An hour north of the carnivalesque crowds in Cabo, Rancho Pescadero is the Baja beauty that steals our hearts over and over again. Turkey Day here is all about downward dog in the glossy yoga pavillion, following sea turtle tracks on the deserted beach, and sun-soaked dozing by the pool. Throw in the hosted Fiesta al Fresco in the garden–where plain old gravy and mashed give way to a mariachi-serenaded spread of epazote-spiced turkey and fresh veggies from the garden–and the thanks will be flowing. A slew of new suites means you and your pals can have the run of the place, and on your third poolside margarita, you'll turn to them and slur: "You guys are like, the best family I've ever had."
Does the thought of candied yams and the Detroit Lions put you in a preholiday stupor? Hide away at the Mojave Sands Motel, an eco-chic desert refuge near California's Joshua Tree National Park, where your custom-designed suite comes with a vintage vinyl collection and the walls are insulated with recycled denim. Each of the five rooms features original artwork (some by owner-sculptor-photographer Blake Simpson) plus a private patio, perfect for taking your morning Stumptown espresso.
Having an awesome tan in November is something to be thankful for. But unsupervised sunbathing in UV-abundant Arizona can turn the golden complexion of your dreams into toasted tomato. The tanning concierge at the W Scottsdale Hotel can help. Get a poolside consultation with an attendant who will assess your specific UV needs and tolerances. That could mean a simple sunblock, or a more advanced regime of oils and timed exposure. Rays, shmays? Hide from the beams in 1 of 13 luxurious poolside cabanas, equipped with flat-screen TV's and your own personal attendant.
We know, there were no horses at the first Thanksgiving, but don't let that keep you from saddling up at the Grand Del Mar's equestrian center this holiday weekend. The smell of fresh hay wafts over eight stalls and tack and feed rooms, where riders of all levels can learn the ropes, enroll in a beginner's day camp, or take in the rocky landscape on a trail ride through the 4,100 breathtaking acres of Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve. Feeling saddle sore? Treat yourself to a stay at the luxe San Diego resort, complete with pillow-top beds, Pratesi linens, and deep soaking tubs.
At Disney's Aulani resort on Oahu's quieter leeward coast, Mickey, Donald Duck and company ditch the park for the beach. The two-towered Hawaiian-themed property–think really big Enchanted Tiki Room–is Disney's first hotel without an amusement park attached. But who needs rides when you can spend Thanksgiving swimming in two huge pools, snorkeling in the Rainbow Reef private lagoon, and inner-tubing the Waikolohe ("mischievous waterway") Stream?
Apologize to Aunt Betsy: You love her dining room seating chart and paper Pilgrim hats, but this year you're taking the family to the beach. With a rental home in postcard-perfect Avalon, on SoCal's Catalina Island, trade a premeal toss of the football for kayaking or beach volleyball while still hosting three generations around a groaning table. In November, temps are mild and the summertime hordes just a memory. It doesn't matter if you choose a cozy cottage, rambling wood-shingled beach house, or red-tile roofed villa on a hill facing the sea, the place will fill–as Aunt Betsy's does each year–with the smell of roasting turkey.
Hollywood legends usually keep their facelifts a secret, but after a two-year makeover, Hotel Bel-Air is ready for its close-up. The celeb hideaway has spiffed up its rooms with limestone floors and wood-beamed ceilings and beautified its 12 acres of gardens (don't miss the rare Lonchocarpus tree). Trade the reheated drumstick and box-store death crawl for lunch at Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air before you hit the Beverly Hills boutiques, 10 minutes away. Or get pampered at the hotel's new Swiss-style spa, available for guests and visitors alike. You don't have to be a star to live like one. Even if it's just for the weekend.
At the Koloa Landing Wyndham Grand Resort at Kauai's Po'ipu Beach, the hotel rooms are like stylishly indulgent apartments with kitchens that just beg you to cook. Stock the fridge with local bounty: fresh mahimahi at Koloa Fish Market, island produce from the Kukui'ula farmers' market. When the apps are prepped, push aside your living room's wall of pocket doors to serve dinner on the breezy lanai. After dessert, slip out for a massage in a thatched-roof hale under the palms at the Grand Hyatt Kauai while everyone else loads the dishwasher. After all, you're on vacation.
San Miguel de Allende is the perfect Thanksgiving host, so eager to please its estadounidense visitors that it has a dozen good restaurants serving full-on turkey-cranberry-pumpkin-pie extravaganzas. But we really come to Mexico to revel in the late-autumn pleasure of this glorious colonial town–18th-century architecture, cobbled streets, cascading church bells, soft clear mountain light. Newest reason to visit: Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, with its 67 elegant rooms, spa, and 2 pools all located a quick walk from pretty Parque Juárez and a slightly longer walk from the center of town. There's also the hotel's 1826 restaurant-bar, whose 120 tequilas should keep you giving thanks well into the night.
Maybe it's the way the trees fan out before a mountain backdrop–like a hand beckoning–but Palm Springs has always had that vacation-on-arrival feeling. And nowhere is the vibe stonger than at La Quinta Resort & Club, a family-friendly California classic with hacienda-style rooms, two dozen tennis courts, and a candy shop that sells throwbacks like Good & Plenty and caramel apples. But you haven't really arrived until you've booked a treatment for you and your dog at the revamped spa. Bliss out with the avocado lotion wrap and eucalyptus oil while your hound goes wag-happy for the hourlong canine rubdown. Sure beats turkey scraps under the table.