If you’re sticking around for the holiday, it helps to know what’s open on Thanksgiving day. Whether you’re looking for somewhere to spend the day solo, host a Friendsgiving activity or show family around—or maybe you’re a visiting tourist who doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving at all—there are a surprising amount of options available to fill your day, from amusement parks to old-school L.A. attractions and even one of the city’s best Korean spas. The list below offers a variety of options—kid-friendly, daytime and night, near and far—to either help celebrate Thanksgiving or feel miles away from it all.
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What’s open on Thanksgiving day in L.A.
This delightful tribute to the horticultural magic of Southern California includes more than 600 varieties of camellias and some five acres of roses. But during the holidays, it’s home to the whimsical, mile-long illumianted trail Enchanted: Forest of Light.
Cozy up—and make sure to bring your jacket—to the Queen Mary for a wintry evening on the water aboard one of the country's grandest cruise ships still afloat. On Thanksgiving, the 1930s oceanliner offers an assortment of feasts—and the Observation Bar is open until midnight if you prefer your meal in liquid form.
Cinephiles study their ABCs at this beloved movie theater, defined by its bargain prices, shabby charm and film-for-film's-sake attitude—not to mention that its owner is none other than Quentin Tarantino, making for an always-interesting bill. The Thanksgiving showing this year is, of course, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Dedicated as much to education as entertainment, this spectacular aquarium more than justifies the drive to Long Beach. The spot also offers a Thanksgiving lunch: from 11am to 3pm, you can enjoy an entire holiday menu ($70 for adults, $32.50 for kids 3-11) at the aquarium’s Café Scuba.
These gorgeous grounds in Arcadia are typically perfect for a little peace and quiet. In the evening, though, it’s home to Moonlight Forest, a light-up experience filled with massive lanterns, shimmering flowers and whimsical dragons.
We can’t think of a better way to spend a traditionally stressful holiday than luxuriating away from the hustle and bustle, tucked away in the relaxing embrace of clay and steam. There are Korean spas—a classic L.A. experience—and then there’s Wi. The 24-hour mega spa offers treatment rooms; five different heated saunas including jade, clay and salt; hot tubs; dry and steam saunas; a TV lounge area; a restaurant; library and sleeping rooms.
In a nutshell, the Laugh Factory is where to bring visitors if they want to see comedy celebrities—its round glowing orange sign is an iconic image synonymous with L.A. comedy. On Thanksgiving, the Factory hosts an annual free Thanksgiving Feast that’s open to anyone—the visiting, the hungry, the homeless—and served by comics and other celebs, who also perform sets throughout the afternoon.
Okay, so the museum is technically closed on Thanksgiving Day, but our favorite part about Griffith Observatory is taking in the views, which you’ll still be able to do. The star attraction here has always been the building itself and the view it affords of the cityscape, the hills of Griffith Park and the famed Hollywood sign. Famous for its appearances in movies both acclaimed (Rebel Without a Cause, La La Land) and disdained (Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace), this longtime Los Angeles icon is one of the city’s must-see attractions, and a perfect place to watch the sun set over another Thanksgiving.
Located just minutes from the Pacific Ocean, ICE in downtown Santa Monica (1324 5th St) is a full-service 8,000-square-foot outdoor rink. Watch broomball games, take up skating lessons or host a party at the rink and get your own private cabana. For $15, rent skates and strut your stuff on the ice alongside children and adults. No need to pack snacks, there’s a concession stand on site, serving hot cocoa and kid-friendly bites.
Though the rides lack both Disneyland's charm and the sheer terror inspired by Six Flags Magic Mountain, Universal Studios Hollywood's hillside theme park offers some worthwhile thrills fueled by silver-screen memories. And what better way to partake in a bit of holiday magic than at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where it always feels like a Thanksgiving feast.
Make this Thanksgiving one to remember by spending it at the happiest place on earth. Incorporating two parks—the 60-year-old near-mythic Disneyland and the younger California Adventure—Disney does all it can to get you in the right mood, and by Thanksgiving it will be decked out for the winter holidays, making it feel especially magical. Use these tips and tricks to make the most of your visit, and FastPass your way on to as many of these top 25 rides as possible.
Knott’s Berry Farm started as a farm selling the homemade preserves—possibly cranberry!—of one Mrs. Cordelia Knott. Some charming remnants of the park’s early years remain, most notably in the Ghost Town section, but there’s also plenty here for thrill seekers. On Thanksgiving, take advantage of the park’s holiday menus, including at Santa’s Christmas Cabin or in Mrs. Claus’s Kitchen.
Comprising Magic Mountain and water-cousin Hurricane Harbor (which won’t be open on Thanksgiving), Six Flags delivers thrills for all but the most joyless and crowdphobic holidaymakers. The park offers roller coasters for every level of screamer: While there are some gentle rides here, the park is most famous for the ones that’ll push your heart into your mouth and your lunch onto the person sitting in front of you.
L.A. doesn’t typically seem like much of a winter wonderland come Thanksgiving time, 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.
Eat out in L.A. this Thanksgiving
This year, celebrate without the hassle of DIY cooking and cleaning by dining at one of L.A.'s Thanksgiving restaurants for brunch, lunch or dinner on Thanksgiving Day.
While there’s nothing wrong with celebrating Thanksgiving with a killer, traditional pie, there’s something to be said for showing up to holiday gatherings with a dessert that’s so unique, your dish is bound to be the star of the dessert table—and talked about for Thanksgivings to come. (Take that, secret recipes your aunt will never share with you because you're from that side of the family.) Here are just a few of our picks—dessert or otherwise—that’ll help you live your turkey day to the fullest, in more ways than one. Ube Pili Nut Pie from Isa Fabro Sure, you could complete your meal with a traditional sweet potato pie, but Isa Fabro—operating out of Chinatown incubator Unit 120—proposes a colorful, Filipino-inspired alternative. The pastry chef is bringing back her ube pili nut pie, which stars a creamy, deep-purple center of ube custard that gets topped by sea salt and toffee made with buttery pili nuts. Fabro is taking pre-orders until 5pm on November 19, to be picked up from 9am to 5pm on November 22. Act fast because pies are limited, handmade and will disappear after the holiday. Well, at least until Christmas. ($40 each, includes a reusable 9-and-a-half-inch glass Pyrex pie dish. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve yours.) A post shared by tastemaker 🏴 (@isafabro) on Nov 8, 2017 at 7:22am PST Mulled Wine Danish at Mr. Holmes Bakehouse Cozy up during the holidays