There’s so much more to Thanksgiving weekend than leftover turkey sandwiches and Black Friday lines at the toy store. With the kids out of school, and family visiting from out of town, you just might be scrambling for some family friendly activities to keep everyone busy (and full of holiday cheer) all weekend long. Scroll down to discover some super activities, from holiday lights to turkey trots to shows and more!
photo: SF Turkey Trot
Get Your Run On
Turkey Trot Los Angeles
Start Thanksgiving Day off on the right foot as you watch thousands of runners participate in Turkey Trot Los Angeles in historic Downtown. Sign kids up for the Widdle Waddle ½ mile kid & family run. Everyone goes home with a t-shirt and sparkly participation medal (and an appetite!). Hang out post race for a giant festival at Grand Park complete with costume contest and food booths. Event details.
Burbank YMCA Turkey Trot
Work off your dinner before you’ve even had a bite at the Burbank YMCA Turkey Trot. Parents can participate in the 5k or 10k while children can try their luck at the Kids Run. Then visit the Kids Zone post race for more family fun. Event details.
Turkey Day Dash
Now this is something you’ve got to see: hundreds of runners racing to the finish line dressed in their favorite holiday costume. Enter the kids in the 1k fun run or participate all together in the family 5k run. Event details.
Turkey Day 5k
This flat course is perfect for runners of every age and strollers are welcomed. Start at Rancho Simi Park then run along the beautiful, tree lined Arroyo bike path for a nature filled start to your Turkey Day. Event details.
photo: Ben L. via Yelp
Bird Watching for the Kids
Take advantage of our year round perfect weather and take visiting family out for a day of bird watching at Malibu Lagoon State Beach. Binoculars will be provided, just pack water and sunscreen. Event details.
Shark Night at the Aquarium
Join the Aquarium of the Pacific for their free (yes, free!) Shark Lagoon night where you and your fishies can get up close and personal with some of the ocean’s biggest predators (safely of course). You’ll even get a chance to touch some rays and bamboo sharks in the tide pool area. Event details.
Ice Age Encounters
Ever wonder what the Miracle Mile looked like during the Ice Age? Well, come find out at the Page Museum as they bring one of the ice age’s largest mammals to life—the saber tooth tiger. Together with Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, the museum made some life like puppets to demonstrate just how these prehistoric cats once roamed the earth. Event details.
photo: Meghan Rose
Movies, Plays and More
Watch Disney Pixar’s New Movie: Coco
Day of the Dead might be over, but Disney Pixar’s new movie Coco brings it back to life in a new film that follows a boy’s quest to learn more about his family’s history as he travels into the colorful Land of the Dead. See it at the historic El Capitan Theater (a visitor’s must-do) along with a new Frozen short featuring everyone’s favorite snowman—Olaf. Event details.
Meet Santa at the Paley Center
If turkey is gone, it must be time for Santa. Meet and greet with Mr. and Mrs. Claus at the Paley Center for Media, where you can bring your own camera and take free snaps for the holiday cards! Stick around for a viewing of animated classics like The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown! Event details.
Westside Ballet’s Nutcracker
Nothing gets you in the holiday spirit faster than an evening watching one of the most iconic seasonal ballets ever. Watch some of the county’s most talented up and coming dancers as they participate in the 45th year of this local tradition. Event details.
A Christmas Carol for the Whole Family
If your wee ones won’t watch the ballet, try joining Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit and Scrooge as they show us the true meaning of Christmas in this family friendly (no scary ghosts) A Christmas Carol. Event details.
Do you have a horse loving kiddo on your hands? If so, you won’t want to miss this show, which features an incredible cast of over 50 horse and actors all with a video backdrop the size of three IMAX screens. Event details.
Dance to the Holidays
If you’ve got a more modern dancing queen (or king) on your hands you won’t want to miss Dance to the Holidays at the Cerritos Performing Arts Center. Watch Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance alumni as their twirl their way into the holidays. Event details.
photo: LEGOLAND Resort
Let It Snow
Holiday Snow Days at Legoland
It’s time to celebrate the holidays Lego style! Watch the Brickettes (think Rockettes) dance to holiday favorites and visit with a life-sized Lego Minifigure Santa as he travels around the park. And don’t forget about the (real) snow because there will be tons of it. Build Lego snowmen, practice your snow ball aim and more. Event details.
Snow Day LA
Tubing, ice skating, and snowman building round out the snow-filled activities at this year’s Snow Day LA. Follow the lighted path and see some awe-inspiring holiday vignettes including a life sized ginger bread house and a huge working snow globe. Event details.
photo: Jamie Pham
Holiday Lights and Cheer
Zoo Lights and Reindeer Romp
No one does the holidays quite like the LA Zoo. And this year, it’s going to be bigger and better than ever with new animal themed LED light displays through out the park. Don’t forget to visit Santa’s reindeer along with the man in red himself for a great holiday photo op. Event details.
Enchanted Forest of Light
Visit Descanso Gardens for the now annual Enchanted Forest of Light event. Bundle up and follow a mile long path filled with lights that illuminate all of the magnificent trees and foliage. It’s interactive and there are spots to snack and rest, so it’s a great outing for everyone from new walkers to grandparents with walkers! Event details.
Grand Park Lights Up the Holidays
Celebrate the season in downtown LA as Grand Park lights up with dozens of LED holiday displays. The centerpiece of this event is a 45-foot Christmas tree with all the trimmings. It’s a fun reason to explore downtown and then watch as dusk settles over the city and lights begin to twinkle everywhere. Event details.
photo: Underwood Farms
Pick the Perfect Tree
Christmas on the Farm
You gotta get the tree, and the weekend after Thanksgiving in the perfect time, before the holidays get too busy Choose from a variety of fresh cut trees at the farm, along with wreaths, mistletoe and more. Visit with Santa or jump on vintage tractor drawn wagon for an old-fashioned Christmas tradition of sipping cider and enjoying a ride farm. Event details.
Christmas Tree Holiday Train
Join the Fillmore and Western Railway as they deck out one of their historic steam powered locomotives in holiday cheer. Ride the train down to the end of the line where you can choose a freshly cut Christmas tree of your own. And on the way back visit with Santa Claus himself! (Tree bought and Santa met in one fell swoop!) Event details.
photo: Hollywood Christmas Parade
Last, but Definitely Not Least
The Hollywood Christmas Parade
It wouldn’t be the holidays in Los Angeles without the annual Hollywood Christmas Parade. Join this year’s Grand Marshal Dr. Oz and a parade of over 100 celebrities, 20 bands and 10 giant balloons as they travel down some of Hollywood’s iconic streets. Event details.
Want more suggestions? Before we kiss fall farewell, make sure you’ve hit our 75 (count ’em!) favorite fall activities. And be sure to give us your tips and suggestions for having fun all weekend long in the comment section.
—Christina Montoya Fiedler