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3 places to go for Thanksgiving

3 places to go for Thanksgiving

Given everything that has happened this year now is the time to shake things up and plan a different kind of Thanksgiving.

The following are three places to go for this month’s big day.

The late 19th century Grand Union Hotel in Fort Benton, Montana. | Dennis Lennox

Fort Benton, Montana

This historic town on the Missouri River, where explorers Lewis and Clark stopped on their 8,000-mile expedition of discovery, is known as the birthplace of Montana.

The Grand Union Hotel, having first opened its doors to guests in 1882, is a great destination this Thanksgiving. Chef Bryce Lamb’s three-course dinner costs a mere $45 per person. Main course choices include herb-roasted turkey with apple-sausage stuffing, milled Yukon potatoes, caramelized brussels sprouts and turkey gravy; coffee-marinated prime rib with mashed potatoes, broccolini and horseradish au jus; or pan-roasted salmon with cranberry vinaigrette, sweet corn pudding and roasted rainbow carrot.

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There is plenty for visitors to see and do for two or three nights between Fort Benton’s charming streetscape and picture-perfect river views. Nearby Great Falls (about 45 miles away) is home to the must-visit Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.

The closest airport is also in Great Falls. Nightly rates at the Grand Union start at $110.

Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth, Michigan, is the world’s largest Christmas store. | Dennis Lennox

Frankenmuth, Michigan

It’s almost impossible to drive Interstate 75 and not see billboards for Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, which is unabashed in its religious celebration of the holiday. The roadside signs can be found up-and-down the highway between Michigan and Florida.

The world’s largest Christmas store is located in Frankenmuth, near Saginaw and about 100 miles north of Detroit’s airport.

The small town, surrounded by farmlands, was first settled in the mid-1800s by Lutheran immigrants from Franconia in the German state of Bavaria. It was this German heritage that earned Frankenmuth recognition from Booking.com, which recently included it on a list of destinations that reflect America’s diverse culture.

Today, Frankenmuth promotes itself as Little Bavaria. Much of the cityscape is inspired by traditional Bavarian architecture, though the execution is less authentic and more theme park kitsch.

For Thanksgiving dinner make a reservation at one of the town’s landmark family-owned restaurants, the Bavarian Inn Restaurant & Lodge or archrival Zehnder’s.

An elaborate buffet Thanksgiving dinner will be served on the lawn of Houmas House.

Houmas House

This stately Louisiana antebellum plantation has the perfect socially distanced Thanksgiving dinner.

The elaborate buffet dinner, which is priced at $80 for adults and $25 for children younger than 13, includes a fried turkey carving station among countless other choices. Guests will dine on the lawn under Houmas House’s iconic live oak trees.

Houmas House is located along the Mississippi River about halfway between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. It also operates a bed-and-breakfast inn with suites from $400 per night over Thanksgiving. 

Spires and Crosses is a weekly travel column. Follow @dennislennox on Twitter and Instagram.

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Dennis Lennox writes about travel, politics and religious affairs. He has been published in the Financial Times, Independent, The Detroit News, Toronto Sun and other publications. Follow @dennislennox on Twitter.

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