Road Tripping Your Way to Thanksgiving Dinner

Charleston Grill/Andrew Cebulka
By AAA Travel Editor Suzanne Lemon
October 26, 2018
“Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go.” Well, not necessarily. Many are using Thanksgiving vacation to de-stress and relax before facing the bustling holiday season—and that means escaping the kitchen and taking a fun road trip. We’ve put together a list of restaurants open on Thanksgiving for those hitting the highway and traveling along the East Coast. So, go ahead and make your reservation at whatever destination you’ll land at on turkey day--and, bring grandma, too!
Interior shot of Charleston Grill in South Carolina
Charleston Grill/Andrew Cebulka
Charleston Grill
224 King St.
Charleston, South Carolina
AAA Inspector Rating
(843) 577-4522
This historically charming Southern city does wonders for soothing frazzled nerves. Gracious mansions overlook the harbor, a central market sells Gullah baskets and other handicrafts, and lovely courtyard gardens fill passersby with landscaping ideas. If you’re up for a worthy splurge at $99 per person, Charleston Grill provides a decadent feast. Roasted turkey is among the entrées offered, but the dessert alone may tempt you to try this classically stylish spot—Black Forest Baked Alaska, anyone?
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Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing on a dinner plate
Dan'l Boone Inn
130 Hardin St.
Boone, North Carolina
AAA Inspector Rating
(828) 264-8657
The North Carolina mountains provide numerous fun things to do with family. Adventurous pursuits such as snow skiing, hiking and fly-fishing beckon, as do relaxing pastimes like sightseeing and shopping. At some point during their excursions, generations of visitors have stopped at the Dan’l Boone for generous helpings of family style comfort food. Thanksgiving is no exception, with turkey and all the trimmings served up to a packed house. It’s a deal at $20.95 for adults, but seating is first come, first served. Many have proclaimed that the wait is well worth it.
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AAA/Inspector 420
The Garlic
556 E. 3rd Ave.
New Smyrna Beach, Florida
AAA Inspector Rating
(386) 424-6660
If you’re planning to wander Central Florida’s beaches during Thanksgiving break, The Garlic is definitely a restaurant to write home about if you’re looking for fun things to do with friends or family. Feast on a traditional dinner while taking in the eclectic décor, a delightful medley of colorful kitsch and bric-a-brac (and of course, all things garlic). Think laid-back beach spot meets whimsical tree house. If you are looking for a sedate meal, this probably isn’t the place, but you’re sure to meet some friendly locals.
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Clam chowder in a bread bowl with a spoon
Jessop's Tavern & Colonial Restaurant
114 Delaware St.
New Castle, Delaware
AAA Inspector Rating
(302) 322-6111
Jessop’s Tavern touts its cooking as “comfort food, Colonial style.” Indeed, the 1674 structure welcomes hungry patrons with hearty portions of pub fare, including an award-winning chowder. A friendly staff dressed in period garb adds to the sense of history and fun in this comfy tavern. So, if you’re up for Thanksgiving with a Colonial twist, step back in time and choose from a selection of main courses (including turkey) along with side dishes and desserts.
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The Kings Contrivance restaurant in Columbia Maryland
AAA/Inspector 49
The Kings Contrivance
10150 Shaker Dr.
Columbia, Maryland
AAA Inspector Rating
(410) 995-0500
Situated between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., Columbia is well positioned for those planning to explore some of the Northeast’s finest GEM attractions. If you find yourself in the area on Thanksgiving, The Kings Contrivance offers fine dining in a restored 19th-century mansion surrounded by gardens. You’ll feel like you are having dinner at a country estate, yet the cuisine has an international flair with influences from Europe and Asia. Turkey is on the three-course fixed price menu ($55), along with fish and other meat selections.
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This pink-colored mansion on Reynolds Square was built in the 18th century. It offers Southern cuisine (and maybe a hint of the paranormal).
AAA/Sherry Mims
The Olde Pink House
23 Abercorn St.
Savannah, Georgia
AAA Inspector Rating
(912) 232-4286
In need of a dash of history sprinkled with some Southern hospitality? Those wishing to dodge Savannah’s oppressive summer humidity travel there during the fall and may choose to spend Thanksgiving strolling along the town’s storied lanes. Quaint architectural offerings captivate visitors, and many have admired the stately pink building housing this local favorite on the culinary scene. The elegant yet cozy spot specializes in Lowcountry fare, and the chef likes to mix it up a bit on Thanksgiving. The restaurant offers a special menu for $60 but naturally, turkey is one of the choices to please traditionalists.
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Thanksgiving meal at the Roanoker Restaurant
Courtesy of The Roanoker Restaurant
The Roanoker Restaurant
2522 Colonial Ave. S.W.
Roanoke, Virginia
AAA Inspector Rating
(540) 344-7746
Those driving the Blue Ridge Parkway section that passes close to Roanoke start driving a little faster when The Roanoker Restaurant is on the radar. Savory ham biscuits, fried chicken and other Southern goodies have satisfied hungry travelers for years. Whether you’re in the mood for typical Thanksgiving fodder, or want to go “Southern style,” the restaurant delivers: Four different Thanksgiving dinners are offered in addition to the regular menu. Reservations aren’t accepted, so plan accordingly.
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