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You can’t spell Thanksgiving without the word “thanks”, and what better way to be thankful than to plan a family trip for the holiday weekend. If you’re looking for a few ideas to make this your best Thanksgiving trip yet, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s a quick rundown of nine amazing Thanksgiving getaways in the High Sierra, based on what you enjoy doing.

Truckee – Skiin’ & Shoppin’

Truckee Hotel Historic Lodges In The High Sierra
Image appears courtesy: Truckee Chamber of Commerce

When it comes to a picturesque town that fits the perfect Thanksgiving holiday getaway, look no further than Truckee. You’ll find a wide range of vacation rentals, from historic hotels to mountain homes, as well as numerous activities and fall colors still lingering along hiking trails. Peruse the local shops and galleries on Main Street to pick up the perfect holiday gift for friends or family. You may even have the option of skiing at Northstar California and Palisades Tahoe – check for opening dates.

Shore-in’ It Up In North Lake Tahoe

lobby at Tahoe City Arthaus
Image appears courtesy: Tahoe City Arthaus

Just twelve miles east of Truckee you’ll find the north shore of Lake Tahoe. With a few extra days off, you’ll have plenty of time to get some rest and relaxation. Take in one of the classic jaw-dropping sunsets from iconic spots such as Kings Beach or go for a hike up to Monkey Rock in Incline Village. After a full day of outdoor fun, head over to Tahoe’s only cinema drafthouse – Tahoe City Art Haus. Pick from one of the nine craft beers and cider on tap. Enjoy non-GMO popcorn popped in coconut oil and relax in a comfy leather seat as you take in indie films, blockbuster movies, or the World Series.

Eastern Sierra – Peace n’ Quiet

South Tufa, Mono Lake, California
South Tufa, Mono Lake, California – Image appears courtesy: Visit Mono County

For those that need to get away from it all, the high-country east of the Sierra Nevada in Mono County is the perfect spot. During this time of year, it’s the beginning of what they call the “quiet season.” The main passes such as Tioga are closed for the winter so you pretty much have the entire region to yourself. Enjoy a scenic drive on Highway 395 & take in the otherworldly views of Mono Lake. Or, if you’re looking for even more relaxation, head over to Keough’s Hot Springs for a dip. The options of outdoor recreating are endless.

Angels Camp – Talking Turkey About History

Christmas Traditions In The High Sierra
Image appears courtesy: Calaveras Visitors Bureau

Historic towns are unique like time capsules of a bygone era. Angels Camp’s claim to fame is its close association with Mark Twain’s short story “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.” To this day, the main street still has the look and feel of that time. Although the bar at Angels Hotel where Sam Clemens heard the story is no longer around, you can pony up to a bar from the same era at the Murphys Hotel Bar or Hotel Leger in Mokelumne Hill. Find your perfect Christmas gift at one of the many boutiques or antique shops that line the thoroughfare. Don’t forget to visit the Angels Camp Museum which is home to the largest collection of carriages and wagons in the country.

A Good Walk Made Great In Yosemite

Chapel Meadow in Yosemite Valley during fall
Image appears courtesy: Yosemite Mariposa County Tourism Bureau

Holiday periods are typically busy in John Muir’s paradise, but Thanksgiving is special. Magical even. With the cooler temperatures comes a quieter period where nature has a chance to take a big sigh. Follow the curvy Highway 49 through the quaint Gold Rush Towns like MariposaHornitos, and Coulterville. Set off on a fall stroll along the  Yosemite Valley Loop Trail and take in the larger-than-life landmarks. Enjoy the June Bug Cafe’s legendary Thanksgiving dinner. Let’s just say Thanksgiving vacations in Yosemite Mariposa will leave you rested and inspired for the holidays.

Choo Choo Your Way To Fun

railtown western sierra
Railtown; Photo by Yusra Wahab

Speaking of Yosemite, another gateway to this famed national park is Tuolumne County. Accessed via the north entrance known as Big Oak Flat, fall is the perfect time to visit an often missed part of the park – Hetch Hetchy. After you’ve taken in the soaring granite cliffs and sparkling waters, venture down to the historic towns. Peruse the stores and pick up some holiday gifts in the largest preserved Gold Rush Town – Columbia State Historic Park. Take in the historic railway cars and locomotives in the roundhouse at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, which has been featured in countless films such as Back To The Future Part III and finish things off with a nice family picnic.

South Lake Tahoe – Gettin’ Jiggy With It

couple walking down to MS Dixie II during Thanksgiving
Photo by: Marcello Rostagni – Image appears courtesy: Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority

Are you the type of person that enjoys being in the center of it all? A place that has energy. Excitement. Plenty to do. South Lake Tahoe is where you’ll want to go for a Thanksgiving getaway. Heavenly Mountain Resort is at your doorstep. There’s ice rinks in the Heavenly village and at Edgewood Tahoe Resort. If you’re around on Thanksgiving Day, zip over to Zephyr Cove Resort. Enjoy a lakeside dinner followed by a cruise on the waters of Lake Tahoe via the M.S. Dixie II. The south shore will make sure you get all the trimmings and then some more for leftovers.

Bass Lake – Lake Livin’

Image appears courtesy: Visit Yosemite | Madera County

Although Bass Lake might be known for its summer lounging, Thanksgiving is also a great time to visit. You can enjoy the views of what many call “mini Lake Tahoe” but at a more relaxed pace. You may even a find a few special holiday gifts at the Holiday Bazaar & Pines Village the Friday after Thanksgiving. Fish, hike, bike, or camp in the area. Just be sure to bring layers for those cool evenings.

Markleeville – Escape To Nature

snow in mountains surrounding Markleeville California
Image appears courtesy: Alpine County California

As the snow begins to accumulate in the Sierra, both Monitor & Ebbetts Passes close for the winter. The only way access to access the quaint town of Markleeville is via the North on Highway 88 & 89. This isn’t a bad thing, but rather an opportunity to get close to nature with nary a soul around. Enjoy a meal at the legendary Sorensen’s Cafe (be sure to leave room for their famous berry cobbler). Afterwards, take in the beauty of Hope Valley. If there’s enough snow, rent a pair of snowshoes or cross-country skis from Hope Valley Outdoor Outfitters. And once you’ve had your fill of the outdoors, finish it off with fine dining at the Stonefly Restaurant.

Thanksgiving is about being thankful for what we have, and this year, we’re thankful for these 9 great getaways in the High Sierra!

Author: Alex Silgalis

Alex Silgalis is an outdoors travel writer who enjoys snowboarding, mountain biking, or having a cold one from a local mountain brewery. See more of Alex’s work at https://localfreshies.com



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