What's Open on Thanksgiving in Los Angeles? 20 Places Open for Family Fun

Run off that second helping of pie! Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Turkey Trot via Facebook
Run off that second helping of pie! Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Turkey Trot via Facebook

Racking your brain for family activities at places that are open on Thanksgiving in Los Angeles? Filling your house with family during Thanksgiving is wonderful, but sometimes you just want everyone to get out of your house. We mean this, of course, in the nicest possible way. Knowing what's open on Thanksgiving in LA for family fun is invaluable—both for clearing the house to prepare the meal and for walking it off afterward.

Our event calendar has all the local Thanksgiving day happenings, and our holiday guide for Los Angeles families has a host of other ideas; the suggestions below are 20 places open on Thanksgiving that you may not have realized welcomed visitors on the holiday. And if you need some suggestions for Thanksgiving crafts and games to keep kids busy at home, we've got loads of those, too. Happy Thanksgiving!

1. Run in a Turkey Trot

Get moving and burn some calories before the big feast with a 5K or 10K walk/run. The whole family can participate together; either the Burbank Turkey Trot or the Downtown LA Trot is a great way to start the day.

2. Aquarium of the Pacific

All the same fish are there (plus the odd shorebird and Arctic fox), and while they're chowing down on krill and voles, you can have Thanksgiving lunch at the Aquarium.

3. Nature POP! at South Coast Botanic Garden

The gardens are open on Thanksgiving, and this new exhibition from artist Sean Kenney features more than 40 sculptures made from Legos, making it the best game of Lego I-Spy ever.

RELATED: Restaurants Open for Thanksgiving Dinner in LA

Open on Thanksgiving in Los Angeles: Santa Monica Pier
The Ferris wheel and carnival games dish up fun on the Santa Monica Pier. Photo courtesy of Pacific Park

4. Pacific Park at the Santa Monica Pier

The perfect ending to a SoCal Thanksgiving is a sunset ride on the iconic Ferris wheel at Santa Monica Pier. All the rides and games are open on Thanksgiving.

5. Bob Baker Marionette Theater: 60 Years of Joy & Wonder

Forest Lawn Museum's newest exhibit celebrates a legendary LA institution, and is a nice free way to see Bob Baker's hand-crafted marionettes, original concept art, an animatronic band, and more.

RELATED: Thanksgiving Crafts and Activities for the Whole Family

Open on Thanksgiving in Los Angeles: Lake Balboa Surrey Rides 
Take advantage of the LA sunshine. Photo courtesy of Lake Balboa Bike Rentals

6. Bike and Surrey Rentals at Lake Balboa

Why not rent a surrey, so the whole family can work off that big meal together?

7. Disneyland

What could be more fun than hanging out with Mickey, Minnie, and all their friends at the happiest place on earth?

RELATED: Best Thanksgiving Movies for Kids and the Whole Family

Open on Thanksgiving in Los Angeles: Universal Studios
Who could resist a trip to Hogwarts? Photo courtesy of Universal Studios and Warner Brothers

8. Universal Studios Hollywood

The kids will surely tell you all about what they're thankful for if you take them to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Grinchmas is back in town this year, too.

9. Legoland Holidays

Head down to Carlsbad for a winter wonderland! Legoland gets decked out for the holiday season and it's open on Thanksgiving.

10. The Academy Museum

What better time to visit Los Angeles' The Academy Museum than Thanksgiving? See Dorothy's shoes and say "There's no place like home!" (for the holidays).

RELATED: Thanksgiving Jokes for Kids They'll Gobble Up

Open on Thanksgiving in Los Angeles: Sand Sledding 
Everyone can go snow sledding, but sand sledding is an LA right of passage.

11. Go Sand Sledding!

Make a big impression on visiting relatives with the ultimate SoCal winter activity. The berms are ready for your inaugural winter runs already.

12. Sesame Place San Diego

Sesame Place is open on Thanksgiving, and will delight your kids to no end. Even better, for the holidays, San Diego's newest theme park is transformed into a festive winter wonderland filled with holiday magic and surprises, at the all-new A Very Furry Christmas.

13. Knott's Berry Farm

Sure, Knott's is known for chicken, not turkey, but what difference does it make if you're grabbing a bite between roller coaster rides? Plus, Knott's Merry Farm is in full swing on Thanksgiving this year.

14. Six Flags Magic Mountain

If you have teens, there's a good chance they'll prefer Riddler's Revenge to a boring turkey dinner.

15. The Santa Barbara Zoo

Watch elephants, gorillas, and other zoo animals eat their Thanksgiving fare. Plus, the reindeer are in town, too!

RELATED: Holiday Volunteer Opportunities for Kids in Los Angeles

LA Car Show is open on Thanksgiving in Los Angeles 
See the cars of the future at the LA Auto Show. Photo courtesy of the LA Auto Show

16. LA Auto Show

If you have car enthusiasts in your family, then the LA Auto Show is the perfect complement to a turkey dinner! The show is at the LA Convention Center and includes the return of the Electric Vehicle (EV) Test Track.

17. Take a Hike

Burn a few calories so you can really indulge at dinner with a hike on one of LA's many trails. Griffith Park and Runyon Canyon are our favorite places to hike but there are so many other options like Solstice Canyon in Malibu, Elysian Park near Downtown, or Eaton Canyon in Pasadena. If your family holiday plans include wee ones, you might want to take a look at our favorite hikes for toddlers, or the best local hikes that are stroller-friendly.

Open on Thanksgiving in Los Angeles: Little Corona Tidepools 
Explore the tide pools at Little Corona, Newport Beach. Photo by Ronaldo Farelli

18. Check Out the Tide Pools

The beach is one of the biggest draws for LA, but it's usually a bit too cold to get into the water in November. However, tide pools are great for exploring no matter what the weather. Check out our list of great tide pools in Southern California.

19. Winterlit Holiday Lights in Santa Monica

Head to the 3rd Street Promenade for Winterlit, which finds the downtown area of Santa Monica transformed into an illuminated winter wonderland. Take a twirl around the rink at Ice at Santa Monica, too.

20. Go to the Movies

Sure, lots of us hit the movie theaters on Christmas Day, but Thanksgiving is another day when you need a few hours of peace and quiet, and perhaps to entertain kids and visiting family for a while. Disney's Strange World opens for the holiday, and it's playing at the El Capitan, which is one of the best movie theaters in town.

Finally, wishing all of our readers a wonderful holiday!

Brick Building Playtime
Donald Bruce Kaufman Library - 3:00 PM Pick
Annual Lighting of the Bay
Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort - 4:00 PM Pick
City of Santa Monica's Official Tree Lighting Ceremony
Santa Monica Christmas Tree - 6:00 PM Pick
Free Day at the Skirball
Skirball Cultural Center - 12:00 PM
Neighborhood Guides
Activity Guides