Sometimes, there is nothing better than having your whole family over to your home for Thanksgiving dinner. And sometimes, there is nothing better than shipping your whole family to your sister’s house across town for Thanksgiving dinner! Let’s face it; peeling, prepping and cooking an entire Thanksgiving meal can be exhausting. But should you find yourself not chained to your oven over the holidays, you may have some time on your hands. Lucky you - there are some fabulous CT Thanksgiving traditions in Fairfield County to get out and enjoy with or without your kids!
1. Southport’s Pequot Turkey Trot
There is no better way to kick off Thanksgiving - hosting or not! - than by heading to Southport for the annual Thanksgiving Turkey Trot. For runners, there is a 5 mile, flat, shore run. For walkers - and strollers, which are banned from the running course - there is a 2.5 mile loop. Register early for an early bird discount and free T-shirt. So dust off the running shoes, and join the trot! The views are lovely, the atmosphere is festive, and you’ll feel great! The run kicks off at 8:15; make sure to get there early so you have plenty of time to park.
Wakeman Boys and Girls Club, 385 Center Street, Southport, CT, 203.557.0672
2. The Shippan Turkey Trot
If you're looking for a shorter Thanksgiving run, consider heading to the Stamford for their Shippan Turkey Trot. The 2.41 mile run starts at 9:30 (well, actually 10 .. they like to keep it loose), and costs nothing but canned goods or a donation to enter (all proceeds go to the Shelter for the Homeless in Stamford). Costumes are highly encouraged, so this is fun for mere spectators, too.
280 Ocean Drive East, Stamford, CT
3. Bridgeport Rescue Mission
When you’re lucky enough to have food on the table most days, it feels pretty amazing to help out those who aren’t as lucky. The Bridgeport Rescue Mission has been helping feed the people of Fairfield County for almost 20 years, and on Thanksgiving Day volunteers distribute meals and coats to families in need. Volunteers are also needed in the days prior to Thanksgiving to pack the meals - call the Bridgeport Rescue Mission to learn how you can participate.
1088 Fairfield Avenue, Bridgeport, CT, 203.333.4087
4. Local high school football rivalries
Football is a staple of Thanksgiving! While the Packers vs. the Lions may be the game of choice for afternoon entertainment, try checking out your local high school football game in the morning. Brookfield vs. Bethel, Greenwich vs.Westport, and Danbury vs. Ridgefield are a few of the local rivalries. Your kids may really enjoy cheering on their local team, connecting with friends, and perhaps a tailgate with...turkey sandwiches?
5. Family Hike, Anyone?
If it’s peace and quiet you’re craving, try heading out for a family hike either before or after your Thanksgiving meal. Check out the New Canaan Nature Center’s trail, a 2-mile loop that is manageable for even the smallest hikers. Post hike, your kids may enjoy the Nature Center’s new Play Garden, an interactive playspace with a Turtle’s Nesting Pit, an Eagle’s Nest and a Climbing Rock for little explorers.
144 Oenoke Ridge, New Canaan, CT, 203.966.9577
Another family friendly spot is Earthplace in Westport. Families can hike, play on the small playground next to the parking lot, and of course, check in on the birds of prey living on the premises.
10 Woodside Lane, Westport, CT 06880, 203-557-4400
Two other spots would be Wolfe Park in Monroe and the Pequonnock Trail in Trumbull. At Wolfe, start at the playgrounds or fields by the pool, and hike through to Great Hollow Lake. In Trumbull, park at Tait Ave. and push a jogging stroller or ride bikes as a family along the easy path stretching to Monroe.
6. The movies
Dying to catch up on those movies you haven't had a chance to see? Head to your local theatre on Thanksgiving Day to catch a flick. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, anyone?
7. Ice Skating, Mini-Golf, Bowling, oh my!
We've tried to sell you on running and hiking, but if you're not biting, how about we try to get you moving another way (but whyyyy, what happened to fat and happy on Thanksgiving)??? The Sports Center of CT in Shelton will be open 10am-2pm for minigolf, bowling and arcade. The rink will be open for public skate from 11am-1:50pm and 6-8:50pm. Can't say we didn't try to get you off your duff
784 River Rd. (Rt. 110), Shelton, CT 06484, 203-929-6500
Finally, while I hate to even think about it, there will be several stores open on Thanksgiving Day. I suppose that shopping is a better choice than tackling your 5th piece of pumpkin pie. Maybe.
But the bottom line it, if you’re itching to get out of the house, there are lots of fun things to do on Thanksgiving Day in CT. Of course, the age-old traditions of overeating and relaxing by a fire shouldn’t be missed either! Either way, Happy Thanksgiving!
Originally published 11/6/12.