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The Thanksgiving Parade in St. Louis. Photo: Holidaysinstl.com. Used with permission.

Missouri offers numerous options for fun over Thanksgiving weekend

A four-day weekend is a good time to get away and enjoy the start of the holiday season close to home. The website Tripping.com recommends these Missouri destinations for the Thanksgiving weekend.

Branson. Watch the night sky light up with 1,500 magical luminaries at the Titanic Museum. This museum has the shape of the ill-fated cruise liner that sank, and they line the ship and walkway with white bags, filled with sand and a candle. To burn off those extra calories, put on your running shoes and take part in the Turkey Trot 5K Branson sponsored by the Ozarks Running Club. The route covers mostly flat ground, making it a great family activity. Get a head start on your Christmas shopping by spending Black Friday at the Tanger Outlet or Branson Landing. And don’t forget Silver Dollar City with special Christmas entertainment and 6.5 million lights.

READ: Silver Dollar City perfect for weekend holiday getaway

St. Louis. A Thanksgiving trip to St. Louis is all about the Ameren Thanksgiving Day Parade with an honorary grand marshal who leads the route. Stand on the sidewalk in the downtown area to see all the marching bands, floats, balloons and merrymakers in the parade. Be one of the first to gawk at the lights and displays at Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Using hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights, the botanical garden creates a festive Christmas scene with trees, snowflakes and toy soldiers.

Eureka. Your family gets an early start on the Christmas holidays when Santa’s Magical Kingdom opens the day after Thanksgiving. Located in Jellystone Park, this light display covers several miles with thousands of lights and individual scenes. Little kids love the taking the Jellystone Park train or a wagon around the park to see the lights instead of riding in a car. Jumpstart your holiday shopping at the Kringle’s General Store, with its selection of ornaments, gift sets and candies. Santa puts in an appearance each evening for photos, and the Snack Shack has hot chocolate to warm you up.

Linn Creek. Located near the Lake of the Ozarks, Linn Creek provides a quiet place to retreat for the holidays and explore the great outdoors. While in town, stop by the Holiday Market Place at the Camden County Museum. The event includes booths set up by local craftsmen and vendors selling handmade jewelry, clothing and other great gifts, so you can start marking people off your holiday shopping list. Enjoy a sit-down lunch at the museum when you make a small donation.

Cole Camp. In Cole Camp, you get to have your Thanksgiving Day feast and tackle your Christmas list in the same weekend. The annual Christbaumfest Craft Show is so large that it spreads out over to separate locations in this small town. Find more than 50 vendors and local artisans with booths set up at this show. You can pick up handmade toys, jewelry, clothing and so much more.

St. Genevieve. Spend your long holiday weekend exploring the Harvest Celebration on Route du Vin. Chow down on harvest-themed dishes, featuring pumpkin, turkey, and other seasonal favorites. On the holiday, don’t spend your day slaving over the stove in your vacation rental.

Lee’s Summit. While most towns host running events over the Thanksgiving holiday, Lee’s Summit takes care of its bike riders. Trip the Light Fantastic is a free event, where bike riders enjoy a 4.5-mile ride through a forest of lights. As you pedal and switch gears, slow down to see the thousands of Christmas lights that make up holiday scenes along your route. Dress up your bike with holiday decorations for an opportunity to win the best holiday decorated bike contest.

Kansas City. Kansas City booms with activities throughout the Thanksgiving holiday, including parades, runs and holiday lights. Tap your toes while listening to live music and holiday songs at Christmas in the Park. After dark, the park comes to life with a rainbow of colors as Christmas in the Sky illuminates the evening with fireworks. The Ward Parkway Thanksgiving Day Run rewards you with a little swag, including a T-shirt and pumpkin pie.

–Anita Widaman | Metro Voice

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