Family-Friendly Holiday Events to Kick Off the Season

colette-babyThis year’s Thanksgivukkah (Thanksgiving + Hanukkah) officially kicks off the holiday season. If you aren’t already, you are soon to be up to your eyeballs in shopping, wrapping, cooking, and party obligations…and all the other holiday demands that seem to be a mandatory part of parenting. Don’t get wrapped up in your obligations (real or assumed) that you miss out on a chance to have some fun with your family. Coast to coast, enjoy turkey trots, music productions, parades and exhibits that will lure you out of the kitchen, off of the couch, away from the malls, and promising a good time for the whole family.

Local Family-Friendly Holiday Events to Kick Off the Season:

San Francisco Bay Area

The San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker Performance
Season begins December 11, 2013
The 2014 Nutcracker season includes a series of five Family Performances. The first 500 children to arrive receive a special gift and everyone enjoys complimentary beverages and sweet treats during intermission by Miette, the official bakery of SF Ballet’s Nutcracker. One hour prior to curtain, Nutcracker characters are available for photos – so arrive early and bring your camera!

Butterflies and Blooms
The Conservatory of Flowers, Golden Gate Park
The Conservatory of Flowers has extended its popular Butterflies and Blooms event through Spring 2014. If you haven’t yet experienced it, schedule a visit a it’s a spectacular activity for the family. The Special Exhibits Gallery is transformed into a beautiful cottage garden aflutter with hundreds of butterflies.

13th Annual Marin Turkey Trot
Indian Valley College, Novato | Thanksgiving Day, 7AM
Register for the Youth Gobbler 1 Mile, Turkey Trot 5K or go all out in the Pilgrim 10K. The Youth Gobbler 1 Mile and Turkey Trot 5K are run on cross country trails and the Pilgrim 10K is through the beautiful IVC campus and along Ignacio Blvd. Bring a food item for donation to the Marin Food Bank.

“Elf on the Shelf” Author Appearance and Book Signing
Pottery Barn Kids
December 3, 11 am-1 pm 
at the Stanford Shopping Center 
 Palo Alto
December 4, 2 pm- 4pm 
at the Village at Corte Madeira
Don’t miss a chance to meet the author of the beloved “Elf on the Shelf” book. Chandra Bell and/or Carol Aebersold will be at participating Pottery Barn stores to meet fans, read their newest Elf on the Shelf book and sign book copies. Check out the Pottery Barn site for other family-friendly events, including Thanksgiving crafts and several story times.

12th Annual Piedmont Turkey Trot
Piedmont High School | Thanksgiving Day
A 3 mile run/walk the whole family can enjoy. The first 1800 registered participants receive a commemorative long-sleeve shirt. Dogs and strollers welcome.

21st Annual Forma Gym Walnut Creek Turkey Trot
Walnut Creek | Thanksgiving Day
Help to raise money for the Contra Costa County Food Bank and local public schools – and get in some exercise and good fun before your Thanksgiving feast.  The event attracted 6,000 runners and walkers last year and expects bigger crowds this year. Includes a 5K, 10K, and Kids’ Fun Runs.


New York City

via Anthony Quintano
via Anthony Quintano

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
Thanksgiving Day
This is a no-brainer for family fun on Thanksgiving in NYC. If you’re planning to hit the parade route, the organizers say the best places to view depends on how early you want to get out there. Early risers can camp out starting at 6AM along the west side of the street on Central Park West from 59th to 75th Streets, where the Parade runs from about 9AM until 10:30AM. If you prefer to arrive later, head further down the route on 6th Avenue may be your best shot–the Parade reaches this area around 9:30am. Download the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade app for planning details and tips.

Volunteer on Thanksgiving or During the Season
After all, it is the season of giving. Take advantage of opportunities to teach your children the warmth they receive when they help others. New York Cares provides a handy search tool that allows you to search for volunteer opportunities based on issues you care about, how you want to help, and location. It’s wonderful to work together as a family to help others, whether it be through participating in a food drive, helping at a soup kitchen or spending time with those who are alone for the holidays.  

Family Volunteer Corps, Fall Spruce Up
Prospect Park Alliance | Saturday, November 24, 1:30 – 3:30PM
Here’s a chance to help out while enjoying some fresh air. The whole family can join the Family Volunteer Corps to tackle some final grounds-keeping projects in the park to prepare the Children’s Corner for the winter season. Pre-registration required.



Ice Skating in the Park
Lincoln Park Zoo | November 29 – March 2
Become part of a new winter tradition at the rink at Lincoln Park Zoo’s Farm-in-the-Zoo – ice skating! The Main Barn is open as a concession stand, and you can rent skates for additional $5.

Chicago’s Turkey Day Run
Thanksgiving Day
The annual Turkey Day Run, a 5K for runners and walkers of all ages, may be one of the few runs in the nation that is still open for registration – so hurry to register if you plan to participate! The 36th annual event also hosts the Plymouth Rock Ramble for Kids – a loop course for those age 2 to 12. All proceeds from the run benefit Chicago Food Depository.

McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade
Downtown Chicago on State Street — Congress to Randolph | Thanksgiving Day, 8AM
Nearly half a million spectators braved the weather to attend last year’s event, so plan to arrive early to snag a good viewing spot… and be sure to bundle up the kiddos!

Sound of Music Singalong Music Box Theater
Music Box Theater on family friendly Southport Ave.
The venue hosts its fun-filled tradition that includes a screening of the classic Julie Andrews musical, The Sound of Music – complete with subtitles so that the whole audience can sing along! There’s also a fancy-dress competition where everyone who has come in costume is invited onto the stage to show off their look!



Boston Gobble Gobble Gobble 4-miler
40 Holland Street, Davis Square, Somerville | Thanksgiving Day, AM
Rated one of the Top 100 New England races,  your participation in this race benefits Project Soup, a free dinner program with the hopes to end hunger. Additionally, proceeds will benefit the Somerville Track PAC, a college scholarship fund for Somerville High School.

Dedham Turkey Trot
656 East Street, Dedham | Thanksgiving Day, 8:30AM
This family-friendly race has something for everyone, including a 5K run and a half-mile run for kids. All proceeds benefit the Dedham Food Pantry, and runners are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items that will be sorted at the finish line.  

Thanksgivukkah Boston Thanksgiving + Hanukkah
Check out this site for great ways to celebrate this once in a lifetime holiday. Jewish Boston offers lots of ways to celebrate as a family, including opportunities for giving, fun ways to entertain and ideas for meaningful family rituals that could easily become a part of your family’s holiday.


Southern California

via JBLM MWR Marketing
via JBLM MWR Marketing

Turkey Trot LA
Downtown LA – Civic Center Grand Park N. Spring Street | Thanksgiving Day
At last, a turkey trot in LA! Los Angeles’ first and only road race on Thanksgiving Day starts this year. This inaugural event features both a 10k and a 5k course in Downtown LA, as well as a half-mile Widdle Wobble for the little runners in the family.

Mother Goose Fun Run and Parade
El Cajon | November 24
Get the family moving at this inaugural 10k, 5k Run/Walk and Kid’s 1-mile Fun Run, held before the Mother Goose Parade. The race course is deemed “fun, fast, and flat”… in other words, very family-friendly. Don’t miss UrbanSitter’s booth at the event, where there will be fun, free crafts for kids and a chance to win $80 in babysitting.

12th Annual Father Joe’s Village- 5K Run
Balboa Park | Thanksgiving Day
Get out and join 10,000 of your fellow San Diego neighbors for the big run! As always, pets are welcome. All proceeds go to help neighbors in need.

Thanksgiving Day Run for the Hungry
Downtown San Diego, Broadway Circle | Thanksgiving Day, 7AM
The race runs through the beautiful Gaslamp District and East Village  and is the only downtown race in San Diego Choose either the 5k run/walk or 10k run.

Get out, get some exercise and have some fun. The memories of the good times you had together will last far longer than any gifts you could buy or receive – guaranteed.

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