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Traditionally, Thanksgiving is spent in a big dining room with all of your loved ones gathered around eating a big feast. . But oh, the cleaning, and the prep and the dishes! A couple years ago we decided to ditch all the work and head out in our RV for some fall camping. We still ate turkey and dressing from the kitchen in our camper while enjoying the Arches National Park. Many RV campgrounds have special events for Thanksgiving.
Why not think outside the box and bring your family to some of the most beautiful places in the entire country this November. You could spend this great American Holiday surrounded by towering mountains and lush forests. Here are seven incredible RV camping destinations that host Thanksgiving events for your whole family to enjoy!
Arches National Park, Utah
Arches makes the top of our list because we have returned to Moab for 2 years in a row for Thanksgiving. The weather is perfect and although the park does not have special activities, the town of Moab is nearby. Last year we spent the holiday seeing all the ancient petroglyphs.
Since it can be chilly (and even snow a little) bring extra layers! We suggest staying in Arches National Park at the Devils Garden campground or the nearby Dead Horse Point State Park. The state park has electric hookups and full-length RV campsites. Electric is so nice to keep the camper warm on the cold nights.
- Things to do: Hiking, View the Arches, Petroglyphs, visit Moab
- Where to Eat: In your RV, Red Cliffs Lodge, or Desert Bistro
- Where to Camp: Dead Horse Point State Park or Devils Garden Campground
- Tips for bringing small children to Arches National Park
Yosemite National Park
The second destination on the list is Yosemite National Park. This is one of the most well-known natural attractions in the world.
Yosemite National Park is in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. It’s famed for its giant, ancient sequoia trees, and for Tunnel View, the iconic vista of towering Bridalveil Fall and the granite cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome.National Park Serice
Although late November is far from peak season, there is one RV campground that remains open all year round. The Upper Pines is open 365 days a year and is one of the park’s biggest campgrounds with over 200 sites.
Not everyone wants to be at Yosemite in winter, but its Thanksgiving program is reason enough to go. Professional chefs are brought in for a very elegant Thanksgiving feast. The Ahwahnee, Wawona Hotel, and Yosemite Valley Lodge all have their programs at varying price points. Every year, they will post their menus and give your family an unforgettable time in one of the country’s best parks!
- Things to do: Hiking, ancient sequoia trees, Yosemite Valley waterfalls
- Where to Eat: Ahwahnee, Wawona Hotel, and Yosemite Valley Lodge
- Where to Camp: The Upper Pines
Joshua Tree National Park
The Mojave desert should be on your list to visit this Thanksgiving. Joshua Tree National Park is less than an hour from Palm Springs, but you will feel like you are in another world. In this dry hot desert, summer is the quiet months because of the unbearable heat. You will need reservations to grab a spot inside the park in November.
Choose from one of the 5 campgrounds in the park.
You can walk the Indian Cove trail, hike the Arch Rock Trail, wonder at the cacti in the Cholla Cactus Garden, or take in the sunset at Keys View. Some people suggest driving from north to south and exiting at Cottonwood Springs which loop back to Palm Springs.
- Things to do: hike Arch Rock Trail, Colla Cactus Garden, sunset at Keys View.
- Where to eat: In your RV, TwentyNine Palms RV Resort
- Where to Camp: Joshua Tree National Park
San Diego, California
Get away from the snow-filled roads and harsh winter weather and get to warm Southern California. Only minutes from San Diego’s best attractions sits the Chula Vista RV Resort. Chula Vista is an up-scale RV park that has tons of amenities and quick access to the marina and beach.
This resort offers a unique experience since you can eat turkey and stuffing poolside with the rest of the resort. This is a pot-luck style meal where each family is asked to bring a side or dessert to pass around.
On the following day, it is officially Christmas season and they set up all their lights and decorations at once. (Which is cool because that’s the one thing I love doing in my house.) It’ll all be ready for you to hang out with the other families that evening to kick off the holiday season.
- Things to do: Walk the waterfront, visit the old town, Balboa Park
- Where to Eat: Chula Vista RV Resort
- Where to Camp: Chula Vista RV Resort
Rainbow Springs State Park, Florida
This lush spring has been a favorite stop for centuries. 10,000 years ago native people regularly visited the area. Today you can swim in the same sapphire-blue waters of Rainbow Springs. Swim in the crystal springs, walk the lush – mossy trails or rent a kayak and explore the Rainbow River.
For a serene, peaceful holiday with the family consider Rainbow Springs State Park.
- Things to do: swim in crystal springs, kayak, hiking
- Where to Eat: In your RV
- Where to Camp: Rainbow Springs State Park Campground
First Landing State Park, Virginia
You can spend Thanksgiving at the place English colonists first landed in 1607. Located on Cape Henry in North Virginia Beach, you will find plenty to do in this 2,888 acre state park. Chesapeake Bay may be a little cold for swimming but don’t let that stop you from enjoying a stroll on the beach or fishing.
Virginia State Parks has been encouraging visitors to come to the park over Thanksgiving weekend. You can take part in an eight-mile post-Thanksgiving hike through First Landing State Park. They also have a #OptOutside event on Friday and have a photo contest with prizes for the winners.
If you decide to go a little earlier in October you can attend an annual fall festival with hayrides, pumpkin carving, and kids activities
- Things to do: hiking, boating, picnic, walking the beach
- Where to Eat: in Your RV
- Where to Camp: First Landing State Park Campground
Miramar Beach, Florida
You spend Thanksgiving on the sugar-white sands of the beautiful Florida panhandle. In the heart of Miramar Beach and just minutes to Destin & Scenic 30A is Camp Gulf. This RV park offers not only sugar-white beaches, boating, and activities, they have a huge activity complex where they host special holiday events.
This location would make an excellent location for a large multi-generational family gathering. They have RV campsites, cabins and beach houses for everyone in the group.
- Things to do: Sightseeing cruise, marine adventure park, biking, swimming, a day at the beach
- Where to Eat: Camp Gulf
- Where to Camp: Camp Gulf
To get a fantastic beach experience, Emerald Beach RV Resort is the place to go. Located in Navarre, Florida, your RV could be right up against the white sand beach and enjoy the beautiful Gulf of Mexico water. It is not every day that you can camp only a couple feet from the beautiful ocean. Only about 85 miles from Mobile, Alabama, this resort is in a great location to venture off and discover what Alabama has to offer also.
Once Turkey Day rolls around, the resort will host a potluck dinner where they provide the proteins and everyone in the campground brings a side dish or dessert. Having an awesome, homemade meal writing on the coast is a really special experience. After finishing your delicious meal, take a stroll on the beach and a dip into the blue Gulf waters. [https://www.emeraldbeachrvpark.com/]
- Things to do: Navarre fishing pier, kayaking, Sea turtle conservation center
- Where to eat: Emerald Beach RV Resort
- Where to camp: Emerald Beach RV Resort
Palm Desert, California
Palm Desert, California is home to this luxurious resort. Being right in the Coachella Valley, you will have access to excellent places and activities such as Joshua Tree National Park, the San Jacinto Mountains.
Not to be confused with Emerald Beach RV Resort in Florida, the Emerald Desert RV Resort is on the opposite end of the country.
Their Thanksgiving celebration is in the form of a sit-down dinner with everything being homemade on the premises. For only $20 per family member, you can all go and enjoy an incredible lunch in one of the most beautiful areas to be this time of the year. (and have someone else wash the dishes!)
- Things to do: Celebrity Tours of Palm Springs, wine tours, golf courses, Joshua Tree National Park
- Where to eat: Emerald Desert RV Resort
- Where to camp: Emerald Desert RV Resort
Boston is overflowing with our nation’s history so this is a fitting destination for Thanksgiving. Although it can be quite chilly, Boston/Cape Cod KOA gives you a reason to drive up north this November. If you and your family are into history and want to experience it in person, this is the perfect option.
Imagine Thanksgiving Day being filled with local Thanksgiving Day Parade, exploring Plymouth, and visiting the Plymouth Plantation.
Later in the day, go back to the KOA and enjoy a potluck feast with all of your RV neighbors. . At the end of the day, you can build a fire and enjoy s’mores with your new friends. You will experience the special RVing community that turns weekend RVers into full-timers.
- Things to do: Plymouth Plantation, downtown Boston
- Where to eat: Boston/Cape Cod KOA
- Where to camp: Boston/Cape Cod KOA
Cumberland Mountain State Park, Tennessee
Tennessee is home to many state parks to enjoy the natural beauty of the Appalachian Mountains. Cumberland Mountain State Park is known for the mountains and the beautiful, dense forests.
Restaurants in the Tennessee state parks are open for Thanksgiving and serve turkey and all the traditional trimmings, along with an assortment of desserts. You can choose to eat at the Homestead Harvest Restaurant, located on scenic Byrd Lake.
The next day, instead of crazed shopping trips, you can join a post-holiday hike with family and friends.
- Things to do: hike, wildlife viewing, Byrd Lake
- Where to eat: Homestead Harvest Restaurant
- Where to Camp: Cumberland Mountain State Park
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
The final Thanksgiving destination on this list is Grand Canyon, National Park. Like some of the other locations, November is not peak season, so avoiding the crowds is a plus. The Trailer Village campground on the South Rim is the only RV park open all year.
Along with avoiding crowds, you can participate in a great Thanksgiving feast. Just a few minutes from your campground, you can find the Grand Canyon Village. This experience is different from the others because the chefs infuse Southern cuisine alongside the traditional Thanksgiving foods. This twist will make it worth the visit!
You can eat Thanksgiving dinner on the rim of the canyon at the Arizona Room. They have a restaurant style meal but do not take reservations.
- Things to do: Grand Canyon Village, canyon hiking, canyon views, photography
- Where to camp: Trailer Villager campground
- Where to eat: Arizona Room
Find Thoughts on about the best places to camp for Thanksgiving
After camping during Thanksgiving and eating our traditional Turkey dinner in our camper, we recommend using your days off for the holiday to RV camp. If you live near one of these exciting destinations and own an RV you are in luck. However, in the late fall weather can be tricky and roads could get snow, so we suggest driving or flying to your destination and renting an RV. We will help you through the process of planning your next RV vacation with these articles on the blog.
- Should I rent an RV?
- 17 Questions to Ask Before Renting an RV
- How to get the Perfect Campsite every Time
Hi, I’m Shauna – Welcome to Family Travel Fever. We are a large family, that was bitten by the travel bug! I take the kids by myself because I don’t mind flying or driving solo with my crew to discover the coolest places.
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