Family Get-Togethers for Thanksgiving in CaliforniaThanksgiving weekend is a great time to rent a vacation home and get the whole clan together, whether they're related to you by blood or just your closest friends. It may be hard to find something near popular ski areas, so instead try Pine Mountain Lake near Groveland and Yosemite National Park, Irish Beach just south of Mendocino, Dillon Beach north of San Francisco, or visit HomeAway, which has lots of listings all over the state, even in the cities.
Los Angeles, California Thanksgiving Weekend Ideas
- Thanksgiving Dinner in Los Angeles: A roundup of some great places to eat out.
Hollywood Christmas Parade: This long-time tradition is less "Hollywood" and more hometown than you might expect.
Turkey Trot: Get a head start on burning off all the excess calories with a Thanksgiving morning run in Long Beach.
- Downtown on Ice: Every Thanksgiving, Pershing Square sprouts an ice-skating rink.
- See a Movie in a Palace: Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday blockbuster movie season, so why not make a special event of our one of them, going to Grauman's Chinese, El Capitan or the Arclight Cinema to see it amidst lavish surroundings?
San Diego, California Thanksgiving Weekend Ideas
- Father Joe's 5K Run: It starts in Balboa Park and helps Father Joe provide more than a million meals every year to people who need them.
- Mother Goose Parade: The town of El Cajon has been celebrating Thanksgiving for more than 60 years and many locals consider this event the unofficial start of the Christmas season. It's held the weekend before Thanksgiving.
- Dixieland Jazz Festival: A five-day festival that runs the entire Thanksgiving weekend.
San Francisco, California Thanksgiving Weekend Ideas
- Turkey Trail Trot gives a chance to burn off some calories before you consume them, but you'd better register early - they sometimes fill up. Or wait until after the big meal and do the Sunday Run Wild San Francisco, where runners dress as a favorite childhood toy, or as Santa, elves or other holiday-themed characters.
- Dickens Fair gets under way at the Cow Palace and runs every weekend through December.
- Tree Lighting ceremonies start the shopping season at Union Square and Pier 39.
- Stanford University plays Notre Dame every year on Thanksgiving weekend, playing at home in alternate years, but don't get your hopes up - the record is not in the Cardinals' favor.
- Holiday Lights Train starts running from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk on Thanksgiving weekend. It's a great kickoff to the holiday season.
- Kick off the holiday blockbuster movie season with a seat in the adults-only balcony at the Sundance Kabuki Cinema. Reserve your seats in advance, order drinks and snacks from the bar and enjoy the show.
- Lights go on at Embarcadero Center a week before Thanksgiving and the holiday ice rink opens even earlier, but both are in full swing for Thanksgiving weekend.
Thanksgiving Ideas in Other Parts of CaliforniaThanksgiving often marks the opening of ski season as Lake Tahoe ski resorts compete to open by the holiday, even if they have to make all their snow to do it. Check to see if they managed it this year.
Speaking of snow, by Thanksgiving Tioga Pass through Yosemite is usually closed, but you never know - some years it stays open through December, providing a chance for a late-year trip across the mountains.
Sequoia National Park is home to the nation's Christmas tree, the General Grant. It doesn't get decorated with lights, but when you stand 267 feet tall, you don't need lights to be spectacular.