If you’re doing it right, Thanksgiving in Los Angeles means feasting on turkey and the best pies—and finding volunteer opportunities in your community. But what other things to do on Thanksgiving can you partake in, especially if you have relatives to entertain? Enjoy the long holiday weekend with a variety of events and these things to do on Thanksgiving in L.A.—from ice skating and participating in a charity 5K to feeding the homeless and even dancing the night away.
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Things to do on Thanksgiving in Los Angeles
Have a crafty start to the Christmas shopping season at Craft Contemporary’s annual holiday marketplace. If you’re making a list and checking it twice, consider this shopping event for unique handmade gifts and an opportunity to meet the emerging and established makers behind them.
The botanical garden’s nighttime experience masterfully mixes hands-on art installations with atmospheric, luminescent forests, all against a background of uplit trees and shimmery sound effects. Enchanted is intuitively immersive: You can tap columns that change color according to your touch; spin a dizzying swirl of kaleidoscopic patterns with HYBYCOZO’s “Celestial Shadows” pendants; and stomp your way across Jen Lewin’s “Aqueous,” a serpentine Candyland-like path that changes colors as you meander along its winding walkway.
The L.A. Zoo is staying open after dark every night through January during this light-up holiday tradition, which for 2019 is adding more animal-inspired lights, an even longer tunnel of lights, Chinese lanterns, a voice-activated lighting display and an oversized, illuminated pop-up book.
This nighttime event, held across the grounds of the Arcadia botanical garden, returns for its second year with two additional themes: “polar dreams” and “ocean visions.” The nighttime trail includes a slew of Chinese lanterns—but not the small, hanging type—that cover a field at the Arboretum with parade-float–sized structures, with other themed archways and playful creatures lining the pathways around the grounds.
Like an Angelyne billboard on Sunset Boulevard, the Hollywood Christmas Parade is an essential part of L.A. kitsch. The nearly nine-decade–old parade will feature floats, balloons, bands, equestrians and celebrities as they ride in a U-shaped route that begins at Hollywood and Orange and ends up at Sunset and Orange. Reserved grandstand seats can be purchased, with proceeds going to Toys for Tots, but free curbside seating is also available.
Drift into the Convention Center for the 10-day L.A. Auto Show with cars that would even make Bond drool. If you’re a car nerd, get behind the wheel to test drive one of the cherry rides, while celebrities meet and greet at the manufacturer exhibits. With world and North American debuts from BMW, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and more, rev up for the machines of the future.
Cozy up—and make sure to bring your jacket—to the Queen Mary for its annual Christmas makeover. It’s the time of year when the iconic ship is transformed into a winter wonderland, which this year is decking out every facet with classic Christmas decor. Slip on some skates and glide across the rink and around a 26-foot-tall Christmas tree with views of the Long Beach waterfront.
Every year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, the Great Los Angeles Walk debunks all of those cliches about walking in L.A. Hundreds of walkers start the free urban hike on one side of the city and, nine hours and 18 miles later, end up at the other. You can hop on or off the walk whenever you'd like, and though no reservations are required, RSVPs are appreciated. This year’s route starts in Arcadia and makes its way through Pasadena, down along the Arroyo and into Downtown L.A.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving meal amongst fish and sea otters this year at the Aquarium of the Pacific. Feast on a traditional Thanksgiving buffet in the Aquarium’s Café Scuba and then explore the more than 11,000 animals from the Pacific on view. Definitely not your typical Thanksgiving setting!
L.A. doesn’t typically seem like much of a winter wonderland, until, that is, you create an ice skating rink right in the midst of Downtown skyscrapers and L.A. icons. Come glide and pretend there’s snow on the ground at Pershing Square’s outdoor holiday skating rink—one of the biggest in the city. Look out for special events throughout the season, like curling lessons, a silent disco skate and DJ nights.