Los Angeles has always been known for bucking tradition, so it’s no accident that Southern California gives those who visit during Thanksgiving ample opportunity to do the same. With average temperatures well into the 60s, numerous dining options, and many attractions open for at least part of the day, Thanksgiving in L.A. is as stuffed with activities as that turkey about to be carved.
NOTE: All Thanksgiving dinners and events are taking place on Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018 unless otherwise noted.
For a fun, family-friendly Thanksgiving Day, a visit to one of L.A.’s numerous attractions may be just the ticket.
Book the VIP Experience at Universal Studios Hollywood, and get VIP seats to shows and front-of-line privileges to all attractions, including The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ - from magical spells to magical creatures, from dark villains to daring heroes, it’s all here! Experience Fast & Furious: Supercharged, Springfield – home of The Simpsons, Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem – a 3D Ultra-HD movie motion-simulator ride – and Super Silly Fun Land, an interactive playland adventure.
For movie and TV fans, few L.A. attractions can compare to Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood, which offers an immersive, behind the scenes look into Hollywood at work. Highlights of the two-hour tour include DC Universe: The Exhibit, featuring legendary superheroes like Wonder Woman and their nemeses; props and costumes from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and the beloved Harry Potter films; Stage 48: Script to Screen, an interactive soundstage that explores the film and TV production process; and cinematic treasures in the Prop Department.
If you’re looking for thrills, there are 19 roller coasters at Six Flags Magic Mountain - more than any amusement park in the world – making it the undisputed “Roller Coaster Capital of the World.”
For a classic oceanfront experience, visit Pacific Park at the Santa Monica Pier for rides and games the whole family will enjoy.
Book a first-class tour of the legendary Queen Mary and experience the 4-D Theatre, Princess Diana Exhibit, Their Finest Hours: Winston Churchill, the Engine Room and much more. Then enjoy a lavish Thanksgiving Brunch or prix fixe dinner at Sir Winston’s.
Enjoy a Thanksgiving lunch buffet at the Aquarium of the Pacific‘s Cafe Scuba, then gobble gobble with sea otters and over 11,000 other animals from the world’s largest ocean.
Spanning more than 4,200 acres, Griffith Park is is one of the largest municipal parks with urban wilderness areas in the United States. Griffith Park is open to the public daily from 5 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Hiking paths, bridle trails and mountain roads are closed at sunset.
Griffith Park is also home to several attractions that are open on Thanksgiving Day, such as the L.A. Zoo, Travel Town Museum and Sunset Ranch Hollywood. The landmark Griffith Observatoryand the Autry Museum of the American West are closed on Thanksgiving Day but will be open on Friday, Nov. 23.
Take advantage of L.A.’s beautiful weather with a stroll through one of the city’s stunning botanical gardens. Located in La Canada Flintridge, Descanso Gardens is a 160-acre urban oasis complete with a camellia oak forest, streams, a lake, bird sanctuary, five-acre International Rosarium and colorful flower displays, as well as a mini-train route for the kids. Further east in Arcadia is the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Gardens, which has 127 acres of birds, plants, animals, and the historic Queen Anne cottage, which famously appeared in the opening credits of TV’s Fantasy Island.
TURKEY TROT LOS ANGELES
The annual Turkey Trot Los Angeles is taking place in Downtown L.A. from 8am to noon on Thanksgiving morning. Turkey Trot L.A. features 5K and 10K routes on the historic streets of Downtown, a post-event festival at Grand Park, costume contest and much more. Entry fees are $45 for the 5K Run/Walk (ages 18 and up), $50 for the 10K, $65 for the 5K/10K Combo, and $20 for the Widdle Wobble, a mile-long kids and family run/walk.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, the Turkey Trot benefits The Midnight Mission – an amazing organization that offers a path to self sufficiency to those experiencing homelessness. Make a difference in the lives of L.A.’s neediest individuals by registering and buying a pair of Bombas socks. For each pair sold, another pair is donated to The Midnight Mission along with a $6 donation. Participants can also purchase an I HEART L.A. button during registration.
TOFURKY TROT – GRIFFITH PARK
The annual Tofurky Trot is taking place from 9 a.m. to noon on Thanksgiving Day at the Crystal Springs Recreation Area in Griffith Park. The plant-powered race is 5 km (3.1 miles) and is a run, trot, or walk that’s open to all physical fitness levels. Prizes and medals will be awarded to the first adult and child finishers, for best costume, and to the cutest dog. Every participant will receive free early admission to the post-trot Fall Vegan Food Fest from 11am-3pm featuring vegan food vendors, guest speakers and live performances. (The Food Fest opens at noon for those who didn’t register for the Trot.) Tickets are $35 for adults, $20 for students (ages 12 to college), and $15 for children 6-11. Children under age 6 are free. Proceeds benefit local nonprofits, The Animal Museum, Bunny World Foundation and the Jackson Galaxy Foundation.
THANKSGIVING FEASTS – LAUGH FACTORY
The world famous Laugh Factory will host its annual free Thanksgiving Feasts on Thanksgiving Day. Top comedians like Dane Cook, Kevin Nealon, Shawn Wayans, Tim Allen, Tom Arnold and other celebrities will help serve each guest a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Comics will perform live shows following each meal served throughout the day at 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Last year, the Laugh Factory served 2,500 people – the goal is to host even more guests this year.
THANKSGIVING DAY RUN & FOOD DRIVE – LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE
Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the Thanksgiving Day Run & Food Drive takes place at Memorial Park in La Cañada Flintridge. The 5K run/walk is open to all ages and abilities and is a major fundraiser for the Community Center; proceeds are used to support its year-round programs. The race is professionally timed and begins promptly at 8:30 a.m. The 1-Mile Kids’ Run begins at 9:30 a.m. and is ideal for children age 12 and under. Pre-registration for the 5K is $40 and $20 for the Kids’ Run. Participants are asked to bring a non-perishable food item to be dropped off at Memorial Park on Thanksgiving morning and donated to families in need.
The Westside Thanksgiving – Community Dinner & Celebration is taking place at the West L.A. Civic Center on Thanksgiving Day. A free sit-down dinner is served from 11am-3pm. Free services include haircuts, blankets, clothing, hygiene kits, medical/optica/dental exams, vaccination, resource fair, and a children’s carnival. Everyone is invited – veterans, students, low-income families, seniors, anyone who is homeless, and anyone who is alone on Thanksgiving.
HARRY SUTTER MEMORIAL THANKSGIVING DAY FUN RUN
The entire family is invited to participate in the 39th Annual Harry Sutter Memorial Thanksgiving Day Fun Run. The three-mile fun run/walk begins at 8 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning. A raffle follows the fun run – winners must be present to receive prizes. Runners and spectators alike can bring canned goods for a special Thanksgiving Food Drive. While you watch, run or walk, your canned foods will be distributed to people in need throughout the South Bay.