Fun and Free Things To Do Thanksgiving Weekend with LA Kids, November 22-25

Photo courtesy of Hollywood Christmas Parade Television LLC
Hollywood Christmas Parade, Small Business Saturday, and Black Friday

In recent years, Thanksgiving was all about cute mash-ups (remember Thanksgivvikuh?), Black Friday shopping, and outrage over Thursday-is-Not-Friday-But-the-Middle-of-a-Holiday sales. This year, Hanukkah holds off until early December, and many major retailers are promising to stay closed on Thursday. (You go, Lakeshore Learning, Home Depot, and Barnes & Noble! As for the rest of you, time out with no pumpkin pie.)

We've found a few family friendly venues open on Thanksgiving, where you can enjoy a little morning cardio, a visit with animal friends, and maybe a good meal. (Make sure you check the hours for the day; some places are closing early.) You can make your Friday about shopping, or you can gather the family for a flick, whether new or timeless. Once again, Saturday is the new Friday, and it's all about the local.

We here are thankful for much, and hope you feel the same way. We're grateful for the truly unique shows, spectacles, and experiences that come our way this time of year. We're thankful for our beautiful climate, which lets us sled on the sand as easily as on the snow. We're grateful for our brave first responders, who put themselves in harm's way to keep us and the land safe. We're grateful for the health and well-being of our loved ones,  and we're grateful for you, our readers. Happy Thanksgiving, guys!

Keep reading for some of our best finds for fun this Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and, thankfully, Thanksgiving weekend...

Ralph Breaks the Internet. Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios


Turkey Trot Los Angeles - Downtown
Why not start off your holiday with a fun-spirited 5K or 10K run through downtown? Or you can walk. That's fine, too.

Burbank YMCA Turkey Trot - Burbank
Burbank Community YMCA sponsors a walk/run/stroll as well, this one through the streets of beautiful downtown Burbank. 

Ralph Breaks the Internet - Hollywood
We're always thankful when a new Disney film debuts at the El Capitan.  (Th-F-S-S)

Annual Pumpkin Smash - Santa Barbara
The elephants, gorillas, and other zoo animals must be grateful for pumpkins they get to smash at this annual event at the Santa Barbara Zoo.

Reindeer Romp​ - Griffith Park
Want a little reindeer on your turkey day? The LA Zoo is open on Thanksgiving. (Th-F-Sa-Su)

Thanksgiving Lunch at the Aquarium - Long Beach
Who needs Uncle Lou, Aunt Betty, and crazy Cousin Sal? Share your Thanksgiving with the sharks, seals, and sea otters of the Aquarium of the Pacific.

Westside Thanksgiving Dinner & Celebration - West LA
This sit-down Thanksgiving meal is free, open to everyone, and requires no reservation.

Thanksgiving Feast - Wherever You Are
Whether at home, at family’s, at a friend’s, or at a restaurant, there’s no better time to share food and gratitude with those you love. Save some pumpkin pie for me. (No shopping, though. That's naughty.)


Holiday lights at the Los Angeles Zoo. Photo by Jamie Pham

Zoo Lights - Griffith Park
The  Zoo is alive with a nighttime holiday lights experiencewith glowing light animals rendered in LED lights, lasers, 3D projections, and interactive displays. (Most of the real animals are asleep, but not those party-animal reindeer!) (F-Sa-Su)

Laurel & Hardy Festival - El Segundo
Old Town Music Hall shows a collection of silent and sound shorts from the classic comedy duo. (F-Sa-Su)
A Christmas Carol - Costa Mesa
Bah! Humbug! South Coast Rep’s annual production of the Dickens classic is back. (Sa-Su)

Sugar Plum Express Holiday Village & Tree Train - Fillmore
All aboard the vintage train, bound for the Holiday Village, where you can find Winter Wonderland walk-thru, Santa's Workshop... and perhaps your perfect Christmas  tree! For another train option, consider the North Pole Express: kids can suit up in their jammies for a fun train ride to the North Pole, where they meet with none other than the Claus man himself. (Sa-Su)

Science of Gingerbread Exhibit (LA) - Sylmar  Science of Gingerbread Exhibit (OC) - Santa Ana
Putting the STEM in Christmas, Discovery Cube Los Angeles & Orange County bring back the popular exhibit. (F-Sa-Su)

SNOW Day Los Angeles - Echo Park
Are you dreaming of a white Thanksgiving? Wish granted! (F-Sa-Su)

Bob Baker’s Nutcracker - Pasadena
It wouldn't be Christmas without this marionette classic, this year relocated to Pasadena. (Sa-Su)

Winterfest at Santa Anita Park - Arcadia
The seasonal fun at this new annual installation includes carriage rides, a petting zoo, Christmas movies, ice skating, and visits with Santa. (F-Sa-Su)

Queen Mary Christmas - Long Beach
It's a vintage Christmas celebration aboard the legendary Queen Mary. I bet that new captain has something to do with it. He's very....jolly. (F-Sa-Su)

Tanaka Farms & Sanrio Holiday Santa Tour & Sanrio Village - Irvine
Tanaka Farm's winter farm tour includes Sanrio themed photo ops and visits with Santa. (F-Sa-Su)

Holiday Lights at the Reagan Library - Simi Valley
The Gipper's Presidential Library gets a seasonal glow. (F-Sa-Su)

Circus Vargas Presents Dreaming of Pirates - Arcadia
Residents of Arcadia can be thankful for another week of the animal-free circus. (F-Sa-Su)

Holiday Classics & Santa Claus at The Paley Center - Beverly Hills
Santa is visiting the Paley Center this weekend. (I bet he wants to see all the classic TV holiday shows that are screening!) (Sa-Su)

Spider Pavilion - Exposition Park
Get to the Natural History Museum as fast as your 8 legs will take you: the Spider Pavilion closes this weekend. (F-Sa-Su)

On Black Friday go for a slightly different green. Photo courtesy of Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens 


Santa's Arrival Parade - Manhattan Beach
Everyone can join the parade, as Santa arrives at Manhattan Village Mall.

Green Friday - Claremont
Opt out of shopping, opt to go outside at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens - it's free today!
Family Friday - Irvine
Pretend City is still riding the T-Day wave, with turkey-themed crafts and activities.

Jingle Bell Jump - Thousand Oaks
At noon sharp, Santa Claus parachutes into the Janss Marketplace for some holiday fun. 

Singin' in the Rain - Santa Monica
What a glorious feeling; I’m happy again. The Gene Kelly/Donald O’Connor/ Debbie Reynolds classic is showing at the Aero Theater. 

​Lawrence of Arabia - Hollywood
Nothing like a sweeping epic to give you perspective on a holiday weekend.(F- Sa)

Support local businesses and show your love for Eagle Rock. Photo courtesy of We Heart Eagle Rock


Small Business Saturday - Your Neighborhood
If you can’t keep your money in your wallet, at least keep it in your community. Shop for holiday gifts at your local small businesses.

TSFY: Toyota Symphonies for Youth - Downtown
The classics for kids series is back, starting off the season with Brahms and his First Symphony.

Pokémon the Movie: The Power of Us - Multiple Locations
The latest Pokemon movie debuts at select theaters.

Home Depot Kids Workshops - Multiple Locations
The Home Depot fits in an extra kids’ workshop for the holiday weekend. The project: a gingerbread picture frame ornament for your holiday tree!

Free Crafts for Kids - Multiple Locations
There's nothing better than pie you make yourself. Out of paper.

AMC Theatres Sensory Friendly Films - Multiple Locations
Participating AMC Theatres host sensory-friendly screenings of Dr. Seuss's The Grinch; movie-goers are allowed to get up, dance, walk, shout, or sing (but no stealing the roast beast from Whoville).

Disney Junior Dance Party On Tour - Hollywood
Put on your dancing shoes: Mickey and Minnie are throwing a party, and they're inviting Vampirina, Elena of Avalor, Doc McStuffins ... and you!

We Heart Eagle Rock Block Party - Eagle Rock
The small businesses of Eagle Rock host pre-holiday shopping fun. Each shop hosts its own festivities and promotions, including a Family Zone at The Green Bean.
Winter Village Festival - Sierra Madre
Sierra Madre sweetens Small Business Saturday with the Winter Village Festival. The downtown area is transformed into a Victorian winter scene featuring horse and buggy rides, sled rides with real snow, holiday music with strolling carolers, a tree lighting, and Santa Claus.

Santa's Arrival at Norwalk Town Square - Norwalk 
Norwalk Town Square has a snow play area, free train rides, storytelling with Mrs. Claus, and Santa arriving... by helicopter!  Way to make an entrance, big guy!

The Three Stooges Big Screen Event - Glendale
Introduce my kid to Larry, Curly, and Moe? Oh, a wise guy, eh? Why I oughta... (nyuk, nyuk, nyuk).

Toyota Symphonies for Youth. Photo by Paul Cressey Photography

SUNDAY NOVEMBER 25 (Just  plain Sunday)

Hollywood Christmas Parade - Hollywood
The stars come out to celebrate Christmas in this annual Hollywood extravaganza. Nancy O'Dell is this year's Grand Marshall.
Tamale Festival - La Habra
Nom nom tamales at the La Habra Community Center. Plus Mariachi Divas, churro eating contests, and visits with Santa.

Menorah Workshop - Costa Mesa
Hanukkah is fast approaching: time to build a menorah!

Christmas at Palisades Village - Pacific Palisades
Palisades Village holds its inaugural Tree Lighting celebration to officially kick off the holiday season. This magical evening features a special performance by Disney’s DCapella, as well as the season’s first snowfall, a fireworks spectacular, and Santa’s grand arrival.

Raffi - Glendale
Grab your Baby Beluga: iconic children's entertainer Raffi performs at the Alex Theatre.

Then and Now Public Program - Buena Park
Kids can learn about the animals that ruled Orange County 10,000 years ago.

As always, no matter what you decide to do this holiday weekend, we hope you have a spectacular time. Gobble gobble, and thanks for being you!