Hamilton from each of the twelve guest rooms, and in Autumn, brilliant displays of fall foliage. Guests can also experience the views of Lake Hamilton up-close-and-personal while cruising on the "Lakeside Lady." The lake, however, provides much more than just beautiful views; here, you can canoe, kayak, or go pedal-boating. Visitors also marvel at the ever-changing ways the sunlight seems to dance around the Ouachita Mountains. Nearby are beautiful State Park trails for hiking, along with zip-lining, diamond- and crystal-hunting, and those famous geological hot springs that attract visitors from all over the world. If you get a little tired from all that exertion, you can chill out on a hammock, follow a wooded path to a waterfall, or just relax while gazing out at that beautiful lake.