Feast on This!
Five great alternatives to gorging
By Jake Brooks
To most of us, Thanksgiving can be boiled down to the three Fs: family, food, and football, not always in that order. But lest we forget that the day was originally intended to celebrate the bounty of our land — and not the flair of Deion's touchdown dance — a number of sporting locales would like to lure you back outdoors with prime shoulder-season deals. Here are five spots where you can trade forks for snowshoes or channel-surfing for the real thing. There is, however, one small caveat: Nobody's promising that the late-autumn weather will cooperate.
The Place: Crested Butte, Colorado
The Sports: Skiing, snowboarding
The Deal: Free lift tickets 11/20-12/19
The Catch: Over Thanksgiving weekends past, 9,000-plus freeloaders have dropped in, so this year only those who've booked a hotel room in the Crested Butte area qualify for the free pass.
Contact: Crested Butte Vacations, 800-754-3733
The Place: Pittsfield, Vermont
The Sports: Hiking and biking (or cross-country skiing)
The Deal: A two-night package at the snug Pittsfield Inn is $120 per person, including meals.
The Catch: You never know what it's going to be in late-November Vermont — snow or mud — so be flexible and bring gear appropriate for either circumstance.
Contact: The Pittsfield Inn, 802-746-8943
The Place: St. Lucia, West Indies
The Sports: Diving, snorkeling
The Deal: Five nights' lodging at the Jalousie Hilton, including all meals, six dives, and equipment, for $1,011 per person.
The Catch: Caribbean airfares start rising in November, the fringe of the islands' busy winter season, so you'll want to book early.
Contact: Jalousie Hilton, 888-744-5256
The Place: Gunflint Trail, Minnesota
The Sports: Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, canoeing
The Deal: The trail's classiest digs cut rates by 25 percent: Bearskin Lodge cabins are $142 per night; four-night packages at the Gunflint Lodge start at $375 per person.
The Catch: If the icy edge-of-Lake Superior winter kicks in a little early this year, brrr.
Contact: Bearskin Lodge, 800-338-4170; Gunflint Lodge, 800-328-3325
The Place: Maui, Hawaii
The Sports: You name it
The Deal: $216 a night at the swank, waterfront Aston Wailea Resort gets you breakfast, a room upgrade, and a fifth night free (normal rates: $259). Plus, gratis rental aqua-toys aplenty.
The Catch: $216 a night is still, you know, $216 a night.
Contact: Aston Wailea Resort, 800-367-2960
Illustration by J.D. King