This year, let someone else cook the turkey.
We’ve rounded up some of the best spots in New England to wine and dine on a Thanksgiving dinner that, as Arlo Guthrie says, couldn’t be beat.
Key to note: Unlike at Alice’s Restaurant, reservations are required and seats fill fast. So we selected spots that boast stellar fare and atmosphere year-round. (If you miss out on turkey, you might want to spend Black Friday relaxing at one of these spots.)
Head to Plymouth, home of Thanksgiving, for a gourmet dinner at Mirbeau Inn & Spa. Start with New England clam chowder, roasted Plymouth Rock oysters, or pan-roasted Brussels sprouts with cheese, pine nuts and pomegranate. Then dig into a traditional turkey dinner — including cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes, pan gravy and all the trimmings — or opt for pan-seared cod with parmesan risotto, pork chops with whipped sweet potatoes, braised short ribs with smashed potatoes, or a vegetarian choice of pumpkin ravioli with brown butter. For dessert? Pies a plenty, though you might go for the apple cider beignets, pumpkin cheesecake with pecan praline mousse, or perhaps ganache-glazed hazelnut and dark chocolate mousse. Book a room to sleep off the tryptophan in luxury. Wake to breakfast in bed, spa treatment and a stroll of the Monet gardens with waterfall. (Price a la carte. Noon to 5 p.m. 35 Landmark Drive, Plymouth. 877-647-2328. plymouth.mirbeau.com)
Go cold turkey at Nantucket Atheneum’s 16th annual Cold Turkey Plunge. Hundreds brave the ocean each Thanksgiving — including, in past years, the clan of Joe Biden, the former vice president. Prize for best costume. (Children’s Beach, 10 a.m. $30 advance registration; $50 day of. www.firstgiving.com/nantucketatheneum/16th-annual-cold-turkey-plunge.) Warm up in style with a hot cider and hot meal at the island’s luxury resort, The Nantucket.
Accompanied by live piano music in the Grand Ballroom, fare includes caramelized butternut squash bisque with sweet bacon bites; thyme-roasted turkey; bourbon-maple brown sugar-glazed ham, sweet potato casserole, cornbread stuffing and more — and plenty of desserts. There’s also a kids’ buffet for fussy eaters who give thanks for pizza and rocky road parfait.
Family activities include antique fire truck rides. (Noon to 6 p.m. $72 adults; $33 ages 5 -12; under 5 free.) You might also want to book a stay for the island’s Christmas Stroll, Dec. 1-3. Oh, and starting Dec. 1, The Nantucket offers a Make-Your-Own-S’mores Menu. Yes, it’s real. Items include The Grasshopper — graham cracker, Peppermint Patty, marshmallow — and The Nutty Buddy graham cracker, peanut butter cup, marshmallow. Enjoy by the outdoor firepit. (77 Easton St. 508-228-4730. www.thenantuckethotel.com.)
Make it a Green Mountain holiday at The Grafton Inn in Grafton, Vt., where you can enjoy a classic Thanksgiving meal, or kick the spice-meter up a notch with cajun-fried turkey, andouille cornbread stuffing, baby carrots, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and cajun gravy. Or, try the filet mignon with chive mashed potatoes, haricot verts, roasted shallot demi glace. Or the crab-stuffed lemon sole with sautéed oyster mushrooms and roasted fingerlings. Vegetarian option is pumpkin gnocchi, sautéed with Swiss chard, portobello mushrooms, Cipollini onions and pecans. Pies and ice cream for dessert, plus kids menu. (1 to 4 p.m., $70. $29.95 for children 10 and older. Kids menu offered for under 10. 802-843-2248. www.graftoninnvermont.com/event/thanksgiving.)
Grafton, by the way, is rural Vermont on a postcard. Rolling greens, covered bridges. Make it a Vermont weekend and head to nearby Grafton Trails for hiking, or Nordic skiing with 15K of groomed terrain, 5K of which has snowmaking capabilities. Ski, snowshoe, and fat bike rentals are available. Spend Black Friday Vermont-style: with live music and local brews at the inn’s onsite Phelp’s Barn. Book now for Christmas Dinner or December horse-drawn sleigh rides. (92 Main St., Grafton. 802-234-8718. www.graftoninnvermont.com/grafton-trails.)
Enjoy a stunning ocean view at Cape Arundel Inn & Resort in Kennebunkport, Maine, where pre-fixe menu includes smoked sea trout, lamb merguez, and roasted sunchokes, followed by lobster velouté or burgundy escargots with parsley butter. Next: roast turkey with clementine-pistachio stuffing, Atlantic cod confit, or grilled prime beefsteak with heritage carrots. Plus creative desserts — think chocolate fondant with bitter almond ice cream and port-poached cranberries. (Noon to 5 p.m. $75. 208 Ocean Ave., Kennebunkport. 855-346-5700. capearundelinn.com.)
Here’s one closer to home that might feel half a world away: At Brasserie JO in Boston’s Colonnade Hotel you can opt for a French turkey dinner ($29), which includes confit of turkey leg, cauliflower gratin with gruyere, sweet potato croquette, and French egg noodles with squash. For dessert? White chocolate crème brûlée ($8.95), merci beaucoup. (120 Huntington Ave. Boston, 617-424-7000, www.colonnadehotel.com/brasserie-jo.)Lauren Daley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her @laurendaley1.