There’s so much more to Thanksgiving weekend than leftover turkey sandwiches and Black Friday lines at the mall. With the kids out of school (and family in from out of town), you’re probably desperate for ways to keep everyone entertained. Scroll down for 19 fun and festive activities that will make the long weekend fly by.

photo: LADOT via flickr

Trot Along

Start Thanksgiving off on the right foot (and work up an appetite) with a local Turkey Trot. The biggest, Turkey Trot Los Angeles, invites families to sign up for the 1-mile Widdle Wobble fun 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.

There's also the Rose Bowl Turkey Trot, which welcomes strollers, costumes and Fido, too! Finally, for something a little more low-key, check out the Burbank YMCA Turkey Trot, complete with a post-race play area for kids.

Branch Out

Starting the day after Thanksgiving, most of LA's local tree lots and further-out tree farms open for business. If you're feeling adventurous, start a new post-holiday tradition at a cut-your-own farm, where kids can wander through the rows of trees in search of the perfect one to take home. Added bonus: A few farms also offer visits with Santa. More details.

photo: Ice at Santa Monica

Hit the Ice

Take a spin at one of LA's seasonal ice rinks. If you're a Westsider, there's Ice Santa Monica or, for anyone looking to sneak in some post-Turkey Day shopping, check out Westfield Century City's rink, which opens the day after Thanksgiving. A couple other option for Angelenos? The Bai Holiday Ice Rink, located in Downtown's Pershing Square, and Glendale's Holiday on Ice.

Play in the Snow

You don't have to trek to the mountains to see snow this weekend. As part of Santa Monica's Cheer on the Pier festivities, the Pier will be hosting a Snow Day with 4,000 square ft. of snow for little ones to romp in. Event details.

Head North (Very North)

Visit the North Pole (by way of Fillmore) with a ride on The Polar Express. Kids can wear their PJs for the journey, which includes dancing chefs, hot cocoa and a reading of the classic children’s book behind the experience. Upon reaching the North Pole, Santa boards the train to greet passengers to give little ones the gift of Christmas. Event details.

See the Light(s)

In addition to driving through LA's most over-the-top, lit-up nabes, here are our favorite dazzling lights displays around town.  

Zoo Lights
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 throughout 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. Event details.

photo: Elaine Lee Photography

Rock On

Every LA kid's favorite local rockers (aka the BeatBuds) invite you to the Fonda Theatre on Sun., Dec. 1 for the can't-miss BeatBash. This year's holiday-themed "bash" features a large-scale, interactive BeatBuds music performance, games, crafts, bouncy houses, food trucks and more. Event details.

Give Back

Postpone the holiday shopping frenzy and focus on helping others instead by finding a way to volunteer with your kiddos. On Sundays in Hollywood, kids 6 and over can participate in Food on Foot, distributing food and clothing to the homeless. (The Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend is already filled, but look ahead to find a date in December to sign up.) You can also find more opportunities on LA Works

photo: Shannan Rouss

Take a Hike

Looking to work off all that stuffing (plus tire out the kiddos)? Visit one of our favorite off-the-beaten-path LA hikes, or venture a little further out of town to Thousand Oaks' Conejo Valley Botanical Garden where there's a special play area and trek just for little ones. Event details.

Shop Indie-Style

Want to get a head-start on gift-buying but shudder at the idea of fighting the Black Friday crowds? Head to Unique Markets for the ultimate holiday shopping pop-up.The holiday market will also showcase interactive art and photo experiences (for kids, too!), live DJs, free gift-wrapping stations and more. Event details.

photo: Walt Disney Animation Studios

Meet Anna & Elsa

Don't see Frozen 2 just anywhere. Give the fam a memorable movie-going experience with tickets to a showing at El Capitan Theatre. Anna and Elsa will appear live on stage before every screening at the Hollywood theater, which has been around since the 1920s. Event details.

-Christina Montoya Fiedler & Shannan Rouss


The Most Spectacular Holiday Tree Lightings in LA

14 Fun Nighttime Activities for LA Kids

All the Kid-Friendly Events Happening This Weekend & Beyond