Thanksgiving plans still up in the air? To borrow from Paul Simon: It’s not too late to make a new plan, Stan.
Gabe Saglie, senior editor for Travelzoo, a website for member-exclusive travel offers (membership is free), steered me toward four cities where you can find deals. It turns out Thanksgiving is a holiday when “last, last minute isn’t so bad,” Saglie said. That’s partly because most Americans head home for turkey, not to an urban playground just for the fun of it.
“Business travel coming to a halt means San Francisco and San Jose will see good availability and lower prices,” Saglie said, and leisure spots such as San Diego and Las Vegas should have last-minute deals.
But what about airfare? Nonstop flights of an hour or less may be the best last-minute option, said Rick Seaney of FareCompare.com, a site for finding bargain fares.
Here are some of the cheaper thrills you’ll find.
Union Square hotel: Sir Francis Drake has a $162 per night rate (about 60% off the regular rate) Nov. 21-25 from Travelzoo. That package includes free Wi-Fi and eliminates the $25 daily resort fee at the Drake, known for its 180-degree view from the Starlight Room and the Powell Street cable car stop in front.
Nearby fun: Grab a ride on a cable car ($7). The Powell Street line goes to Nob Hill and Fisherman’s Wharf. Enjoy a free cocktail in the Drake lobby during the 5-6 p.m. social hour. Shop till you drop in Union Square. And snap some pictures of the sea lions lolling about at Pier 39.
Info: San Francisco Travel
Downtown hotel: Fairmont San Jose has a prepaid, non-refundable rate averaging $188 a night (15% off for prepayment) for a Nov. 21-25 stay. (Other good rates are cancelable, including a $189-a-night AAA rate.) Rates often run $450 or more a night.
Nearby fun: The Fairmont is walking distance from several attractions, including the Tech Museum of Innovation (general admission $25), the San Jose Museum of Art ($10 adults) and the Winchester Mystery House ($39 for main tour). Less than 3 miles away: the free San Jose Municipal Rose Garden, which is beautiful year-round.
Info: Visit San Jose
Downtown hotel: Hotel Republic, part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, opened last year. Travelzoo has a $109 a night offer for a Nov. 21-25 stay. Extras include free Wi-Fi and $25 valet parking (a 50% discount). Hotel Republic’s rooftop bar is popular for stellar views and cocktails.
Nearby fun: Hotel Republic is walking distance from eateries and breweries in Little Italy and nightlife in the Gaslamp Quarter. And in nearby Seaport Village, you can eat, shop and grab a San Diego Seal Land and Sea Tour discounted to $32 ($10 off) until Jan. 16. The San Diego Zoo ($54 for adults) is open on Thanksgiving and less than 4 miles from the hotel.
Info: San Diego Tourism
Nearby fun: Head downtown to discover Las Vegas history through a neon or mobster lens at the Neon Museum (tickets from $20) or the Mob Museum (from $26.95). Grab the free tram from the Luxor to Mandalay Bay to see marine predators at Shark Reef ($25 for adults).
Info: Visit Las Vegas