Road-tripping Your Way to Thanksgiving Dinner
Updated: October 30, 2023
AAA Travel Editors
“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.
As you go, remember to treat your vehicle with the same care as the holiday meal. Get an overall inspection and fill all fluids to ensure optimal performance. As part of your preparation, get a good night's sleep and a proper breakfast to fuel your day.
After all, Thanksgiving is about more than just the turkey and trimmings. So, go ahead and make your reservation at whatever destination you’ll land at on Turkey Day — and, invite your grandma, too!
Charleston Grill/Andrew Cebulka
224 King St.
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 $115 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 — Pumpkin Pie Pot de Crème, anyone?
Dan'l Boone Inn
130 Hardin St.
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 $24.95 for adults, but seating is first come, first served. Many have proclaimed that the wait is well worth it.
556 E. 3rd Ave.
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 turkey dinner or house specialty 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. Seating is first-come, first serve.
iStockphoto.com/AlphotographicJessop's Tavern & Colonial Restaurant
114 Delaware St.
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. 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, ham and filet mignon, along with side dishes and desserts.
The Kings Contrivance
10150 Shaker Dr.
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 plan to be in the area on Thanksgiving, make your reservations in advance. The Kings Contrivance offers fine dining in a restored 19th-century mansion surrounded by gardens; seating is from noon to 7. You’ll feel like you are dining at a country estate, yet the cuisine has an international flair with influences from Europe and Asia. Several gluten-free offerings are on the menu, including halibut. Turkey also is on the three-course fixed price menu ($65, per person), along with fish and other selections. Prices vary for children's menu items.
The Olde Pink House
23 Abercorn St.
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 restaurant offers selections from the menu. However, roasted turkey with all the fixings should please most traditionalists. Reservations are often booked far in advance, but fortunately Arches Bar is open to walk-in guests.
3033 NE 32nd Ave
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
For those seeking a Thanksgiving feast with a view, Shooters Waterfront presents the perfect culinary pit stop. Open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, the restaurant offers a special homestyle buffet priced at $80 for adults and $40 for children, ages 4-10. Ditch the traditional a la carte menu for an expansive buffet featuring multiple stations — from a carving station brimming with turkey, ham, and prime rib, to a dedicated kid's station, assorted salads and sides, and an array of decadent desserts. As you savor the delicious spread, drink in the stunning waterfront views of the Intracoastal.
5 Beekman St
New York, New York
There's a Thanksgiving prix-fixe menu for $165 per person inspired by celebrity chef Tom Colicchio. The three courses may include anything from glazed lobster and chocolate torte to kampachi crudo (raw yellowtail). Reservations are required at the dining room, located on the first level of The Beekman, A Thompson Hotel in New York's Financial District.
Start Your Next Road Trip with AAA
AAA Travel provides peace of mind for travelers—from the first mile of the journey to the last. Get inspiration for your next road trip with AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner, or browse pre-planned itineraries on AAA.com/RoadTrips. Estimating fuel costs for your trip is easy with the AAA Gas Cost Calculator, and if your car needs a quick tune-up before the trip, find a AAA Approved auto repair facility near you at AAA.com/AutoRepair. For printed maps, AAA TourBook guides and trip planning advice, visit your local AAA office.
AAA Travel Editors
AAA Travel Editors are AAA Travel Experts.