Thanksgiving Photo

If you’re celebrating Thanksgiving in Chandler, a survey says you could be doing a little better next door or to the north.

But cheer up: You’re far better off celebrating the holiday here than in, say, San Bernardino, California.

The financial website wallethub.com analyzed 100 cities and towns across the country and came up with this conclusion: Scottsdale is the third best place to spend Thanksgiving while Gilbert pulled No. 11. And Chandler is only the 26th best to celebrate Thanksgiving, it sad.

Sadly, though, those municipalities – and the other Arizona communities covered in the recent survey – have lost some luster from their pre-pandemic status.

In 2019, WalletHub declared Scottsdale the second-best place in the nation for Thanksgiving, with Gilbert taking 6th place and Chandler in 11th. 

In the 2021 version, all the other Arizona municipalities WalletHub looked at took a beating.

Mesa tumbled from 13 to 43; and Phoenix plummeted from No. 39 to a humbling 76 – even below 72nd-ranked Tucson. Glendale stayed at 65th.

Scottsdale is sandwiched in the top five for 2021 between Atlanta, Georgia, and Orlando, Florida, at 1 and 2, respectively, and Miami, Florida, and Raleigh, North Carolina, at 4 and 5, respectively.

And virtually every Arizonan can be grateful they’re not in San Bernardino, California, which even edged out Detroit for the bottom of the barrel.

To develop its rankings, WalletHub compared the 100 largest U.S. cities across 20 key metrics that ranged from the cost of Thanksgiving dinner and share of delayed flights to volunteer opportunities per capita and forecasted precipitation.    

One set of metrics measured holiday traditions and celebrations, which included things like the number of pumpkin patches per capita, holiday decoration shops and Thanksgiving events.

On that score, Scottsdale ranked fourth while Gilbert ranked 22nd; Tucson, 38th; Chandler, 45th; Phoenix 46th; Glendale, 50th; and Mesa an abysmal 92nd. 

Number 1 in the nation for traditions was Atlanta while North Las Vegas took last place. Gilbert also ranked sixth in a sideline category for most pumpkin patches per capita.

Scottsdale still came out ahead of the rest of Arizona communities on another set of metrics that measured affordability. That category took into account the number of affordable restaurants, cost of Thanksgiving dinner and the lowest rate for a three-star hotel room.

While Scottsdale ranked 9th for affordability, Phoenix grabbed second placed among Arizona communities included in the survey by landing a ranking nationally of 15th. Mesa and Tucson pulled 37th and 38th place, respectively, while Chandler ranked 45th, Glendale was at 60th and Gilbert a surprise 72nd. 

Mesa also got dinged by being among the five cities in the nation with the lowest number of holiday decorations stores.

The most affordable Thanksgiving in the nation, WalletHub reported, is in San Antonio, Texas, while people Hialeah, Florida pulled up dead last.

The last category taken into account by the website involved safety and accessibility factors such as included crime and vaccination rates, pedestrian and DUI-related fatalities, traffic congestion and flight delays.

On that score, no Arizona community made the top 10, which was led by Madison, Wisconsin, in first place while among the 100 cities surveyed, St. Louis, Missouri, was deemed the least safe and accessible.

Gilbert ranked the highest among Arizona communities in this category, but only at 28th nationally. It’s all downhill from there with Scottsdale in 49th place, Chandler in 51st, Mesa in 65th, Glendale 77th and Tucson pulling last in Arizona at number 80.

WalletHub also asked five educators about how they view the best places to spend Thanksgiving.

Stacy Tomas, an assistant professor in the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Oklahoma State University, suggested any where people can “get outside and enjoy the great outdoors.”

Bob Castaneda of the College of Management and Technology at Walden University said an important factor was “an atmosphere of celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday with events occurring throughout the city.

And Professor Unnati Narang at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign said, “The top indicators for where to go should be your personal preferences, goals, and budget for the travel and how they align with what the destinations have to offer.”

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