Discover USA: North Dakota
Join Budget Travel as we continue our series Discover USA. Discover USA explores states, counties, cities, and everything in between. Each week we will explore a new US destination to help you find things to do, itinerary ideas, and plan where to go next.
This week, we invite you to Discover what North Dakota has to offer. North Dakota is known as a destination for avid outdoorsmen with stunning lakes and rivers, abundant wildlife, and excellent walleye fishing. The state is also home to numerous cultural centers and and museums, with a particular focus on its Native and early American history.
North Dakota leaves no point on the culinary spectrum untouched. Foodies will find award-winning fine dining, breweries, wineries, cultural cuisine, locally owned restaurants serving comfort food classics, and aromatic coffee shops. Follow the culinary trail across North Dakota and sample authentic German and Norwegian dishes, funky and local fare, and refined farm-to-table entrees – just remember to leave room for dessert.
- Farm to Table: Chefs across North Dakota are creating dishes and experiences that reflect the freshest unique ingredients and cultural traditions in their local areas.
- Local Fare: From western steakhouses to family comfort food, the local favorite dining spots in each community offer a window into some of North Dakota’s hidden gem eateries.
- Culinary Trail: For a greatest hits list of North Dakota’s dining spots this culinary trail hits all the high notes, from fine dining and cultural cuisine, to breweries, wineries and distilleries.
- Good Eats North Dakota Style: From Pitchfork Steak Fondue (closed for the season opens spring 2023) in Medora to Rosewild in Fargo, the list of notable restaurants across the state is extensive.
Arts & Culture
Native American History and Culture: From Sitting Bull to Sakakawea, North Dakota is rich in Native American history — and with approximately 30,000 enrolled tribal members sharing geography with North Dakota, there are many opportunities to explore and experience Native American culture.
- Visitors can attend a powwow, with most held from late June through early September. The celebrations are multi-day festivals centered around traditional song and dance performances, and traditional foods , as well as vendors selling arts and crafts.
- The Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site preserves and protects the Northern Plains Native American Heritage. A state-of-the-art museum dedicated to preserving the culture of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara tribes is located at the visitor center.
- The Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site was the largest fur trading post on the upper Missouri River from 1828-1867. The site includes a reconstructed Bourgeois House with museum exhibits, and replica trade goods are available for purchase in the reconstructed Indian Trade House.
- The new MHA Interpretive Center near New Town uses living history programs to tell the story of the great MHA Nation and has a large display of museum quality and interactive kiosk of the culture.
Archaeology and Paleontology: It's said North Dakota once was a tropical paradise complete with giant lakes and the giant fish that used to swim in them. There is proof that other giants used to roam North Dakota in prehistoric times and they are being uncovered all the time. Dinosaurs literally left their footprints all over this state and their skeletons now figure prominently in many museums. Discover North Dakota's prehistoric past with these fun fossil sites, and dinosaur attractions.
Lewis and Clark Trail: Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery were some of the first non-Native visitors to North Dakota. Most people know the story of Lewis and Clark and Sakakawea — the explorers came through North Dakota, wintered here and met a young Native American girl who would become vital to the success of the Corps of Discovery. Today, you can see where and how they lived during their stay at Fort Mandan and Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site. The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center has artifacts and comprehensive details on the journey.
Art and History Museums: Artists have long found inspiration in North Dakota’s sweeping landscapes and rich cultural heritage.
- The North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum in Bismarck is a one-stop source for the arts, culture and history of North Dakota.
- In the heart of downtown Fargo, The Plains Art Museum occupies a renovated turn-of-the-century warehouse and is the largest and only accredited art museum in North Dakota. The permanent collection features modern, post-modern and contemporary pieces, as well as traditional Native American and African pieces.
- The North Dakota Museum of Art in Grand Forks is a preeminent collection of contemporary regional, national and international art in all media, and includes a survey collection of contemporary Native American art. The museum is recognized nationally for its commissioning of landmark works of art depicting the landscape, history and culture of the Northern Plains.
- The cowboy is a prominent figure in North Dakota culture, and the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame in Medora seamlessly blends the history of ranching, rodeo and Native American photos, displays, and videos to bring the cowboy to life.
- Recent census data shows that 30 percent of North Dakotans trace their ancestry to Norway, and this culture is on display and celebrated at the Scandinavian Heritage Museum in Minot, which pays homage to the five Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.
- While not a traditional museum, North Dakota’s wide-open vistas are the perfect setting for some of the country’s most impressive roadside art. Gorgeous, colorful murals can be found in nearly every city and town across the state, many of them depicting scenes, symbols or graphics that are meaningful and connected to the local community. Along the Enchanted Highway, visitors can drive the famous 30-mile stretch that’s dotted with roadside sculptures including the world’s largest metal sculpture, Geese in Flight by Gary Greff. And you won’t want to miss the world’s largest buffalo Dakota Thunder, an impressive 60-ton concrete monument in Jamestown. A sculpture garden in Wahpeton has a rotating menagerie of dinosaurs, bears and more. Smaller scale sculptures punctuate manicured gardens at the Rainbow Garden and Sculpture Walk in Mayville, a perfect scale and speed for families with young children.
Explore the Outdoors
Theodore Roosevelt National Park: North Dakota’s only national park is in the western part of the state and offers majestic Badlands scenery, abundant wildlife, and all kinds of outdoor adventures. The park has three units: the North and South Units (both distinctly different) and the Elkhorn Ranch. In the South Unit, the Badlands have been shaped by millions of years of wind, rain, erosion, fire and the meandering Little Missouri River. The main access to the South Unit is through the historic town of Medora. The North Unit, accessible just south of Watford City, has deeper gorges and is heavily forested in places. The beauty and allure of the North Unit draws visitors year-round for sweeping vistas of this designated wilderness. Visitors to both units can view a natural setting much like the one that greeted Theodore Roosevelt over a century ago. The 36-mile scenic loop drive in the South Unit and the 14-mile drive in the North Unit provide easy access to popular vistas and wildlife viewing. You will always see buffalo herds and prairie dog towns, and you may catch a glimpse of feral horses, mule deer, elk and maybe even a coyote.
The International Peace Garden: This 2,339-acre botanical garden commemorating peace between the United States and Canada stretches along the world’s longest unfortified border. It blooms annually with more than 150,000 varieties of flowers and showcases the Peace Chapel. Explore the two pristine freshwater lakes, scenic hiking and driving trails, wildflowers, waterfalls, and a large variety of North American birds and animals.
Fishing: North Dakota is a top destination for serious walleye anglers from far and wide. The state has more than 400 lakes and rivers—such as the Missouri River system, Lake Oahe, and Lake Sakakawea, and Devils Lake—offering exciting action for walleye, northern pike, perch and other game fish with seasons for most species open year-round. When rivers and lakes throughout North Dakota ice over, avid anglers drill a hole and keep on fishing. Ice fishing practices in North Dakota run the gamut, from a bucket on the ice to elaborate icehouse setups that include televised football games and tasty foods, while others may prefer testing their skills with darkhouse spearfishing.
Mountain Biking: The state offers plenty of space, a variety of trails for all skill levels and no crowds. The crown jewel of North Dakota mountain biking is the Maah Daah Hey Trail, a 144-mile singletrack that slices through a million acres of national grassland in western North Dakota. Mountain Bike Magazine has featured the Maah Daah Hey on their list of best rides, and the Maah Daah Hey Trail received a 2022 Bicycling Travel Award as Best Hidden Gem in the U.S. The Trail is a true test of skills and endurance on a variety of terrains, through an area that is more remote than most people have ever experienced. But the trail is not exclusively for elite cyclists, some of the best highlights and scenic beauty of the trail can be taken in as segment or spur trail rides accessed through nearly a dozen trailheads that can be enjoyed by mountain bikers of all abilities.
Golf: Great golf courses, each featuring their own signature landscapes and challenges, can be found throughout North Dakota. There is the Lewis and Clark Golf Trail, a series of 18- and nine-hole courses along the same route Lewis and Clark took through central North Dakota. The Triple Golf Challenge includes discounted rounds at three of the state's — and nation's — top-rated golf courses: The Links of North Dakota near Ray, Hawktree Golf Club in Bismarck, and Bully Pulpit Golf Course in Medora. All three are ranked 1, 2 or 3 in state rankings by Golf Digest, GOLF and Golfweek. Golfweek's top 100 U.S. best ranked public-access courses in 2022 includes the The Links of North Dakota at #42, and Hawktree Golf Club at #72 in the nation. In the Red River Valley, Fargo Country Club and Grand Forks' King's Walk are two highly-rated links, as is the Vardon Golf Club in Minot.
Downhill Skiing, Tubing, and Snowboarding: North Dakota's four downhill ski areas are popular with snow lovers of all ages. Slalom through fresh powder, ride a rail at the terrain park or feel the exhilaration of tubing down the slope. Huff Hills near Mandan has a 450-foot vertical drop with 16 runs and four lifts. The runs overlook the Missouri River and the Missouri River Valley. Bottineau Winter Park in the Turtle Mountains has eight runs and six lifts and a tubing area with handle lift. Frost Fire Park near Walhalla is tucked neatly into the Pembina Gorge area near the U.S.-Canada border. The area has a tubing run in addition to enhanced ski and snowboard areas. Thrill Hills at Fort Ransom is open for skiing, snowboarding and excellent tubing in the Sheyenne River Valley. (Note: Frost Fire Park is closed for 2022/23 winter season.)
Budget Friendly Ski Slopes for 2023
Where are the best ski resorts in North America? From Park City to Panorama, HomeToGo has researched the price of skiing across the continent, taking into account the latest prices and search trends for the upcoming 2022-23 season. Their Ski Report compares the price of skiing in Colorado, Utah, British Columbia, Vermont, New York, and more! They’ve included 50 of the ultimate ski havens from 15 states across the USA and Canada, so that you can carve out your winter travel plans without getting buried by debt. Scaling mountains of data and research, this year's report compares the affordability of lift tickets* and overnight accommodations, as well as the search trends of skiers planning their vacations. Ski resorts provided their latest pricing data for lift tickets during peak season periods and HomeToGo data was used to find the average price per person to stay in a 6-person vacation rental. See the top 3 most affordable resorts this winter.#3 Kicking Horse Mountain Resort Kicking Horse Mountain Resort 2021.22 Season - Courtesy of kickinghorseresort.com Located in Golden, British Columbia, Kicking Horse can be both a fun, family excursion or a challenging endeavor. With 120 trails across nearly 3,500 acres of terrain, there are opportunities to shred gnarly powder or glide along gentle slopes. In fact, it is known as the Champagne Powder Capital of Canada due to its ridges and bowls which are constantly stashed with deep snow. For thrill seekers, Kicking Horse is home to a 1,300-meter vertical drop, the sixth largest vertical drop of any North American ski resort. Meanwhile, beginners are welcome to explore the gentle glades for an incredible on-snow experience and lovely mountain views. Adult Lift Ticket Price: $105.82 Median Accommodation Price: $23.77/person Total: $129.59#2 Kimberley Alpine Resort Kimberly Ski Resort - Courtesy of skikimberley.com Kimberley, British Columbia prides itself on its small-town charm and real mountain experiences. The region receives an average of 13 feet of snowfall each season. It features 80 named runs, 1,800 acres of terrain and a variety of ski-in or ski-out accommodations. The Purcell Range of the Canadian Rockies offers stunning scenery and a relaxed atmosphere to enjoy the powdery snow, regardless of experience level. Skiing is not Kimberley’s only activity either, guests are welcome to try dog sledding, snowshoeing and snowboarding. Adult Lift Ticket Price: $84.00 Median Accommodation Price: $40.61/person Total: $124.61#1 Mission Ridge Ski Area Mission Ridge - Courtesy of missionridge.com Sitting 12 miles from Wenatchee, Washington, this ski area is built into a 2,000-acre basin on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountains. With 300 days annually of sunshine, it sits higher and drier than other mountains in the area. It’s known for its light, dry powder, which provides a smooth ride for the whole family. Mission Ridge has more than 36 designated runs with trails, chutes, screamers, bowls and even a 2,250-foot vertical drop. Whether you shred the slopes or explore the backcountry, Mission Ridge provides family fun and amazing mountain views. Adult Lift Ticket Price: $97.00 Median Accommodation Price: $18.13/person Total: $115.13 To see the full report and methodology click here.
Smoky Mountain Christmas at Dollywood Pigeon Forge, Tennessee - Nov. 5 - Jan 1, 2023 With several new lighting displays across its 160 acres, Dollywood theme park—the 14-time winner for Best Theme Park Christmas Event—now boasts more than 6 million shining, shimmering lights as part of the popular Smoky Mountain Christmas presented by Humana. "I believe each season in the Smokies is a precious gift from above, but I also know there is no better time than Christmas to experience the magic of this special place,” Dolly Parton explained. “Christmas is a time for new memories to be created, cherished family traditions to be celebrated and the love of the holidays to warm us all.” Guests will find hundreds of lighted trees throughout the park this year, as well as more new décor elements and eight different light zones to provide each area of Dollywood its own unique look and feel. Glacier Ridge fills Dollywood’s Timber Canyon, Wildwood Grove, Wilderness Pass and Upper Craftsman’sValley with an expansive arctic experience sure to inspire and delight guests. Wilderness Pass serves as one of the highlights of Glacier Ridge thanks to the Wonderful Christmas! Plaza Tree Show, which features a 50-ft. tall animated tree sparkling to life to present a fully-synchronized, dazzling light show throughout the evening. Each show is capped by an immersive snow finale! Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas - Courtesy of dollywood.com Additionally, Dollywood features indoor and outdoor stages with special shows. The festival’s headliner, “Christmas in the Smokies,” has been a must-see for families every Christmas season since it began in 1990. Many other Dollywood Christmas classics return including “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” “O’ Holy Night,” “Christmas with the Kingdom Heirs,” “Heart of the Holidays,” “Candlelight Carolers,” “The Mistletones,” “Appalachian Christmas with the Smoky Mountain String Band,” “Holiday Wild Roots” and more. Returning this year on Friday and Saturday evenings is the “Merry & Bright!” fireworks display, which provides a sparkling ending to the day. And for those looking to celebrate the holidays with the perfect family meal, Dollywood’s team of chefs have a menu full of culinary surprises sure to delight. From herb-roasted turkey breast and citrus-glazed carved ham to chicken pot pie in a bread cone, there are a number of savory items to satisfy every appetite. A number of unique items abound including eggnog cupcakes, gingerbread-dusted funnel cake, holiday limeade and more. An Olde Time Christmas at Silver Dollar City Christmas lights in Silver Dollar City - Courtesy of silverdollarcity.com Branson, Missouri - Nov. 5 - Dec. 30 Bright lights line streets, buildings, pathways and trees during Silver Dollar City's An Old Time Christmas. This season marks the debut of a new production show Coming Home For Christmas, along with over 6.5 million lights, an elaborate 8-story animated Christmas tree, a light parade, holiday foods and more. Throughout the streets of The City carolers sing and stroll, while the centerpiece of Joy On Town Square, an 8-story Christmas tree, and surrounding lights glow spectacularly. Even brighter is Christmas in Midtown with its remarkable display of light tunnels, wreath portals, flying angels and special effects 9-stories tall. For thrill seekers, rides soar under the Ozark Mountain starlight with all the Christmas lights visible below. Plus, craftsman in the Christmas spirit demonstrate glass-blowing wood carving and pottery, creating one-of-a-kind heirlooms. The City's stages offer more than 30 shows each day and night including the longtime favorite production, A Dickens' Christmas Carol. The all new show, Coming Home for Christmas, features a live band and a cast of 14 singers and dancers presenting holiday music, stories and family traditions. Other productions include The Living Nativity and the Saloon Frontier Fa-La-La Follies. Rudolph's Holly Jolly™ Christmas Light Parade winds through The City each evening with lighted floats, characters, dancers and performers. To add to the festivities, menus offer a variety of seasonal treats such as a Holiday Dinner with smoked turkey, ham, prime rib and trimmings; specialty soups like potato leek; Silver Dollar City's Miner's Beef Stew; plus, a variety of sweets such as hot chocolate and wassail, s'mores or warm apple dumplings with homemade cinnamon ice cream. Tasting Passports let guests sample their way through The City. WinterFest at Kings Island WinterFest Wonderland Parade at Kings Island - Courtesy of visitkingsisland.com Mason, Ohio - Nov. 25 - Dec. 31 WinterFest is an unforgettable holiday experience where Kings Island transforms into 11 enchanting winter wonderlands. Voted in 2021 as one of the top Theme Park Holiday Events in the country by USA TODAY readers, the annual event features ice skating on the Royal Fountain, the Eiffel Tower turned into a magical Christmas tree, the WinterFest Wonderland Parade, more than five million lights and live entertainment throughout the park. Plus, experience up to 20 rides including Mystic Timbers and Kings Mills Antique Autos. Cincinnati’s premier holiday event is open select nights in November and December. Guests will be treated to a grandiose showcase of dazzling displays and extravagantly decorated floats with the WinterFest Wonderland Parade filled with classic holiday themes such as toy boxes, gingerbread houses, choo-choo trains, and more. This year, special live entertainment acts include the all-new Swingin’ Into Christmas, plus Tinker’s Toy Factory, Jingle Jazz, Cool Yule Christmas and so much more. Visitors can participate in holiday fun like skating on Snow Flake Lake, decorating cookies with Mrs. Claus and getting a family photo with the big man in red himself! Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Busch Gardens Williamsburg - Courtesy of buschgardens.com Williamsburg, Virginia - Nov. 11 - Jan 8, 2023 The World’s Most Beautiful Theme Park is once again transformed with over ten million twinkling lights, one of the largest holiday displays in North America. Enjoy heart-warming holiday shows and classics such as Santa’s Workshop, the Christmas Town Express and ‘Twas that Night ice skating show. Over 20 rides and coasters pair thrilling moments with holiday cheer. During "Santa’s Fireside Feast" presented by Coca-Cola, guests gather around the majestic castle as Santa recounts a classic Christmas story while elves prepare a scrumptious all-you-care-to-eat meal and Mrs. Claus dazzles the dining room with holiday cheer. Visitors can also find a number of seasonal characters in the park's different sections, which are themed after various countries. In England's Kidsington Palace, families can snap a photo with Father Christmas and enjoy a drink in front of the fireplace. In Festa Italia, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Clarice can be found in Rudolph's Winter Wonderland, while Frosty the Snowman & Gingy the Gingerbread Man can be found in France. Families are invited to participate in an all-new holiday scavenger hunt celebrating traditions around the world including Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. Pick up a clue sheet in England to identify holiday symbols throughout the park and redeem a sweet treat at Emporium once all have been found. Throughout the park, festive treats, holiday shopping and special photo opportunities complete this holiday tradition for friends and families. Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Christmas on Ice - Courtesy of buschgardens.comTampa, Florida - Nov. 14 - Jan. 9, 2023 Just like its Virginia counterpart, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay puts on its own spectacular Christmas festival. Visitors can experience the joy of the season up close with animal encounters, thrilling rides, holiday inspired culinary delights and festive shows. The park's longest running classic holiday show, Christmas on Ice, returns this year to the Moroccan Palace Theater. This inspiring skating production transforms the stage with incredible feats of skating athleticism for a truly unmissable show set to holiday classic songs. At night, enjoy classic holiday tunes and watch festive bursts of Christmas colors as they cover the sky in a dazzling fireworks and fountain display (offered on the Festival Field every Saturday and select nights of the event). Visitors can ride the Holly Jolly Express and celebrate the most wonderful time of the year with favorite songs of the season and wild views of Busch Gardens' 65-acre veldt, home to giraffes, rhinos, zebras and more. In the Pantopia section, Rudolph's Winter Wonderland features the famous reindeer and all his friends. And, in Santa's North Pole Experience, jolly elves guide guests to see Santa in his workshop as he prepares for the holiday season. Great for Christmas photo opportunities, this fun and festive activity is perfect for making memories with your family and friends. Other memorable shows include Storytime with Mrs. Claus, Three Kings Journey, and Elmo's Christmas Wish. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom's Main Street at Walt Disney World - Courtesy of wdwnt.com Orlando, Florida - Nov. 8 - Dec. 22 Holiday cheer will fill the Magic Kingdom as Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party returns this year on 24 select nights in November and December. A 65-foot-tall Christmas tree, adorned with dazzling lights and ornaments, welcomes guests to the park where they’ll discover favorite attractions featuring special holiday overlays, Disney characters dressed in the spirit of the season and seasonal entertainment, seasonal nighttime spectaculars, transformations of favorite attractions, special food and beverages and more. All the standard entertainment is back this year. First off, Mickey Mouse and his pals appear on the Cinderella Castle stage for the fifth year of the Christmas extravaganza “Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration.” The show features singers, dancers and surprises all choreographed to nostalgic and modern medleys of holiday music. And every night, Minnie Mouse orchestrates a sparkling nighttime spectacular with dazzling fireworks, castle projections and seasonal songs in “Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks.” Of course, don’t miss Santa Claus as he joins Mickey Mouse and friends in the classic “Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade.” As well, partygoers can indulge in complimentary cookies and hot cocoa at locations throughout Magic Kingdom. Select Magic Kingdom attractions will get a jolly holiday overlay with Jungle Cruise transforming into Jingle Cruise once again, and special holiday makeovers of Space Mountain, Tomorrowland Speedway, Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, and Mad Tea Party returning for the first time since 2019! New sweet treats this year include Texas-sized Sweet Potato Pie with Marshmallow Meringue and Candied Pecans found at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Café to go along with returning favorites like the Mickey-shaped Cinnamon Roll with White Icing and Holiday Sprinkles at Main Street Bakery.
Thanksgiving is one of America’s most beloved holidays, giving families a chance to share a meal together and reflect on all the things for which they are grateful. The first Thanksgiving dates back to Plymouth, MA in 1621, and each U.S. president declared a yearly celebration of the holiday until Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Thanksgiving into law permanently in 1941. But even though Thanksgiving is centered on family and gratefulness, it’s still become a highly commercialized holiday. That’s apparent from the fact that the next day is Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days of the year, and a few days later is Cyber Monday, which brings scores of online deals. Last year, consumers spent a little over $300 per person during the five-day period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. Luckily, though, it doesn’t cost too much to make a Thanksgiving feast for your family – around $53 on average for 10 people. To help Americans find the best places to go for Thanksgiving without breaking the bank, WalletHub compared the 100 largest U.S. cities based on 20 key metrics. Their data set ranges from the cost of Thanksgiving dinner and share of delayed flights to volunteer opportunities per capita and forecasted precipitation. Check out our top 5: 5. Gilbert, AZ Downtown Gilbert - Istock/DenisTangneyJr Set in Arizona’s “Valley of the Sun” just a stone’s throw from Phoenix and the rocky San Tan Mountains, Gilbert is the biggest small town you’ll ever meet. Gilbert has a vibrant dining scene and offers something for even the most discerning palate. Patios abound and locally sourced ingredients deliver a uniquely Arizona flavor. Gilbert’s diverse and eclectic mix of retail shops and stores make for great discoveries for yourself or a friend. Meet the local makers and support their craft. There are a lot of prominent places to visit and things to do on Thanksgiving in Gilbert. If you are looking for places to eat then you should go for buffets and Thanksgiving dinners in Gilbert, they serve you a feast and make it a scrumptious celebration. Apart from dinners, you can explore some interesting and unique Thanksgiving events in Gilbert, one of the major and annual events definitely would be the Thanksgiving parade. Indulge in this mind blowing experience where there is food, fun and family. If you don’t want to go conventional then you can even opt for races, dinner cruise, yoga classes and more. Gilbert is packed with action from sports to the theater. Mural-clad brick walls, glowing benches, a solo gopher, waterways art, and a color-changing water tower are a few creations found in the Heritage District. Experience the local Broadway theater, historical museum, and gallery to feed your cultural side. 4. Raleigh, NC Downtown Raleigh - Istock/Mark Howard When it comes to food and drinks, the Raleigh area is home to some of the best-kept secret eateries dishing out and serving up some truly awesome experiences. Downtown Raleigh restaurants are offering dine-in or carry-out Turkey Day meals and treats, so there's no need to worry! Raleigh, the capital city of North Carolina, is one of the South’s most vibrant, eclectic cities – where eclectic meets traditional and historic meets modern. Centrally located along the USA's eastern coast, the city forms part of North Carolina’s famed Research Triangle, a wellspring of education, research and technical innovation. You’ll discover outstanding arts and culture (earning the city the nickname “Smithsonian of the South”), a renowned culinary landscape (including the James Beard Foundation's 2019 Best Chef in America, Ashley Christensen) and a music scene that inspired “Rolling Stone” to call Raleigh one of the top eight emerging music cities in the USA. If you get there early in the week (Nov 19th) be sure to check out Raleigh's best (and biggest) annual traditions—the ABC11 Raleigh Christmas Parade! An event truly made for the whole family. The Raleigh Christmas Parade, the largest such parade between Atlanta and Washington, D.C., marches through downtown Raleigh for more than two hours, drawing nearly 80,000 visitors to the streets to see marching bands, dancers, classic cars, superheroes and Santa Claus. 3. Las Vegas, NV Courtesy Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Bureau Las Vegas is a city that was made for entertainment, carved out of the Mojave Desert with escape in mind. Millions of people visit Las Vegas annually to relax, dine, shop, see performers, experience the nightlife and, of course, enjoy a go at the gaming tables. November is a prime time to visit Vegas, with perfect weather, lots to see and do, and some of the best Thanksgiving dining you could ever hope for. With an impressive collection of world-class restaurants — many from highly esteemed and decorated chefs — Vegas is one of the best cities in the world for dining. Experiencing the destination's dining scene on a holiday is even better, as special menus and seasonal items get added into the mix. Vegas also begins to celebrate the holiday season, so you’ll have the treat of seeing the Las Vegas Strip all lit up with holiday decorations. You can also enjoy the Music/Club Scene as the crowds will be smaller but the clubs will still be open – and usually with a lower cover price. 2. Orlando, FL Orlando Christmas Lights - Istock/Monisha Malli Sridharan If you’re spending Thanksgiving in Orlando, be prepared for a cornucopia of fun things to do. Whether you want to hit the theme parks, plan out your Black Friday shopping or find an amazing foodie feast. Thanksgiving in Orlando is an extravagant affair, with bountiful dining options around every corner. Buffets are a big thing for Thanksgiving, as are gourmet brunches, lavish lunches, and opulent dinner events. An array of restaurants at Disney World offer special menus over the Thanksgiving weekend. You’ll find turkey-inspired options at Disney Springs and across all 4 Disney parks. If you don’t fancy heading out you can stock up on fresh produce and cook a Thanksgiving dinner in the comfort of your vacation home. There are plenty of other entertainment options too, with special events, parties, and celebrations happening all over the city. Also, many department stores open late into the evening for the start of the door-busting Black Friday sales. You can also head over to Disney World for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party which features shows, parades, and special fireworks. Epcot’s Candlelight Processional also kicks off around Thanksgiving time. It features rousing music concerts, nightly fireworks, and a re-telling of the Christian nativity story by a line-up of celebrity narrators. 1. Atlanta, GA Atlanta Thanksgiving Marathon - Courtesy of atlantatrackclub.org Georgia has a diverse and abundant list of things to do any time of the year, but especially around the holidays. Shopping, thrills and festive light displays await you. Start a new Thanksgiving tradition with your family this year by lacing up your running shoes or simply watch from the sidelines at this annual, festive Thanksgiving Day half marathon and 5k. Don’t feel like cooking? Check out restaurants that serve delicious Thanksgiving dinners. After the turkey has been tackled and the food coma averted, it’s time to get out and enjoy all that Atlanta has to offer this holiday weekend. From iconic holiday events to music and more, the possibilities for fun are endless in Atlanta. To see additional rankings and methodology click here.
Spooky Stats for 2022
It’s the spookiest time of the year, when superstition runs rampant and treats always come with the potential for a trick. But like with anything else, the more you know about Halloween, the less scary it seems. Did you know, for example, that ringing doorbells and lighting candles are thought to ward away witches, ghosts and evil spirits? And how frightening can haunted houses really be when charities operate 80% of them? Even if you’re not prone to spooking, there’s always something interesting to learn about Halloween. For instance, 20% of people plan to put costumes on pets, and 86% of parents admit to stealing candy from their kids. And that’s just the beginning. To ease your fears and help you gain a new appreciation for this hallowed holiday, WalletHub explored a wide variety of facts about Halloween, analyzing the occasion from all angles. Istock/SolStock 10 Facts About Halloween for 2022: $10.6 Billion: Projected Halloween spending in 2022.$3.6 Billion: Halloween costume spending in 2022.$3.1 Billion: Halloween candy spending in 2022.34% of parents think 13 or 14 is old enough to trick-of-treat alone.67% of Americans plan to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters.86% of parents admit to stealing candy from their kids.$5.82: Average retail price of a pumpkin (up 13% from 2021).$300+ Million: Annual revenue from ticket sales for haunted attractions, 80% of which are run by charities.$11 Million: Direct property damage caused by Halloween house fires each year.72% of Americans say they would consider purchasing a haunted house to live in (but less than half would pay full market value for it). For more Halloween facts or see the infographic click here!